After losing a loved one to addiction, Darla Summers created a scholarship to keep the loved one’s memory alive, while also showing support to those who have been affected by an addiction. “I hope this initiative would make her happy, and I am sure that it would,” she said.

Summers, who is a nursing instructor at Virginia Western Community College, established the Second Chance Scholarship in 2021, to honor a loved one and to raise awareness about addiction. The scholarship is open to any Virginia Western student, but priority will be given to students who have been affected by addiction and/or who wish to promote a safe and drug-free community or those students who have dedicated their lives to helping people find a second chance in life. “I want students to feel connected to the scholarship and to also understand what exactly they are applying for,” she said.

Darla Summers

Additionally, students must have a minimum G.P.A. of 2.5, be enrolled for nine or more credits and have two letters of recommendation. The $500 scholarship will be given to up to two students per academic year. The scholarship will help cover a student’s academic expenses such as tuition, books and other fees. Summers said the main goal of the scholarship is to support students regardless of their past, while also raising awareness about addiction.

Summers said the name of the scholarship came from when the loved one would talk about how everyone deserves a second chance in life, a chance that her loved one never really got due to the grasp that addiction had on her. Summers believes that no matter what someone has done in the past, they deserve a second chance to overcome their circumstances. “So, when I think about the Second Chance Scholarship, I think about all the individuals that have struggled, that someone may not have believed in them, but I want them to know that I do and so does our community,” she said.

When Summers started the scholarship with the Virginia Western Educational Foundation last year, it was funded by her and her husband. But this past summer Summers looked for another way to raise funds. In

August, the first annual Captain’s Choice Second Chance golf tournament was held at the Hidden Valley Country Club and raised over $20,000 for the scholarship.

When she started the scholarship last year, Summers knew she would be tasked to finding creative ways to fund the scholarship long-term. Since the creation of the scholarship, the community has rallied around her cause, and the support has been humbling. “My inspiration came from our loss of a young family member who is supposed to still be here. And through her and other loved ones that struggle with addiction, I have learned a lot and still have a lot to learn. I think we all do when it comes to addiction.” she said.

Summers said in her classes and clinicals she educates students about addiction and her personal experiences to help students to better understand the disease. “I think it shows as educators that we are human, too, and that we go through things like everybody else,” she said. “I feel more connected even though it’s painful to share at times. And I think the students appreciate the transparency.”

Summers said in the long term she wants the scholarship to be endowed at the College and continue to help students meet their educational goals. Summers said although nursing is a giving profession, establishing the scholarship makes her feel like she is giving back to her community and to students in need.

“It is my way of saying to these students that I want to support them in being successful, regardless of their past. If they need help bettering themselves by getting a college education, then there is no better place to do that than Virginia Western Community College,” she said.

More information about the scholarship can be found by going to: https://www.virginiawestern.edu/scholarships/available-scholarships/

The Second Chance Scholarship is one of more than 100 Educational Foundation scholarships available to Virginia Western students for the spring 2023 semester. The application is open now and the deadline to apply is Oct. 31, 2022. Apply online at virginiawestern.edu/scholarships or contact Scholarship Coordinator Carolyn Payne at cpayne@virginiawestern.edu or (540) 857-6371.