“What Hope Means”: President Hinton Shares What Hope Personally Means to Her In Light Of New Scholarship Opportunity

Mary Dana Hinton

In October, Hollins University announced a new scholarship opportunity specifically developed for young women in the Roanoke Valley region hoping to earn a college education.

Hollins Opportunity for Promise through Education (HOPE) is a scholarship program that offers a pathway forward for these young women. It’s the chance to turn the hope of a college degree into reality, with scholarship recipients being granted the ability to attend Hollins full-time for four years —  tuition free.

The HOPE scholarship program is intentionally named.

Hope is a powerful and motivating force in our individual lives and in our communities. For each and every life’s journey, there is first a sliver of hope for what’s to come. Hope for who we want to be and a hope for how we want to become our future selves.

In our “What Hope Means” series, we’re highlighting conversations with individuals from our Hollins community who discuss what hope personally means to them. We’re also spotlighting the powerful impact that this scholarship will have on the ambitious young women in the Roanoke Valley who are striving to better themselves through their education.

What ‘HOPE’ Means to Mary Dana Hinton, Ph.D., President of Hollins University

Hollins University President Mary Dana Hinton’s journey as a leader in higher education began with her own hope for a brighter future.

Growing up in rural North Carolina in a low-income household, Hinton’s ambition was to attend college. Achieving this goal would place her in the first generation of her family to do so.

“College was always a dream of mine, but I wasn’t entirely sure how I would bring that dream to reality,” she said. “I know what it feels like to hope and to wonder if an education is even possible.”

For Hinton, it was the generosity of both individuals and her community that helped her attend college. Having that support to ensure her hopes and dreams were realized has been the driving motivation for her career ever since.

“My single goal in this life is to strive toward ensuring that no other young woman has to worry about how she will overcome the barriers to earning her education. If she hopes to get an education to uplift herself, her family, and her community, I want to help make that possible.”

Hinton’s Hope for HOPE 

Through her first-hand experiences, Hinton understands the critical importance of creating systems and processes that enable a young person who wants to achieve a college education the opportunity to do so.

She has built a career as an active and respected proponent of the liberal arts and inclusivity, and her leadership efforts reflect her deep and abiding commitment to educational equity, particularly supporting young women who may not be able to envision a pathway from high school to college.

“My hope is that this scholarship program will allow any young woman in the Roanoke Valley Region the opportunity to chase her dreams, to fulfill her grandest aspirations and to enable us here at Hollins University to help her envision, leverage, and grow into her fullest potential,” Hinton said.

“That was missing for me as a young adult, and so it is my privilege, my honor, and my responsibility to create these opportunities for others,” she added.

The Power of HOPE 

Funded by the generosity of Hollins alumnae, friends, and donors, the Hollins Opportunity Promise through Education program is designed to remove some of the financial worry and burden for local families who seek to pursue an education for their daughters.

Hollins’ HOPE scholarship is a direct means for turning hope into action. The scholarship creates an opportunity for young women and their families to identify a pathway forward in achieving their dreams of attending college.

For Hinton, the effect of one educational experience is not limited to the young woman earning it. The actual impact is much more widespread.

“When an individual has the opportunity to receive or achieve an education, they then have the responsibility to help lift up their communities and all those around them,” she said. “Our HOPE scholarship will certainly give hope to the young women who receive it, but our expectation is that they will then become conveyors and conduits of hope in our local community.”

To learn more about Hollins Opportunity for Promise through Education scholarship, visit hope.hollins.edu.