Emma Blakely ’26 is not the first Presbyterian College student that Fritz Whittemore ’03 has referred to his alma mater. However, she is the first to earn a scholarship in his name.
Whittemore’s referral and Blakely’s admission earned the first-year student from Easley a $1,880 scholarship in Whittemore’s name for up to four years of undergraduate study at PC. The 1880 Referral Scholarship honors any PC graduate, professor, staff member, current student, parent, or friend of the college.
For Whittemore, the inspiration came from a childhood friend – Blakely’s mom, Jennifer.
“I was talking to Jennifer one night last February and she mentioned that Emma had not applied to any colleges yet and was considering just going to a technical school,” he said.
Furthermore, said Whittemore, Blakely’s high school guidance counselor discouraged her from applying to four-year schools because she did not have a “laundry list” of extracurricular activities.
Enter the considerably more encouraging Whittemore, who urged Blakely to apply to his alma mater.
“Emma had already convinced herself that she wouldn’t be able to attend a four-year college, so she was excited and surprised that she might have a chance at being accepted to PC,” he said. “That night, she scheduled an in-person tour for the following weekend. When she arrived on campus with her parents, she immediately fell in love with PC. Everything she’d heard about PC was true and now Emma, her parents, and I just hoped and prayed she would be accepted. And, of course, she was!”
Blakely said she was touched by Whittemore’s faith in her potential.
“It made me feel so amazing and absolutely honored that someone like him believed in my intelligence, morals, and potential through and through,” she said. “He truly changed the way I thought of myself.”
On her first visit to campus, Blakely knew immediately that she belonged.
“I felt like I entered such a peaceful, calm environment,” she said. “I looked around and for the first time felt like I could see myself being happy and successful somewhere.”
When she opened her acceptance letter, Blakely said she was “on top of the world” knowing others saw her potential, as well.
It was a celebratory moment not only for Blakely and Whittemore but also for PC. Their story should inspire even more college community members to refer students – even those who never thought about getting a PC education before. It establishes a meaningful bond between people who have experienced PC and those who will experience PC.
“Having a scholarship named in my honor is really cool and makes the entire experience much more personal and meaningful for both Emma and myself,” Whittemore said. “I have a special interest in Emma’s success at PC and will be much more connected with her during her time as a student than I would have been if she simply received a generic ‘referral’ scholarship.”
Whittemore said the 1880 Student Referral program helps in even more ways.
“Like most students, I could not have attended college without financial aid,” he said. “This program not only helps offset the cost of tuition for many students, but I believe it will also encourage more alumni to talk about and refer prospective students to PC. I believe it will help increase enrollment by creating a more personal connection with prospective students.
“This scholarship is just one of many positively unique programs that set PC apart from the competition.”
And it gives students like Blakely the opportunity to experience PC the way Whittemore and other PC alumni have.
“PC helped shape me into the man I am today and I am forever grateful for every member of the faculty and staff for being part of that,” he said.
A regular at every home Blue Hose football game, Whittemore and his husband, Erik, co-host large tailgates with several other close alumni friends in the RV section every fall. Whittemore also celebrated his 20th year at TD Bank and is currently a business insights specialist in credit risk analytics in the bank’s corporate office in Greenville.
He also maintains his ties at PC by serving as the financial advisor for Alpha Sigma Phi and a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors.