Former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill football star Julius Peppers has donated $250,000 to the Light on the Hill Society Scholarship fund that supports African-American students.
Peppers had already donated $100,000 in 2009 to The Light on the Hill Society Scholarship. The scholarship program is a tribute to Carolina’s earliest African-American graduates and a vehicle for alumni and friends to support African-American first-year students who exhibit academic excellence and the potential to contribute while at Carolina and after graduation.
The scholarship is administered by the Light on the Hill Society Board of Directors and supported by the UNC General Alumni Association.
The Light on the Hill Society Julius Peppers Scholar receives an annual $1,000 award, renewable for up to three years. Other Light on the Hill Society Scholars receive a one-time $1,000 award.
In a statement issued Saturday by Peppers, he thanked University academic and athletic staff for their help and guidance while he charted a course for his life and expressed gratitude for the role the campus played in his growth and development. He also said he was “thinking of ways that I can use my experiences and resources” to help support students early in their college career.
“After considering the ways that I might be able to help young college students, I decided to continue my support of the Light on the Hill scholarship,” Peppers said today. “I would like to endorse this particular fund and encourage other former UNC students who have found success to reach back and assist the efforts of current and future Tar Heels.”
At UNC, Peppers starred as a defensive end and won the Lombardi Award, given to the country’s top college lineman. He was a unanimous All-American in 2001. He also lettered in basketball at Carolina and helped the Tar Heels’ reach the 2000 Final Four.
Peppers was picked No. 2 overall in the 2002 NFL draft by the Carolina Panthers, where he played eight seasons. He is entering his third season with the Chicago Bears. He has been selected for seven Pro Bowls.
“This gift is indicative of the kind of man Julius Peppers has become,” said Richard “Stick” Williams, chair of the Light on the Hill Society board. “I am very proud that he credits his experiences at Chapel Hill for helping to shape him. He has really thought deeply about his life, opportunities taken, opportunities lost, his legacy. With this generous gift he wants to help young people make good decisions during their college years.”
The Light on the Hill Society scholarship effort began during the 2005 Black Alumni Reunion. Organizers challenged alumni to contribute $1,952 each – representing the 1952 class year of Harvey E. Beech, UNC’s first African-American graduate – to become founding members of the scholarship fund. As the fund has grown, so has the number of scholarships. Since inception, the program has awarded 26 scholarships: 22 Light on the Hill Society Scholars and four Julius Peppers Scholars.
New scholars will be honored during the 2012 Light on the Hill Society Scholarship Awards banquet during the annual Black Alumni Reunion on Nov. 9 at the Sheraton Chapel Hill.
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