College of Human Sciences’ Freshman receives Inaugural Norfolk Southern Community Scholar Award

Graham Brooks | Communications Editor

An Auburn University College of Human Sciences freshman is the sole recipient of a national Community Scholar award, providing a full scholarship of up to $40,000. Mattie Vaughn received the scholarship from the Norfolk Southern Corporation through the newly developed Thoroughbred Scholars Program designed to provide college scholarships to children of railroad employees.

Vaughn, who is majoring in Human Development and Family Science, was awarded the Community Scholar award, which goes to a student who has distinguished themselves through community leadership and volunteer work. Of more than 500 applicants, Vaughn was the only student in the nation to receive the Community Scholar award.

Vaughn said she chose to major in Human Development and Family Science because she loves children and wants to concentrate on the Child Life curriculum.

“I had also considered going into nursing, teaching, and social work, so this was the perfect combination,” Vaughn said. “I have always loved kids and once my family heard what a Child Life Specialist was, they all said this job was made for me.”

The Community Scholar award is one of only three distinguished scholarships created by Norfolk Southern for $10,000 each, renewable up to four years. The other two scholars were the Historically Black College or University Scholar and the STEM Scholar.

“We created the Thoroughbred Scholars program as another way to support our colleagues and their families,” said Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan Shaw. “We are putting our values into action with a program that recognizes the importance of a strong education and skill development. We’re proud of these outstanding students and look forward to the great things they will achieve in their academic pursuits.”

In all, 103 students received scholarships where 90 were designated for children of Norfolk Southern’s front-line field employees – such as conductors, engineers, mechanics, and others – who keep America’s economy moving every day. The recipients come from 16 states across the company’s network. The Thoroughbred Scholars receive $2,500 per year, renewable up to four years, for full-time students pursuing an undergraduate degree at an accredited two or four-year institution.

“Students were supposed to be notified in July whether or not they received any type of scholarship,” Vaughn said. “I thought I had a chance at the $2,500 one, but I never imagined I would receive the $10,000 scholarship. I was extremely excited and beyond grateful. I was constantly worrying about the financial aspect of college and this scholarship helped ease those fears significantly.”

Vaughn, originally from Gardendale, Ala., is the child of a Signalman who works at Norris Yard. She was one of six students from the state of Alabama representing the inaugural class of Thoroughbred Scholars.

The Thoroughbred Scholars program is independently administered by Scholarship America. The organization is the nation’s largest manager of scholarship and education support programs for corporations, foundations, associations, and individuals.

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