Gardner-Webb’s Tucker Scholars are a diverse group with many interests and one characteristic in common: They live out the University’s motto: Pro Deo et Humanitate – For God and Humanity. Read more about them below.

Lily Streeton, of High Point, N.C., is the fifth recipient of Gardner-Webb University’s highest honor for incoming undergraduate students, the Tucker Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength Scholarship. Streeton was one of 227 high school seniors who applied for the scholarship and among 49 finalists invited to campus for interviews. Applicants represented 19 states—from the Carolinas to California and as far away as Hawaii.

Streeton is an honor student at Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point and volunteers with multiple community organizations that serve young people. She is the assistant worship leader at her church, Hope River in Gibsonville, N.C. She plays clarinet with the school orchestra and taught herself how to play tenor saxophone for the school’s production of “Annie.” She also has four part-time jobs.

She decided to check out Gardner-Webb, because her band director’s daughter had gone to college at GWU. Streeton applied and received her acceptance letter. Then, the Office of Admissions sent her an email explaining the application process for the Tucker Scholarship. Streeton gathered her information and started praying.

“I prayed that if this wasn’t the school for me that God would shut it down immediately, and he’s given me the Tucker Scholarship,” she affirmed. “This is an amazing opportunity for me. It’s a huge honor. I am so beyond blessed and thankful for this.”

When she came for the scholarship interview, she was impressed with the campus. “I can see how everyone cares about each other, and they put God first as well,” Streeton asserted. “I’m looking forward to meeting new people, having new experiences, seeing other communities that I can get involved in, and finding some additional family.”

She plans to major in business management to follow in her mother Olivia’s footsteps. “My mom is an entrepreneur,” Streeton explained. “She has two businesses—Vanity Resource, a furniture company, and Arcadia Home Delivery—which she started because she needed someone to carry the vanities to people’s homes. She does such good work there. I see the people that she impacts, too. She calls it her missions’ field. The people that she hires have difficult pasts—like alcoholism, drug abuse or they’ve been convicted felons—and I see that she gives them a second chance. She has a ton of people that she pours into and mentors. I would love to be able to do something like that.”

In her scholarship essay, Streeton explained what Mark 12:29-31 meant to her. “I strive to live each and every day of my life for my God,” she asserted. “In compassion, in selfless service, and in empathy, I live to love like Him. I will make an excellent addition to the life and ministry of Gardner-Webb University

because I am confident—not in my own ability to live out Mark 12:30—but by my choice each and every day to give up my life as a living sacrifice to Him so that He may work through me for His glory and His honor.”

Streeton’s high school science teacher, Kevin Peele, was one of the people who recommended her for the Tucker Scholarship. Peele wrote, “I remember her willingness to assist other students with their studies. I was especially impressed with the manner in which she was able to provide instruction to such students—her accurate explanations, given in a clear and soft-spoken manner were well received.”

Winning Tucker Scholarship Made Attending Gardner-Webb a Reality for Recipient

By Sierra Talbert, ’24, Intern for University Communications

“Just go where God leads” was a repetitive phrase in a sermon that reminded Rachel Gaura that God would lead her to the right college. The answer to her prayer came in the form of the prestigious Tucker Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength Scholarship at Gardner-Webb University. Gaura is the fourth student to receive the award.

At the age of 10, Gaura, a Columbia, S.C., native, declared that she wanted to follow in her cousin’s footsteps and attend Gardner-Webb University. However, when it came time to begin her college search, she forgot about her childhood decision.

Gaura started touring colleges, looking for a place where she could feel at home and receive a quality education, but none of them felt right. As she began to grow discouraged in her search, her parents reminded her what she had said about Gardner-Webb when she was a child.

The welcome and warm reception she and her family received from Gardner-Webb’s admissions team immediately set GWU apart—the experience was different from anything she had experienced on other campus visits. By the time the tour was over, Gaura knew Gardner-Webb was where she needed to be.

There was one hindrance—with Gardner-Webb being an out-of-state university, she feared losing all of her in-state scholarships. “Gardner-Webb is where I felt like God wanted me to be, but I didn’t know how to get there,” Gaura remembered thinking. “My parents and I continued to pray about it saying, ‘Lord, provide. Do what you can.’”

Applying for the Tucker Scholarship was a last-minute decision for Gaura, but it turned out to be one of her biggest blessings and opportunities. “I could not be at Gardner-Webb without the scholarship,” she shared. “It’s not just that the Tucker family pays the bill every semester. They pour into their scholars.”

Gaura truly values the connections she has made with the Tucker family. They demonstrate care and concern to each scholarship recipient. She truly appreciates the support they give to her and to the University.

Coming from a family of teachers, Gaura wanted to create a slightly different path of her own. She chose to major in psychology with plans to become a guidance counselor for elementary-age children. Gaura has a special love for kids and helping them in any way that she can. She has a passion for building personal connections and creating a space where children can feel loved and valued. She is minoring in discipleship, because she would also like to be a small group leader.

On campus, Gaura participates in the University Honors Program, works in the Advancement office and is involved in various aspects of Campus Ministries.

“I really value the caring nature of the faculty and staff. GWU professors, campus ministries, food services, etc. are the kindest people I’ve ever met,” Gaura asserted. “I love how excited they are to see their students and build relationships with everyone on campus.”

Writer Sierra Talbert is a communications major with a concentration in public relations graduating in May 2024.  

Third Tucker Scholar Thrives in Fast-Paced Campus Environment

By Sierra Talbert, ’24, Intern for University Communications

Growing up in a household with a fixed budget, Tucker Scholar recipient, Kylee Morris, didn’t know how her family would pay for college. Rather than give up, she worked hard to excel in school, hoping to achieve her dream of going to college.

Morris is the third student to receive the Tucker Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength Scholarship. She was looking for very specific things when she began her college search. She wanted a school that had a small student-to-faculty ratio, a good biology program, and she wanted to be able to participate in music ensembles without being required to be a music major or minor. Morris explained, “I searched forever and ever and ever, and the only thing that seemed promising was Gardner-Webb.”

Visiting the campus was difficult for Morris since her hometown, Morehead City, N.C., is six hours away. When she and her mother finally got an opportunity to make the trip, Morris was impressed. “Everyone was just so happy and so excited to see me, and everyone was so helpful and vibrant,” she described. “Some of the people that I met then I still know now.”

She hadn’t planned on applying for the Tucker Scholarship, because she didn’t think she qualified. With encouragement from those who knew her, she submitted her application. The news that she had won came as a surprise and a huge blessing to Morris and her family. “Coming from a low-income household and being told that I wouldn’t even make it to college—I mean literally God opened the door,” stated Morris. “I knew from that moment that Gardner-Webb was going to be my forever home.”

Morris is grateful for the opportunity to attend Gardner-Webb and to represent the Tucker family by serving others before herself. Morris also appreciates Gardner-Webb’s Christian community, something she lacked going to a public school and being the only believer in her family. “I think the top thing I value about Gardner-Webb is that the people I have met here remind me that I’m not alone in my walk with Christ,” she affirmed.

She is a biology major with a concentration in biomedical sciences and double minor in psychology and chemistry. When she entered college, Morris’ goal was to pursue a career in vascular surgery. However, she has developed a passion for working in the GWU science labs and is considering other careers in the medical field relating to laboratory work, such as cytotechnology, the microscopic study of body cells to detect cancer, viral and bacterial.

Morris loves to read and work on her small business she started after the Art Club’s sale last year. “Kylee Creates” is her rubber band crochet business. Morris originally began the hobby to pass time and decompress. Having a busy academic and extracurricular schedule has prevented her from getting a job, so starting “Kylee Creates” allowed her to have a source of income for herself while also doing something she enjoys.

She is also involved in Marching Band, Orchestra, Percussion Ensemble, the Art Club and the Honors Student Association. From her childhood, Morris has maintained a full schedule and said she thrives in the fast-paced lifestyle. She takes time every morning to plan out every hour of her day—making sure she takes time to relax and destress.

“I love every single activity that I participate in, and so I can never give them up,” she related. “I enjoy having a set schedule and routine to my life, and the community of people that surround me is worth the time and effort.”

Writer Sierra Talbert is a communications major with a concentration in public relations.  

Senior Tucker Scholar Strives to Serve Others

By Sierra Talbert, ’24, Intern for University Communications

Gardner-Webb University’s motto, Pro Deo et Humanitate (For God and Humanity) guides the way senior Tucker Scholar, Kyndal Jackson, approaches life. She describes herself as a servant of the Lord who strives to show His love to His people every day. Through the motto and the knowledge provided by GWU’s faculty, she feels equipped academically and spiritually to achieve her career goals as she serves God’s people.

Jackson, of Gaffney, S.C., is the second recipient of the prestigious Tucker Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength Scholarship at Gardner-Webb. She is a biology major with a biomedical concentration and a double minor in chemistry and Spanish. Her career goal is to use her love for science and serving others to become a physician assistant for either pediatrics or women’s health.

In searching for a university, Jackson looked for a Christian school with small class sizes so that she could have a personal relationship with her professors. When visiting Gardner-Webb, she fell in love with the Department of Natural Sciences and the close-knit, faith-based community she experienced. Jackson explained, “It felt like an instinct school. Everything just kind of fell into place for me to go here.”

Being awarded the Tucker Scholarship is a privilege that Jackson does not take lightly. It means a lot to her to obtain her degree without the financial burdens of college tuition while honoring the Tucker family. Having the opportunity to meet the late Robert B. Tucker before his passing and the rest of his family is a special memory for her.

Jackson observed, “They have done so much for our school. Just being able to get an award from them is such a high honor, because they’re great people.” She looks forward to all the Tucker Scholar events, where she has the opportunity to connect with the Tuckers’ daughter, Lisa.

She has always held herself to high academic standards, which has aided her in maintaining the required GPA for the Tucker Scholarship. In addition to academics, she believes the scholarship helps her on a more personal level. Understanding that she is not perfect, Jackson desires to uphold a good reputation that glorifies God and honors the Tucker family.

Jackson is involved in many campus activities and enjoys being around people and fellowshipping with them. She is the historian for the Pre-Health Society, secretary for Sigma Zeta, a member of Alpha Chi and Sigma Delta Pi, a peer leader for STEM students, a laboratory associate, and a Bible study leader/outreach coordinator for Delight Women’s Bible Study. Away from campus, Jackson likes to try different coffee shops, play tennis, hang out with friends, and spend time with her mom and grandmother.

She values the relationships she’s developed at Gardner-Webb and the support she’s gained from her classmates and the professors in the Department of Natural Sciences. Jackson noted that through her classes, she has grown in her knowledge and respect for God’s beautiful and complex creation.

Because of her genuine love for learning about other languages and cultures, Jackson chose to build on her high school foundation in Spanish and minor in the language at Gardner-Webb. She hopes her knowledge in Spanish will allow her to communicate with a wide range of people while giving her the opportunity to spread God’s Word and His love to a broader group of individuals.

“I think the education I’m receiving is very helpful and applicable to my life,” Jackson shared. “I love what Gardner-Webb promotes, like excellence and ‘For God and humanity.’”

Writer Sierra Talbert is a communications major with a concentration in public relations.  

Leah Carpenter’s smile is so genuine, people are compelled to return in kind and offer a greeting. “Her light and love radiate,” affirmed her youth pastor, Taylor Campbell, when he nominated her for the Tucker Scholarship.

At the scholarship presentation in 2020, members of the selection committee described her as a “ray of sunshine”—one of the many reasons why she was named Gardner-Webb University’s first Tucker Scholar.

At the event, the Tuckers’ daughter, Lisa, a 1989 alumna, told Carpenter, “I was so impressed with you from the moment we met. Everything you stand for; it beams from you immediately.”

Carpenter applied for the eight-semester full-tuition, room and board scholarship but never thought she would win. “I remember clear as day when I got the call,” she related. “It was during school and I’m crying and sobbing and calling my mom and we were jumping for joy. I never thought I was going to get it, but I’m humbled that I did.”

She continued, “I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to be here in the first place. The Tucker family has been caring and generous to me. They taught me to be generous to other people, to lead by example and show the love of God anywhere you go.”

Carpenter said the weight of being the first person to represent the Tucker name can be overwhelming, but she finds encouragement in that foundational scripture. “I remember when I got the award, and Carolyn Tucker gave me this plaque,” she reflected. “It had Mark 12:29-31 on there. She said the last thing is the most important part—to love your neighbor as yourself—and so I’ve really tried to instill that in my life at Gardner-Webb. I think the best way to represent the Tucker family is to be love and show the love on campus.”

One of the ways Carpenter shines on campus is by helping to lead a Bible study through the Delight Women’s Ministry. She also attends the student-led worship service, The Gathering. She’s a member of Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), and Student Nurses Association (SNA). During the summer, she’s involved in Carolina Cross Connection, a ministry that uses volunteers to provide home repairs for people in need. She also helps with the homeless ministry at her church.

With her attitude and personality, it’s easy to see why Carpenter chose nursing as her major. “I wanted to be at the bedside every single day and make sure people were advocated for, and I could serve people well,” she explained. “You truly get that one-on-one time with your patients when you are a nurse.”

Now a GWU senior, Carpenter started clinical rotations when she was a sophomore. She’s observed intensive care and worked in obstetrics, medical-surgical, operating room, and behavioral health. One of her clinical instructors, adjunct Dominique Belgrave, applauded her development. “Both nurses and patients she encountered complimented Leah on her teamwork, broad knowledge, impressive implementation and interpersonal skills,” Belgrave asserted. “Throughout the semester her confidence grew, and she learned how to use her clinical judgment when caring for her patients.”

After years of pursuing the goal of being a nurse, Carpenter described the first time she cared for patients as surreal. Filled with excitement, she also experienced wonder, doubt and joy. Getting over those initial fears requires a proper balance of caution and confidence.

Carpenter concluded, “I’m excited but also have to remind myself of the responsibility I now have when it comes to caring for someone else. I love that I am learning so much in the hospital and going to clinicals has shown me just how tiring but rewarding nursing can be.”

About the Tucker Scholarship

Established in 2019 by Carolyn and Robert Tucker, the award includes full-tuition, room and board for eight semesters. The Tuckers are the founders of Shoe Show Inc. in Concord, N.C. In 2010, they gave the University a lead gift of $5.5 million to establish a foundational space for student life and services; the Tucker Student Center was named in their honor.