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Tuesday January 31st

Scholarship funds for military-affiliated students receives $2 million from GAA

Sophomore Kayleigh Olecki (left) and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert Blouin (right) attend the announcement of a $2 million gift to help support dependents of military families and honor Douglas Dibbert ('70) at the George Watts Hill Alumni Center on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. Olecki is a Red, White, and Carolina Blue Scholar studying Computer Science and Japanese.
Buy Photos Sophomore Kayleigh Olecki (left) and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert Blouin (right) attend the announcement of a $2 million gift to help support dependents of military families and honor Douglas Dibbert ('70) at the George Watts Hill Alumni Center on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. Olecki is a Red, White, and Carolina Blue Scholar studying Computer Science and Japanese.

The UNC General Alumni Association is gifting $2 million in scholarship funds for military-affiliated students.

This gift, titled the Lieutenant Colonel Bernard W. Dibbert Carolina Covenant for Military Families Endowed Scholarship Fund, is available to all qualified military-affiliated students and those eligible for the Carolina Covenant scholarship program.

“We would hope that these scholarships, as they honor those who have served in the military and support their families, would give special pause to remember those who — as did the soldier for whom they are named — gave their today for the tomorrow of others,” said Thomas Lambeth, class of 1957, former UNC GAA board chairperson and current chairperson of the Tar Heel Network.

Through the scholarship, 25 Lieutenant Colonel Dibbert scholars will be welcomed to the University each year.

Lt. Col. Dibbert, whom the fund is named after, served in World War II, the Korean War and in the Vietnam War, where he died in a military ambush. 

His son, Doug Dibbert, has been the president of the GAA since 1982.

The GAA’s $2 million donation supports the Red, White and Carolina Blue Challenge. The challenge was created by Debbie and Steve Vetter, who are challenging the community to match their $20 million donation.

Scholarships like Lt. Col. Dibbert’s, the Red, White and Carolina Blue Challenge and the Carolina Covenant, make UNC a truly tangible experience for all students, said sophomore and Carolina Covenant scholar Kayleigh Olecki.

This year, Carolina Covenant is celebrating its 15th year of grants, scholarships, and work-study jobs.

Over the past four years, hundreds of low-income students have become Tar Heels through the Covenant scholarship, according to Steve Farmer, vice provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions. Among these are students from military families.

Olecki, a computer science and Japanese double major, said she belongs to a family with a long history of military service.

“A lot of my tuition comes from Carolina Covenant and gifts such as the Red, White and Carolina Blue Challenge," Olecki said. "I’m actually able to graduate debt-free because of these gifts."

Olecki said she appreciates the scholarship because it takes away the financial stress she would otherwise be carrying, and allows her to focus on her studies.

This gift gives “an individual, a young person, a chance that they may never had have otherwise, to do something that they otherwise would never have been able to do,” Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bob Blouin said.

Before coming to UNC, Olecki had never left the country. But now, she has been to Japan twice through programs sponsored by gifts like the Lt. Col. Dibbert donation.

“We look forward to meeting and getting to know all of the students who earned scholarships bearing our father’s name," Dibbert said. "Carolina remains proudly committed to access and affordability, which is especially important to military families."

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