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Accepting No Limits – Sheets wins inaugural Spirit of ACCESS Award

April 8, 2014

For Hannah Sheets ’14 of Wilkes County, the ACCESS scholarship program has “bridged the gap” between her reality and her dreams.

Initially told by her parents that she had to accept limits because they could not afford to send her to college, she is preparing to graduate and begin a nursing career. She recently accepted a position working in the bone marrow transplant unit at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

It’s a dream job for her, since she developed a passion for caring for others while caretaking her own parents as they struggled with cancer.

“There is no limitation on what I can do with this career that Appalachian State University and the ACCESS program has prepared, equipped and inspired me to pursue,” she wrote in an essay this spring. “This has been the most rewarding and positive experience of my life and I have ACCESS to thank for that entirely.”

Without the scholarship, Hannah wrote that she would not be the first in her family to earn a four-year degree, or to have studied in Mexico, develop the skills needed for success, or change people’s lives by working in the health care industry.

“If it were not for ACCESS,” she wrote, “I would still be under the impression that I have limits.”

In April, the ACCESS program presented her with its inaugural Kenneth E. Peacock Spirit of ACCESS Award for embodying the difference the scholarship program was created to make. The award included $1,000 and a medallion to wear at graduation.


Since 2007, Appalachian’s ACCESS scholarship program has supported deserving and outstanding students from the state’s lowest-income families by offering a debt-free, four-year university education. ACCESS stands for Appalachian Commitment to a College Education for Student Success.

Many ACCESS students are the first in their families to attend college and have all overcome significant struggles to get to Appalachian State University.

The program admits about 50 freshmen each year from families who live at or below federal poverty guidelines. The ACCESS program supplements federal financial aid grants, state financial aid grants and scholarships, and other forms of financial assistance with sufficient funds to cover the cost of tuition, fees, room and board and possibly an on-campus job for personal expenses for up to eight semesters.