Alumni couple establishes scholarship to help make a difference

Drew and Kelly Scoggins and family
Drew and Kelly Scoggins and family

In 2005, newlyweds Drew and Kelly Scoggins moved to Equatorial Guinea, the only country in Africa where Spanish is the official language. Kelly, a Spanish and European studies major, honed the language skills she mastered as an undergraduate while Drew used his degree in economics and history to work in the international energy business, specifically in community development and business strategy.

Both remember their time in West Africa as one of personal and professional growth where they witnessed firsthand poverty, inequality and limited educational opportunities. They came back to the United States knowing they wanted to do something to make a difference. As their careers progressed and their family grew, one constant that they remained passionate about was Vanderbilt.

In 2016, they established the Drew and Kelly Scoggins Scholarship through Opportunity Vanderbilt, the university’s financial aid initiative to replace all need-based undergraduate student loans with scholarships and grants.

“The students here are remarkable,” Drew, who graduated in 2002, said. “We feel gratitude toward Vanderbilt for opening our minds and expanding our horizons, and we want others to have the opportunity to have that same quality academic experience.”

“What stands out about Vanderbilt is of course the academics, but the friendships we formed and the sense of community and camaraderie that we feel among alumni and current students are also really special,” said Kelly, a 2003 graduate. “There is a kindness and humility among students, in addition to their being high achievers.”

It is fitting that the first recipient of their scholarship is student Alyssa Jacobs.

Alyssa, a first-year student in the College of Arts and Science, is from a suburb of Chicago and says she was drawn to Vanderbilt not just by its academic strengths but also because of its strong sense of community.

“None of the other schools could compare to the ‘this is it’ feeling I got when I visited Vanderbilt. I wanted a school where I fit in and felt accepted and I found that here,” she said.

The Scoggins and their twin daughters now live in Houston, Drew as a managing partner and co-founder of Millennial Energy Partners and Kelly as a vice president of investment management for Goldman Sachs. The couple feel fortunate that as young alumni, they are able to give back.

“There are so many different ways to give back,” Drew said. “For us the lasting impact of creating a scholarship is important and exciting for us. Vanderbilt has a strong legacy and we want to continue to be a part of that.”

The Scoggins also plan to come to campus and talk with students about working in the energy industry and international development field.

Alyssa is already on track to get the most out of her Vanderbilt experience.

“I am able to attend the school of my dreams that will provide me with knowledge, memories, friendships and opportunities for the rest of my life,” she said. “I hope to pay it forward in the future as an alumni and support students who have the same dreams and possess the same love for Vanderbilt that I do.”

by Alexandra Valnoski