Creating Scholarship is a Dream Come True

For Amanda Holt, living in Margaret Amini Scholarship Hall was central to her KU experience. And spending time with the hall’s namesake in person? Unforgettable. “I remember how honored I was to meet the woman behind making this type of college experience possible for students with strong academic merit, a desire to support their community and incredible financial need,” Amanda said. “She was so inspiring. I remember thinking, ‘If I can ever be like her, I want to be like her.’”

Growing up in a single-parent household, Amanda said graduating with as little debt as possible was important. “I had a fire inside me to work my tail off to get as much financial support as I could,” she said. Amanda received multiple scholarships and awards, worked as a resident assistant her junior year, and still found time to achieve academic merit and serve the community.

After graduating with a degree in journalism in 2003, Amanda worked in public relations and met her husband, Bryce, a KU alumnus with a bachelor’s in creative writing. Amanda later earned her master’s in public health and has spent her professional life working to improve health care. Bryce has focused on helping run his family’s business, which provides online technical education nationwide.

“The two of us have been working really hard in our careers the last 20 years with this being one of our dreams — to give back and pay it forward,” Amanda said.

Earlier this year, the couple established the Amanda and Bryce Holt Scholarship fund for scholarship hall residents with academic merit and significant financial need, but who are not eligible to receive a Pell Grant — just like Amanda.
FULL CIRCLE: Amanda and Bryce Holt meet Gracie Wheeler (L), the first recipient of their scholarship, at the scholarship hall Amanda lived in as a student. “Being able to do this now means we get to enjoy watching this gift mature alongside the students who will be impacted,” Amanda said.Ann Dean
“It’s been an emotional journey to be able to do this because it truly is a dream come true,” she said. “It’s made me realize how grateful I am for the support I received as a student.”

The scholarship’s first recipient, Gracie Wheeler, hopes to one day run a family clinic in a rural community. “The Amanda and Bryce Holt Scholarship has helped me achieve my dreams financially and also has given me a new look at what it means to give back and boost others in my community.”

Bryce hopes this scholarship will inspire others to give. “If one person can look at their situation and say, ‘I can do that too,’ that’s enough for me,” he said. “Seventy students applied for this. That’s 70 students who need help to be able to go to school. We’d love to see what it becomes, particularly if we can grow our own — to help the second, or the fifth or the 28th person in line to have the same opportunity.”
Katherine Corliss