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Business student flourishes academically and personally with help from scholarships

Coming to Virginia Commonwealth University from Chesapeake, Virginia, as a freshman in 2016 was the first time Giovanni Knight had left the structured, regimented lifestyle her family had adopted to care for her two sisters with autism. The adjustment was hard, she says.

Although coursework came easily to her, she struggled to maintain her mental health amid the change and was soon diagnosed with high-functioning depression and anxiety.

“I got straight As, so no one thought anything was wrong,” she recalls. “My grades were fine, but I cried a lot and didn’t have a lot of interest in activities.”

Gradually, Knight adapted. By the end of her second year at VCU, she had chosen to major in information systems in the School of Business, gotten a job, joined student organizations and started to make friends on campus. Things were looking up, she says, until she found out her family was no longer able to support her financially. She worried she would have to drop out and return home just when she was beginning to make progress.

“I went to everyone of authority that I knew at VCU and said, ‘I need help. I can’t do this by myself,’” Knight says.

With help from scholarships, including the School of Business Foundation PLUS Scholarship and the Business Alumni Association Scholarship, Knight can remain at VCU and stay on track for graduation in May 2020.

“VCU came through for me,” Knight says. “When I called for help, people rose to the call. Scholarships are the only reason I’m still here. It feels like someone is saying, ‘I know you’re struggling. I know this is hard, and I’m so proud of you for doing it.’”