Donor gives stimulus check to benefit Kennesaw State students

Ariel Walley
Ariel Walley

KENNESAW, Ga. (Sep 2, 2020) — Before her one-time stimulus payment from the U.S. government arrived in late spring, Kennesaw State alumna Ariel Walley already had decided that she wanted to give the extra money to someone in need.

An academic advisor in KSU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Walley talks with numerous students each week, and when the pandemic hit in March, students were desperate to figure out how to continue school, graduate on time and financially survive.

So it wasn’t hard for her to make the decision to provide the gift to Kennesaw State to benefit students in need.

“When the pandemic hit, I had students blowing up my inbox, and I realized how detrimental this was for a lot of students,” she said. “Many have shared their struggles about classes and personal challenges and were just trying to figure out how to make it all work.”

Walley’s gift was directed to KSU’s Campus Awareness, Resource and Empowerment (CARE) Services, a program that supports Kennesaw State students experiencing homelessness, food insecurity and/or the foster care system.

She has referred several students to CARE in her role as an academic advisor, usually because they shared with her that they were “bouncing from one friend’s house to another or dealing with food insecurity.”

As shelter-in-place orders continued in Georgia for several weeks in the spring, the Kennesaw resident recognized that she was able to work from home, maintain her paycheck and have a stable living environment – and that others weren’t so fortunate.

“So many students desperately need this money to keep them afloat,” she said. “I don’t think the stimulus money was intended for those in my situation, and it is better off with people other than me.”

When her check arrived, she intended her gift to be a “quiet and subtle thing,” she recalled. However, Walley’s contribution of a $1,200 gift made a big impression on the organization that received it.

“I couldn't believe that someone would take something they had been given to be used as emergency assistance and want to provide it to our students,” said Marcy Stidum, executive director of KSU’s CARE Services. “Most of us could use that ‘extra’ money for a number of things. To think that their first thought though was to donate it to CARE students was overwhelming.”

Walley first came to Kennesaw State as a dual enrollment student during her senior year of high school, and then earned her bachelor’s degree in Modern Language and Culture from KSU in 2017. While a student, Walley was active in the Student Government Association and the Honors College, where she worked as a student assistant for three years.

Walley joined the University as an academic advisor shortly after graduating and has worked in a variety of academic advisor roles over the past few years, now serving students majoring in both Modern Language and English.

“I hope that this small gift helps students make it another day, another week, another month, by helping with school supplies or rent,” she said. “I wanted this gift to offer them less stress and less worry financially so they can focus on other things. Right now, students have to prioritize, and I wanted to give them room to breathe.”

– Tiffany Capuano

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit