Not long after he started college in the 1990s, Dr. Donnie Eddins had to drop out and take a job when his mother became ill. He didn’t know if, when or where he would return to college to pursue his dream.

That’s when UNCF and Talladega College entered the picture.

His pastor was an alumnus of Talladega College, a liberal arts schools about 40 miles east of Birmingham, Alabama.

“Some admissions counselors and others from Talladega came to his funeral. They talked to some of the deacons in the church, and that was it. I was going to Talladega,” Eddins told Support from the United Negro College Fund helped to make it all happen, he said.

Tonight in New York, the UNCF will host a gala celebrating its iconic slogan, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

The 36-year-old Eddins said he has seen firsthand the true meaning of that tagline.

“To me, it means an opportunity to learn and to grow,” he said. “It means that those who may not have had an opportunity for higher education, now have support to realize their goals and become what they dream of becoming.”

Today, Eddins holds a doctorate in pharmacology and works with Merck Inc. in West Point, Pennsylvania. He works with behavioral research with the pharmaceutical company’s Alzheimer’s and schizophrenic franchises.

Without the help of UNCF, Eddins said he would not have been able to return to college when he did.

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