Wyatt receives grant, donates funds to children’s library

May 11, 2023

Julia Wyatt, an elementary education major at Newberry College, always looks for ways to ‘pay it forward.’ When she learned she had been awarded a scholarship by the Cindy Mackie Foundation, she decided to donate a portion of her grant toward renovating the children’s library at the college’s Center for Teacher Education.

Based in Blackstock, part of Chester County, the foundation honors the memory of Winthrop professor Cynthia “Cindy” Furr, who, along with her daughter, Mackie, were killed in a car accident in 2009. In addition to her career as an educator, Furr was also the music minister at her church. For Wyatt, who has a minor in music and serves in music ministry with her sister, Peyton, the foundation and its mission struck a chord.

“As I learned about this special family, I wanted to pay forward what I had so generously been given,” said Wyatt. “I was working alongside Dr. [Susan] Fernandez in hopes of renovating the children’s library to develop the venue into a literacy location accessible to all students. Thus, as I value reading and education, I felt as though I had been given a blessing that would not only bless me, but prayerfully bless many others in the process.

“My hope is that this will honor the foundation, as well as provide many exciting opportunities for schoolchildren in the area,” added Wyatt.

The children’s library is currently undergoing renovations to make it more welcoming and interactive for local children and their families. This will include updating furnishings and décor, adding displays for holidays and special commemorations, and adding new programs, such as featuring a local author each month. Deborah Poston, assistant professor of teacher education, is spearheading the project, assisted by members of the Newberry Education Society.

“Julia is an amazing student,” said Dr. Susan Fernandez, dean of education. Of the library, she said, “Mikayla Dupree, a sophomore early childhood education major, has painted Scar on the wall. We have cushions that look like tree stumps. It’s decorated very nicely and we want the community to be able to use it, too. We hope to have it done by the end of the summer so that we can have our celebration in the fall.”

Wyatt said her aspirations for after graduation include continuing to manage her business, Inner Journey School of Music, teaching piano and voice lessons, and traveling with her sister in their music ministry group, Sister Harmony.


About Newberry College

Newberry College is a private, residential, co-educational institution with a diverse student population. Founded in 1856 by the Lutheran Church, Newberry College continues to be ranked among the South’s best colleges by U.S. News & World Report, consistently honored for value (No. 6), social mobility (No. 8) and overall best (No. 11). Offering baccalaureate degrees in 38 majors, two graduate programs, five fully online undergraduate programs and five dual-degree programs, the College’s foundation remains grounded in the liberal arts. In addition, the College offers 24 NCAA Division II sports, cheerleading, dance and esports. Newberry College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, and the National Association of Schools of Music. For more information, visit newberry.edu.