When Maria Plumley attended Reinhardt, the population was much smaller, but the close-knit community was ever present.
The heart of the Reinhardt community is a constant that has withstood the test of time.
Maria was no ordinary student. The determined, fun-loving and curious student found her time at Reinhardt to be the best time of her life.
That’s why her sister and brother-in-law knew there was no place worthier of the proceeds from Maria’s estate after her passing, which is why they established the Maria Gail Plumley Endowed Scholarship.
Maria had cerebral palsy – but cerebral palsy didn’t define her.
Maria was born a twin, the youngest of a family of 16 children. Her twin did not survive, and Maria became the baby of the family. She endured many surgeries and treatments, traveling to Dalton with her mother or siblings for those treatments. Maria grew up but never truly accepted her wheelchair or her limitations. In her strong mind, she didn’t have limitations.
“Life was always hard but she didn’t let it get her down,” her sister, Barbara Mayfield, said.
Maria attended Gilmer County High School but later earned her GED. She was accepted to Reinhardt College and began her college experience in the 1980s.
“College is lifechanging,” Barbara said. “Maria’s situation emphasizes the effect a school like Reinhardt can have on someone in her circumstances.”
“She loved school. She had a motorized wheelchair at that point so it helped her. But her friends would take turns helping Maria up the stairs in her wheelchair. One would take her up and another would take her down.”
Dr. Floyd Falany, President of Reinhardt when Maria attended and one of Maria’s favorite people, fondly remembers her. He recalls her strong spirit and her desire to do well.
“We used to take trips and always made sure Maria was accommodated. She really enjoyed those trips,” Falany said. “I am happy that they are creating a scholarship in Maria’s honor. She was a special student.”
While studying at Reinhardt, Maria wanted the full college experience and she lived on campus in Gordy Hall.
“Those were her most independent days, her happiest days,” Barbara said.
“It was the pinnacle of her life,” added Claude Mayfield, Barbara’s husband.
The Mayfields, knowing how impactful Reinhardt was to Maria, have begun a scholarship at Reinhardt in Maria’s honor and specifically for students like Maria. The scholarship is open to a Georgia resident entering Reinhardt as a freshman who has some level of a physical disability and the determination to study and earn a degree.
Like the Mayfields, you can make a Legacy Gift, as well, in the name of a loved one or plan one for yourself. To learn more, contact Tim Norton, vice president for advancement & marketing, at (770) 720-5545 or email TAN@Reinhardt.edu.