Hackettstown resident says the prestigious honor—which covers full tuition for four years at Centenary—taught her to love herself
Hackettstown, N.J., Nov. 10, 2023—Centenary University first-year student Hailey Tibus has a small tattoo that says simply, “Love Yours.” It’s a mantra she’s learned to embrace after years of feeling that she never quite measured up against her peers. Tibus’s parents were separated when she was a toddler and her father passed away when she was 12 due to cancer related to the 9/11 attacks. Growing up in a family facing significant financial challenges, Tibus started working early on to help out with household expenses. As a result, there wasn’t much time to get involved in the student organizations that are so important in gaining high school recognition and college scholarships.
Living just two blocks from Centenary, she’d pass campus on her way to Hatchery Hill Elementary School and dream of someday earning a degree from the University. Money may have been tight, but Tibus had lots of love and support from her family—her mother and brother, as well as her grandparents—and knew that somehow, she’d find a way to realize her dream. “My mother never forced college on us, but I think that was because of finances,” Tibus recalled. “She always supported whatever we wanted to do. I was always setting goals for myself, and my mom was always by my side supporting whatever I chose to do.”
When Tibus heard that Centenary offered a full, four-year scholarship annually to one graduate of Hackettstown High School, she hesitated to apply. “I thought there would always be somebody better than me,” recalled Tibus, who graduated from high school last spring. “They’re going to be better in school, better in sports, better in life than me. My grandfather was the one who gave me the confidence to apply for the scholarship. He told me, ‘I’ve loved you for 18 years. These people are going to love you, too.’”
Tibus decided to apply, and last spring learned that Centenary University had named her the recipient of the 2023 Hackettstown Partnership Scholarship. The prestigious award provides full tuition for four years of study at Centenary. Teachers, guidance counselors, the principal, and high school friends all congratulated her. Tibus’s family shed tears of joy at the news that her college dream would become a reality.
Now, well into her first semester as a business management major, Tibus has settled into her routine at Centenary. A commuter student, she’s already joined a program on campus for first generation college students and recently became president of the program. Her goal: To help high school students facing similar challenges as her own. Tibus also plans to work as an admissions tour guide. “I feel like so many opportunities have opened up to me at Centenary,” Tibus said. “The number one thing I have learned through this scholarship is that it’s not just about the money. It’s definitely a big achievement that has taught me to love my story and everything that I have. To the donors who contributed to this scholarship, I would just like to say, ‘Thank you for changing my life.’”
ABOUT CENTENARY UNIVERSITY
Centenary University offers extraordinary learning opportunities that empower students to develop intellectually, emotionally, and interculturally—keys to career and personal success.Under the leadership of President Dale Caldwell, Ed.D., the University aspires to advance its reputation as a world class institution offering innovative programs, including the world’s first Master of Arts in Happiness Studies, to lift the future for our students and local communities.