Scholarship changed his life
Felipe Vega had just finished his last English final his freshman year at LaGrange College when he learned his stepfather had been laid off from his job. Hoping to make up the shortfall, Felipe worked a summer job and optimistically returned for football camp just three weeks before fall classes started his sophomore year.
But then he got the call: He owed too much and wouldn’t be able to start back to school.
Felipe returned to his hometown of Iron City and took a class at a local college while working at a grocery store where he had been employed before.
“It was very challenging because people looked at me like I had failed,” he says. “You could tell they were thinking, ‘You messed up. Did you get kicked off the football team? Did you flunk out of classes?’ I didn’t do any of those things. I had a good GPA; I was still on the football team.”
When Felipe checked into the possibility of returning to LaGrange College spring semester his sophomore year, he received news that would alter the course of his life.
“I found out that the Goizueta Foundation was able to offer me a scholarship that was the amount I needed to continue going to LaGrange College,” he says. “Now that I’ve graduated, I know that I wouldn’t have had the amazing opportunities I’ve had here, and I wouldn’t have such a great job, had it not been for the Goizueta family.”
Felipe graduated from LaGrange College in May with double majors and Business and Accountancy, the first person in the college’s history to do so.
“When I came back to LaGrange, I was a little behind,” he says. “I realized I could graduate one semester late and have one degree, but if I went two semesters instead, I could have both. Having both gives me such a great business sense, I think. My company now would say Accountancy and Business are like a thermometer and a thermostat: A thermometer tells you how hot it is, so accounting tells you where you are on the balance sheet. A thermostat can move temperature, and that’s what a businessman does; he makes decisions that can move the company.”
Unlike many graduates, he began his new job on April 29, almost three weeks before graduating college on May 18. He is a restaurant financial reporting accountant serving 60 Chick-fil-A owners and operators from his Atlanta office.
Felipe had begun working for Chick-fil-A while a junior at LaGrange College.
“From the get-go, I could tell it was a company I wanted to be a part of,” he says. “I love its principles and the foundation it was built on. I remember as I worked there one summer I told my mom I could make it my career. After obtaining my accounting and business degrees, I was able to work high enough to be considered for an interview.”
Felipe says he was “filled with joy” after he got the job.
“It was pouring rain that day, and the secretary who walked me out the door offered me an umbrella,” he says. “I told her I didn’t need an umbrella. It wasn’t going to rain on me. I was full of sunshine.”
He said the moment was surreal.
“So many times I didn’t know if I was going to be graduating, so many times I didn’t know where my life was headed,” Felipe says. “But at that point, I knew I had made it.”
Felipe’s experiences inside and outside the classroom at LaGrange College changed him for the better, he says.
“When I first applied to LaGrange College, I love that it said, ‘Challenging minds and inspiring souls,’” he says. “My mom loved it and I loved it. I feel like through my time at LaGrange College, I really have been able to do that.
“I’ve been challenged academically: I’ve learned so much about the world, so much about my profession. I’ve been inspired: I’ve been able to find myself spiritually and have been involved in different religious groups and have had spiritual mentors to guide me.”
While at the college, Felipe not only played football but also was the president of two honor societies, Omicron Delta Kappa (leadership) and Delta Mu Delta (business). He is a member of Alpha Delta Gamma fraternity and was treasurer of Student Government Association. He also participated in several service projects, including building a home for Habitat for Humanity.
“All my experiences here have transformed me into something better,” he says. “And I have peace of mind knowing I’m not an isolated incident. I look at my graduating class and I see people who came in and out of here completely different. They were challenged, they were inspired, and they were really transformed into people who will be strong contributors to society.”