Carolina alumna Susan Heinemann ’81 believes education is a bridge.
Susan, a native of Hendersonville, North Carolina, believes that the Carolina Covenant — the University’s promise to low-income students and families that a world-class education remains within reach — facilitates access to that bridge. Students who earn a place at UNC-Chapel Hill and are eligible for the Covenant have the opportunity to graduate from Carolina without debt.
“When I heard about the Carolina Covenant, it was like a lightbulb went off in my brain. I thought, ‘Wow! What a great idea.’”
Since that initial spark, Susan has established two substantial endowments for the Carolina Covenant. In 2006, she and her son created the Susan Heinemann and Michael Umberger Carolina Covenant Endowment Fund. In 2014, in honor of the late Fred Clark, the first academic coordinator of the Carolina Covenant, she founded the Fred Clark Carolina Covenant Memorial Endowment Fund.
Susan and Fred met at a chancellor’s dinner on campus and quickly became friends.
“He was like a father to my son, and I know he [Fred] filled that role many times for hundreds of Covenant Scholars. He provided that little bit of extra care and guidance that he was so expert at giving,” Susan shared. “He was truly a treasure, and the Covenant is better for his work.”
Fred would often say, “The word ‘covenant’ means promise. That’s literally what we’re doing with these students: We promise that we’ll get them through [college] and prepare them for their future.”
The Carolina Covenant has celebrated 15 years of impact. Today, it stands stronger than ever, thanks to the support and devotion of people like Susan, her son Michael and Fred.