UWF memorial scholarship created to honor devoted elementary teacher

The University of West Florida College of Education and Professional Studies recently received a $100,000 gift from David and Emily Walby to establish the Linda Evans Memorial Scholarship.

“We are very fortunate to have an alumna like Linda Evans,” said Dr. William Crawley, dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies. “Her devotion to education is truly inspirational to the university and educators alike. We are proud to establish this scholarship that will afford future educators at UWF.”

Evans, a UWF alumna, earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and was in UWF’s first graduating class in June 1969. She devoted 35 years to teaching students at Royal Green Elementary School in Miami. David and Emily Walby said that Evans was a lifelong friend of theirs and showed dedication to education throughout her career.

“Linda hoped that she could be remembered best by helping new prospective elementary school teachers learn their trade and in turn pass it on to the next generation,” the couple said. “This scholarship will help make this happen.”

The Linda Evans Memorial Scholarship will be disbursed to students starting this fall. Three teacher education students will receive funding based on their outstanding academic performances: Kennedy Hand, Erin Pugh and Melissa Marquis. All three students will graduate from their respective programs in May 2018.

Hand is an undergraduate student majoring in elementary education with endorsements in English for Speakers of Other Languages and reading and minors in exceptional student education and psychology. She plans to enter the field as an elementary school teacher and later, attend graduate school.

“I feel very honored to have been selected as one of the first recipients of this scholarship,” Hand said. “The fact that I was hand-picked to represent Linda Evans in a memorable way made it very special for me.”

Marquis is an online master’s student majoring in curriculum and instruction. She currently teaches pre-K in New Port Richey and has seven years teaching experience, with two years at Richey Elementary School. Marquis works with ESOL students, many of whom speak Spanish.

“With the ESOL class I took at UWF, I’ve learned to be very influential with the children and their families,” she said. “I’ve been able to help other teachers as well.”

Pugh is a fellow online master’s student majoring in curriculum and instruction. She earned her first master’s degree from UWF in exceptional student education in Spring 2017.

“When I graduate, I would like to find a job working with disabled students,” Pugh said. “I grew up with a brother who is severely handicapped, so that has piqued my interest. After I settle back into the states, I am interested in pursuing the education specialist or doctoral program at UWF.”

The UWF Department of Teacher Education and Educational Leadership is committed to preparing students with the professional education knowledge and necessary skills to teach students with diverse learning needs. For more information about the UWF Department of Teacher Education and Educational Leadership, visit