Barretta Scholarships fuel foundation for careers

Entrepreneurs Sherry and Tony Barretta recognize education as the key to their career success. Sherry graduated from UNC Greensboro in 1972 with a degree in elementary education, but after a short teaching career and earning advanced degrees, she entered the IT field and subsequently founded VisionCor, one of the Top 50 Woman-owned Businesses in North Carolina. Likewise, Tony advanced in IT and started his own successful health care firm, EXT Software Services, Inc., where his leadership resulted in numerous awards and recognition for excellence.

The Barrettas established the Sherry and Tony Barretta Scholarship Endowment to honor the memory of Sherry’s mother, Vernie L. Kling, for her lifelong commitment to education and for making the sacrifices necessary for Sherry and her sister, Vickie Kling Thompson ’66, to obtain degrees from UNCG.

Through this scholarship, the Barrettas wish to acknowledge their good fortune and help others achieve a strong educational foundation upon which to build their careers.

Awarded to undergraduates in the Joseph M. Bryan School of Business and Economics, the scholarship has made distributions totaling nearly $8,000 to seven students since its establishment in 2019. Two of this year’s recipients are marketing major Essence Pauling and business administration major Michelle Terron Azamar. Both are first- generation college students and aspiring entrepreneurs themselves.

“This scholarship helps me tremendously because my education means everything to me,” Essence says. “I am the oldest of five children, so I want to show my siblings that even though we don’t have much money, we still have a shot at being great in life.”

Essence’s passion is to open her own business to generate marketing strategies that will aid companies in creating more revenue. She envisions helping companies gain global exposure and engage in business with other countries such as China.

Michelle dreams of serving post-graduation in the U.S. Air Force and then becoming a real estate broker. Her desire to become a businesswoman was inspired by an aunt in Mexico who told Michelle the story of her journey to becoming successful, a story that has remained top of mind for Michelle to this day.

“Ever since I arrived at UNCG, I have strived to become the best version of myself academically and personally. Aside from this scholarship helping my family and me financially, it motivates me to continue to give college my all,” Michelle says.

Fueled by hard work and Sherry and Tony Barretta’s generous gift, Essence and Michelle have a clear vision of the road ahead, where their ambitions will no doubt lead to a bright future.

Photo of Essence Pauling (left) and Michelle Terron Azamar (right) by Sean Norona.