At The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s Scholarship Recognition Dinner, students meet the people who help make college possible for them. Approximately 320 donors and scholarship recipients recently attended the annual event in the University Center Annex.
During the evening, scholarship recipients gave some thought to why people that they do not know contribute to making their college education possible.
Hanna Freeman, a Lumberton native, received the Caton Family Endowed Scholarship to study elementary education. She met Bob and Faye Caton, who are also from Lumberton.
“Mrs. Caton said they really love this university, and that their family has been involved here since the 1980s,” Freeman said. “I believe they will create great experiences for people like me who really need assistance.”
Victoria Locklear received the Julian T. Pierce Endowed Memorial Scholarship, which is named for a local hero of the civil rights movement. Harvey Godwin, chairman-elect of the Lumbee Tribe and founder of the scholarship, met Locklear.
When asked why people give scholarships, Locklear gave an answer that would have made Pierce proud.
“So they can make a difference in people’s lives,” she said.
Before attending the dinner, scholarship recipients wrote a letter to their benefactors. Nat Tolar, a 1971 graduate, and his wife, Sandra, drive from Southport to attend this event every year.
“We got a great thank you letter from our student,” he said. “What we really come for every year is to meet the student in person who gets our scholarship.”
In his remarks, Chancellor Robin Cummings contrasted a university that is one of the most affordable in the nation with a student body that needs more. Nine of every 10 students are eligible for financial aid at UNCP, and four of five take out student loans to pay for college, he said.
“Over the years, the university’s leadership has intentionally kept this an accessible school for all students,” Cummings said. “We graduate many first-generation students. We change the lives of entire families. Other colleges have a much lower percent of students who require student loans because their schools are able to provide more scholarship support. UNC Pembroke loses many gifted students because other schools can offer them more financial aid.”
Cummings, who started work at UNCP in July, has found encouragement and inspiration from the students he has met. “We are changing lives, and this place is changing me,” he said.
“Your support helps students, and it helps the entire university,” he said. “On behalf of the students who would say your support means everything — thank you.”
Wendy Lowery, vice chancellor of the Office of Advancement, calls the Scholarship Recognition Dinner a truly special event.
From the raised podium, she said, “I wish you could see what I see from here. It’s a privilege for me to celebrate with you at such an important event. Our office writes many thank you letters every year, but this is more than a thank you letter or phone call. We try to create a personal relationship for you, and this is the perfect way to say thank you.”
When it was their turn, students said “thank you” in a video prepared for the event. Berri Locklear summed up her thoughts on receiving the Esther G. Maynor Scholarship, one of UNCP’s top scholarships for outstanding scholars.
“The scholarship I received allowed me to come to UNCP,” she said. “I would not be able to attend college at all if I had not gotten this scholarship. Thank you for believing in me and the students at UNCP. Without you, our dreams wouldn’t be possible.”
Summer Jacobs added this: “It makes me feel better that I have that support, and it motivates me to continue to do well and graduate. A lot of us wouldn’t be able to continue in school or buy books without a scholarship. Thank you.”
To learn about scholarships at UNC Pembroke, contact the Office of Advancement at 910-521-6252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.