At a meeting she didn’t want to attend, Pamela B. Hughes, UNC Pembroke’s 2008 Esther Maynor Scholar, found her passion.
“In the 8th grade, we were asked to go to a meeting about playing sports in high school,” Hughes said. “I wasn’t interested in sports, but I met the ATs (athletic trainers).”
Hughes, who grew up in Lucama, N.C., has been dedicated to athletic training for four years at James B. Hunt High School in Wilson. In her senior year, she was invited to be a trainer for North Carolina’s East-West All-Star Football Game and the Shrine Bowl of the Carolina’s.
It was a transformative experience, or as Hughes put it: “it’s funny how things work out.”
“At first, I was really shy, almost in tears,” she said. “As the season went on, I gained confidence, and people learned to trust me.”
At the Shrine Bowl, Hughes worked with top-flight athletes, some headed for the National Football League.
“I thought they might be a little cocky, but working with those athletes was great because they were some of the nicest, well-mannered guys I’ve met,” she said. “They treated me with respect.”
Graduating near the top of her class with a 4.28 grade point average, Hughes said she grew up a lot in high school. When she looked at colleges, a scholarship was, perhaps, the only way.
The answer came from the Esther G. Maynor Honors Council that awarded its annual scholarship to Hughes, a senior at James B. Hunt, Jr. High School, according to an announcement in May by Dr. Jesse Peters, dean of the college.
”Pamela has already distinguished herself as a fine young scholar, and the Maynor Honors College is pleased that she has chosen to accept this scholarship and attend UNCP in the Fall of 2008,” Dr. Peters said.
This scholarship includes full tuition, room, board, fees and books. It is renewable for four years and was established through a gift from the estate of the late Esther G. Maynor, who grew up in Pembroke.
“It is designed to help outstanding scholars who also have a high level of financial need,” Dr. Peters said. “The Honors Council is confident that Pamela Hughes is exactly the type of student the scholarship endowment was intended to benefit.
“I firmly believe that both UNCP and the Maynor Honors College will be proud to have Pamela represent us as the second Maynor Scholar,” he concluded.
Hughes is grateful for the opportunity, and she is ready to make the transition to college.
“When I got the news, I ran to tell my mom and cried like a baby,” she said. “Of course, I am a little nervous, but I’m getting used to doing new things.
“The scholarship is a blessing because it takes the stress from trying to figure out how to pay for college, Hughes said. “It lets me focus on getting it done.”
The newest Maynor Scholar is familiar with UNCP.
“I love the campus,” she said. “I joke with my friends that the grass is greener in Pembroke.”
Hughes first visited UNCP during her sophomore year with a college prep program at Hunt High school. She made her second visit with a friend and football prospect.
“We got a tour of the new Fieldhouse and the athletic training room there,” Hughes said. “I peeked in the window of the main athletic training facility (in the English E. Jones Athletic Center).”
It may have been UNCP’s legendary “personal touch” that sold her on Pembroke.
“When I was at the Shrine Bowl, I ran into UNCP’s football coaches,” Hughes said. “They remembered me and said hello.”
The newest Maynor Scholar was a leader for four years in school clubs and student government.
“I enjoyed giving service to my school and my community,” she said.
In a telephone interview on May 16, Hughes said she was preparing to go to Relay for Life, a popular program to raise money for cancer research. As she had done before, Hughes saw a need and organized a solution.
“We formed an AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) Club team for Relay,” she said. “AVID is a college prep program, and this year I helped start a program to include the whole school, not just the college-bound students.”
Welcome to Pembroke.