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UNC Pembroke scholarship recipients, donors meet at annual banquet

Katy Flax and Casey Burroughs
Scholarship recipients Katy Flax and Casey Burroughs met their award donors Dr. Lacey Gane and wife, Jan, during the the 15th annual Scholarship Recognition Dinner on November 21, 2019

Faced with a large tuition bill, Temichael Tart’s educational career at UNC Pembroke and future as a public relations consultant was up in the air.  

Shortly before the start of the fall semester, the Maxton sophomore learned she was the recipient of the Stephen A. Hammonds Endowed Scholarship. Tart was over the moon after receiving her notification letter. 

“I am very thankful,” Tart said. “It was a struggle when I first got the bill, but the scholarship paid off the remaining portion and helped me come back this semester.” 

The scholarship is named for Stephen Hammonds, one of the university’s earliest graduates. Tart got a chance to personally thank Hammonds’ grandchildren, Ronald and Celia Hammonds, at the 15th annual Scholarship Recognition Dinner just before the Thanksgiving holiday.  

Regarded as one of the more heartwarming events at the university, the dinner brought together–some for the first time–more than 450 scholarship recipients and donors. Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings said the event is an opportunity for donors to see, firsthand, the impact of their generosity.  

“We are proud of our academic programs, our facilities, student clubs, athletics, campus life and partnerships with other schools. But none of that matters if financial barriers prevent students from getting their education,” Cummings said. 

“Many of our students are one transmission failure, one set of new tires, one unexpected bill away of not returning the next semester. And that is why your support is so important and so critical. Thank you all for your support of this university and our students.” 

The evening was full of gratitude and appreciation right before the holiday.  

Sophomore Melissa Creech, who is studying to become a pharmacologist, burst into tears when she learned she received the John E. Resinner Memorial Scholarship.  

“It lifted a burden because I was stressing. I am very thankful and grateful.” 

Being awarded the Maynor Honors College Scholarship has lightened the financial burden for Nicole Lawrence whose mother is battling serious medical issues. 

“It’s definitely made an impact,” said Lawrence, a junior from Hamlet. “It has allowed me to focus my time on what I am passionate about which is social work.” 

Graduating with as little debt as possible is a “huge deal” for Autumn Roush. The junior studio art major from Raeford expressed appreciation to the family of the Dean Elinor F. Newberry and Esther G. Maynor scholarships—people she has never met who are making a difference in her life.  

“For someone who doesn’t know me to be willing to give money is a huge blessing because it enables me to work toward my goal of graduating and get a job that I’m really passionate about,” she said. “I can make the love of the work a priority rather than a job that just pays back student loans.”  

Aimee Batson, the keynote speaker, shared an emotional story of how her late husband’s experience as a UNCP student-athlete motivated him to establish a scholarship. Buddy Batson, an All-American wrestler in the 1990s and longtime high school coach, lost his battle with cancer in 2018. Aimee spoke of her pride in being able to honor Buddy’s wishes and establish the Buddy Batson Wrestling Endowment honoring his life.  

“We are indebted to UNCP for the opportunity they gave to Buddy, as a student and an athlete,” she said. “With this scholarship, we want to ensure his love for this wonderful sport lives on and helps future student-athletes take advantage of their goals of being educated and changing the world without worrying about how to pay for it.” 

Jodi Phelps, interim vice chancellor for Advancement, thanked the donors for paying their kindness forward and for realizing the power they have to shape students’ lives. 

 “The future of our community, our region and our university is right here in this room. It’s in our students. You have invested wisely in that future.”