UNCP recognizes its 28 Golden LEAF Scholars

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Golden LEAF scholars
Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings, left, First Lady Rebecca Cummings, Dan Gerlach, president of the Golden LEAF Foundation, back left, and Bo Biggs, back right, join some of the 27 students benefiting from scholarships from the Golden LEAF Foundation. Provost David Ward, far right, also attended a recent luncheon.

Juggling physics classes at Richmond Community College while working as a shift manager at Bojangles was taking a toll on Sandra Huneycutt.

That burden was lifted two years ago when she transferred to UNC Pembroke and was awarded the Golden LEAF Foundation Scholarship.

She was able to give up her job and concentrate on her studies.

“It gave me the freedom to focus on my research while pursuing my degree in Applied Physics without accumulating a lot of debt,” said Huneycutt, a senior who graduates in December.

“I am the first person in my family to go to college.”

Huneycutt joined other Golden LEAF Scholars for a luncheon on campus last week where they got to engage with Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF president and Bo Biggs, a Lumberton businessman and Foundation board member.

“I want to thank Golden LEAF for this scholarship,” Huneycutt said. “I did not have many opportunities. This scholarship gave me a second chance.”

The scholarship provides $3,000 a year for up to four years to students who demonstrate financial need and reside in a rural county that is tobacco dependent or economically distressed. The Golden LEAF Foundation was established in 1999 to administer one half of the tobacco settlement agreement monies back into North Carolina's rural and economically distressed communities. 

“This scholarship is a wonderful way to use our tobacco settlement monies to further advance rural students in college and relieve them from the burden of debt,” Biggs said. “It’s even more satisfying from a regional standpoint to see the number of Golden LEAF scholars who chose to attend UNC Pembroke.

“I look forward to even more rural students not only applying, but choosing UNCP as a place to further their educational career.”

Since its inception, it has awarded over $41 million to help more than 19,200 students attend the state’s colleges and universities. Recipients at UNCP have received more than $300,000 in scholarships over the past five academic years.

“The Golden LEAF Foundation is proud to have 28 Golden LEAF scholars at UNC Pembroke," Gerlach said. “These hardworking and bright scholars have deep roots in their rural communities, and we are proud to support their education pursuits as they develop into North Carolina's next generation of rural economic and community leaders.”

Huneycutt has applied to the William States Lee College of Engineering at UNC Charlotte. Her career plan is to work with energy, specifically alternative and renewable energy sources.

“I would like to work for a company like Orano or Duke Energy where I could focus on alternative energy methods instead of using coal.”

The 2018-2019 Golden LEAF Scholars are: Rachel Bryan, Heather Boggess, John Bourgeois, Toniqua Brimmer, Veronica Britt, Tony Brown, Ciara Covington, Lakota Craft, Ananda Farland, Ciena Fedor, Makayla Freeman, Meredith Hatchell, Morgan Hayes, Savannah Jones, Trevon Knight, Juwan Lockhart, Jasmine Locklear, Alanna Ludlum, Lourdes Martin, Yaqot Nasser, James Rierson, Julie Shirah, Sophia Singletary, Kayleigh Smith, Allen Turner, Nathalie Vargas and Brandon Wood-Potter.