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UNCP’s donors, scholars meet at annual banquet


“Donors really, really enjoy meeting the students who benefit from their scholarships,” Sandy Waterkotte, vice chancellor for Advancement, said following UNC Pembroke’s 6th Annual Scholarship Recognition Dinner.

More than 220 donors and scholarship recipients attended the November 16 event.

In conversations at the event, students learned who their benefactors are and why they gave.

“I believe it is because they really care,” said Melanie Cockerton, an elementary education major from Hamlet, N.C.

Cockerton received the Herman and Louise M. Jenkins Memorial Scholarship, which honors the parents of Dr. Charles Jenkins, who was UNCP’s long-time provost and was interim chancellor in 2009-10.

“I hope I would be the type of person who would help someone in the same way they helped me,” Cockerton said.

Ethan Clark, a freshman baseball player from Pembroke, was sitting with Tim Brayboy, whose family established the Tecumseh B. and Eva Brayboy Endowed Scholarship to honor their parents.

“I think people establish scholarships to help their community,” Clark said. “I’ve been talking to Mr. Brayboy; he’s a pretty unique guy.”

Unanimously, the students appreciated the help, and they need the scholarship assistance.

“It really helps; I do need the scholarship,” said Lauren Moore. “And I learned tonight I am kin to Mr. Oxendine.”

Moore, an elementary education major from Pembroke, received the Louis and Millie Oxendine Scholarship. Louis attended the event with his brothers, Chancellor Emeritus Joseph B. Oxendine.

Grant Merritt listed rising tuition and the recession as reasons that scholarships are more important than ever. He was with Andrew Fetch, Benjamin McDiarmid, Graham McPhaul, Edward Ricker and Tiffany Tyler, who all received James A. Comstock Memorial Scholarships.

“We don’t know who he is,” Fetch said.

“We’d like to know more about the scholarship,” Ricker said.

James A. Comstock, who probably never heard of UNCP, died in 1980. The James A. Comstock Memorial Scholarship Charitable Trust produces income that students and schools may apply for.

Managed by a bank in Providence, R.I., the trust is valued at approximately $2 million.

“In my mind, he was a person who wanted to change lives,” McDiarmid said.

“And invest in the future of America,” McPhaul said.

Curtis Adams’ benefactor was one of two keynote speakers. A senior mass communication major from Raleigh, N.C., Adams reflected about the relationship between scholarships and donors.

“I would think when you experience things, you understand where people come from and how hard it is to get here,” he said. “That person is somebody who understands where students come from.”

Adams also pondered what it means to receive a scholarship.

“There is an expectation,” he said. “People look to you.”

Newy Scruggs, whose scholarship Adams received in 2010, was standing by nodding his approval. Later, he talked about where he came from.

“Our family was a lot like your family,” Scruggs told the guests. “There was no college fund; there was a ‘right now’ fund.

“In my interview, I told the scholarship committee my dream was to become a broadcaster,” he said. “I told them if they invested in me, I would give back.

“And I have,” said Scruggs, who is a successful sports broadcaster in Dallas, Texas. “I am living my dream, and I’ve done things I never thought I would do.”

A 1994 graduate, Scruggs quickly made good on his promise by establishing a scholarship in 2003. He addressed the students in the audience.

“You are very fortunate to be here tonight to have someone who has invested in you,” he said. “You can reach your dream; you can do anything you want with the help of this University.

“This place is special,” Scruggs concluded. “You have a great opportunity here.”

Kelly Erstine, CEO of the Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina, also spoke to the students in the room.

“I too was a scholarship recipient who now gives back to this University,” Erstine said. “There has never been a better time to give back than right now while you’re a student.”

The Independent Insurance Agents Endowed Scholarship was built over several years and is one of UNCP’s largest scholarship funds.

“What better investment than in the young men and women right here in this room,” Erstine said.

Chancellor Kyle R. Carter thanked the donors.

“These students really appreciate the support of our donors,” Dr. Carter said. “Many would not be here tonight without the additional support from scholarships.

“Your support changes lives,” he said.

For information about scholarships and giving at UNCP, please contact the Office for Advancement at 910.521.6252 or email