Eleven incoming freshman and current college students who have received scholarships through the Henderson County Education Foundation told a gathering Sunday that the aid helped them in some cases attend college and in others focus on their studies without the burden of work and student loan debt.
The students spoke as part of the foundation's annual membership kickoff and ice cream social at the Bullington Center. The foundation helped organizations and donors award 75 scholarships worth $100,700 for the 2012-13 academic year.
Here are the students who spoke, their college and remarks:
• Annie Wells, Davidson College, plans to study abroad in Ireland this fall. Among her activities at Davidson is the slam poetry group. She thanked the foundation members for supporting her and many other high school graduates from Henderson County. "Whether you hear them or not, the thank yous abound," she said.
• Jacob Medd, last year's winner of the Marker scholarship, a full four year scholarship, thanked the Marker family and the foundation for helping him attend UNC-Charlotte. "Without the help of this foundation and the Markers especially I could not have gone to college," he said. "I love going to college and I love learning about computers." He suffers from OCD and Tourette syndrome, he said. "Thanks to my scholarship I've been able to get help for my condition," he said. "I hope one day I might be able to repay an inkling of the kindness I have been given."
• Ryan Wyatt, a sixth generation Henderson County native, was awarded a Selee scholarship for engineering in part because he wants to return to Henderson County to work. He plans to attend UNC-Asheville and transfer to N.C. State University.
• Dominique Akopanor, plans to attend N.C. Central University in Durham and major in criminal justice. He thanked the foundation for the Red and White scholarship, which he said "is helping me fulfill my dreams." The scholarship aid helped him "just like the friends that supported me even when skies were gray."
• Shauna Scott, who received the Connie and Ricky Sparks Scholarship, said growing up with a single mom she worried about paying for college. She is attending NCSU. "Now I have that confidence that I don't have to worry about how I'm going to pay for it," she said.
• Darren Perry, a 2009 HHS graduate now at UNC-Charlotte, thanked his friends and his "uncle," Don Jones, the Education Foundation director, for standing by him when he nearly flunked out, got sick and had to take a medical withdrawal and finally when he started making good grades. Perry read a poem he wrote describing the community as a family that supported him no matter what. "My family will give me their last," he said. "My family is sitting in this room. Thank you for showing me how to use my wings."
• Alexandra Stewart plans to pursue music at UNC at Chapel Hill. "I started singing when I was four years old and began taking private lessons when I was in the fourth grade," she said. She thanked the foundation and the Tammy Belcher family for giving her the opportunity.
• Katie Wells, Annie's twin sister and a junior at Davidson, spoke to the audience in Chinese before explaining that her Red and White scholarship helped her attend a Chinese immersion program last summer at Middlebury College in Vermont and pursue her major in anthropology and minor in Chinese. She will study abroad this fall in China with 14 other Davidson students. "We don't always get the chance to say thank you for enriching our college experience so please accept my thank you on behalf of all of our scholarship recipients," she said.
• Ashley Heywood, a graduate of West Henderson High School, received a scholarship from Hunter Automotive to help her attend Duke University. Given the cost of attending Duke, she said, the grant was much appreciated and needed.
• Voldymyr Siedlecki, who moved to the U.S. from Russian 12 years ago, thanked the foundation for helping him. He plans to major in computer science at UNC at Chapel Hill. "I'm very excited about college and I look forward to what lies ahead," he said.
Unable to attend were scholarship recipients Harrison Hunter and Rayce Walker, both HHS graduates.
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