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Foundation awards Wingate $9,700 grant for 'Early Scholars'

 Community Foundation of Henderson County awarded Wingate University’s Hendersonville campus a $9,700 grant to help equip high school students with the necessary tools and knowledge to pursue a career in pharmacy.


Designed to target underserved minorities in area public schools, the Wingate University-Hendersonville Early Scholars Program will invite 20 freshmen and sophomores who have expressed interest in health care and put them on a path to achieve their goals. The scholars will be welcomed with a white coat ceremony at the beginning of the spring semester and will meet monthly for sessions that cover topics related to health care and professionalism.

Wingate University faculty mentors will challenge the future health care professionals with reflection assignments and offer shadowing opportunities so that participating students get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to become a pharmacist. A collaboration with Henderson County public schools, the program will also support the school system’s STEM initiatives. The program will culminate with an awards ceremony.

“The Early Scholars Program will educate the students to understand that pharmacy is far more than working in retail — at CVS or Walgreens — but rather it includes a vast selection of opportunities such as careers in hospital, nuclear, or even veterinary pharmacy,” said Barbara Burke, regional director of external affairs for WU-Hendersonville. “This is an exciting chance for students to immerse themselves in the world of pharmacy.”

“Providing area high school students with the knowledge and tools that encourage pursuit of a career in the healthcare field, especially those in pharmacy, is a great way to offer hope and ensure that future generations have pathways to new opportunities,” said McCray Benson, president of the Community Foundation.

Ultimately, the goal of the program is to produce more quality healthcare professionals for the region.

“Wingate is committed to recruiting students from western North Carolina and positively impacting the local workforce,” said Kurt Wargo, regional dean of the School of Pharmacy. “Nearly 70 percent of our graduates stay in the region to live and work.”

In addition to its doctor of pharmacy program, Wingate’s Hendersonville campus offers a master’s degree in physician assistant studies. The University is dedicated to being a leader in healthcare education.

Already, at its Hendersonville campus, Wingate University offers several Health Sciences career camps for high school students throughout the summer.