I had the pleasure last week to sit in the Scotland High School auditorium as seniors were called to the stage to receive scholarships for academics, sports and more. Some of the students were recognized for their service to this community, while others for their dedication to a talent, sport or church. As I sat through the ceremony and watched these young people go to the stage and receive their accolades, I was very proud of our community and our young people.
In addition, I realized how many of the students who were receiving these awards and scholarships had a connection to our Chamber of Commerce, and I was so very proud of these young people whom I have had the opportunity to get to know.
We run two programs at the Chamber with a target audience of teenagers. One is our Young Entrepreneurs Academy! (YEA!), the other is Junior Leadership Scotland. Both of these programs work with high school students. As I watched these students approach the stage, I would lean over to Meredith Bounds, our Education Committee Chair, and say to her, “that’s one of our kids.” It wasn’t long before she got pretty tired of hearing this, because of the number of names called of young people who have gone through one of our programs. I eventually quit my bragging but continued to muse on the merit of the young people who see the importance of getting involved with organizations like the Chamber of Commerce. I believe it no coincidence that these young people received so many recognitions. They took the initiative to get involved and gain the experiences needed to have the upper hand when those hard decisions were made as to who would receive the award or scholarship.
There were lots of young people who took home awards that are not related to the chamber. I would imagine if you look at their resume, there are other organizations which have given them experiences and made them stand out.
However, since I’m bragging on our “chamber kids,” I want to share with you just how many awards and scholarships they earned. Please forgive me if I missed anyone, because it is an extensive list, but I am proud of all they have accomplished:
First United Methodist Church’s Charles L. Hicks, Jr. Scholarship — Elizabeth Dunbar; Golden LEAF Scholarship — Kayla Moody; SECU People Helping People Scholarship — Juaneisha Terry; Mercer University Stamps Scholars — Anna Lisa Ciarrocca; North Carolina Central University “Rising Eagle” Scholarship — Jasmine Perry; WPCMI Jannye W. Nelson Leadership Scholarship — Angel McCoy; Rochaad’s Smile Memorial Scholarship — Angel McCoy, Kayla Moody and Johnathan Williams; Lawrence Sherman McNeil Scholarship — Kierra Paca; Brian Rush Educational Scholarship — Kierra Paca; SHS Theatre Scholarship — Kayla Moody; SHS Drama Award — Kayla Moody; W.R. Dulin Memorial Scholarship — Anna Lisa Ciarrocca; SMF Community Service Scholarship — Juaneisha Terry; SMF Allied Health/Nursing Scholarship — Angel McCoy; NAACP Flowers-Kelly-Speller Scholarship — Juaneisha Terry; Elizabeth Pickett Mills Horticulture Scholarship — Terrence Smith; Laurinburg Rotary Club Win Tornow Scholarship — Elizabeth Dunbar; Laurinburg Rotary Club James L. Morgan Scholarship — Johnathan Williams; 29th Masonic District Prince Hall Masons Scholarship — Juaneisha Terry; Laurinburg Kiwanis Club Lindo Harvell Memorial Scholarship — Matheson McDonald; Johnsie Patterson McFadden Scholarship — Johnathan Williams; Pilot Club of Laurinburg Anchor Club Scholarship — Juaneisha Terry; LJSL Marie Pate Service Awards— Elizabeth Dunbar; Scotland County Ministerial Alliance Scholarship — Angel McCoy, Kierra Paca, Juaneisha Terry; National Association of University Women, Laurinburg Branch — Angel McCoy; Kierra Paca; Laurinburg Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated- Angel McCoy and Jasmine Perry; Jabberwock Scholarship — Kierra Paca; St. John UMC Fred C. and Myrtle Gibson Howell Scholarship — Matheson McDonald; Louise Graham Davis Scholarship — Jasmine Perry, Kierra Paca; Imani Gospel Choir Awards — Kayla Moody; University of South Carolina — Elizabeth Dunbar; Winston Salem State University — Kierra Paca.
In addition, our Dormagen/McLean Youth Community Service award recipient, Kendall Romaine, was acknowledged many times at this event. In addition to his scholarship from Virginia Tech, his recognitions include Cadet Command Senior ROTC Scholarship, Johnsie Patterson McFadden Scholarship, LJSL Marie Pate Service Awards, Major Rick Lemmond Memorial Scholarship Scotland High School Red Cross Club Scholarship and Smithfield Luter Foundation Scholarship.
From our SEarCH program, we also have one of our “chamber kids” who has done very well receiving scholarships. I am proud of Lawrence Ganzy, Jr., who recently graduated not only from high school, but from Richmond Community College with an associate’s degree. His accolades include the Roosevelt L. Thompson Scholarship; the Scotland Early College Scholarship; the McGregor Scholarship and the Mary C. Fowler Scholarship.
I would like to congratulate all of our Scotland County teenagers who have graduated or will be graduating this Saturday. I know we have students at private institutions, SEarCH, and home schools. For each one, I hope there will be a passion that intersects with a career. I am confident that each will make a splash across our community or wherever they choose to live. I would love for each one to go to college or the military (or both) and come back to Scotland County and continue to make it the wonderful community that it is. However, knowing that some will leave and never return, I hope they will take with them loving thoughts and great memories of this great place we call home.
Tonia Stephenson is president of the Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce.