Congratulations to the Golden LEAF Scholars graduating class of 2022

Congratulations to the Golden LEAF Scholars graduating class of 2022

May 12, 2022

The Golden LEAF Scholarship Program provides scholarships to 215 rural students attending North Carolina colleges and universities annually. Since 2000, Golden LEAF has awarded approximately 6,000 scholarships to students from rural communities who are graduating with the skills, passion, and leadership experiences to help their home communities thrive.

“I am so proud of all of our Golden LEAF Scholar graduates,” said Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer Scott T. Hamilton. “These students have gained valuable knowledge and skills that they will use to help their rural communities for years to come. Congratulations to the graduating class of 2022!”

Learn more about a few of these scholars and their plans after graduation.

Kinsey Milsap of Davidson County

Kinsey Milsap of Davidson County is a May 2022 graduate of Appalachian State University with a double major in Nursing and Exercise Science. Milsap plans to live in her home county and work in neighboring Forsyth County as a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist.

“Being a NICU nurse has been a personal goal of mine for over seven years now, and I am so thankful to say it is becoming a reality,” said Milsap. “The NICU got me into nursing, and it is there that I feel the most comfortable and the most capable of delivering the best patient and family care possible. I am very thrilled to be going back to the very thing that sparked it all!”

Milsap is happy to be moving home after graduation.

“I plan on remaining in this area for the entirety of my lifespan, as this is where the majority of my family is located,” said Milsap. “I am a very family-centered individual, and if I have the opportunity to live near family that is exactly what I am going to do! Giving back to the same community I was raised in is something that I feel very strongly about. I want to help future generations in any way possible.”

Yaqot Nasser of Robeson County

Yaqot Nasser of Robeson County is a May 2022 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, where she majored in Biology.

Nasser shared that the scholarship helped her stay focused on her goals.

“The Golden LEAF Scholarship has been a great blessing to me as it has allowed me more time to focus on academics rather than financial concerns,” said Nasser. “It has brought me one step closer to accomplishing my educational and career goals, and I am really grateful for the Golden LEAF’s generosity.”

Nasser plans to become a physician by continuing her education at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University.

“I plan to work in a rural area of North Carolina as a pediatrician,” said Nasser. “I would love to provide medical care for the underserved and minority populations in rural North Carolina. As a minority student who grew up and attended college in rural areas, I understand the need for more physicians and more diversity in the medical field when serving those who are disadvantaged. I want to serve and give back to the communities that have helped me get this far.”

Kiana Banks of Pasquotank County

Kiana Banks of Pasquotank County is a May 2022 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She studied Political Science with a concentration in Pre-Law and had minors in Business and American Sign Language.

After college Banks plans to attend law school and study criminal and civil law.

“Law is my passion, and I love helping people,” said Banks. “Living and working in a rural area became an interest of mine after my Golden LEAF internships.”

Once Banks finishes law school, she plans to live and work in a rural area.

“Working with the people in my community through my internship made me feel a sense of belonging,” said Banks. “It’s a small town, so everyone either knows everyone or someone they’re related to. I was always welcomed with opened arms going to the courtrooms. The clerks, judges, and other lawyers were invested in getting to know me and giving me valuable knowledge to navigate the law process. They even offered to write recommendation letters and introduce me to the right people! Rural communities care about each other and that’s something I truly love about my area.”

Banks Golden LEAF internships paid off. She will be starting law school in the fall.

Carlos Pena-Magos of Catawba County

Carlos Pena-Magos of Catawba County is a May 2022 graduate of Western Carolina University. His major was Emergency Medical Care and his minor was Chemistry. Pena-Magos plans to work as a paramedic for a couple of years before applying to medical school.

“I want to contribute to my community by utilizing the skills that I obtain from my education to improve the quality of life for people in rural populations in North Carolina,” said Pena-Magos. “I want to become an M.D. in Internal Medicine and help the community with affordable health clinics that assist with physical and mental health needs.”

Pena-Magos participated in an internship through the Golden LEAF Scholarship.

“The internship influenced what my plans are because it gave me insight into developing connections with other healthcare professionals,” said Pena-Magos. “Making these connections is a goal of mine because it allows me to utilize the resource base of my entire network to address and solve the healthcare challenges in the area I will serve.”

Pena-Magos plans to live and work in a rural area upon graduation.

“Western North Carolina represents a blend of small towns and rural areas,” said Pena-Magos. “This type of environment appeals to me more than urban areas do. Also, I want to work in a rural area because this is the population that needs the most help in healthcare.”

Golden LEAF will be announcing the 2022-2023 Golden LEAF Scholarship recipients in June. For more information on the Golden LEAF Scholarship Program, visit

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