Golden LEAF celebrates National Community College Month with Golden LEAF Community Colleges Scholarship Scholar Spotlights

Golden LEAF celebrates National Community College Month with Golden LEAF Community Colleges Scholarship Scholar Spotlights

April 25, 2024

Kaitlyn Kornegay, Golden LEAF External Affairs Intern, contributed to this article

Golden LEAF supports workforce projects that increase the number of qualified individuals with skills aligned with current and future needs of North Carolina businesses and prepare students with the technical and life skills necessary to enter work. These skilled individuals are necessary to fill the jobs that new and expanding industries bring to North Carolina.

One way that Golden LEAF helps build the workforce and economy is by providing scholarship funding to the North Carolina Community College System. Students attending or planning to attend any of North Carolina’s participating community colleges who reside in a qualifying county and demonstrate financial need are eligible to apply for the Golden LEAF Community Colleges Scholarship. This scholarship provides students with the funding to focus on building the skills needed in order to prepare them for work at North Carolina businesses.

Skyler Cummings is a Golden LEAF Community Colleges Scholarship recipient and a student at Fayetteville Technical Community College and is working on a Speech Language Pathology Assistant degree. With it, she wants to work directly with children to help them overcome speech and language challenges.

“My goal is to make a positive impact on children’s lives and help them achieve their full potential,” said Cummings. “Growing up in poverty, I learned to value education as a means to break the cycle and provide a better future for my children.”

Cummings says that attending a community college has given her valuable skills that she feels she would not have gotten at a four year university.

“The practical, hands-on skills I acquired in my field of study are directly applicable to the workforce,” said Cummings. “The smaller class sizes allowed for more personalized attention from instructors, enhancing my learning experience. Additionally, the flexibility of class schedules enabled me to balance my studies with work and family responsibilities.”

As she is about to graduate as a speech-language pathology assistant, her hope for rural North Carolina is to provide access to quality healthcare services, including speech-language therapy, for all residents.

“Rural areas often face challenges in accessing healthcare, including speech therapy services,” said Cummings. “My goal is to contribute to bridging this gap by providing much-needed services to individuals in rural communities.”

Another Golden LEAF Community Colleges Scholarship recipient is Catherine Ronzio, a student at Bladen Community College. She is seeking a degree in Agribusiness Technology and is currently a Field Lab Technician.

“I decided to go to a community college to not only be closer to home and to develop our farm, but also to continue my education,” Ronzio said.

As a non-traditional student, Ronzio knew it would be more difficult for her to go back to school after taking some time off. She also knew that she wanted an actively engaging experience as opposed to just a curriculum. It was part of the reason she chose a community college program instead of a university program.

“That’s the amazing thing about this program, it’s a real-world experience,” Ronzio said. “One day you can be learning how to cultivate grapes and in the middle of it BOOM a baby goat is being born!”

When it comes to her hopes for rural N.C., Ronzio wants to preserve the traditional practices of agriculture while enhancing it with modern techniques. She wants to help agriculture thrive sustainably. 

“I envision diversified farms, empowered by technology, fostering local economies, and promoting environmental stewardship,” said Ronzio. “Collaboration among farmers, researchers, and policymakers can lead to innovative solutions for challenges like climate change and food security, ensuring a prosperous future for rural communities.”

Students who receive the Golden LEAF Community College Scholarship are awarded up to $2,250 per school year, including summer term, for curriculum students and up to $1,850 per year for students enrolling in occupational programs. Awards can be applied toward tuition, fees, books, supplies at the community college where enrolled, transportation, childcare expenses related to attending classes, and credential testing upon course completion.

To apply for a Golden LEAF Community Colleges Scholarship, reach out to your community college’s financial aid office to find out how.

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