The difference between a college graduate and a college dropout could be something as simple as a broken laptop, a failed well pump or need for childcare.
It could also be a scholarship that provides the extra tuition a student might not otherwise be able to afford for a particular semester at Southwestern Community College.
Through a wide variety of student scholarships and funding initiatives, this year the SCC Foundation has been able to award a record-breaking $200,000 in financial support during a time of uncertainty and hardship when students need it more than ever.
For 2020-21, the SCC Foundation awarded 142 individual scholarships totaling $172,000; supported 33 students through their Student Emergency Fund totaling $7,000; and provided $21,000 toward the New Century Scholars program at SCC.
While the SCC Foundation relies heavily on private donors to support students, more than $16,000 came directly from the donations of SCC faculty and staff.
“We are thrilled to have reached yet another milestone within the SCC Foundation by changing a record number of student lives through scholarship support this year. We’ve seen significant philanthropic momentum externally and also internally, with 62 of our own employees making gifts to support our students,” said Brett Woods, Director of the SCC Foundation. “We are crafting a new culture of philanthropy. We are grateful, we are appreciative and on behalf of our students, we thank our donors for making this record-breaking year possible.”
Seven years ago, the SCC Foundation was only able to help one out of every five students who applied for financial assistance. For the current academic year, SCC was able to assist almost half (128 out of 270).
But that means 50 percent of qualified applicants still aren’t receiving assistance.
“One of my top priorities when I arrived here in 2011 was to find a way to fund and award more student scholarships, and the SCC Foundation has done a wonderful job of doing exactly that,” said SCC President Dr. Don Tomas. “It’s gratifying to see so many more students getting the financial help they need, and we are so thankful to all of our donors for making this happen. Our work continues to provide scholarships for each student who applies for financial assistance.”
Lisa Leatherman, who currently serves as chair of the SCC Foundation, is optimistic about SCC’s ability to bridge that gap and continue serving more students than ever.
“SCC and our Foundation are only as strong as the communities we serve,” said Leatherman. “Financial support provided by donors in Jackson, Macon, Swain and surrounding counties support and sustain a vibrant and growing workforce for our state and the Western North Carolina region.”
Jasmine Cline, a student in the Occupational Therapy Assistant program and one of this year’s Student Success Scholarship recipients, credits the Foundation’s support as a key part of her success.
“The scholarship I’ve received has freed and enabled me to pour all of my attention into my studies and becoming great at my passion, which is caring for others,” said Cline. “I truly can’t thank the donors and everyone at SCC enough for this opportunity. It’s such a weight off my shoulders.”
To support students or learn more about the SCC Foundation, please visit https://www.southwesterncc.edu/Foundation.