Golden LEAF announces 215 Rural NC Golden LEAF Scholarship Recipients

Four-Year Program recipients receive up to $12,000 scholarships to attend NC colleges

Golden LEAF is pleased to announce 215 new scholarship four-year recipients for the 2018-2019 school year. This year’s scholarship winners hail from 70 rural NC counties, competed with more than 2,400 applicants, and most have lived in rural NC all their lives.

Golden LEAF Scholarship recipients will receive $3,000 a year for up to four years to attend the four-year NC college or university of their choice. The Golden LEAF scholarship program has the goal of helping students build their knowledge and skills with the hope that these students will return to live and work in rural communities. In addition to the financial aid, the Foundation also pays for leadership development and internships for these scholars.

The optional program provides leadership training at the Center for Creative Leadership, paid internship opportunities in rural North Carolina communities and stipends in addition to Golden LEAF Scholarship funding. Scholarship recipients who participate in the leadership program could earn up to $20,830 total in combined scholarships and stipends.

Our Golden LEAF Scholarship recipients all come from rural NC, but their experiences and career interests vary. Meet some of our 2018-2019 scholarship recipients.

Haley Oxendine

Robeson County native Haley Hunter Oxendine recently graduated from Fairmont High School and plans to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Fall 2018.

Oxendine was named Valedictorian with Summa Cum Laude honors. She was Student Body President, scholar athlete, HOSA President, President of the Native American Student Association, President of Family, Career, Community Leaders of America, and HANDS Junior Civitan Club. Oxendine graduated as a Certified Nursing Assistant, a North Carolina Scholar and received 36 college credit hours.

“I will be attending college as a first-generation student,” said Oxendine. “I am happy to show others that it is very possible to reach your goals – no matter where you come from – with lots of hard work, resilience, and grit.”

Oxendine plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Biology and then attend medical school.

“Since the age of six, I have dreamt of becoming a family physician,” said Oxendine. “Upon graduating from college and earning my degree as a medical doctor, I hope to become an activist within my community. Along with practicing medicine, I hope to serve as a health advocate for my patients and educate them about healthy ways of living to increase personal hygiene habits to remain healthy.”

Her ultimate goal is to open her own medical practice  back home.

“Rural areas, such as Robeson County, are known for developing large amounts of medical concerns,” said Oxendine. “I have seen struggles related to high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.  I can see myself moving back to my native county after earning my degree as a doctor. Helping those around me satisfies my passion, and doing this in the place that I grew up will be gratifying.”

Coleman Berry

Coleman Berry is a 2018 graduate of Richmond Early College High School & Richmond Community College with an Associate in Science. He will be attending North Carolina State University, double majoring in Poultry Science and Food Science.

Berry has a strong connection to agriculture and is actively involved in 4-H. In fact, at the age of nine he began showing livestock. He has competed at county, district, and state levels and won numerous showmanship awards, including three Grand Champion showman belt buckles in the Sandhills Showmanship Circuit.

Berry has served on the 4-H board and is currently the President of the Richmond County 4-H Livestock Club and Richmond County 4-H Teen Council.  He was named the Outstanding 4-H’er in 2013, 2014, and 2016.  In 2015, Berry was a graduate of the NC Farm School, sponsored by Golden LEAF.

“This past summer, I had the amazing opportunity to attend The Institute for Future Agricultural Leaders (IFAL) and Poultry Science Summer Institute (PSSI) both held at NC State,” said Berry. “These two programs helped me to solidify my majors.”

Berry plans to live and work in rural NC upon completion of his undergrad and graduate degrees and plans to work in a lab to help better rural North Carolina and the field of agriculture.

“I am honored to be a Golden LEAF Scholarship recipient, since agriculture and 4-H have been such a huge part of my life,” said Berry. “I feel confident that the Golden LEAF Foundation can open up many opportunities for me.”

Kennedy Cohen

Kennedy Cohen is a recent graduate of John Motley Morehead High School and has lived in Rockingham County her whole life. She will be attending Pfeiffer University in the Fall 2018 and plans to major in Business Management and Leadership.

Cohen has led her class as Vice President since beginning high school and became Student Body Vice President her senior year. She is a member of the National Honor Society, a Morehead Mentor, and wrote a play that won regional honors. She even organized a student walk out for school safety.

Cohen says she feels blessed to be a Golden LEAF Scholarship recipient and is committed to her hometown and its future. In fact, during high school Cohen had the opportunity to intern at the Rockingham County Courthouse.

“Juvenile court stood out to me the most because I have always had a passion for kids younger than me,” said Cohen. “This experience influenced me want to help the kids in my community stay out of trouble and motivate them to do positive things.”

After college, Cohen is interested in returning home to Eden, NC, to open her own mentoring program for at-risk children to help her community thrive.

“In every child, I see potential,” said Cohen. “In every child in juvenile court, I see someone who wasn’t pushed in the right direction. I want to help the kids in my community stay out of trouble and motivate them to do positive things.”

Erica Walker

Erica Walker, lifetime native of Wilkes County, has recently graduated from North Wilkes High School. She plans to attend the University of North Carolina at Asheville in the fall of 2018, majoring in Art Education.

Throughout high school, Walker led her class as Student Body President, played four sports, and participated and held leadership positions in multiple clubs as well as work two part time jobs. In her free time, she can be found spending time with her loved ones, volunteering in her church’s hospitality team or helping her local canine rescue team.

Even with all these good works, Walker considers her biggest accomplishments in high school staying true to herself and being able to give back to her community.

“Upon college graduation, I plan to teach art at a local North Carolina high school, hopefully in Wilkes,” said Walker. “Because of this generous scholarship given to me by Golden LEAF, I can follow my dreams of becoming a teacher – and I too can improve the lives of people in rural North Carolina.”

About the Golden LEAF Scholarship – Four-Year Program

High school seniors or community college transfer students planning to attend any of the participating North Carolina colleges or universities who reside in a qualifying county and demonstrate financial need are eligible to apply for the Golden LEAF Scholarship. Recipients are selected based upon multiple factors including the ability to communicate a commitment to returning to a rural county that is economically distressed, length of residence in the county, financial need, and grade point average. High school seniors are eligible for a four-year scholarship totaling $12,000 ($3,000 a year over four years). Community college transfer students are eligible for $3,000 a year for up to three years. Approximately 215 scholarships will be awarded each year. Click here to learn more about the Golden LEAF Scholarship – Four-Year Program.

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