Brandon was awarded a Golden LEAF Scholarship after graduating from Cleveland Early College High School in Shelby, NC as valedictorian in 2012. The Cleveland County school is one of just more than 100 comprehensive innovative high schools in the state where the students obtain both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in four or five years.
With his Golden LEAF Scholarship, Brandon earned his degree in biology in May 2015 from Western Carolina University, graduating with honors. As a multi-generational Cleveland County resident, he moved back home after earning his degree and began working with Cleveland Community College’s Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act, helping provide funding for county residents to receive training and – ultimately – jobs.
While a Golden LEAF scholar, Brandon participated in the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program – offered to Golden LEAF Scholarship recipients – working as an intern at South Mountain State Park in Burke County.
“I have the perfect job: sending people from my home county back to school,” Ruppe said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for this scholarship program. The program helped me finish college with little debt. It also helped me realize that I wanted to stay in a rural county.”
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