Virginia Canady, a senior at Terry Sanford High School, is ready for August to come so she can start her university studies to become first a nurse, and, eventually, a nurse practitioner.
Canady was one of about 75 area high school seniors gathered Thursday at Cape Fear Botanical Garden who shared in $765,375 in scholarships given out at the annual Cumberland Community Foundation’s awards program.
Canady received the Linda Lee Allen Home Builders Scholarship and The Justin Richard Lopes University of South Carolina Award.
Retired Cumberland County Schools finance director Ricky Lopes and his wife, Donna, presented the scholarship in memory of their late son Justin who attended USC.
Canady plans to attend the University of South Carolina’s nursing honors program.
“Becoming a nurse practitioner will take another two years, six years total,” she said of her goal.
Alyssa Chavis-Wanson received a Robert H. Short Scholarship. Awards of up to $30,000 are made possible by a $10 million gift from the late Robert “Bob” Short, a local businessman known for his philanthropy. Short valued education, and 21 members of the Class of 2022 will share in $630,000.
Awards also were presented through the Community Scholarship Program. The foundation announced 61 awards totaling $135,375. The awards range from $500 to $10,000 and are made possible by civic groups. Individuals and families also establish endowed scholarships.
Many of the scholarship recipients are looking toward health care as a career. Chavis-Wanson, a senior at Gray’s Creek High School, plans to attend Duke University’s pre-med program.
E.E. Smith High School senior Holley Johnson, a Bob Short Scholarship recipient, plans to enroll in Fayetteville State’s nursing program. Fellow E.E. Smith senior Abraonna Williams, also a Bob Short Scholarship recipient, plans to enroll in Fayetteville State’s biology program.
“I also want to play volleyball and run track,” she said. Williams said her best track event is the long jump.
Da ‘Cora Galbreath, also an E.E. Smith senior, plans to attend UNC Charlotte to earn her nursing degree. She chose nursing because she “likes to help people.”
Ava Cox, who attends the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, plans to enroll in Methodist University’s Physician Assistant program. Cox’s sister is a nurse and she also was influenced by her mother’s attending physician assistant, she said.
Mary Holmes, president and CEO of Cumberland Community Foundation, said despite the $765,375 available scholarships, there were fewer applicants this year compared with previous years.
Robert Gonzalez, of FSU’s College Access and Success Programs, said fewer high school graduates are attending college, and he said he believes that many of the most experienced guidance counselors have retired, which may have played into fewer students applying for scholarships.