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  • Nicole Cartrette

SCC touting free tuition in the fall

High School students across Columbus County can attend college for free beginning in the fall of this year.

Those students who successfully complete two Career and College Promises courses at Southeastern Community College and maintain a 2.8 GPA in high school qualify for the new SCC Success Scholarship.

The scholarship provides full tuition and fees after federal financial aid and other scholarships awarded to the student have been exhausted.

In September 2016, SCC became the first and only college in southeastern North Carolina to offer a College Promise program. Only a few community colleges in the state had done so at the time.

Henry Edmund, chairman for the SCC Board of Trustees, told Columbus County school board officials recently that it was important that parents be informed about the courses offered to high school students and the scholarship since they have the greatest influence with their children.

“So many of these kids who qualify just want to leave Columbus County and get away from home but we hope what we do is present more to the parents that you can go here for two years and go anywhere you want to. Hardly anything beats free,” Edmund said.

“I’ve always thought SCC was the greatest resource we had in Columbus County,” said school board member Worley Edwards. The former West Columbus High School principal said he had students who never considered college because they thought they never could afford it.

“I just want to commend you all for doing this,” Edwards said. “So many people are products of that college and they have good, responsible jobs and are working good.”

Columbus County Clerk of Court Jess Hill, a Whiteville High School graduate, said his dad made him an offer he couldn’t refuse after graduating from high school.

“I always wanted to go to Wake Forest but it is very expensive. My father agreed if I went to Southeastern for two years he’d pay for me to go to Wake Forest,” Hill said.

In 1995, Hill graduated from SCC with an associate’s degree.

“I am very proud to have graduated from Southeastern. It really gave me a lot,” Hill said, adding that he was the only student from WHS to apply for an SCC Board of Trustee Scholarship the year he graduated from high school.

He recalls that Julie Stocks told him the college wanted him to come back to Columbus County one day and be an ambassador for the college.

“I’ve been such a supporter since that day. I love Southeastern. They adequately prepared me for Wake Forest,” said Hill. He graduated from Wake Forest in 1995. He worked for a while and decided to attend law school at the University of South Carolina, where he graduated in 2003.

Hill praised SCC and the new scholarship for being an asset to the county.

“I hope a lot of youth will take advantage of it,” Hill said.


For Shannon Godwin, money was at the heart of his decision to go to SCC after he graduated from South Columbus High School.

“We didn’t have the fi nancial means for me to go anywhere else,” Godwin said.

Today, the nurse manager with the Department of Veteran Affairs holds his Associate degree from SCC (2000), a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Winston Salem State (2009), a Masters in Health Administration from Pfeiffer (2010) and is expected to complete the Family Nurse Practitioner program at UNC Wilmington in December.

‘Of all my degrees’

“I’m proud of all my degrees but the one I’m most proud of is the one from Southeastern. Man, I worked for that thing. I’m most proud of that one. It’s the honest truth,” Godwin said.

He said his SCC degree was the “most difficult degree” he ever earned.

“I’ve gone on to get better knowledge but for what it was worth, in my opinion, the degree from Southeastern was the best foundation to continue my education.

I was very prepared,” Godwin said. Godwin formerly worked as a hiring manager for nurses in the ER at McLeod Seacoast and Loris hospitals.

“I will continue to say the nurses who come from Southeastern are very prepared. I saw that as a student and as a hiring manager locally in the ER at Seacoast and Loris, S.C. I would see really good results from Southeastern. Their graduates are prepared and ready to work.”

Godwin said free tuition offered through the new scholarship should be a “no brainer” for students.

He spoke with a young person this week about college and career choices.

‘The best way’

“She was asking about Southeastern and I said, by far, I would think if anyone wanted to go into nursing, Southeastern would be the best way to do that and then go on to an RN or BSN program,” Godwin said. “ I can’t see why anyone would choose any other place unless they had a full scholarship.”

In September 2016, SCC announced the scholarship program to make college accessible to all high school students in Columbus County. With leadership from the SCC Board of Trustees and the SCC Foundation Board of Directors, and the generosity of the SCC Foundation’s donors, the college implemented the SCC Success Scholarship program beginning in the fall of 2017.

“Helping deserving students pay for college is why we serve on this board,” said SCC Foundation Board President Butch Hooks at the time, “so increasing the number of students we assist is very rewarding.”

“We are extremely proud to be the first community colle g e in Southeaster n North Carolina and only the fourth in the state to implement this kind of initiative,” Edmund said at the time.

The scholarship

The SCC Success Scholarship program will provide up to two years of tuition and fees for Columbus County students enrolling at SCC directly following graduation. The scholarship also requires continuous enrollment in the fall and spring semesters.

“The America’s College Promise campaign prompted schools across the country to discuss ways to offer free college initiatives for their students,” said SCC President Dr. Tony Clarke in September 2016. “At SCC, we want to serve as many students in Columbus County as possible, so we began exploring how to implement a college promise program for Columbus County.”

To be eligible for the scholarship, students must earn a C or better in at least two courses offered through SCC’s Career and College Promise (CCP) program during their high school career, according to the SCC website.

“As more students enroll in the Career and College Promise program and prove that they are college ready, it makes sense for us to eliminate the cost barrier that some of those students face when paying for college,” added Clarke.

The Career and College Promise prog ram allows high school students who are deemed college-ready to take tuition-free college courses while in high school. SCC currently has more than 120 students enrolled in college courses under the CCP program.

Additional criteria for the scholarship include a 2.8 unweighted GPA in high school and, though the Success Scholarship will be awarded regardless of financial need, students must also complete the FAFSA for federal financial aid and apply for all other SCC scholarships before receiving the scholarship.

For more information contact Student Services at (910) 642-7141, ext. 279.

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