With graduation on the horizon for local schools, the Sampson County Branch of the NAACP is helping students with their journey to college.
The civil rights organization awarded four scholarships to students throughout the community. The program began last year with just one student from Hobbton High School. This year, the local branch assisted four students. Since then, Lee Byam, president of the local NAACP branch, said donations efforts were increased to give $500 to each student in 2016.
“One of our goals as a civil rights organization is to focus on the young people in the community and to make sure they’re receiving quality educations,” Byam said. “We thought maybe a little financial help may come into play. That’s why this scholarship was established.”
Eden Cabrera of Sampson Early College High School is attending North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University to study chemical engineering. Cabrera is excited about being chosen as a recipient of the scholarship and said the organization does a good job helping youths.
“It filled me with emotion that I was chosen,” Cabrera said. “Having this scholarship made me feel that I can accomplish the goal.”
He said the award was a step forward to obtaining a college degree.
Jairus Salmon, a graduate of Sampson Early College High School, said it felt amazing to get the award.
“I’m so happy that people believe in me and I have a chance to do better than my parents,” Salmon said. “I want to thank the NAACP for this scholarship and I want to thank my mom (Kimberly Cummings) for installing a belief system within me and my work effort.”
Salmon will study at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke to study biology.
Recipient Maya Simmons of Clinton High School, is attending the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She plans to major in pre-health to become a pediatrician in the future.
“I”m very thankful and blessed for the opportunity and for the scholarship,” Simmons said.
Aleah Parker, a graduate of Lakewood High School, is thankful for the opportunity as well. She selected Campbell University to pursue her studies.
NAACP member Luther Moore leads the scholarship committee as chairman. The other members include Vada Williams, Willie Mitchell, Shirley Williams and Larry Sutton.
“We had some excellent candidates,” Moore said. “The kids did a really good job in the interview and we were really impressed with the caliber of students we have throughout Sampson County. It was a very challenging and difficult task for us to select winners, but we’re proud of the students and the scholarships will help them continue their education in college.”
More than 20 students applied for the scholarship. Byam said there’s a need for the scholarships when it comes to books and other financial matters. Vada said it was a tough decision which included a set of criteria, which included essay submissions. The retired educator believes the program is needed in the community. Sutton said the NAACP is glad to help students pursue higher education. As a former teacher, Sutton said it’s something high on his radar.
“We have awarded four scholarships to four excellent students from various high schools throughout the county,” Sutton said. “We’re very pleased to be a part of this celebration tonight to honor these recipients.”
Mitchell said this year’s group of scholars were well qualified and emphasized their accomplishments.
“I think they were the creme of the crop from each school and I enjoyed interviewing them,” Mitchell said. “I think they got a really good future ahead of them.”
(Chase Jordan | Sampson Independent)
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