Ten Sampson County students will benefit from the Simple Gifts Scholarship. Offered for the first time this school year, Connor Day and Camille Carr, both from Clinton High School, and Kelly Johnson, from Hobbton High School, were notified that they were winners of the Simple Gifts Scholarships, which is worth up to $50,000 per year in order to help students earn a four-year college degree at a private liberal arts college outside the state of North Carolina.
Seven other local students — Doran Bouchard, Ethan Driskell, Sarah Murphy, Jessica Pretty, Emillie Ramos, Ben Todd and Regan Weeks — all were given $1,000 scholarships.
“It is very exciting,” said Margaret Turlington, who works locally with Simple Gifts. “It makes me feel good to be part of such a wonderful opportunity for these great students.”
Turlington has worked hard to get the word out about the scholarships, that will provide the local students with up to $200,000 over a four-year period, since last year.
Day, Carr and Johnson, said they had never heard of the scholarship until Turlington visited their school.
“She came out here and I took a look at the pamphlet,” said Carr, who will be attending Furman University in South Carolina. “I had already known her, but when she came to my school and talked with my Beta class, I took it and thought it would be a good opportunity.”
Day, who will attend Agnes Scott College, in Decatur, Georgia, agrees. “I had applied to other schools, but when I heard it was $50,000 a year, it was just amazing to me. It paid books, tuition ... It was really incredible. I took the brochure and thought it would be an excellent opportunity for me.”
Hobbton High’s Johnson, who will be headed to Emory and Henry College in Virginia, noted that she was planning on applying to Duke until Turlington visited her school.
“Right away, I thought it would be an amazing opportunity for me,” she said. “I had been getting things in the mail from colleges, but didn’t really know ... then I saw that some of those colleges I was looking at qualified for the scholarship — so I filled out the application.”
One caveat to the scholarship is that the student can apply for it, but unless they have been accepted to a liberal arts college outside of the state, they would not be accepted.
There are also a few eligibility requirements.
“You have to attend a school in the county for both your junior and senior year of high school,” Turlington explained. “You also must be in the top 25 percent of your graduating class and not have unmet financial aid. It is not a need-based scholarship, it is a merit-based scholarship.”
It is a small price to pay in return for an education.
“I can’t tell you how thrilled and appreciative I am to get this,” Johnson said. “It is really an honor. To get an education like this for free, it really has opened my eyes, because a lot of people come up to me now and tell me they wished they would have taken the chance ... it makes me that much more grateful.”
“I was really surprised when they told me I got it,” said Carr. “I really thought there was going to be a lot to it, but it was really easy. I was honored just to be a finalist, but to win the whole thing was just unreal.”
Day agrees. “I am still in shock. I had been looking for a scholarship that would let me explore outside of Carolina, and this was perfect. The school is perfect and to find out I was honored with it, I was just amazed. It is an incredible opportunity for me.”
All three students noted that when the second round of applications come around, they will be the first ones to sing its praises.
“I would tell everyone to apply,” Day explained. “You may get rejected, but it is worth it to just try because it is very rewarding.”
“Definitely consider it,” added Carr. “It is opening you up to an opportunity that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. It is a great opportunity that is sitting right in front of you.”
Johnson noted that it was just an interview that took her time.
“I walked into a room and talked with the committee,” she explained. “They asked me questions and I was very honest with them. I never would have guessed I would have been blessed with this. So, yes, I would recommend this to everyone.”
So far, Johnson has her sights on getting a degree in American History; Day will major in math and minor in music; Carr is still undecided, but expects her major to be in the science field.
Turlington said more information about Simple Gifts Scholarship can be found at www.simplegiftsfund.org, as well as the applications, which are due by Dec. 1, 2011.
“You can also like us on Facebook,” said Turlington. “We just want to get the information out and let everyone know that we are here. We are so proud of these recipients.”
The Facebook link is www.facebook.com/pages/Simple-Gifts-Scholarship-Fund/181286238575561.
To reach Doug Clark call 910-592-8137 ext. 123 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.