STATESVILLE, NC (WBTV) - The Crosby Scholars program celebrated its first graduating class of 131 seniors to complete the program in Iredell County at the inaugural senior gala at the Statesville Civic Center on Monday.
More than 350 family members, program volunteers, school administrators, guidance counselor liaisons and community supporters gathered to recognize the accomplishments of Crosby Scholar seniors from across the county.
These students have been involved in the program for three years, which is the longest amount of time that they could be involved because the Iredell partnership began in 2015. In many ways, the students have been collaborators in the development of the program, according to executive director Suzanne Wegmiller.
"We are happy that they were willing to take a risk on a new program and be our pioneers," Wegmiller said. "They have taught us a lot. They have been fun. They all have interesting stories to tell… and we are always learning along with them."
A common theme in each student's journey is the support they felt along the way, both preparing for college essays and working one-on-one with a senior advisor.
Since joining, the students provided more than 3,290 hours of volunteer hours in their community. Students helped their community by volunteering at hospitals, blood banks, senior citizen center, at their schools, in churches and more.
Guest speaker Chris Thomas, a former Statesville High and Winston-Salem State University graduate who is the founder and owner of Your Power motivations, revealed his personal formula for success in reaching his goals: have PRIDE.
"Take pride in who you are and in what you do. Don't tell people you are from Charlotte when they ask you…tell people you are from Statesville. Tell people about the city you are from. Tell people about the place you grew up," Thomas said.
Pride, he explained, stands for Persistence, Resistance, Integrity, Determination and Execution. Thomas told students to "never settle for something that's supposed to push you to chase more."
The 2018 scholarship awards, which totaled $7,000, were announced, as follows:
Crosby Scholars Board of Directors Scholarships $200: Paxton Powell, Adriana Brockopp, Holly Hart, Jacob Ramsey, Daniel Nicholson, Jade Spratling, Conrad Phillips, Nikki Karimian, Ruth Chan-Sui and Paul Brown.
Mitchell Community College gift bags and certificate: Rachel Bailey, Holly Hart, Laura Meinichenko, Anna Crider, Kristen Kerhoulas, Rosa Martinez and Emily Bustle.
Iredell County Crosby Scholars $500 Aspire! Scholarship: Nikki Karimian
Goodwill Willpower $1500 Scholarship: Ava Armstrong
Joyce Kohfeldt Determination $1000 Award: Sloan Edemann; additional $500 winners: Payne Jones, Ashley Rak, Mackenzie Henning and Anna Crider.
A scholarship honoring former Senior Program Coordinator, Jodi Wynblatt, who is moving out of state, was created this year and funds will be available next year.
Following the scholarship presentations, each Crosby Scholar was invited to walk across the stage and receive their cords that they can wear at their graduation.
The event ended with closing remarks from board chair Dorothy Woodard, who thanked the seniors for the involvement and encouraged them to spread the word about the program.
Crosby Scholars also celebrated college signing day with a photo booth station for seniors to have a signing day picture with their family and friends.
The class of 2018 has been accepted into many universities and colleges, including, Purdue, Davidson, Appalachian State, UNC-Chapel Hill, Western, Mitchell and Lenoir-Rhyne, yet many seniors are still undecided where they will attend.
We will be offering need-based grants on a first come, first serve basis to those who qualify. Crosby Scholars may begin to apply at the end of April, Wegmiller said.
Crosby Scholars is a free college access program for students. All students in sixth through grade 13 in Iredell County public schools are eligible to apply. Visit crosbyscholarsiredell.org to learn more about Crosby Scholars or get involved.