Nine Surry County students win Golden LEAF Scholarships

July 18, 2013

RALEIGH — The North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority recently selected Austin Barker, Ashley Bowman, Charlee Bowman, Simeon D. Bracken, Heather Key, Jessica Taylor, Jessica Thompson, Daniel Watson and Hiram Poplin to receive Golden LEAF Foundation Scholarships.

Barker graduated from North Surry High School; Ashley Bowman attended East Surry High School; Charlee Bowman went to Surry Early College High School; Bracken and Key attended Surry Central High School; Taylor went to Mount Airy High School.

This fall, Barker will enter Lenoir-Rhyne University; Ashley Bowman will attend UNC-Chapel Hill; Charlee Bowman will go to Western Carolina University; Bracken will attend N.C. A&T University; Key will enter Wake Forest University; and Taylor will go to UNC-Greensboro.

Thompson will transfer from Surry Community College to East Carolina University; Watson and Poplin will both transfer from Surry Community College to Appalachian State University.

They are among the 215 students selected to receive an annual Golden LEAF $3,000 scholarship for up to four years of study at a participating North Carolina public university or private non-profit college or university. Recipients are from rural, economically distressed North Carolina counties and are selected based on a number of criteria, including a review of school and community service activities, goals, and expressed intent to contribute to rural communities upon graduation from college.

The Golden LEAF Foundation created the Golden LEAF Scholarship program to broaden educational opportunities and provide support to students from rural counties, anticipating that after graduation, recipients will provide leadership in these communities.

“The Golden LEAF Board of Directors has proudly awarded over $27 million to assist more than 10,000 students from families in rural communities to attend college since 2000,” said Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF president. “The Golden LEAF Scholarship is one of the many tools we have to help fulfill our purpose of growing North Carolina’s rural economy. Through this scholarship, students will gain valuable knowledge and skills. Our hope is that they will return to their hometowns or other rural areas to help our communities prosper.”

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to help transform North Carolina’s economy. The foundation receives one-half of North Carolina’s funds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers and places special emphasis on assisting tobacco-dependent, economically-distressed rural communities across the state.

The Golden LEAF Foundation works in partnership with governmental entities, educational institutions, economic development organizations and nonprofits to achieve its mission. The foundation has awarded 1,094 grants totaling more than $484 million since its inception. The N.C. State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) administers the program on behalf of the Golden LEAF Foundation.

NCSEAA, established in 1965, is the state agency that promotes access to higher education by administering financial aid and college savings programs, informing students and families about paying for college, teaching educators about financial aid administration, and advocating for resources to support students.