Special to Reflections Blog
By Nancy Waclawek
Student Scholarship Committee Member
More than 280 people gathered in the Connestee Falls clubhouse on Friday, Sept. 16 to recognize the 28 recipients of Connestee Falls college scholarships for school year 2016-2017.
The capacity crowd heard from administrators from Transylvania County Schools, Brevard College and Blue Ridge Community College and from previous scholarship winners.
Roxi Herwertson and Sarah Hysong, 2016 co-chairs of the Connestee Falls Student Scholarship Program, thanked all the donors and everyone who participated in fundraising events for their enthusiastic efforts in raising $75,000 – so far – for scholarships for 2017-2018.
Every dollar counts, Hewertson said, when it comes to helping students afford college. This year’s record number of scholarships is aiding 13 graduates of Brevard and Rosman high schools, five Brevard College students and 10 BRCC students. Over the last 29 years, the Student Scholarship Program has helped more than 500 students attain college educations and has raised more than $800,000. All scholarship recipients are Transylvania County residents.
Hysong, a native of Transylvania County, talked about how impressed she was with the high school applicants she interviewed for the scholarships this year.
Dr. Jeremy Gibbs from Transylvania County schools thanked the audience for their generosity and introduced a video with messages from previous winners, including two who are now teachers at Brevard High School, Amanda Chapman and Jake Raines.
Susan Cothern, executive director of development at Brevard College, said she has attended the scholarship gala for the last 15 years and eagerly looks forward to it every year. She introduced sophomore Hayleigh Mann, a Rosman High grad, who said that without scholarships, she could not afford college.
Mann described their difficult family life until her mother left her father to raise four children alone. As a high school sophomore, Haleigh worked fulltime to help make ends meet.
“I needed scholarships to attend college,” she said. “Your gift allows individuals a chance.”
Besides taking classes at Brevard College and being involved in campus organizations, she is an intern at a chemical lab in Asheville. When she finished speaking, Mann and her mother received a standing ovation.
BRCC President Molly Parkhill said 177 students, traditional and non-traditional, have received Connestee Falls scholarships since 1995, totaling more than $200,000. Parkhill introduced Natasha McCall, a BRCC student who is married with two children. McCall spoke about how her scholarship is helping her become a paramedic.
“The scholarship makes earning a degree possible,” she said. “You’re making dreams come true.”
Finally, Tracie Fisher, 43, director of the Transylvania County Board of Elections, spoke about how earning her degree from BRCC helped her achieve her dream of running the county elections board, as her mother, Jometa H. Thomas, did from 1975 to 1993.
In 2015, Fisher was named director of the elections board just one month before receiving her associate’s degree from BRCC. She took the long road – getting married, having three children, surviving melanoma and Cushing’s disease – to finally reach her goal.
Being awarded the Connestee Falls Scholarship in 2014 “was the motivation and encouragement I needed,” she said. The scholarship “was more than just money.”
Fisher is in the Election Center’s Professional Education Program offered through Auburn University. In August, she was designated as a certified elections/registration administrator (CERA), the highest professional achievement for her profession. The Election Center is a nonprofit association of voter registrars and elections administrators throughout the country.
Learn more and help with a donation at Connestee Falls Scholarship Program.