Special to Reflections Blog
By Nona Walker
Student Scholarship Committee Member
Statistics illustrate the effects that a college education can have on success in a career. But there is a leader in Transylvania County government who is living proof of the impact an advanced education can have on a person’s life and how the Connestee Falls Student Scholarship Program can help make it happen.
In May 2015, Tracie T. Fisher graduated from Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) with an associate of arts degree. Just a few weeks earlier, on April 20, she had been sworn in as the director of the Transylvania County Board of Elections. She says that, without the scholarships she received – one of them from the Connestee Falls Student Scholarship Program – she would not have achieved either goal.
Fisher graduated from Rosman High School in 1991. With financial help from her mother, she started college. Sadly, her mother died soon after, and Fisher dropped out of school. She had married her high school sweetheart, and they were starting a family. Continuing with college would have been a significant financial burden, and Fisher was not aware of any financial aid that might be available to her. She was also not sure a college education would be of any real value to her.
In 1994, Fisher began work at the Transylvania County Board of Elections as an elections clerk. When better positions at the Board opened, she applied. However, the promotions were not open to her because she didn’t have a college degree. In the fall of 2010, Fisher enrolled in BRCC, with the help of a Miracle Whip Foundation scholarship. At the time, both of her daughters were in college, so the scholarship assistance was absolutely vital to her.
She continued to pursue her degree until January of 2013, when she had surgery to remove a brain tumor. After a semester off for recovery, she resumed her studies in the fall of 2013. The Connestee Falls scholarship she received in 2014 was essential for her to be able to complete her schooling, she said.
One of Fisher’s daughters, Megan, an employee in the Connestee Falls dining room, received a Connestee Falls scholarship in 2014 as well. She is working toward completing her degree at BRCC in 2017, with plans to continue her studies in business at NC State or the UNC-Wilmington. Her other daughter, Brook, is studying early childhood education at BRCC while working at the New Adventure Child Care Center. Her youngest child, John, 10, aspires to be a paleontologist.
Fisher’s experience returning to school, completing her degree, and taking on the responsibility of running the Board of Elections has completely transformed her opinion of the benefits of a college education. She is considering getting her bachelor’s degree in the near future.
“The experience and knowledge I obtained at Blue Ridge prepared me for a supervisory position,” Fisher said. “I now see the doors that could have been opened for me at an earlier age. When I go to speak to school groups about voting, I also tell them how important education is. I urge them to do well in high school so that they can go to college and be better prepared for life.”
Learn more about Connestee Falls Scholarship Program.