The Golden LEAF Foundation announced 215 rural North Carolina students were selected to receive up to a $14,000 Golden LEAF scholarship, including six in Wayne County.

High school seniors entering college as first year students are eligible for a $3,500 scholarship each year for up to four years of undergraduate study at a participating four-year North Carolina college or university. Community college transfer students are eligible for $3,500 a year for up to three years of undergraduate study, according to the Golden LEAF Foundation.

Recipients from rural, tobacco-dependent or economically distressed North Carolina counties are selected based on career and educational goals, a review of school and community service activities, academic performance, length of residence in the county and expressed intent to contribute to the state’s rural communities upon graduation from college.

The Golden LEAF Foundation established the Golden LEAF Scholarship Program to broaden educational opportunities and provide support to students from rural counties with the goal that after graduation recipients will return and contribute back to rural communities. The North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority administers the program and selects students for awards.

“We are proud to award scholarships to hardworking and bright students with deep roots in their rural communities,” said Scott T. Hamilton, Golden LEAF Foundation CEO and president. “These students were selected out of a pool of more than 1,600 applicants. We look forward to the future success of these scholarship recipients as they follow their education pursuits and develop into North Carolina’s next generation of rural leaders.”

Wayne County recipients include Southern Wayne High graduates Mark Anderson, who plans to attend the University of Mount Olive; Noah Barrett, who plans to attend N.C. State University; Georgia Fulghum, who will attend Meredith College; Katelyn Gregory, who plans to attend UMO; and Evelyn Trejo, who will plans to attend UMO. Also receiving a scholarship is Makayla Kidd, a Charles B. Aycock High School graduate, who plans to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“I want to congratulate all of the Golden LEAF Scholarship recipients,” said House Majority Leader John Bell, R-Goldsboro. “These students should be proud of their great accomplishment and having their hard work and dedication recognized. I wish them the best in their bright futures ahead.”

Rep. Raymond E. Smith Jr., D-Goldsboro, also congratulated the high school graduates.

“I am exceedingly proud of this year’s Golden LEAF Scholarship recipients,” Smith said “I know that attending one of our outstanding State institutions of higher learning is an absolute honor and will undoubtedly prepare these future college graduates for the challenges ahead.”

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to receive a portion of North Carolina’s funding from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers.

For more than 20 years, Golden LEAF has worked to increase economic opportunity in North Carolina’s rural and tobacco-dependent communities through leadership in grantmaking, collaboration, innovation and stewardship as an independent and perpetual foundation.

The Foundation has provided tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and rural areas of the state by helping create 66,000 jobs, more than $700 million in new payrolls and more than 90,000 workers trained or retrained for higher wages. Golden LEAF has provided 6,251 scholarships totaling more than $42 million to students from rural communities attending North Carolina’s colleges and universities.

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