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Duke Energy, Lumberton Rotary present RCC with $4000; students receive scholarships

Last week, Robeson Community College was presented with a check for $4000 from the Lumberton Rotary Club District 7730, and Duke Energy, during the weekly meeting of Rotarians held downtown at Adelio’s Restaurant.

The money will be used to provide $2000 in scholarships and $2000 in Grinding Equipment for the welding department.

“I have always enjoyed coming to Rotary, Rotary has always been so supportive of Robeson Community College,” stated Eric Freeman, Executive Vice President of Robeson Community College. “With you guys chipping in, we were able to provide scholarships and buy equipment for our welding program.”

“You have no idea what this means to us. This funding will make a difference and impact many students,” Freeman added. “Thank you all for this gift, we appreciate it very much.”

The welding program at RCC started offering an associate degree last semester, in addition to a diploma and certificate that students could earn.

“We added six new classes, and our enrollment is currently up by 42% this year,” stated James Thomas, the program director for welding. “With the equipment we were able to purchase, it reduces the backlog and gives students more time in the welding booth.”

“On behalf of our students, thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Thomas said. “The ability to provide scholarships will help ease the financial burden and help them complete their degree.”

The scholarship can be used to pay for tuition, books, uniforms, childcare, or fuel for their car. 

“Our students need more than just tuition and fees, there are a lot of wraparound services that students have to pay for to attend class,” Freeman told the Rotarians. “There’s not a lot of funding available to help with paying for daycare or paying for car repairs… so if we can’t fix the wraparounds, many of these students are not going to be able to come to school.” 

Timothy Bryant, the director of the Industrial Technologies programs, says that’s an important factor to remember.

“Being able to take some of the burden of finance off a student is a great blessing,” Bryant said. “Many students are in the same situation that I was in… their families don’t have the resources that would allow them to start or to continue their education.”

“Your scholarship donations give hope to our future HVAC technicians, electricians, welders, and Mechatronic engineers,” Bryant continued. “The pay in these industries’ jobs has gotten so much better, especially in the last few years… if a student has the will to learn, we will teach them, there is such a great opportunity for them to make great money for themselves and their families.”

Breane Hill, Kiale Rogers, Andon Revels, and Justin Hyatt were named as the scholarship recipients during the meeting. Each student will receive a $500 scholarship to continue their pursuit of an associate degree in welding technology. 

“I want to thank everyone from Rotary and Duke Energy for this scholarship,” said Breane Hill, who is a 19-year-old student from Rowland. “I hope to get far into welding and get a good job, I want to go into TIG welding and work with inert gas or at a refinery.”

Andon Revels, also 19 and from Rowland, says he felt good about winning the scholarship.

“It will help me in buying gas for my car and buying materials for school,” Revels stated. “I hope to go work for a company and do TIG welding after I get my degree.”

Surprised at being given a scholarship, Justin Hyatt says he had tried for financial aid in the past but was not eligible. 

“I’m going to put this towards my classes,” Hyatt said who is 19 and is from Saint Pauls. “It will help me pay for gloves, new lenses… it is going to help out a lot… thank you to everyone who helped make this possible.”

Hyatt hopes to go into combo pipe welding, and wants to travel, saying that’s “that’s where the money is.”

Kiale Rogers, a 21-year-old from Saint Pauls, says she is going to use the scholarship to buy more gear because what she currently uses has holes in it. 

“I’m going to put the rest away for next year,” Rogers said. “I’m very excited, I have never won a scholarship before.”

Rogers is a graduate of the RCC Early College, earning an associate of arts from RCC, before coming back to study welding. 

“I love welding, and I love TIG,” Rogers stated. “It’s a harder form of welding, it is very frustrating and challenging, but it is much more rewarding… It’s more visual and more artistic.”

“I hope to become a traveling welder and do that for a few years to build up my experience on my resume, and then come back and teach welding.”

Rogers says she’s also interested in becoming a certified ESL instructor, something that she hopes to do on a part-time basis in addition to becoming a welder. 

“As you can see from our students, this donation will leave a lasting mark, giving them the ability to continue their education in welding, and with the addition of new equipment, students will have an opportunity to obtain more hands-on experience in the welding booths,” stated RCC President Melissa Singler. “We appreciate this gift of $4000 from Duke Energy and the Lumberton Rotary Club. Every donation we receive impacts our students whether that is through lab equipment or scholarships and allows us to continue our mission of providing access to quality education and producing qualified graduates who can enter the workforce and be job-ready on day one.”

“We thank Duke Energy and the Lumberton Rotary Club for their generosity and continued support of Robeson Community College and our students,” Singler said.

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