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Scholarship recipients share their stories

Three of the more than 40 Bainbridge College Foundation scholarship recipients spoke to Foundation members at their annual meeting, putting a face on the importance of the endowment.

And the Foundation members learned of the extent of activities at the Charles H. Kirbo Regional Center since their meeting there last year.

Each of the students, Chase Alexander of Climax, Victoria Fleming of Bainbridge and Jenny Maldonado of Donalsonville, shared stories of the positive impact the funds make on their lives, their families and their educational goals. For some, it means holding down fewer jobs while attending school full time. For all it means less pressure as they work to reach their educational goals.

A biology major, Alexander serves as Student Government Association president, itself a full-time job helping plan all student activities and representing the students at official events such as ground breakings for the Student Wellness Centers at Bainbridge College’s (BC) main campus and BC Early County. The Bainbridge Rotary Club Scholarship means he can focus on studies to maintain high grades in addition to his college leadership responsibilities and peer tutoring.

Fleming said that the Lillethun Scholarship means she only has to have two jobs to support her family as she works on a degree in business office technology. Foundation support is critical because she is a single parent.

A member of Sigma Kappa Delta honor society, Maldonado summed the sentiments of other BC scholarship recipients that the funds make a difference for the individual and for the family. The Robinson Scholarship helps fund her studies for the Associate of Science degree in nursing. With less pressure about money, she can focus better on the demanding coursework.

“It’s tough,” the Donalsonville mother, housewife, and business owner said of the program’s demands. “And it should be tough because in nursing, we are dealing with people’s lives.”

The lives of more BC students and their families can be impacted positively with the increase in the Foundation’s endowment, said BC President Tom Wilkerson.

At the 2008 Foundation meeting he announced that the endowment had grown from the $60,000 level in 2005 to $500,000. Responding to that news, Dewey Robinson challenged fellow Foundation members to raise the figure to $1 million. They did, and that response was part of the more than $59,000 increase in the endowment in 2009.

At the 2009 meeting, which was his first day on the job, new Development Director Emory Smith accepted the challenge to grow the endowment to the $1 million mark and proffered his check for a donation.

President Wilkerson enumerated increases of another kind during the meeting. He gave figures about use of the Kirbo Center during its first year of operation.

With a total of 183 events as of the meeting on Oct. 27, something has happened at the center every other day since its dedication Oct. 26, 2008.

The 70 non-college events represent activity by other groups every five days, while 113 BC events represent one every three days.

“That is a very impressive set of statistics given that we started with no base of clients at all,” Wilkerson said and complimented the work of Kirbo Center Director Vanessa Arthur.