Earlier this month, The Rotary Club of Franklin honored the youth in Macon County by recognizing their educational accomplishments. As part of its annual Academic Excellence Banquet last Tuesday, Rotarians gave local students $18,000 in scholarships.
Western Carolina University Chancellor Dr. David Belcher addressed students as the event's guest speaker.
“Thank you so much for inviting me to participate in this event saluting high academic achievement among high school students in Franklin,” said Dr. Belcher. “Excellence is one of my most cherished values, and thus it is a genuine pleasure to be part of a ceremony such as this one in which academic excellence is recognized and rewarded.”
Honoring the top achievers in grades 10 through 12, Rotarians selected the top five percent of students in each grade level to receive the Weimer Jones Scholar Recognition. Jones, a former Rotarian and community servant, dedicated his life serving Macon County. The top scholars from each grade level each received a copy of Jones' memoir and a plaque.
The banquet also hosted the 2013 Senator Bob and Helen Carpenter Nursing Scholarship recipients, Kaycee Cashion and Holly Owen, who each received $1,000.
Cashion, who attends Southwestern Community College, began her professional career in the public school system where she worked for eight years as a Spanish language educator. She believes that the language skills gained in her background in teaching, along with the tangible skills of nursing, will equip her to positively impact people in the community and abroad.
Cashion, a mother of a 20-month-old daughter, plans to continue her education until she obtains a Bachelor's degree in nursing through Western Carolina University and in the longer term, receive a Master's degree to allow her to work in a med-surge unit and participate in medical missions around the world.
Owens also decided to pursue nursing as a career transition. Owens has always desired a career in health care and her goal is to receive advanced training in Geriatrics and work with end of life care of patients and their families.
Owens first began her career as a member of the United States Air Force, serving in Germany and Colorado. She currently helps first year nursing students as a tutor, while maintaining a 3.5 GPA and caring for her family as a single mother. She is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society.
After receiving more than 70 applicants for the annual Roy Rickman Scholarship, the Rotary Club of Franklin narrowed the winners down to five high school students. Rayven Casada, Carrie Doster, Brett Palmer, and Benjamin Watson were all awarded $1,000 Roy Rickman Scholarships, and the $12,000 Rickman Scholarship was given to Cassie Doster, who plans to attend N.C. State University.
“A major focus of The Rotary Club of Franklin is the youth in our community,” said Gary Dills, Rotary Club president. “Over the past two weeks, we have awarded financial prizes to middle and elementary students for their poetry and essays, awarded two $1,000 scholarships to second year nursing students at Southwestern Community College and awarded $16,000 in scholarships to five outstanding Franklin High School seniors. We continue to be a significant part of Read2Me and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in Macon County for our birth to five year olds. These young people and their educational experiences will determine the quality of our society. None of these efforts would be possible without the active involvement of Franklin Rotarians and the community's support of the Roy Rickman Scholarship Raffle, silent auction and program ads (this July). Hopefully, the Rotary Club of Franklin is making a difference.”
Dr. Belcher offered words of encouragement to the students to continue working and striving for excellence throughout their educational careers.
“I congratulate you for achievement in your educational pursuits here in Franklin,” said Dr. Belcher. “National research compellingly demonstrates that the best indicator of how well a student will do in college is, not the SAT or ACT score, but the high school GPA and, particularly, how well a student does in college preparatory courses in high school. Not a real surprise because, in order to do well in high school, you have exhibited discipline, you have completed assignments, you have studied, you have excellent attendance records, you have actively participated in the learning process in the classroom, you’ve approached your teachers for additional explanations when you haven’t understood something – in short, you have learned and practiced the habits and behaviors of a good student. Your recognition this evening is based on your academic achievements in high school, and the habits and behaviors which resulted in your achievements will set you up well for success at the university level. Don’t get me wrong – university studies will be hard, but you are prepared with good minds and the practiced behaviors of good students. You can do it.”