North Carolinians embrace their community colleges in both big ways and small.
“We have had individuals in the community that just are always on the lookout for students in need. And I’ll get a call that says, ‘OK, this student is headed your way – please take care of them,’” Marion Venable, Executive Director of the Surry Community College Foundation, says in the accompanying video.
Surry President David Shockley says one local family anonymously paid for college for a promising young Latino student. With an associate degree in mechatronics, the young man made $65,000 in his first year working for a local company, moved his family into a better home and paid for their first vacation ever.
“It’s truly why we’re so important,” Shockley says. “Especially in rural North Carolina, we are the only opportunity that so many of our students have.”
Venable says local supporters have provided funds for more than 220 scholarships at Surry, and the Foundation goes to great lengths to match eligible students with an appropriate scholarship.
But scholarships alone aren’t enough, Venable says. Life happens: Some students go without eating. Some live in their cars. Venable sometimes uses the Foundation’s student emergency fund to buy gas for students so they can finish their week of classes.
“We have really made an effort to give the student everything they need to be successful,” she says. “We know how critical an education is, especially in a rural environment, so we have tried our best to meet their needs.”
Venable once even accompanied a student and her family to a junkyard and paid for the car part she needed to make it to class.
“That’s the extent that we go to with our student emergency fund – and it’s necessary,” she says.