WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College celebrated the life of civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King Jr. Jan. 16 with the 8th Annual MLK Scholarship Tribute Breakfast.
The event, which took place in the Craig F. Goess Student Center’s Davenport Multipurpose Room, featured N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley as keynote speaker. Born in Nashville, Tenn., Beasley is the first African-American woman to serve as North Carolina’s chief justice. She assumed office March 1, 2019, less than a month after Gov. Roy Cooper appointed her to the position following the retirement of Mark Martin.
Elected to the N.C. Court of Appeals in 2008, Beasley was appointed to the N.C. Supreme Court in 2012. She won a full, eight-year term on the seven-member court in 2014.
In addition to Beasley’s remarks, the program featured scholarship presentations by the PCC Multicultural Activities Committee (MAC), which organizes the annual MLK tribute. Jasmin L. Spain, PCC Assistant Vice President of Student Development and Community Standards, is a MAC member and said the scholarships are awarded each year in honor or memory of an individual who shares King’s ideals.
This year’s scholarships, Spain said, were awarded to PCC students Sharon Moore and Jennifer Santos in memory of Lucille W. Gorham, a longtime educator and community leader who passed away Jan. 27, 2019 at age 100.
“Lucille Gorham was a champion for education and equality for many years, so it is fitting that we present the 2020 scholarship in remembrance of a pillar of our community,” Spain said.
Gorham, who taught at St. Gabriel’s Catholic School in Greenville, became the first African-American woman to serve on the Pitt County Board of Education in 1969. In honor of her years of service and dedication to the community, the Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Community Center opened in the former St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church and School buildings in 2007 through a collaborative partnership between the West Greenville community, East Carolina University, the City of Greenville, PCC and other grassroots organizations. The center offers much-needed training and after-school programs.
Moore, who lives in Greenville, received $500 to help offset the cost of tuition as she seeks a healthcare management degree at Pitt. Santos, a Currituck native nearing completion of PCC’s Respiratory Therapy program, received a $250–award. Funding for the scholarships was generated through previous MLK Tribute Breakfast events at Pitt.
With approximately 67 percent of PCC’s student population receiving some form of financial aid, Spain says the MAC Scholarship and others like it go a long way toward making a college education accessible to the entire community.