WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College held the 9th Annual MLK Scholarship Tribute Thursday to celebrate the life of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. a day ahead of his birthday.
Organized by the PCC Multicultural Activities Committee (MAC), the program took place virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to remarks from Greenville Mayor P.J. Connelly, it featured a keynote speech by Garrett Taylor and several scholarship presentations.
Taylor, a businessman, author and community mentor, spoke on the importance of family by relating its impact on current and historical social issues and perceptions. He stressed the need for accurate understanding of family dynamics and explained how it is often misunderstood in today’s society, particularly as it relates to cultural family structure and engagement.
“Mr. Taylor was able to charge us to make a difference by understanding the societal factors that can contribute to both the detriment and success of families,” said Regina Garcia, a PCC English instructor and MAC member. “He also encouraged us to understand the importance of fictive kinship in the lives of individuals to reconcile gaps and foster progress.”
PCC Assistant Vice President of Student Support Jasmin Spain helped organize Thursday’s program in the hope it would increase people’s knowledge of King’s civil rights achievements and “continue to build bonds within the Pitt County community.” He said the tribute is also an opportunity for MAC to award scholarships and raise funds for future awards.
Spain said this year’s scholarships were presented in honor of Dr. Garrie Moore, a longtime community advocate and champion for higher education. Moore’s educational career spanned more than 30 years and included service as PCC’s dean of students and East Carolina University’s Vice Chancellor for Student Life.
Through the community’s support of the 2020 MLK event, Spain said MAC was able to award three scholarships this spring worth a total of $1,000.
Student Jessica Schroeder, who is majoring in Human Services Technology with a concentration in Substance Abuse, received the top scholarship worth $500. Schroeder is planning a career in which she can help people overcome addiction.
PCC Marketing Director Jane Power, a MAC member, said Schroeder volunteers at Greenville’s Community Crossroads Center and is working hard to set a good example for her son.
“During her interview, we asked Jessica what she had learned about herself as a PCC student,” Power said. “Her response was, ‘I didn’t know who I was; I’ve learned a lot, and I am still learning.’”
Also receiving scholarships were Makole Sichone, a native of Zambia pursuing an Associate in Science degree, and Ben Craven, who is pursuing an Associate in Arts. Both students received $250 through their awards.
With approximately 67 percent of Pitt students receiving some form of financial aid, Spain says awards like the MAC Scholarship make college more accessible to the community. He said those wanting to support future MAC Scholarships may do so by visiting the PCC Foundation website.