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Philanthropic Support for Students Celebrated at College of Education’s 2024 Scholarships Banquet

A group of seven scholarship recipients standing in front of a balloon backdrop at the NC State College of Education's Scholarships Banquet

In April, the NC State College of Education held its annual banquet celebrating scholarships and those who make them possible. The theme of the evening was the word “why” — why those attending chose to become educators, why they work to prepare educators or why they support educators through philanthropy.

“Every kid needs the opportunity to learn and succeed, and to do that, they need a great education,” said Dean Paola Sztajn. “That is why I am here.”

During the banquet, Michael Ward ’77BS, ’81MS, ’93EDD, former North Carolina superintendent for public instruction and professor of practice, and his wife, Hope Morgan Ward, a retired bishop in The United Methodist Church, were recognized for their creation of the Ward Family Scholarship Endowment.

“Hope and I are happy to provide a scholarship to support individuals who want to become teachers,” Ward said. “In light of all that NC State has meant in our lives, it’s a small way to say thank you.”

Two College of Education students also had the opportunity to share their “whys,” as well as the impact scholarship support has made on their educational journeys. 

Their stories are below: 

Rylee Sherwood

When Rylee Sherwood was applying to colleges, her acceptance into the NC State College of Education’s Transformational Scholarships Program and N.C. Teaching Fellows not only provided her with the financial support she needed to pursue a bachelor’s degree in science education, but it also made her feel seen and valued as a future educator.

“Earning these scholarships told me someone saw everything I was working toward,” Sherwood said. “Someone thought I’d make an extraordinary teacher.”

The Transformational Scholarships Program provides scholarships totaling $40,000 over four years to promising high school students from Eastern North Carolina who will return to the region to teach after graduating. 

For Sherwood, who grew up in New Hanover County, being a Transformational Scholar represents an opportunity for her to learn and grow with a group of educators who want to make a difference in the communities they call home.

“We share a dream of improving education in rural counties and a passion for changing the lives of our students for the better and inspiring in them a love of learning,” Sherwood said. “I’m proud that our cohort will be returning to eastern North Carolina public schools together.”

Zac Martin

Zac Martin, a doctoral student in the Educational Leadership, Policy and Human Development counseling and counselor education concentration, sees education as the ultimate public good.

Not only has he benefited from educators throughout his life, but he has sought to give back as a practitioner and researcher in the field of counselor education.

When Martin decided to move to North Carolina to earn his doctoral degree at the College of Education, it was financial support through the Yost-Williams Farm Family Scholarship that made it possible for him to relocate and establish residency in North Carolina, which has also allowed for him to serve as a graduate assistant in the NC State Counseling Center. 

“The scholarships [that donors] create let students know that if they are willing to take a leap of faith, there will be a safety net to catch them and are welcome in this community,” Martin said.

His research focuses on the counseling experiences of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds and how public policy and services influence the mental health of these students. Scholarship support is what has made it possible for him to pursue this work.

“Every donation, regardless of its size, seeds a future where students like myself can not only dream of a brighter future but actively participate in creating it,” Martin said.