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Do you know this North Carolinian? From 2003-2023, a story of attainment

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Dr. Hope Williams is the president of the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU), the statewide office of the 36 independent, private colleges and universities in North Carolina. 

Williams meets a lot of students, and she has a lot of great stories about scholars, their educational journeys, and their leadership in our world after graduation.

Back in 2003, Williams met a first-generation student who was a Coca-Cola Scholar, a scholarship that invests in “exceptional leaders through scholarships, lifelong learning, and​ a powerful community of mission-driven changemakers.”

“He was excited. He was attending Brevard College,” says Williams.

Before making the move to Transylvania County for college, the student had been living in Wilmington where his father was working in construction and his mother was in the service industry.

His parents didn’t think they could afford Brevard College, but the college worked with the student to secure financial support, including the Coca-Cola Scholarship as well as a state grant for North Carolina independent college students.

“He did extremely well at Brevard, earning a degree in 2007 in health science, and he went on to work at the college later,” says Williams.

The student kept up with Williams over the years.

In 2012, Williams received a letter from him saying he had just graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, where he received in master’s degree in public policy. He was headed to Washington, D.C., and he wanted Williams to know there was no way his life and career would be unfolding the way it was without the incredible support of the people at Brevard College.

In D.C., he worked in the White House and then U.S. Department of the Treasury. Williams invited him to speak to stakeholders about the importance of scholarships.

In 2018, Williams got another message from him, saying he was coming back to North Carolina to work in the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. They went to lunch to celebrate him coming home.

At the end of 2021, Williams was sitting in the cafeteria at a hospital while her husband was in surgery, and she received what she describes as “the best” phone call from the student.

Who is the student and what was that phone call about?

Click here to find out.

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.