About 40 Ogeechee Technical College students enjoyed a banquet Monday in honor of their being awarded scholarships. Statesboro’s Bruce Yawn offered a bit of humor and some sage advice as keynote speaker, telling students to pursue their dreams and never give up.
The banquet was held in at Ogeechee Technical College to” honor those people who received the scholarships as well as those who made the scholarships possible,” said Beth Mathews, Vice President for College Advancement. Mathews shared a bit of the college’s history with guests before introducing Yawn, who owns Snooky’s restaurant.
She talked about how the school gets additional funding from an annual fund drive, formerly known as “Five Days in May.” The drive is now called “IGOT” – standing for “I Gave to Ogeechee Tech.”
While the fund raiser helps the college fund things that state and federal funding does not, students often need financial help to maintain their education, and that’s where scholarships enter the picture, Mathews said. Sixteen different scholarships were awarded to 39 students this year.
As Yawn took the podium, he welcomed the students. “I want to congratulate all of you,” he said. “There is one thing I know about every one of you … the fact that you have received a scholarship (means) someone has recognized in you a quality worth investing money into. Whatever it is, you have been distinguished from all the rest … and it is a tremendous honor for you and a tremendous responsibility.”
Yawn recalled receiving a football scholarship to the University of Georgia, and said there were many times he wanted to quit the grueling challenge of working under legendary Coach Erk Russell, but did not because of his commitment to himself, his family and those who granted him the scholarship in the first place. “I felt like I owed them” to remain in college and do the best he could, he said. He said he owed it to them to “prove I was worth the investment.”
When discussing his desire to quit when faced with hard times, he said he told Russell “Coach, I’ll be honest. I didn’t have the guts to quit. People were counting on me.” He said Russell told him he had experienced the same feeling in life.
He told the scholarship recipients “Some of you will reach a point where you’ll say it’s just not worth it… don’t do it. You owe it to yourself and to the people who gave you these scholarships.”
Yawn said there are three characteristics of success: integrity, courage and believing in yourself. “Don’t be afraid to dream about what you’d like to be, what you’d like to do,” he said. “Back up your dreams with preparations – be patient. I want to encourage you to give of yourself and make a positive impact on somebody else’s life.”
Guests also heard from Leah Rucker, recipient of the Moore Claxton/Evans County Scholarship.
“I speak for all the scholarship recipients when I say thank you,” she said, sharing her feelings about being chosen for the scholarship. She read a portion of her essay, written as part of her scholarship application. She talked about being married, being a mother and working, which delayed her education, and how she decided that it would be more beneficial in the long run to pursue her education in spite of challenges.
“To say I was thrilled (o receive the scholarship) is an understatement,” she said. “Now I can focus on education without worries over finances.”
The following OTC students received scholarships and were honored Monday: Auxiliary of East Georgia Regional Medical Center Scholarship – Jamee Carlyle, Dana Prostrollo, Stacie Woodard; Bulloch County Farm Bureau – M. C. Miller Scholarship – Candace McElveen; Charlie Joe Mathews Memorial Scholarship – Herbert Bartley, Jason Gammon, Pamela Gladin, Dana Wynn.
Also, David Russell Memorial Scholarship – Sandra Fox, Wendy Wildes; Hospital Authority of Bulloch County Scholarship – Meredith Calcote, David Campbell, Alvie Coes, Gillian Dwyer, Rebecca Findley, Brooke Hensley, Candace Smith, Melissa Streetman, Michelle Turner; Hospital Authority of Bulloch County Chairman’s Scholarship – Danielle Coleman; Kiwanis Club of Statesboro Scholarship – Reginia Benson; Ogeechee Tech Foundation General Scholarship – Clara Akins, Susanne Hansen, Dustin Johnson, Genevieve Kemp Crystal Salter.
Also, Ogeechee Technical Foundation Nontraditional Scholarship – Christopher Chumley, Tanna Dobbs; Ogeechee technical Foundation Past President’s Scholarship – Lyndsay Dumas, Philip Lynch; Philip Stewart Memorial Scholarship – Dave Collins; Planters EMC Operation Round Up Scholarship – Kayla Doyle, Travis Smith, Deloris Tyree; Robert T. Cox Agribusiness Scholarship – Gray Holcomb; Statesboro Downtown Rotary Club Scholarship – Donna Finch; and Veterinary Technology Scholarship – Amanda Blubaugh and Nichole Myrkle.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.