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Winston-Salem Foundation Scholarship Program makes sure kids can get to college despite pandemic

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Nikki McCormick is well into her career with Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina as the Vice President of Partnerships and Impact, but it wasn’t all that long ago she was looking ahead to life after high school graduation.

“It was hard to know what to do first and then what to do next and who you should contact,” said McCormick while reflecting on the process.

She knew she wanted to go to college, but how she would get there wasn’t as clear.

“I grew up in a house that didn’t have a lot of resources,” McCormick said. “I knew from the get-go, if I was going to be able to go to college, I was going to have to find a way to pay for it and that is intimidating. It is it’s really, really overwhelming.”

That’s where the Winston-Salem Foundation Scholarship Program comes in. It has 134 funds that award eligible students anywhere from $500-$3,000. And despite the global Coronavirus pandemic, the work continues.

“We didn’t ask, ‘Are we going to do this this year?’ We said, ‘How are we going to do this this year?’” said Daisy Rodriguez, director of student aid with the Winston-Salem Foundation. “There were challenges. There were many days that we ran around and said, ‘OK, let’s see how this will work with technology.’”

Along with the challenges, Rodriquez said the year brought plenty of successes.

“We not only awarded more scholarships, we exceeded our record $1.2 million and that’s almost 600 awards for our local students,” said Rodriguez. “That is a quarter million dollars more than the year before and we are very proud of that and the fact that our students in our service area will be able to continue to go to school and have their dream fulfilled of higher education.”

For McCormick, life has come full circle. Now she’s on the WSF Scholarship Program’s panel that helps review new applications. It feels good to be apart of something that had such an enormous impact on her own life, McCormick said.  

“I didn’t even have to think twice. Yes, absolutely, I will serve in that capacity. It would be an honor to be able to usher in the next generation of college students.”

The WSF’s one-stop scholarship application opens on January 1, 2021.

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