There was a spirit of celebration at Wor-Wic Community College on Tuesday morning, as the Wicomico Economic Impact Scholarship program was formally established.
Before a ceremonial passing of an oversized check for $265,000, from Wicomico County to the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, Dr. Ray Hoy, president of Wor-Wic, announced an additional $30,000 donation.
First Shore Federal and Avery Hall Insurance Group each donated $15,000 for the new program, to provide tuition to Wor-Wic to recent high school graduates.
Hoy introduced County Executive Bob Culver, who conceived of the idea to provide tuition in an effort to improve the county’s educational standing.
“Thank you for what we feel is going to be a change in Wicomico County. Wicomico County is beginning to look better every day,” a smiling Culver told County Council members, representatives from First Shore Federal and Avery Hall Insurance and other dignitaries attending.
“I’m very proud of the County Council we have here in Wicomico County,” Culver said.
Council President John Cannon thanked Culver for creating the program.
“It is a momentous day today. This is a very positive program for economic development in Wicomico County. This represents added value to students and to the county.” Cannon said.
Introducing Erica Joseph, Community Foundation president, Hoy said deciding to put the $265,000 there was easy, considering the Foundation’s fine reputation. The money will be managed there and “distributed to the college for each eligible student,” according to a news release from Culver’s office.
“We are thrilled to be part of this,” Joseph said.
Marty Neat, chairman of Wor-Wic’s Board of Trustees and CEO of First Shore Federal, brought laughter to those gathered in the Allied Health Building when he smiled and said, “Like we had any choice,” but to make a donation.
“I am a very proud citizen of Wicomico County,” Neat said, adding the best social program in any community “is a job.”
The scholarship program is an investment in the community, Neat said, citing statistics that indicate the average college graduate will earn $1.24 million during a lifetime of working, compared to $1 million without a college degree.
“Education has a cost but its value is far greater,” Neat said.
Hoy said he didn’t ask for a donation from Avery Hall Insurance, but that Kevin Hayes, vice president, asked how the company could help.
“Unlike Marty, we did have a choice,” Hayes joked.
The company, he said, is honored to help students “who have a desire but not resources.”
“This is a tremendous opportunity and a game changer for our community,” Hayes said.
Among those attending were Mike Dunn, president of the Greater Salisbury Committee; Ernie Colburn, CEO of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Donna Hanlin, superintendent of Wicomico County schools; Wayne Strausburg, county administrator; and county and Wor-Wic representatives.
The scholarship will cover the full cost of tuition and fees, but not books. To qualify, students must have lived in Wicomico County two years, completed all high school graduation requirements and have an annual family income of $75,000 or less.
Students must register for 12 credit hours per semester and maintain a 2.0 grade point average or higher.
The deadline to apply is July 29. Call 410-334-2800 or email Dr. Deirdra Johnson at email@example.com.
Reach Susan Canfora at firstname.lastname@example.org.