SECU Foundation presents scholarships to health sciences students

WINTERVILLE — A pair of Pitt Community College health sciences students received scholarships this month from the State Employees’ Credit Union Foundation.
On Dec. 8, Hope Jones and Alexandra Woolard each received $5,000, divided into $2,500 per year for two years, to pay for tuition, fees and other educational expenses.
Jones, a 2016 graduate of Southern Wayne High School, is in the first year of the Associate Degree Nursing program. The Goldsboro resident says she ultimately plans to pursue a master’s degree to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist.
Woolard, a Wilmington native and 2014 Washington High School graduate, is a PCC Student Ambassador. She completed her first semester of medical sonography this month in her pursuit of a career as an obstetrician.
On hand to present the scholarships were Kara Holland, vice president of SECU’s Winterville Branch, and PCC Lead Tutor Amy Staton, a member of the local SECU Advisory Board.
“The State Employees’ Credit Union is so much more than a financial institution; it is an organization whose members care about their community and desire to make a positive impact in all areas of it, including education,” Staton said. “Each year, SECU is committed to investing in the education of students who are members of our communities. What better investment can be made for the future success of Pitt County and the State of North Carolina?”
Through the SECU Foundation’s “People Helping People” scholarship program, SECU members award scholarships to two students at each of North Carolina’s 58 community colleges each year.
Student is N.C. recipient of NSLS Society State of Mind Award
Five years after moving from the nation’s capital to Greenville, Amira Ali has been selected as North Carolina’s recipient of the National Society of Leadership and Success’s Society State of Mind Award.
Ali, a second-year student in PCC’s Early Childhood Education program, will receive $1,000 through the award, which is given to one society member in each state for initiating or participating in a project that positively-impacted their community.
A native Egyptian, Ali earned a bachelor’s degree in Arabic & Islamic Studies in her home country before coming to the United States 15 years ago. She moved to Greenville from Washington, D.C., in 2012 and has become an active member of the community.
Despite her academic responsibilities and duties as a mother of four, Ali volunteers many hours each week at The Oakwood School in Greenville. In addition to helping out with the booster club and assisting the school’s Fine Arts Support Team during concerts, she also tutors Arabic classes.
At PCC, Ali has excelled in the classroom with a 3.9 GPA and is on track to graduate in May. Her early childhood instructors consider her to be a “very conscientious” student. She has been a member of PCC’s NSLS chapter since August.
“It is not uncommon to see Amira several times a week. She regularly checks in to see if there is anything she can do to help the Society,” said Faith Fagan, a PCC administrative assistant who co-advises the college’s NSLS chapter with instructor Lynda Civils. “She is an absolute delight to work with and a natural leader.”
With 594 chapters across the country, including 17 within the N.C. Community College System, NSLS is the nation’s largest leadership honor society. Students are selected for membership at their respective colleges based on either academic standing or leadership potential.
Former Marine brings awareness to veterans’ mental health issues
A PCC instructor shared his struggle with post-traumaic stress disorder and depression with local Crisis Intervention Team members participating in a refresher course this month on mental health issues facing the nation’s military veterans.
PCC Industrial Instructor/Coordinator Zachary Cleghorn spoke during a class which was coordinated by Greenville’s Trillium Health Resources and took place at PCC’s Law Enforcement Training Center earlier this month. On hand for the presentation were four Greenville police officers and three Trillium employees.
“It is important for CIT officers to know about mental health in veterans to ensure they get the proper help they deserve,” said Cleghorn, who served six years with the U.S. Marine Corps. “There can be underlying issues that cause veterans to act out or behave inappropriately when they leave the service and return to everyday life.”
For Cleghorn, life took a sharp downward turn after his Marine Corps service ended in 2012. The 29-year-old Texas native, who was at one time deployed to Afghanistan’s notorious Helmand Province, found himself homeless and living in his car for several months.
“Some service members, like myself, join at age 17 and spend the next few years in a very structured environment being trained on how to be a warrior,” Cleghorn said. “But after taking off the uniform, they leave behind that structured environment unsure about the outside world.
“It’s not uncommon for veterans to have a hard time re-entering society,” he continued. “An average of 22 veterans take their lives each day.”
After reaching a point where he “didn’t even recognize (himself) in the mirror,” Cleghorn attempted suicide in May 2013. But when his gun didn’t fire after he pulled the trigger, he said he felt a push to seek professional mental health care and ended up getting his life back on track.
Through presentations like the one he gave this month, Cleghorn hopes to spread awareness of mental health issues among veterans and to inspire vets to seek treatment.
“A veteran writes a blank check to the United States of America for an amount up to and including their lives,” he said. “We owe it to these individuals to get them the help they deserve.”
As for Cleghorn, “that unfamiliar person that I once saw in the mirror is starting to look more and more familiar each day.”

PCC News Service