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CCCC&TI Foundation Celebrates New Dream Award Recipients

Published: 11/08/2023

With dreams of careers in fields from culinary arts to engineering to healthcare to education, a group of students got one step closer to achieving those dreams at the Foundation of Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s annual Dream Award ceremony at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir on Wednesday, November 1, 2023.

The Dream Award, which guarantees tuition for local students to attend CCC&TI upon graduation from high school, was presented to 41 students from Caldwell and Watauga counties who were nominated and chosen while in sixth grade.

Participants must be future first-generation college students who have demonstrated academic achievement and civic involvement, and who have the potential to succeed. The program, which is funded through private donations to the Foundation, has presented awards to 1,446 students since its inception in 1989.

CCC&TI President Dr. Mark Poarch opened the ceremony by welcoming the students, their families and guests. “I would like to be one of the first to congratulate these students on being selected at Dream Award Recipients.” Poarch also welcomed honored guests including CCC&TI’s Trustees, local government officials, public school officials, school board members from both Caldwell and Watauga Counties, as well as the Foundation Board members and donors. “We could not do this without your support. Thank you.”

Deborah Murray, Vice Chair of CCC&TI’s Foundation Board, shared the criteria for the Dream Award as well as the history of the program. “As of tonight, and thanks to generosity of our donors, the Foundation of CCC&TI will have awarded 1,446 Dream Awards since the program was started in 1989.” Murray recognized Dr. Tony Deal who brought the program to CCC&TI and who was in attendance at the event.

Dena Holman, Vice President of Student Services at CCC&TI encouraged recipients to make the most of the opportunity. “With the promise of college in sight, it’s now time to start setting goals and dreaming about your future. CCC&TI is here to support you and help you realize those dreams.”

Holman then introduced guest speaker, CCC&TI Alumna Susan Neel, a 1991 Dream Award recipient from Hudson Middle School. Neel, a 2nd grade teacher at Dudley Shoals Elementary School, shared the impact that the award had on her as a student. Neel earned a 2-year degree at CCC&TI and then transferred to ASU where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and later a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education. “The Dream Scholarship helped me to not carry a load of student debt after the culmination of these years of college,” said Neel. “January 2024 will mark 21 years in teaching for me. It all began when I received the Dream Scholarship just like you. Take advantage of all the opportunities that CCC&TI will offer to you. This will serve as a base of your future learning.” Neel also encouraged students to set goals, work toward them, establish clear objectives and stay focused and motivated. “Again, congratulations on receiving the Dream Scholarship Award and welcome to the club,” she said. “ The teachers that nominated you saw something special in you. Now it is your job to go out and make them proud and make this world a better place.”

Public School Partners Dr. Katrina McEllen, Caldwell County Schools Assistant Superintendent for Educational Program Services, and Dr. Leslie Alexander, Superintendent of Watauga County Schools were on hand at the ceremony and offered their congratulations and support to this latest group of Dream Scholars and encouraged students to make the most of the opportunities provided by the program.

Susan Neel

Dudley Shoals Elementary School Teacher Susan Neel, a 1991 recipient of the Foundation of CCC&TI’s Dream Award, speaks at the 2023 Dream Award Ceremony about the impact of the award and how it helped her reach her goal of becoming an educator.

To conclude the ceremony, Dream recipients were recognized and presented with a framed certificate while CCC&TI TRIO Director Emily Garrison read comments from their Dream nominations completed by educators at their schools. Each recipient also introduced themselves and shared their career goals with those in attendance.

A special reception for students, families, friends and school officials was held following the ceremony.

2023 Dream Award Recipients

2023 Dream Award recipients

Pictured are the 2023 Dream Award recipients who participated in the November 1 ceremony at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir. The award, presented by the Foundation of CCC&TI, guarantees tuition to attend CCC&TI upon graduation from high school.

Following are this year’s Dream Award Recipients and their home schools:

Anna Lee Barnett, Cove Creek School
Ava Beaver, Collettsville School
Serenity Bolick, Hardin Park School
Rileigh Burchette, Hudson Middle School
Nicholas Causby, Collettsville School
Jesse Christian, Hardin Park School
Brayden Coffey, Granite Falls Middle School
Paisley Cole, Cove Creek School
Megan Craig, Blowing Rock School
Aleah Cuellar, Hudson Middle School
Maia De Gaona Cruz, Valle Crucis School
Misael Diaz-Torres, Kings Creek School
Ayden Dorsey, Hudson Middle School (Harold K. Parsons Dream Award Recipient)
Sarah Earp, Parkway School
Aubree Elliott, Green Valley School
Addison Gadoury, Granite Falls Middle School
Laila Garvin, Gamewell Middle School
Conley Greer, Kings Creek School
Zoey Harrington, Blowing Rock School
John Harris, Mabel School
Gavin Hatton, Kings Creek School
Grayson Hodges, Happy Valley School (Dwight and Rose Church Dream Award Recipient)
Jorge Lopez-Reynoso, William Lenoir Middle School (Dr. Tony Deal Dream Award Recipient)
Lesly Lorenzo, Gamewell Middle School
Todd Lunsford, Green Valley School
Tuyerl Maxwell, William Lenoir Middle School
Kiley Moody, Happy Valley School
Kimani Moore-Price, William Lenoir Middle School
Chloe Morgan, Collettsville School
Dracus Parsons, Gamewell Middle School
Mikalah Presnell, Bethel School
Easton Prestwood, Happy Valley School
Leandro Santos, Hardin Park School
Grace Shore, Parkway School
Maddox Sigmon, Gamewell Middle School
Sophie Stanton, Bethel School
Rayleigh Tester, Valle Crucis School
Magdalene Walker, Granite Falls Middle School (Debbie Yount Dream Award Recipient)
Jaydin Wallace, Hudson Middle School
Allison Watson, Bethel School
Abigail Wilson, Mabel School