Armando Avenlino-Ortiz Receives Two Foundation Scholarships

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[Clinton, N.C.] – As Sampson Community College’s (SCC) Spring 2024 commencement ceremony quickly approaches, the College looks to highlight graduating Foundation scholars—students who have received one or more scholarships from the SCC Foundation. One of those individuals is Armando Avenlino-Ortiz, an Associate of Arts and Associate of General Education student who recently received the SCC Ambassador & James L. Austin Memorial scholarships for 23-24.

The youngest of four brothers, Ortiz graduated from Hobbton High School in 2022—becoming the first in his family to do so. Originally, he contemplated dropping out of school due to his low GPA. However, his advisor at the time, Gayln Dent, and former football coach, Joe Salas, encouraged him to graduate, then enroll at SCC to rebuild his GPA and obtain his general education courses.

Ortiz explained, “My faith is what brought me to SCC. I truly believe that, especially when I contemplated dropping out of high school but decided to stay. I remember talking with our head football coach, and he told me to pick my two favorite subjects and get a degree to become a teacher. I thought to myself that he was crazy to even think that. But I remember going home and praying asking God what to do with my life and I remember having a dream of me in a history classroom and ever since then I have been on this path.”

Since enrolling at SCC, Ortiz also became the first in his family to attend college. Growing up, he mentioned that his parents couldn’t afford higher education, even though they worked hard. However, with the help of scholarships obtained at SCC such as the James L. Austin Memorial Scholarship and the SCC Ambassador Scholarship, Ortiz was able to pursue a degree and is currently debt-free.

“I am a first-time graduate in my family,” Ortiz elaborated. “The concept of paying for school was out of reach. My parents are hard workers, but they could not afford to send me to school. They help the best they can, but the weight is on me. These scholarships took a weight off my shoulders, knowing that I’m graduating with my two associates with no debt.”

Established in 2010 by the Foundation, the College’s Ambassador Scholarship Program provides selected individuals with funding for the upcoming Fall and Spring semesters that can be applied towards tuition, fees, supplies, and books. Upon appointment, student ambassadors also become “the face of SCC,” assisting with college-sponsored events throughout the year.

Similarly, The James L. Austin Memorial Endowment was established by the Austin Family in memory and honor of Mr. James. L. Austin, a prominent businessman in Sampson County. Since 2003, its purpose has been to provide scholarships each school year for eligible students who attend SCC.

Ortiz received two scholarships at SCC during the 2023-2024 academic year, planning to transfer to East Carolina University to major in History Education.

In addition to serving as a Student Ambassador, Ortiz is also the President of SCC’s Psychology Club, a work-study for Student Services, and participant in both the College’s soccer and volleyball intramural teams. Through his role as ambassador, he specifically hopes to raise awareness about community colleges and combat the negative stigma surrounding two-year degrees.

He voiced, “I felt very excited for this opportunity to open to me to be able to play a bigger role for the community college, and to meet more people at the College and the community in general. I plan to play a role in the expansion of community colleges, show what SCC offers, and get the word out that community colleges aren’t worse than a four-year college or university.”

Ortiz plans to graduate from SCC in May 2024 with his Associate in General Education and Associate in Arts degrees, planning to transfer to obtain his bachelor’s in history education. In the future, he aspires to earn both his Master’s in History and Doctorate in Educational Leadership in Higher Education. His ultimate goal is to teach high school and college history, eventually working as a dean or president of a college.

When asked who he’d like to thank, Ortiz remarked that there are truly “too many to count” who have assisted him during his journey at SCC. In a quote, he specifically expressed his gratitude to the team in Student Services, who “offered words of encouragement when life got hard, helped push me, and helped me grow and learn more about the ins and outs of college.” 

He also wished to thank his College Transfer instructors: Sarah Burgin, Casey Knowles, and Joy Rogers. However, most importantly, Ortiz extended his gratitude towards his loved ones.

“Of course, God will be number one,” he commented. “But I’ve also had so much support from my parents who have always told me to pursue my goals and help me the best they can. Melvin Cinto, my best friend who also attended SCC pushed me in life in general. Rutben Cruz, the definition of ‘iron sharpens iron,’ continues to push me through schoolwork, strengthen my faith in Christ, and is a great gym partner. Also, Iris Ponce, who during the pandemic pushed and helped me through school, treated me like family from that moment, and constantly reminds me I’m doing great.”

Overall, Ortiz remarked that he would highly recommend SCC to other prospective students looking to pursue a degree. The opportunities to receive scholarships, participate in clubs, work-study positions, are all wonderful aspects of the College, Ortiz noted. But especially, the ability to build relationships with classmates and instructors, due to the student-teacher ratio.

“A community college education is the same, if not better, than a four-year school because you’re able to get to know your classmates and your instructor better because of the small class size. It prepares you for going to a four-year school because you understand the pace and have already been introduced to college classes. SCC is truly a place where you can, ‘Begin Here, Go Anywhere.’”

Sampson CC is very proud of Armando for his accomplishments at the College thus far. The Foundation is glad to have welcomed him as a Student Ambassador for the 2023-2024 academic year and looks forward to seeing all he will continue to do throughout his education.

The deadline to apply for scholarships is April 15. Over 100 opportunities are available with just one application. Apply today at

For more information about the SCC Foundation, visit

About Sampson Community College:  Sampson Community College is a member of the North Carolina Community College System, located in Clinton, NC in Sampson County. The college offers many programs to include two-year degrees, college transfer, continuing education and workforce development options and early college education. SCC is committed to the principles of equal educational and employment opportunities for all.