Memorie Bullard is a full-time student in the Human Services Technology program at Sampson Community College (SCC) who plans to graduate in December 2023 with her Associate of Applied Science degree (A.A.S.). Recently, she was awarded The Gilbert Scholarship by the SCC Foundation, supporting current and former foster care students in obtaining a degree at a community college.
Led by Darlena Moore, President of The Gilbert Scholarship, Inc., the scholarship was named in honor of Dick and Mary Gilbert, Moore’s former foster parents who dedicated their lives to helping hundreds of youth in the foster care system. Through the organization, Moore hopes to build upon and continue their legacy.
She explained about the award, “Most students have spent years in the [foster care] system and have aged out. They have no outside support, no place to go for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and no mom or dad to text when life gets hard. Some even enter college without a car or a home. So I started thinking, how can I be a Dick and Mary Gilbert to someone else? How can I add just a little bit to the legacy they have created? I decided to start a scholarship in their name. Each student recipient has a few things in common… they know that every story can be re-written; and they want a bright future for themselves.”
How can I be a Dick and Mary Gilbert to someone else? How can I add just a little bit to the legacy they have created?
From a young age, Memorie Bullard was raised by her loving grandmother, whom she described as her “angel,” until her recent passing in 2020. Afterwards, Bullard was placed in the foster care system while completing her senior year at Lakewood High School (LHS).
Recounting her foster experience as positive, Bullard explained how the family would drive her 45 minutes from Dunn to Lakewood every day just to get to school. During her time with them, Bullard also mentioned that she was able to learn more about Hispanic culture, her culture, an identity she was never able to fully delve into growing up.
Bullard detailed, “The foster family I stayed with were a Hispanic family. Me being half-Hispanic, I grew up with my white family, so I never had any of that culture—I never even learned how to speak Spanish. I learned a lot of things staying with them… it opened me up to a whole new culture that I should’ve been a part of but wasn’t.”
According to Bullard, she is the first person in her family to attend college. She recalled how her previous advisor at LHS had introduced her to SCC and all the opportunities she could benefit from if she just applied. Bullard specifically remembered that he mentioned, “Everyone says that going to big universities is what it’s all about, but sometimes it’s really not…” This led Bullard to applying for the Human Services Technology program and to discovering that, in her words, “Community college was definitely for me.”
Community college was definitely for me.
After graduating from SCC with her A.A.S. degree in December, Bullard plans to transfer online to a four-year university to obtain her bachelors, and eventually even her master’s degree, with aspirations of becoming a social worker. She hopes to remain locally for her practice in the future, staying in Sampson County or within the region.
“[Degree-wise] I want to go as high as I can,” Bullard shared. “I knew I wanted to help out people who were in my situation too and help out people who’ve helped me. I love helping people… I’m a giver.”
In addition to her full-time coursework, Bullard works full-time at Asa Carlton, Inc. in merchandizing— remodeling Home Depots through resetting bays, building isles, tagging items, and validating prices. Bullard mentioned how she’s learned to become independent over the years, taking care of herself and preserving when times get tough. Working nights, she remarked that she’s now developed a steady routine and learned to balance it all with her courses at SCC.
She elaborated, “Not only is [my job] full-time, but it’s traveling too. I might be in South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, I never know. I work night shift, so when I get off in the morning, I go right to sleep then wake up around noon to do schoolwork. Then I go on to the next night. I have a little routine— I’m constantly going.”
At just 20 years old, Bullard is also a proud home and car owner, purchasing her first house with her boyfriend back in November of 2022. Coming from similar paths, the couple met right before Bullard was placed in the foster care system, and they’ve had each other’s backs ever since.
We both come from the same exact background… we don’t have parents. We do everything ourselves. When times get tough, we don’t have mom and dad to call on, it’s just us. That’s what makes us such a good team.
During her time at SCC, Bullard stated that she’s thoroughly enjoyed her coursework and instructors, especially Katie Butler, Department Chair of Human Services Technology at SCC. Bullard mentioned that Butler has truly resonated with her as both an advisor and teacher over the past two years noting, “I’ve been through a lot, and she’s [Butler] been very patient with me.”
When asked how she felt about being awarded The Gilbert Scholarship, Bullard expressed that she was initially quite shocked, but also immensely proud of herself. Getting the call from SCC back in February, Bullard stated that The Gilbert Scholarship is the first financial award she’s ever received, and it will assist her greatly in completing her degree at the College.
She concluded, “I got the call and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh I actually got it!’ I applied for it over a month ago. It’s one of those things that you apply for and you’re not sure if you’re going to get it, then you forget about it, and then you get it! I pay all my bills myself, so this really helps a lot.”
Sampson CC is extremely proud of Memorie. The College admires her perseverance and independency in all she does. SCC loves seeing students give back to their communities through the education they received and looks forward to seeing all she will do throughout her career in Human Services to assist others.
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.
About Gilbert Scholarship, Inc.
Gilbert Scholarship, Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit, offering scholarships to youth from the foster care system in NC. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To visit our website go to mountaingirlinitiative.com.