[Clinton, N.C.] – As Sampson Community College’s (SCC) Spring 2023 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 students is Neal Wiggins, an Information Technology (IT) student and full-time Hog Slat employee who recently received the Bryan & Tanner-Fulton scholarships for 2022-2023.
In 2007, Wiggins graduated from Clinton High School (CHS) and began taking classes at SCC in 2008. Following in the footsteps of his father, beloved SCC adjunct instructor, Randy Wiggins, and with support from his brother, Brandon Wiggins, Wiggins decided to enroll in the IT program at SCC later on, in order to obtain his Associate of Applied Science degree.
He mentioned, “I started at SCC with a working knowledge of the IT field but no formal training. My father was a teacher at SCC when I was younger, so I was spending time on campus at an early age. My brother was also a huge influence on me to return to school. Without his encouragement I likely wouldn’t be where I am today. SCC has provided me a foundational knowledge of core concepts in the field, and this has improved my understanding of processes I use every day.”
Since 2018, Wiggins has worked full-time as a Computer Technician at Hog Slat in Newton Grove.
He believes that a formal education, at SCC and beyond, will create more opportunities for him to further his career, thus fueling his decision to return to school and motivating him to balance college courses with a full-time career.
Wiggins explained about his journey, “It has been a challenge at times, but I have been very fortunate that my employer and colleagues are all supportive. Working in the field that I’m studying has improved the overall experience since I get to apply many of the skills I’m learning. I’m excited to have a break once this semester is over, but this mostly serves as a milestone to mark the halfway point of my formal IT education.”
After graduation in Summer 2023, Wiggins plans to continue his education online at East Carolina University (ECU) to complete his Bachelor’s degree. He hopes to continue working in the IT field for years to come, using the fundamentals skills he learned from SCC (and eventually ECU) to build a lasting, and beloved career.
“SCC has absolutely been worth it,” he shared. “My only regret is not doing it sooner.”
Due to his hard work and academic merit throughout his time at the College, Wiggins became a Foundation scholar during the 2022-2023 academic year, receiving The James E. and Mary Z. Bryan Memorial Scholarship and the Tanner-Fulton Scholarship from the SCC Foundation.
Established in 1989 by the James E. and Mary Z. Bryan Foundation, Inc., the James E. and Mary Z. Bryan Memorial Scholarship Fund at SCC was created in memory of James E. Bryan and Mary Z. Bryan. Similarly, the Tanner-Fulton Scholarship Fund was established in 2020 by Bill and Melissa Fulton in memory of their son, Matthew Tanner Fulton and his maternal and paternal grandparents, R.W. and Dorothy Tanner, and Hewitt and Katherine Fulton.
In a quote, Bill Fulton, co-creator of the Tanner-Fulton Scholarship and President of the SCC Foundation, voiced his delight at Wiggins being chosen for the Foundation scholarship. Fulton shares personal ties to Wiggins, both having worked at Hog Slat and Wiggins being a former classmate of Fulton’s son, Matthew.
“All scholarship recipients are worthy and unique in their own way, but I’ll admit that being informed of Neal’s awarding of the Tanner-Fulton Scholarship brought an extra level of joy to Melissa and me,” Fulton described. “Neal and I worked together at Hog Slat prior to my retirement, and he was my “go-to” for anything tech-related, as I’m about as tech “un”- savvy as they come! But also, Neal was a classmate of our son Matthew, who is one of our family members in whose memory the scholarship was established. Neal will no doubt make good use of the opportunity that furthering his education and training at SCC will provide.”
Lisa Turlington, Dean of Advancement & Executive Director of the SCC Foundation, added, “It is especially rewarding when our scholars and donors connect on personal levels. It helps our students to know the people who help them earn an education, and it is fulfilling for our donors to see the impact of their gifts firsthand.”
Upon being notified of his scholarship awards, Wiggins recalled that he was honored to receive assistance from the Bryan fund and, especially, the Tanner-Fulton fund. He mentioned that he truly felt blessed to know that he had people at the College willing to support him through his academic efforts.
Wiggins voiced, “The scholarships helped show me that there are people who believe in what I’m doing. Knowing that I have the support of the Foundation and its members gave me the push I needed to continue working towards my Bachelor’s degree. Having grown up around SCC, I know the time and effort that goes into what they do. I hope that my hard work has shown my appreciation to those who were integral to my success. I thank them for their support!”
SCC is incredibly proud of Neal and his achievements. The College loves seeing students choose to return to school to further their education and improve their careers. SCC is glad Neal enrolled in its IT program and looks forward to all he will do throughout the rest of his academic and technology career.
The deadline to apply for 2023-2024 Foundation scholarships is April 15, 2023. To be eligible for either award, students must complete the Sampson Community College Foundation General Scholarship Application at www.sampsoncc.edu/scholarships.
For more information about how to give to the SCC Foundation and how to support student scholarships, visit www.sampsoncc.edu/foundation
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.