CCC&TI Foundation kicks off 2014 drive

Mar. 06, 2014 @ 06:26 AM

The Foundation of Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute held the kickoff for its 2014 Annual Fund Drive on Wednesday, announcing a fundraising goal of $350,000 – the highest it has ever been.

“Without you, without each one of you here, we would not have been able to have made the difference we have made in so many thousands of students’ lives over the years,” said Foundation board chair Peg Broyhill, who also introduced the theme of this year’s kickoff, “The Future is Now: Celebrating 50 Years of CCC&TI.”

Each year, volunteers seek donations to help fund the work of the Foundation, which provides student scholarships as well as a wide variety of other student assistance. In addition, this year’s student campaign will feature a “Run for Student Scholarships” 5k on Saturday, April 19, at 8:30 a.m. starting at the Caldwell campus of CCC&TI. Registration and further information is available at cccti.edu/foundation5k.

To donate to the Annual Fund, go online to www.cccti.edu/Foundation/Donations.asp, or visit the foundation office in H.E. Beam Hall on the CCC&TI campus in Hudson. For more information, call (828) 726-2260.

Below are the story's of the two student speakers at Wednesday's event -- both recipients of Foundation scholarships.

Stephanie's Story:

Stephanie Livingston was a single mother, and her life was about her kids.

Livingston spent her life working in furniture – 20 years, 15 of them as an administrative assistant. She’d always dreamed of working in the medical field, but her focus was on raising Kourtney and Christian.

But then Kourtney and Christian grew up – Kourtney now is 22, and Christian's 21 – and the furniture industry in North Carolina started to creak a little slower. Livingston watched as other employees were laid off and her own hours were cut.

And that’s when she knew: It was time to follow her dream. She enrolled at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, first to complete pre-requisite courses and then to enroll in the cardiovascular sonography program. On Wednesday, Livingston spoke at the CCC&TI Foundation’s Annual Fund kick-off.

“This has been something I’ve always wanted to do,” Livingston said in an interview earlier that day. “It was just, being a single mother for 20 years, my focus was working, paying the bills – just raising them. That was my entire focus. But after they got older – I’m amazed by anything in the medical field, but the cardiovascular, the heart, it just amazes me. I just think it’s something that’s so fascinating.”  

Last summer, Livingston had completed her pre-requisites and received her acceptance letter from the cardiovascular sonography program.

Then Kourtney got sick. Diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, she was hospitalized two times that summer.

It is virtually impossible to be enrolled in some health-sciences programs and maintain a full-time job. There are classes two days a week and on-site training the other three. The weekends are for studying. But the hospital bills were piling up.

With four years of effort invested, Livingston was close to giving up. Then she got a call from the CCC&TI Foundation, saying she’d been awarded the V.D. Guire Scholarship. Without the scholarship, there would have been no way to continue, Livingston said.

“That’s how I’m actually surviving to continue this program, which is just beyond a blessing – beyond,” she said.

Now Livingston is nearing the finish line – she’ll graduate in May 2015. She’s as passionate about the medical field as she’s ever been, and grateful for the support that allowed her to continue her journey.

“People that have the money to be able to donate to help other people – I know they do it for a reason,” Livingston said. “But I just hope they know how much it helps.”

Travis's Story

Travis Huffman was born and raised in Caldwell County. When the time came for college, he wanted to stay.

“I didn’t feel ready to leave yet,” he said. “So I decided I would go to the community college, and I’m really, really glad I did.”

Huffman now attends Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, working toward an Associate in Arts degree. He’s a first-generation college student. He was home-schooled from third grade until his high school graduation in 2012. On Wednesday, he spoke at the Foundation of CCC&TI’s Annual Fund drive kickoff.

After finishing his associate’s degree, Huffman plans to transfer to either Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk or Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. There, he hopes complete a bachelor’s degree in public relations. He has always been energized by people and wants to build a career around that, he said.

It’s important to Huffman to pursue his bachelor’s at a small university that, much like CCC&TI, can offer a low student-to-teacher ratio. But small, private universities can come with not-so-small price tags – and that’s where the Foundation of CCC&TI comes in.

Huffman has received help in paying for his CCC&TI tuition through the foundation’s Wilson Family Scholarship. In turn, that gives him the ability to save for the future he dreams of at a private, four-year institution.

That’s not to say he won’t miss CCC&TI when that dream becomes a reality. It has been the right choice for him, he said, for a whole list of reasons.

There’s the math refresher course he took through the college’s basic skills department the summer before he enrolled, which gave him the skills he needed for the college-level math courses that came later.

There’s his involvement with the TRIO-SSS program, which is designed for first-generation college students, and with the college’s Ambassador program.

There’s his favorite professor, the English department’s Matt Williams.

If asked to give advice to upcoming high-school graduates – first-generation or not, home-schooled or not – Huffman said he’d advise them to give the community college route a try.

“Go and get your two-year degree,” he said. “You’re getting the same thing you would get at a university for a whole lot less, and the quality is the same.”