By Holly Desrosier
Countless lives were devastated from Hurricane Florence’s destruction, including the lives of several Craven Community College (Craven CC) students. For many of those students, education was pushed to the back burner as they picked up the pieces and began the arduous process of rebuilding and moving forward. Despite severe circumstances, most students were still able to see the positive and were able to make the most of the situation with hurricane relief funding.
Craven CC was among 21 community colleges in North Carolina to receive hurricane relief funding from the state. The college was allocated $408,333, of which students were eligible for $1,250 per semester through June 30, 2019. Through the diligent efforts of college staff, all funds were utilized by May 9 and distributed to 277 students. Each one of those students was able to continue or complete their educational aspirations, utilizing funds for assistance with tuition, fees, transportation, textbooks, and living expenses.
Several students came together to express their gratitude for the support to Governor Cooper.
“Thanks to the grant from the Florence disaster relief, I no longer have to feel like a burden when I need to purchase my books for school, and I will be able to take more classes over the summer and be able to cover the cost with the funds I have been granted,” said one Craven CC student. “Without this help, I would not be able to get ahead in classes and would need to take out a loan to cover the cost of supplies.”
Many students who received funding considered it a chance to recalibrate and continue or complete their education with a sense of renewal.
“I was able to complete all six of my classes and finished the semester stronger than I had in prior semesters,” said another student. “I cannot begin to express my gratitude to Craven Community College for all of the support the college as a whole has shown me and to the State for the generosity and financial support to help me reach graduation.”
The resiliency and determination of students to complete their education in the face of hardship was nothing less than admirable. Many took this as an opportunity to pledge support for their communities.
“You have my word that I will continue to work hard and accomplish my goal of becoming a registered nurse and one day be the one giving back to my community,” said another student.
Craven CC’s ability to minimize the historic storm’s impact on academic accomplishments allowed a record-breaking number of students to walk across the stage during the 52nd annual graduation ceremony in May: The Class of 2019 was 681 strong and earned a total of 1,101 certificates, diplomas, and degrees. The entire Craven CC family is extremely grateful for the state’s vested interest in community colleges and student success.
In November, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an $18.5 million relief fund. The package included $5 million in emergency grants to assist students from disaster-affected counties with tuition, fees, and expenses so they can stay enrolled. An additional $5 million was allocated for repairs and renovations of local community college facilities based on information provided to the North Carolina Community College System Office by impacted colleges. Finally, the package included $8.5 million to offset an anticipated earnings shortfall due to enrollment declines.
This article also appeared in the Sun Journal.