CONCORD, N.C. — Nearly 450 guests and scholarship recipients recently gathered together to celebrate the success of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College scholarship recipients.

During the one-hour luncheon, several students shared inspiring stories about their lives and educational journeys at Rowan-Cabarrus. Scholarship recipients personally thanked their scholarship contributors during the luncheon, and many guests learned about the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Foundation’s capacity to assist students through scholarships and emergency funding.

Scholarship recipients Liana Walker and Jacob Mohammad spoke during the luncheon and shared their personal stories, emphasizing that many Rowan-Cabarrus students are simply working to make a better life for themselves through education.

“I can’t explain how moving it was to hear from these scholarship recipients,” said Pat Horton, chair of the Rowan-Cabarrus Foundation.

Liana Walker, the 2017-2018 Student Government Association President and an Associate in Arts transfer student, shared how being the daughter of a single mother motivated her to apply for scholarships, knowing that the most deserving would be selected.

Liana Walker speaking at the scholarship luncheon“‘If you don’t go after what you want. You’ll never have it. If you don’t ask. The answer is always no. If you don’t step forward. You’re always in the same place,’” said Liana Walker, quoting author Nora Roberts. “I truly believe as students we ask the staff of the Foundation for help, and in turn, they look to us as students to rise to the occasion, no matter the obstacles, because success is bigger than failure.”

Jacob Mohammad, an Associate in General Education Pre-Health Nursing student and a student ambassador, said “I know the value of a nurse first hand. I was only two years old when I was diagnosed with leukemia. The nurses I came into contact with were the ones who helped me when I was at my lowest and they made all the difference. I cannot wait to do that for others.”

The Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Foundation scholarship program is a meaningful program impacting hundreds of students annually. The scholarship awards enable students to focus on their educational goals without concern for financial constraints and provides an opportunity for donors to fulfill their heartfelt philanthropic interests and make a lasting difference in the lives of students from our local communities.

In addition to the live student speakers at the event, the College was proud to produce a touching film featuring two additional scholarship recipients.

“Within three weeks of my separation from my husband, I found out that I got a scholarship that covered everything,” said Whitney Brown, Rowan-Cabarrus nursing student and scholarship recipient. “Coming to Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has been the best experience ever. The instructors in the nursing program are phenomenal. They’re excellent at teaching and excellent at communication. I’m not sure if I would have wanted to be anywhere else because this is just wonderful.”

The film also highlighted Susan and Bob Smith, long-time supporters of the College and generous donors. Their endowed scholarship provides a wonderful scholarship every year, in perpetuity, to help an individual at Rowan-Cabarrus. They were featured in the video along with this year’s recipient of the Susan J. and Robert M. Smith Endowed Scholarship, Brian McGuire.

McGuire, a veteran and former ranger in the U.S. Army, lost both of his legs below the knee during his fourth tour of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. This scholarship has helped both he and his family make a career change.

“In coming here to Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and getting into the Computer-Integrated Machining program, it’s kind of moving towards that next level of learning a new career, learning a new field and hopefully moving forward and thriving in it,” said McGuire. “It’s the full start-to-finish process that you can learn here.”

If you would like to view the scholarship luncheon video, please visit

“Our students are ready to change their lives but lack the means to do it. Scholarships give students a chance that they haven’t been given before,” said Sarah Walker, director of governance, foundation operations & public information. “A gift to the Rowan-Cabarrus Foundation is not only generous; it is life changing for every student who is given assistance for their tuition.”

In total, the Rowan-Cabarrus Foundation raised more than $100,000 at the Changing Lives Scholarship Luncheon to support new and existing scholarships and student emergency needs. Additional donations from this event are welcome and continue to come in daily.

“Through all of this economic uncertainty, I believe there is hope,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “The College is committed to the future of our region and its citizens. I believe that education is the compass to navigate forward. Our region’s potential is too important to leave to chance. We must align strategic investments and resources to ensure that we influence and mold a future that provides hope and opportunity for our citizens.”

Special thanks go to the 2018 Table Hosts and to Mary Ponds and Dakeita Vanderburg-Johnson for co-chairing the Changing Lives Scholarship Luncheon. The generous sponsors of the luncheon were also critical to the event’s success: the Academic Advocates, The Budd Group, McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture and the Reyn Group.

The Rowan-Cabarrus Foundation has a twenty-two member Board of Directors, thirteen committees, and over eighty volunteers. The Rowan-Cabarrus Foundation provides funding for:

  • Student assistance (scholarships, emergency funding and books)
  • Institutional enhancement (capital improvements, equipment, program, and curriculum support)
  • Faculty/staff incentive grants and continuing education
  • New program development

In the face of state budget cuts, community colleges across the country now realize that they must court private donors – individual and corporate – to help cover scholarships and support expensive programs. The notion of private philanthropic support is becoming ever more important for Rowan-Cabarrus.

“Our students live, work, raise their families, and expend their incomes in our region,” said Reverend Peter Bynum, a member of the Board of Directors of the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Foundation. “An investment in Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is an investment in your neighbors and your community.”

For more information, please visit the Foundation’s website, visit, or call 704-216-RCCC (7222). Those interested in applying for scholarships can visit