CLINTON, S.C. (courtesy presby.edu) — True to its origins as a beacon of hope, Presbyterian College launched a new scholarship initiative this fall designed to impact local students and their communities.
At the Sept. 5 public launch of the Laurens County Service Scholars initiative, PC president Dr. Anita Gustafson said the program ensures PC’s future of service to its local neighbors.
“Presbyterian College’s impact in Laurens County is broad and deep,” she said. “In addition to making a nationally-ranked liberal arts education more affordable to our county’s students, we are investing in expanding our service to the broader community right here at home. Our hope is that these students will graduate from PC and choose to stay here in Laurens County to work and continue to serve.”
The Service Scholars initiative is a scholarship program that provides affordable access to a PC education for all county residents and invests in the local community through a commitment to transformational service.
All students who are residents of Laurens County and who meet the admissions requirements for PC may submit an application for consideration for a $30,000 per year scholarship, in addition to any state and federal funding or other outside scholarship aid. Those selected as Laurens County Service Scholars must complete 30 service hours per semester at approved partner service organizations in Laurens County.
“Service is what brought PC into existence, and it’s woven throughout our strategic plan for the future,” said the Rev. Dr. Buz Wilcoxon, PC’s chaplain and dean of spiritual life. “It’s fitting that our first ever service-based scholarship program is rooted right here in and for Laurens County. This ambitious initiative will not only make a PC liberal arts education an affordable reality for our neighbors in the community, but the impact of these students returning to serve throughout the county will be exponential in its effect.”
PC has already secured formal partnerships with the Presbyterian Community, Thornwell, United Ministries of Clinton, the United Way of Laurens County, Whitten Center, and Fellowship Camp and Conference Center.
Thornwell’s president, the Rev. Myron Wilkins, called the Laurens County Service Scholarship a welcome partnership between the two sister organizations and a powerful opportunity for local students.
“This program is no small thing,” he said. “On a very personal level I know, as the first college graduate in my family, that not everybody has access to the same things. This scholarship opens a gateway of access for some of our best and brightest in Laurens County to have an opportunity to get a quality education, to learn how to be servant leaders, and to be the leaders to take this community and our nation to that next level.”
Director John Farmer said United Ministries welcomes the help from local PC students.
“The need is tremendous,” he said. “This program is another way to meet the needs of Laurens County and we’re proud to be a partner.”
PC junior Ethan Hall said his fellow students also benefit significantly from serving as volunteers.
“One of the things I hope comes from this scholarship is that PC students will form a deeper connection with the community,” he said.
Service has been a vital part of a PC education throughout its history – from the inception of Student Volunteer Services, the CHAMPS program, service days, partnerships with Thornwell, and many other programs. Its motto, “While We Live, We Serve,” has inspired generations of students to help others and make their communities better places.
The Rev. British Hyrams, PC’s Jack and Jane Presseau Associate Chaplain, said service is the college’s divine purpose.
“For Presbyterian College, service has, is, and sure always will be a part of our passion and purpose,” she said. “This new endeavor, the Laurens County Service Scholarship, is one of the new ways we are walking in our calling along with Laurens County.”