Jackson County Chamber of Commerce donates $20,000 for scholarships

CULLOWHEE – The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce has contributed $20,000 to Western Carolina University to help deserving students from Jackson County who want to obtain their college educations without going far from home.

The newly established Jackson County Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Fund will award a $1,000 scholarship each year, beginning in the fall of 2004.

Julie Spiro, executive director of the chamber and a 1998 graduate of Western, called the contribution “a wise investment” by Jackson County’s business community.

“Western Carolina is our hometown university here in Jackson County, and we at the chamber think it’s important to encourage some of our county’s best and brightest to stay here to get that college degree,” Spiro said.

“We see it so many times – the county’s students leaving home to go away to school, and then they never come back. It is our hope that, by providing some incentive to help keep some of our talented young people from going to school out of the area, they might remain here after graduation and help shape the future of our county and our region,” she said.

Preference for the scholarships will be given to candidates who graduated from a high school in Jackson County and who are closely affiliated with the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce (for example, the son or daughter of a chamber member). Awards will be based on overall academic merit, civic involvement and financial need. Although the fund is designed to provide assistance to new freshmen or transfer students, renewal of awards will be considered.

“Western Carolina University is thrilled to have the support of local businesses for the benefit of local students,” said Jim Manring, director of planned giving. “Just as important as the dollars, the trust and confidence expressed through this gift are inspiring to all who are associated with Western. We are proud to be a part of such a wonderful business community.”

For information on the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce Scholarship or other scholarship opportunities available at Western, contact the Office of Admissions at (828) 227-7317.