On November 3, Campbell celebrated the 2021 cohort of Golden LEAF scholarship recipients with a luncheon in the student union to congratulate the scholars and thank the Golden LEAF foundation for its contributions to Campbell. The Golden LEAF Scholarship Program is funded through a grant to the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority, and has provided more than 5,600 scholarships for students from rural counties attending four-year colleges and universities.
Established in 1999, the Golden LEAF Foundation was a response to the 40-states strong class action lawsuit filed against cigarette manufacturers at the time. North Carolina foresaw the impact of the settlement on tobacco farming communities and created a foundation focused on economic advancement for those who would need to adjust after the industry-wide change. The end result was a Long-term Economic Advancement Foundation—LEAF—that is dedicated to helping tobacco-dependent communities in North Carolina.
This year, Golden LEAF awarded 215 students with scholarships out of 1,500 applications in the state. Previously, the foundation was also a major partner in the launch of the Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine in 2013, providing a $2 million grant that helped underwrite the medical school simulation center. Chancellor Jerry Wallace presided over the luncheon, and reported that 53 Campbell students have received the Golden LEAF scholarship since its inception, with 17 scholars enrolled on campus today.
The scholarship awards $3,000 per year for four years. But President and Chief Executive Officer of Golden LEAF Scott Hamilton announced an increase to $3,500 per year that will apply to all participating students. In addition to funds, the Golden Leaf Foundation partners with the Center for Creative Leadership to provide free leadership training for scholars. Students also get access to a paid summer internship working with an employer in their field in a rural community.
“Rural communities don’t get the credit they deserve for the quality of life they provide, what they can offer, and what people can take advantage of while living there,” said Hamilton. “And then going back and helping those communities continue to grow and prosper— that is long term economic advancement.”
Both Wallace and Hamilton emphasized their hope that students would use their time at Campbell to invest back into the rural communities where they spent their childhoods, and encouraged them to stay in touch after graduation.
“We’re not asking to find out where you’re doing so we can follow up later and ask for money,” Hamilton said. “We want to find out how you have gone back to rural communities, what you’re doing in that community to make it better. We want you to come back and let the folks in your chair now see the hope and opportunity that you see moving forward in the future.”