PEMBROKE — Crystal Wood’s family dynamic was turned upside down during her junior year at UNC Pembroke.
Her husband, an Army soldier stationed at Fort Bragg, received orders to relocate to Fort Hood, Texas. Wood, and her daughter, stayed behind to finish her music education degree. The move caused emotional and financial strain as Wood was forced to postpone her student teaching and take on a second job.
“When notified that I had been selected as a recipient for the Hattie M. Strong Scholarship, an enormous weight immediately was lifted off my shoulders,” said Wood, now a senior.
Wood is one of four 2021 Hattie M. Strong scholars at UNCP. The others are Sayward Locklear, Thyra Love and Victoria Norton. They were each awarded $5,000 to be used in their final year of study. The Strong Scholars program is aimed at college students enrolled in teacher-training programs at selected partnering institutions.
Love, a senior from Cameron, is working toward a degree in elementary education and doing her student teaching at Long Hill Elementary School. She plans to further her education and one day become a principal.
“Receiving this award is a game-changer,” Love said. “This award is not only a blessing in my life but will be one in my future students’ lives. Being able to change lives through education does not always have to be through teaching, but through acts of kindness, and with this scholarship, I will be able to do that.”
Locklear, a graduate student from Pembroke, is completing an internship at Piney Grove Elementary School.
“This scholarship can provide so many tools to use within my classroom and supplies that are not provided by the school system. Most teachers spend a considerable amount of their paycheck on their students, whether it’s classroom supplies or personal supplies,” Locklear said.
Locklear previously served seven years as a teacher’s assistant at Prospect Elementary. She’s set to graduate in December with a Master of Arts in Teaching and plans to enroll in a doctoral program.
Norton, a senior from Gibson, is a student-teacher at South Johnston Elementary. She plans to use her scholarship earnings to invest in resources for her future classroom.
“Students deserve manipulatives and all the educational resources to assist in developing their full potential within their classroom. The Hattie M. Strong scholarship adds a sense of relief in being financially prepared to begin my next journey as an educator. Education is my passion, and it is my priority to provide genuine learning experiences to foster the education of our future.”
She will graduate in December with a degree in elementary education with a concentration in biology. She plans to pursue a career in the classroom while furthering her education in The Graduate School at UNCP and eventually obtaining a doctorate.
For more information about the Strong Scholars Program visit their website.