Friday, April 29, 2016

Legacy Luncheon brings together donors with scholarship recipients

Foundation Vice Chair Helen Sommerkamp Inman addressed the crowd.

Mechanical Engineering Lead Instructor Matthew Lincoln

BCCC Ambassador Lisa Reid

Students attending Beaufort County Community College and receiving aid through the BCCC Foundation had a chance to dine with their benefactors. The annual Legacy Luncheon brings together future accountants, auto mechanics, business owners, electrical engineers, nurses and teachers, along with the contributors, many of whom are established in those fields.

Two BCCC ambassadors shared their stories of how they came to BCCC and about their experience at the College. Zack Holton, an ambassador for the 2016-2017 year, spoke of his negative experiences at another community college and high school and how engaged he has become at BCCC. He described the exact moment he decided to return to school to pursue a degree. “It was January. I was waist deep in mud. I was surrounded by fish,” he decries. While he enjoyed the income he was earning at a fish farm, he was ready to move on to something different. Holton enrolled in the mechanical engineering technology program at BCCC.

Current ambassador Lisa Reid shared her experience of returning to school later in life. When her daughter rolled her eyes at helping her through the enrollment process, Reid turned to her and asked, “Who took you to your first day of pre-school?” Reid will be continuing at East Carolina University this summer with the intention to become a marriage and family therapist focusing on substance abuse counseling.

Ambassadors are nominated by faculty and receive a one-year tuition scholarship. They help market BCCC’s programs and services. Ambassadors submit a resume and go through an interview process.

Matthew Lincoln, lead instructor for the mechanical engineering technology program, recounted his own experience at BCCC. Lincoln enrolled at the College after working in construction. After graduating, he worked at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point before returning to teach mechanical engineering at BCCC.

Helen Sommerkamp Inman, vice chair of the BCCC Foundation, spoke about the need for innovation and how students should not let doubters of their vision stand in their way.

The BCCC Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization established in 1984 to provide community-based support for the college in achieving its educational and workforce development goals. Through the Foundation, generous donors provide support for scholarships, institutional programs, faculty and staff development and facility improvements.

New scholarships become available as community members work with the Foundation to provide new opportunities. This year the Beaufort County Mental Health Association set up the John and Geneva Morgan Endowment. The scholarship represents the tireless efforts of John and Geneva Morgan as they advocated for citizens affected by mental illness.

Geneva Morgan’s nursing career spanned 40 years of service providing pediatric care. She also focused on alleviating the stigma associated with mental illness. It was the care, compassion and well-being for the often forgotten patient that gave her the most joy. John became her partner in advocacy after retirement. The two modeled civic responsibility and community engagement that other should aspire to emulate. Nursing students residing in Beaufort County with a minimum GPA of 2.5 are eligible for the scholarship.

Activities of the Foundation are overseen by a 24-member board of directors comprised of civic and business leaders from BCCC’s four-county service area. The BCCC Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization and all contributions are tax deductible. The Legacy Luncheon was sponsored for the fourth year in a row by Mr. Rod Cantrell, financial advisor at Edward Jones. The Foundation has provided educational opportunities this year to 112 deserving BCCC students by awarding over $85,000 in scholarships.

If you would like additional information on contributing to the BCCC Foundation or applying for scholarships, contact BCCC Foundation Director Serena Sullivan at 252-940-6326 or

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Finding time for family at BCCC

Jason Squires
Jason Squires with Lead Instructor Matthew Lincoln

There is an equation most people try to balance throughout their careers. While income is important; creativity, time at home, and satisfaction can be even more important. For Jason Squires, a mechanical engineering student at Beaufort County Community College, an imbalance of family time and work made him leave a position that many of his peers may envy in order to pursue something greater.

At the time Squires enrolled at BCCC, he was working as an assistant manager at Food Lion in Greenville. He had achieved this status over the course of a decade, working his way up through a Winn Dixie grocery store in Ocala, FL where the company encouraged him to pursue a career.

Squire’s parents had both grown up in Beaufort County. When his grandfather Frank Squires Sr. passed in 2012, Jason decided it was time to move his family to Chocowinity. He left Winn Dixie and started at Food Lion. At the Food Lion in Greenville, Squires was salaried, supervising over 50 employees and handling about $200,000 in sales per week.

Squires had something that most 30-year olds do not have: a family of seven. While the money was great, Squires needed holidays and weekends to spend time with his wife Laina and their five children: Abi, 15; Noah, 13; Dane, 7; and twins Rhett and Beau, 6. He decided to enroll at BCCC, at first in the welding program. He also stepped into a new position at Food Lion: cashier. Being a cashier meant that he could have the time needed to take classes at BCCC and to focus on his studies instead of his responsibilities at work. He started spending more time at home with his family.

Stepping into the role of cashier from assistant manager meant that he had to let go. He had to stop trying to control situations that were no longer his responsibility. He worked alongside other BCCC students who were also juggling positions at Food Lion. Squires thinks the other employees who are enrolled at BCCC are already on the right path. While there are many advantages to moving into management positions at Food Lion, he thinks a degree under their belts will help them in the big picture.

The transition to part-time work and college was made even more challenging when during his first year at BCCC, the Squires lost their home in Whichard Beach to a tornado. They also lost a dog. “We were picking kids clothes out of the briar patch,” he said, clearly still haunted by the disaster. He says they were fortunate to have the community help out, but the devastating loss affected his grades. He knew he and to preserve through it, but he was ready to withdraw from school.

“To this day, I still walk around the house looking for a tool, and then remember that I don’t have it anymore,” he recounts.

He says the Twin Lakes community was wonderful by helping with a fundraiser. “I’ve always been raised to take care of myself—to pay my own way. To accept people’s help was a learning experience. The community here went out of its way to help people, which is different than other places I’ve lived.”

The family recovered from the ordeal and Squires went on to receive the David Clark Scholarship. That scholarship is available through the BCCC Foundation for students in the Industrial Technology program. He is grateful to the Foundation staff for their help.  

He took Machining 111 with Matthew Lincoln, who would eventually coax Squires into enrolling in his Mechanical Engineering program. Lincoln’s connections to local employers helped land Squires a position at Oak Ridge Industries last October which will become full-time when Squires graduates this May. He plans to continue his studies at East Carolina University in the industrial technology program in the form of night classes.

The position at Oak Ridge has meant he has more time to be with his family. The grocery business is often at its busiest on weekends, nights and holidays. Squires likes having the time to attend baseball games.

Attending BCCC also allows Squires to bond with his family in a different way. The Squireses are now a multi-generational BCCC family. His oldest daughter, Abi, 15, attends the Early College High School at BCCC. Squires can pick her up from school and makes a point to have lunch with her on campus when possible.

As Squires graduates this May, his story—disasters, dreams and everything between— is a testament to how BCCC can be where students can find themselves, their place in the world and their families.

For more information about the mechanical engineering technology program, contact Matthew Lincoln at 252-940-6279 or For information about scholarships, contact the Marcia Norwood at 252-940-6218 or