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Inaugural MTCC Scholarship Luncheon Honors Modern-Day “Giants”

Marion- “If I have seen further,” wrote Sir Isaac Newton in 1675, “it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” His words, written to his rival, scientist and architect Robert Hooke, have been repeated often in the centuries since then to remind us that our achievements and accomplishments are possible only because of the “giants” who have paved the way for us, the giants whose hard work and sacrifice have made it possible for us to be where we are today.

The inaugural MTCC Foundation Scholarship Luncheon held recently at McDowell Technical Community College was organized to recognize the modern-day “giants” who are making it possible for generations of students to attend MTCC and achieve their career goals and dreams. These “giants” are the generous donors who have contributed to MTCC named and endowed scholarship funds, who have sacrificed both time and money to help students in need.

Inaugural MTCC Scholarship Luncheon Honors Modern-Day “Giants”
Inaugural MTCC Scholarship Luncheon Honors Modern-Day “Giants”

“Our scholarship donors make it possible for dozens of students to attend college every semester, and what a more perfect time than this season of giving to start a new tradition of showing gratitude to our donors for their generosity,” Dr. Brian S. Merritt, MTCC President, told attendees at the luncheon, both scholarship donors and scholarship recipients. The new tradition, to be held annually in November, also provides a chance for scholarship recipients to connect with the donors who have funded their scholarships.  

Four speakers highlighted this year’s luncheon, two donors and two recipients. The recipients, Aubrey Libow, who received the Dr. George Ellis Scholarship, and Kimberly Hensley, who received a scholarship from the Crane Fund for Widows and Children, spoke first. Aubrey thanked Dr. Ellis and his wife, Joyce, both of whom were in attendance with their son, Patrick.

“I am so grateful that there are people like you all who are willing to help a stranger who needs help to attend college,” Kimberly told the group, which included individuals, organizations and corporate donors.

Rev. Don Ford, a retired MTCC employee who helped establish the Kim Ledbetter Memorial Scholarship, named for the college’s long-time financial aid director who passed away last year, spoke passionately about his friendship with Ledbetter and her service to scores of needy MTCC students.

Inaugural MTCC Scholarship Luncheon Honors Modern-Day “Giants”
Inaugural MTCC Scholarship Luncheon Honors Modern-Day “Giants”

Ray McKesson, another MTCC retiree who serves on both the college’s Foundation Board and Board of Trustees, spoke on behalf of the McDowell Chapter of the NAACP, thanking the group’s many members for their hard work and sacrifice over the last four years. Their efforts, ranging from individual donations to pancake breakfasts and other fundraising events, culminated in a $25,000 donation to the Foundation which enabled them to establish an endowed scholarship that will provide ongoing scholarship support for generations of incoming MTCC students.

Madalyn Gaito, who is both the college’s Director of Development and Director of the MTCC Foundation, planned and organized this year’s event. She was excited about the success of this first time event.

“We had some donors who could not be with us this year,” said Gaito, “like Thurlene Hogan, who with her late husband, Bud Hogan, established the Vickie A. Hogan Endowed Scholarship in honor of their late daughter, a lifelong nurse. But it was great to see so many young nurses-in-training at the event to honor Mr. and Mrs. Hogan and their daughter, Vickie.”

Both Foundation Board Chair, Walt Bagwell, and MTCC Board Chair Gary Stroud recognized and thanked all of the donors, both those present and those who couldn’t be at the luncheon, for their ongoing support of the various scholarship programs set up at the college, including:


Endowed Scholarship Programs


  • Charles Anderson Memorial Endowed Scholarship
  • Crook Endowed Scholarship – Crook Scholar
  • George Ellis Endowed Scholarship – Ellis Scholar
  • Freddie Jack Whitener Endowed Scholarship
  • NAACP McDowell County Endowed Scholarship
  • Refrigeration Service Engineer Society Endowed Scholarship
  • Vickie A. Hogan Endowed Scholarship – Hogan Scholars


MTCC Named Scholarships:

  • American Society for Quality Scholarship
  • Automotive Repair Scholarship
  • Crane Fund for Widows & Children
  • Kim Ledbetter Memorial Scholarship
  • LINC Legacy-Juanita Doggett Scholarship
  • Nell McMahan Nursing Scholarship
  • Sandra Ayers-College Transfer Scholarship
  • State Employees Credit Union Scholarship
  • Wilma Ball Memorial Scholarship
  • Wingate Cain III Academic Scholarship


“The success of our students and their ability to attend college is due, in part, to the generous financial support of our many scholarship donors,” said Dr. Merritt, the MTCC President. “These are indeed, the ‘giants’ on whose shoulders our students stand as they achieve success in their academic programs, in their future vocational careers, and in life. Today and every day, we offer our thanks to these donors and the dreams they make possible for our students.

For information about creating a new scholarship or contributing to current programs at McDowell Tech, contact Madalyn Gaito, Director of Development and Board Liaison, at 828-652-0630 or [email protected], or visit

Julie Padgett Buchanan

Keeping the Faith

A sweet and loving child of God returned to her heavenly father in the still and quiet of a bitterly-cold January morning earlier this week. Julie Buchanan, better known to most of her McDowell Tech family as Julie Padgett, ended her battle with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, on Wednesday, just a little more than 21 months after she was officially diagnosed with the disease.

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