Online Originals: Gov. Cooper visits PCC to discuss state’s Finish Line Grant

Online Originals

WINTERVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) In a round table discussion at Pitt Community College this morning, Governor Roy Cooper talked about the impact of the state’s Finish Line Grant program.

The grant program is for community college students in North Carolina who encounter unexpected financial emergencies that could force them to drop out of school.

“Finish Line Grants reward hard work, pay these bills directly so that people can finish school,” said Governor Cooper.

PCC students who have received funding from the grant had the opportunity to share their stories with Governor Cooper and other attendees including Senator Don Davis, Rep. Perrin Jones, and Rep. Kandie Smith.

Funding went to a car repair for nursing student Heather Hobbs and tuition for graphic design student Onyx Hanna.

Hobbs is a senior nursing student set to graduate in May.

She is the wife of a law enforcement officer and a mother to three kids, aged 11, four and one,

At the end of the fall 2019 semester, Hobbs had an unexpected car repair and realized she needed a little help. That’s when she found out about the Finish Line Grant.

“We used it for some vehicle repairs that were needed,” said Hobbs. “The hours for the nursing program as far when you have to be in class and clinical are very demanding. It can be during the week or weekend, early or late. So having reliable transportation is very important.”

The car repair came during a busy exam and holiday season for Hobbs.

“Everything kind of is just an adjustment during that time of year and with the extra thing that we had going on, it was definitely a weight lifted,” said Hobbs.

Hobbs hopes to begin a career as an RN at Vidant Medical Center this summer in labor and delivery.

As for Onyx Hanna, receiving the funding was the push he needed to finish his last two semesters of school.

“This semester I wasn’t even thinking of going to school,” said Hanna. “Something came up and so I didn’t think I’d be able to go this semester.”

His instructor, Justin Fuller, sought Hanna out to tell him about the grant and in Hanna’s words, he went with it.

“To me, it felt like a little bit of a second chance to go ahead and finish out,” said Hanna. “As I said, I only have one or two semesters left so I want to go ahead and finish out for it and do my best.”

Governor Cooper shared a story that resonated with him from a student who received the grant at another community college.

“I talked with a student the other day who had a massive infected tooth. She could not afford to go to the dentist because it costs almost $1,000 to have the surgery that she needed. This Finish Line Grant paid that dentist directly, she got the surgery and went and finished her nursing degree,” said Governor Cooper.

According to a school official, the grant program was implemented in the middle of the last school year and so far, 100 PCC students have received funding with the average grant being less than $450.

Regionally, the Finish Line Grant has assisted 175 students with funding totaling around $150,000.

Over 3,000 grants, around $2 million, have been given to community college students statewide.

Governor Cooper stressed the importance of expanding education and part of that is helping students when they need it.

“We had heard too many stories from faculty about students who had to drop out because they didn’t have the finances to finish their degree,” said Governor Cooper.

He hopes to see the grant expanded in the future to assist even more students.

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