ROCKY MOUNT— The Golden LEAF Foundation on Tuesday announced that 215 rural North Carolina students were selected to receive up to a $12,000 Golden LEAF Scholarship, including two in Vance County.

Students will receive a $3,000 scholarship each year for up to four years of undergraduate study at a participating four-year North Carolina college or university.

The students from Vance County are Sarah Parish, who will attend Lenoir-Rhyne University, and Jester Williams IV, who will attend Fayetteville State University. Both are graduates of Vance County Early College.

Recipients from rural and tobacco-dependent or economically distressed North Carolina counties are selected based on career and educational goals, a review of school and community service activities, academic performance, length of residence in the county and expressed intent to contribute to the state’s rural communities upon graduation from college.

The Golden LEAF Foundation established the scholarship program to broaden educational opportunities and provide support to students from rural counties with the goal that after graduation recipients will return and contribute back to rural communities. The N.C. State Education Assistance Authority administers the program and selects students for awards.

“We are proud to award scholarships to hardworking and bright students with deep roots in their rural communities,” said Scott Hamilton, Golden LEAF Foundation president and CEO. “These students were selected out of a pool of more than 1,500 applicants. We look forward to the future success of these scholarship recipients as they follow their education pursuits and develop into North Carolina’s next generation of rural leaders.”

“My sincerest congratulations to Sarah and Jester for earning this award,” added state Rep. Terry Garrison, D-Vance. “I’m sure you will put in the hard work to help you accomplish your goals. We need students like you to help our rural communities thrive!”

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to receive a portion of North Carolina’s funding from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers.

For 20 years, Golden LEAF has worked to increase economic opportunity in North Carolina’s rural and tobacco-dependent communities through leadership in grantmaking, collaboration, innovation and stewardship as an independent and perpetual foundation.

The foundation has provided lasting impact to tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and rural areas of the state by helping create 65,000 jobs, over half a billion dollars in new payrolls and more than 85,000 workers trained or retrained for higher wages.

For more information about Golden LEAF and its programs, visit