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Irene Caldwell, a 2015 graduate of Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, speaks to Dream Award recipients about her success story at Nov. 3’s ceremony at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir.

LENOIR — Nearly 90 students from Caldwell and Watauga counties took their first steps toward being college graduates as the Foundation of Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute hosted its annual Dream Award ceremony at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir on Nov. 3.

Unable to host the traditional annual event in 2020 due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions, the Foundation of CCC&TI decided to honor two years’ worth of Dream scholars in one ceremony. The Dream Award, which ensures free tuition for local students to attend CCC&TI upon graduation from high school, was presented to 86 middle school students from Caldwell and Watauga counties.

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Pictured are the 2021 Dream Award recipients who participated in Wednesday’s ceremony at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir. The award, presented by the Foundation of CCC&TI, ensures free tuition to attend CCC&TI upon graduation from high school.

Dream Award recipients are selected from among sixth-grade students in Caldwell and Watauga counties. Those selected must be first-generation college students who have demonstrated academic achievement and civic involvement, and who have the potential to succeed. The program, which is funded through private donations to the Foundation, has presented awards to 1,364 students since its inception in 1989.

CCC&TI President Dr. Mark Poarch opened the ceremony by welcoming scholars, their families and guests.

“I’d like to be one of the first to congratulate you on receiving this award. Congratulations to the class of 2026 and class of 2027,” Poarch said.

He also recognized members of CCC&TI’s Board of Trustees who were in attendance for the event, and thanked other community leaders, including school officials from Caldwell and Watauga counties.

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Stephanie Reeves, a 2021 graduate of Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, speaks to Dream Award recipients about her college experience during Nov. 3’s ceremony at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir.

Peg Broyhill, chairwoman of the CCC&TI Foundation, congratulated the group and recognized her fellow Foundation Board members and CCC&TI administrators as well as various county school officials, local organizations, civic groups, churches and clubs whose contributions help make the program possible.

She gave special thanks for endowments and grants made possible by the Broyhill Family Foundation, the Coffey Foundation, the Granite Falls High School Class of 1963, the Hogan Family Foundation and the Rose and Dwight Church Family. She also recognized Dr. Tony Deal, retired Executive Vice President and Vice President of Student Services at CCC&TI, who introduced the idea of the Dream Award more than 30 years ago.

“You are the first in your families to attend college and now you will have the opportunity to lead the way for generations to come,” Broyhill said. “We look forward to seeing you shine and hearing about your successes in the future.”

Dena Holman, vice president of Student Services at CCC&TI, provided a history of the program and encouraged recipients to make the most of the opportunity.

“With the promise of college in sight, now is the time to start setting your goals and dreaming of your future,” Holman said. “We encourage you to never stop dreaming and never let anybody tell you that you can’t do something.”

Holman then introduced guest speakers Irene Caldwell, a 2015 CCC&TI graduate, and Stephanie Reeves, a 2021 CCC&TI graduate. Both told event guests about how attending CCC&TI has changed their lives and offered advice on succeeding as a first-generation college student.

Caldwell shared her story of overcoming health issues at 41, enrolling at CCC&TI and how it impacted her life.

“Be willing to take chances,” she urged the group. “You can’t do anything if you don’t take the chance. Go for it.”

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Pictured are the 2020 Dream Award recipients who participated in Wednesday’s ceremony at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir. The award, presented by the Foundation of CCC&TI, ensures free tuition to attend CCC&TI upon graduation from high school.

Reeves, who now works in the corporate office at Blue Ridge Energy, shared how she was scared to go to college, but found the help she needed at CCC&TI to be successful.

“CCC&TI is the place where your dreams can become a reality,” she said. “I owe everything to CCC&TI because they believed in me. And it’s the same belief that they have in each of you.”

To conclude the ceremony, Dream recipients introduced themselves to the audience and shared their career goals, while Holman read comments from their Dream nominations.

2020 Dream Award Recipients

• Helen Abarado, Collettsville School

• Ciara Angove, William Lenoir Middle School

• Victoria Ashley, Cove Creek School

• Savannah Auton, Valle Crucis School

• James Bates, Oak Hill School

• Dominick Becht, Oak Hill School

• Alaina Church, Granite Falls Middle School Debbie Yount Dream Award Recipient

• Parker Coffey, Granite Falls Middle School

• Braxtyn Conn, Granite Falls Middle School

• Samantha Contreras, Hudson Middle School

• Cameron Crawford, William Lenoir Middle School

• Thomas Deiters, Parkway School

• Hailey Dunn, Hardin Park School

• Corbin Forbes, Collettsville School

• Kyleigh Ford, Blowing Rock School

• Colton Greene, Hudson Middle School

• Leah Greene, Happy Valley School

• Yessi Guzman, Gamewell Middle School

• Marissa Harmon, Bethel School

• Katelynn Johnston, Kings Creek School

• Aaliyha Kirby, Collettsville School

• Antony Mendez Alcaraz, Cove Creek School

• Merrix Oakes, Bethel School

• Velkan Ortiz Coronel, Collettsville School

• Samuel Palma, Gamewell Middle School Dr. Tony Deal Dream Award Recipient

• Josiah Pope, Kings Creek School

• Olivia Ray, Green Valley School

• Sophie Reece, Mabel School

• Ashlin Rudisill, Granite Falls Middle School

• Hannah Sheffey, Cove Creek School Optimist Club of Boone Dream Award

• Marisah Sluder, Bethel School

• Cadence Smith, Green Valley School

• Presley Smith, Happy Valley School Dwight and Rose Church Dream Award

• Sarah Spann, Oak Hill School

• Kaegan Stough, Kings Creek School

• Steven Tran, Hardin Park School

• Juan Valdovinos-Lemus, Valle Crucis School

• Lilah Vestey, Valle Crucis School

• Declan Warlick, Happy Valley School

• Lia Washington, William Lenoir Middle School

• Amber Watson, Parkway School Optimist Club of Boone Dream Award

• Saydie Weaver, Mabel School

• Dorian Whitehead, Blowing Rock School

• Mackenzie Wishion, Gamewell Middle School

• Chloe Woody, Hudson Middle School

2021 Dream Award Recipients

• Tristan Barlow, Granite Falls Middle School Debbie Yount Dream Award

• Zain Benfield, Mabel School

• Liberty Bolick, Hudson Middle School

• Jonathan Botello, Parkway School

• Kalani Brown, Hardin Park School

• Madison Caldwell, Collettsville School

• Ava Carignan, Valle Crucis School

• Josephine Cornett, Valle Crucis School

• Lillian Crosswell, Blowing Rock School

• Crawley Dawkins-Young, Hudson Middle School

• Isabelle Diaz Torres, Kings Creek School

• Karsyn Drum, Hudson Middle School

• Kathryn Drum, Gamewell Middle School

• Layah Dula, William Lenoir Middle School

• Jasmin Flores Valencia, Granite Falls Middle School

• Jeralyn Gonzalez, Bethel School

• Emile Greer, Green Valley School

• Courtney Hartley, Collettsville School

• Morgan Hensley, Hudson Middle School

• Kaitlynn Hinson, Happy Valley School

• Charles Hubbard, Parkway School

• Aliese Isaacs, Parkway School

• Charles Kerley, Bethel School

• Aaliah Macias, William Lenoir Middle School

• Mario Martinez-Munoz, William Lenoir Middle School Dr. Tony Deal Dream Award

• Emma Miller, Green Valley School

• Valerie Miranda-Mejia, Blowing Rock School

• Stephanie Morales-Mendez, Cove Creek School

• Lucas Palmer, Gamewell Middle School

• Emma Parsons, Granite Falls Middle School

• Brodi Pope, Happy Valley School

• Christopher Ruiz Alegria, Hardin Park School

• Claudia Sapon Baran, Hardin Park School

• Lyla Swanson, Collettsville School

• Caleb Triplett, Kings Creek School

• Jaiden Watson, Happy Valley School

• Leah Watson, Kings Creek School

• Matthew Weiss, Gamewell Middle School

• Zachary Westpfahl, Mabel School

• Presli Wood, Cove Creek School

• Sierra Wood, Happy Valley School Dwight and Rose Church Dream Award

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