USA: Asheville and Buncombe Students Win Full-Ride Scholarships

Cost will not be one of Sophia Nash’s challenges as she transitions from high school to the realm of college.

The recent Asheville High School graduate has been awarded a full ride to North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Her first day began on August 21, when she chatted with the Citizen Times in between classes. Nash is a chemical student at NC State.

The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina granted over $100,000 in scholarships to four students in Buncombe County and Asheville City schools. Nash was one of these four, having played volleyball all four years of high school, served as president of the Spanish Club, and founded her own chess club as a junior.

Sophia Nash


She was awarded the Marilyn Lester and William Lester Scholarship — receiving $40,000 over four years.

“I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity I have. I’m super fortunate because I don’t have to stress over financial burdens and I feel like this scholarship has opened the door to continue onto higher education debt free,” Nash told the Citizen Times.

According to a news release from the foundation, the CFWNC approved scholarships totalling $558,000 for 96 Western North Carolina students from 53 institutions throughout 19 counties. Each scholarship has various qualifying requirements and is available to students pursuing a certain degree or attending a specific institution or university.

The CFWNC granted college scholarships to 33 students from Buncombe County and Asheville City schools, with five from Enka High School, four from Martin L. Nesbitt, Jr. Discovery Academy, and three at TC Roberson. Scholarship recipients also come from Asheville High School, AC Reynolds, and North Buncombe.

Nancy Membreno, a first-generation college student who graduated from Asheville’s School of Inquiry and Life Sciences, is another notable honoree. Membreno will begin classes at UNC Chapel Hill in the fall and has been given a Marilyn Lester and William Lester Scholarship worth $40,000 over four years.

Nancy Membreno


“I found everything about college intimidating, but I wanted to prioritize scholarships. Receiving the Marilyn Lester and William Lester Scholarship, brought me relief over my financial situation and demonstrated that people believe I can succeed in college and beyond,” Membreno told the Citizen Times in an Aug. 21 email.

The other top recipients who were granted the most money are as follows:

Ruby Blue from Martin L. Nesbitt Academy is attending N.C. State. Blue was awarded the Irving Jacob Reuter Award, which comes out to $40,000 over four years, and the Rotary Club of Asheville Harry R. Morrill Scholarship, for $5,000. To be eligible for the Reuter Award, a student had to show “superior academic achievement, strong moral character; community service, extracurricular activities and/or work experience; and success in dealing with life’s challenges,” according to the CFWNC website.

Julia Givens from Charles D. Owen High School. Givens is attending UNC Chapel Hill and was awarded $20,000 over four years from the Nelle Crowell Fletcher and G.L. Crowell Fund Scholarship. The criteria was based on academic achievement including GPA, SAT or ACT test scores, a need for financial help and community involvement.

There were more than 60 volunteers from the community who worked to review applications and choose recipients, the release said.

“After reviewing these scholarship students through the lens of an alumnus, a parent, and now, a committee member, I can honestly say the caliber of students in our area is extraordinary and we, as a community, should be extremely proud to recognize and celebrate them,” volunteer reviewer for the Irving Jacob Reuter Award, Leslie Berry said in the release.

CFWNC is a nonprofit, founded in 1978 that works with families, businesses and nonprofits to “strengthen communities through the creation of charitable funds and strategic grantmaking,” according to their website.

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