Clark receives Golden LEAF scholarship

Kassidy Clark

LAURINBURG — Scotland High School senior Kassidy Clark has been named as a recipient of up to a $12,000 Golden LEAF Foundation Scholarship.

Clark is one of 215 selected by the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority. Recipients are selected following a review of school and community service activities, goals, and expressed intent to contribute to rural communities upon graduation from college. The scholarship denotes $3,000 each year for up to four years of study.

A member of the National Honor Society and Beta Club who plans to attend the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Clark hopes to one day contribute to the legal field, saying rural areas often lack quality public defenders and assistants.

“I hope to be able to bring some of that back, if not in Laurinburg then in another community,” she said.

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999, which until 2013, received one-half of North Carolina’s funds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers. The foundation places special emphasis on assisting tobacco-dependent, economically-distressed communities across the state.

“Our hope is that through this scholarship opportunity, scholars will be able to gain valuable knowledge and skills and come back to their hometowns or another rural area to help our communities prosper,” said Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF president.

Though the Golden LEAF scholarship will pay for but a fraction of her tuition, Clark said the foundation offers additional leadership and scholarship opportunities that she can take advantage of throughout her college career.

And for those who are just entering high school, she had some advice.

“Really just try and focus hard all four years on becoming involved,” she said. “My freshman and sophomore years, I did well academically but I didn’t apply myself outside of school as much as I should have.”

Still, Clark spent time job shadowing at OrthoCarolina and Scotland Memorial Hospital’s orthopedic wing, “testing the waters” in a career in orthopedics, and spending a day holding and feeding patients of the newborn intensive care unit.

“It hasn’t really hit me yet that I’m graduating; I’m excited and I’m happy, but a lot of the people I’m in school with I’ve been in school with my whole life — from preschool to kindergarten, middle and high school. Leaving the people who I’ve grown up with and who I’ve seen grow up I think will be the hardest part.”