As hundreds of students were being honored with scholarships at Vance-Granville Community College’s annual Scholarship Awards Dinner, the college announced the creation of a new level of scholarship and celebrated the first Presidential Excellence Award in honor of Donald and Betsy Seifert.
The new award was fully endowed with a gift of $60,000 from the family of the Henderson couple, and future student recipients will receive an annual award of $3,000 to cover tuition, books and fees at the college.
The announcement came as hundreds of scholarship donors and VGCC students gathered for dinner in the Civic Center on Tuesday, Nov. 13, to recognize more than 300 students receiving scholarships for 2018-2019.
Donald C. Seifert Sr. has been a member of the VGCC Board of Trustees since 1996 and served as the chair of the board for nine of those years. Appointed to the board by the Vance County Board of Education, he also serves on the college’s Endowment Fund Board of Directors.
“Our parents have shown us, through their good examples, that we should give back to our community,” the members of the Seifert family said in their statement announcing the honor. “They have demonstrated over and over again just how to give and why.” The statement was read by Eddie Ferguson, director of the college’s Office of the Endowment.
“Community can be defined in many ways,” Ferguson read. “Community is our home, our neighborhood, our workplace, our church and our community college. (Our parents) give – and have given – generously of their time, their talent, and their treasure for many years…. Their community is so important to them – they have dedicated themselves to their community – their hometown.”
“Their children, daughters-in-law, son-in-law, and grandchildren establish this scholarship to honor two special people and their commitment to the place they call home. They will, no doubt, downplay their role and the many ways they support and contribute to this community. That is who they are and that is what makes them special to us and, we hope, to their community. Those of you who have helped to create scholarships that we honor tonight, thank you. Those of you who are scholarship recipients, go and be a blessing to others in your community – however you define your community,” the statement concluded.
The announcement by Dr. Gordon Burns, VGCC’s interim president, and Ferguson was a surprise to the father and mother. As the details of the scholarship were being announced, the family members filed into the Civic Center to join them on stage.
“It’s exciting to see the bar raised in our efforts to help students receive the financial assistance they need in getting an education so that they can pursue their dreams,” said Dr. Burns. “We commend the Seifert family for their passion for community and expressing that passion through support of our students.”
The Seiferts have one daughter and three sons, all of whom attended the event, along with their son-in-law and two daughters-in-law: Laura Seifert Gabel and husband Sandy, of Oxford; Donald C. “Clem” Seifert Jr. and Donna, of Wilmington; Brent Seifert and Jennifer, of Salisbury; and Sam Seifert of Decatur, Ga., whose wife, Amine, was unable to attend.
With the new scholarship level, the Endowment Fund now has four tiers of scholarships. In addition to the new Presidential Excellence Award, a $25,000 donation creates a Presidential Scholar Award that provides $1,250 per year to a student; a Presidential Merit Award, started with a $15,000 donation, awards $750 per year to a student; and a gift of $10,000 starts an Academic Achievement Scholarship, which awards $500 a year to a student.
The scholarships presented to students at Vance-Granville this academic year bring the total to more than 9,400 awarded by the college to date. VGCC scholarships have been endowed by numerous individuals, industries, businesses, civic groups, churches and the college’s faculty and staff. For more information about the Endowment Fund, call (252) 738-3409.
Above, Dr. Gordon Burns, interim president of Vance-Granville Community College, and Eddie Ferguson, director of the VGCC Endowment Fund, gather with Donald and Betsy Seifert, shown holding the check in the center of the photo, and the Seifert family to celebrate the creation of the first-ever Presidential Excellence Award scholarship. From left are Dr. Burns, the Seiferts’ son Sam Seifert, daughter-in-law Jennifer Seifert, son Brent Seifert, Donald Seifert, son Clem Seifert, Betsy Seifert, daughter-in-law Donna Seifert, son-in-law Sandy Gabel, daughter Laura Gabel, and Ferguson. Unavailable for the photo was daughter-in-law Amine Seifert.
More photos: Check out our Scholarship Awards Dinner album on Flickr!