Congratulations to the 2024 Scholarship Recipients!

Pictured Above: Students were honored at a special reception on May 19th in Asheville. From the left – Kinslie Campbell of Martins Creek, Oliver Blackwood of Rosscraggon Wood, Westyn Woodard of Bill’s Creek, and Diego Infanzon of Upper Hickory Nut Gorge.

WNC Communities is excited to announce the recipients of the 2024 George H.V. Cecil Journey Scholarship. The scholarship program, which is made possible by a $3.1 million donation by the estate of George H.V. Cecil, provides renewable four-year scholarships to deserving high school seniors in western North Carolina. This year’s recipients include: 

  • Ellary Smith of Deep Gap in Watauga County 
  • Diego Infanzon of Upper Hickory Nut Gorge in Henderson County
  • Kinslie Campbell of Martin’s Creek in Cherokee County
  • Jacen Carver of Nantahala in Macon County
  • Peyton Douglas of Avery’s Creek in Buncombe County
  • Westyn Woodard of Bill’s Creek in Rutherford County
  • Oliver Blackwood of Rosscraggon Wood in Buncombe County

“WNC Communities is honored to administer this scholarship program. One of our greatest joys is to see the youth in our rural communities succeed and have the opportunity to attend higher education,” said Jennifer Ferre, executive director of WNC Communities. The scholarship is available exclusively to high school seniors who live in or participate with a community involved in the WNC Honors Program through WNC Communities.

Blackwood is this year’s recipient of the Premier scholarship; certificate presented by Karen Hammett of WNC Communities.

The 2024 recipients represent some of the best and brightest from western North Carolina. Each student was evaluated based on their character, academic potential, dedication to community service, and leadership. This year’s recipients exemplify these values, by working hard in the classroom, serving as leaders in school clubs and athletics, and dedicating their time and talents to community service. Examples of their community service include Eagle Scouts, trail cleanup, food pantries, their local Volunteer Fire and Rescue, helping out at the local community center, and many more.

Blackwood is this year’s recipient of the Premier scholarship, the highest award level, which is given to a student who strongly embodies the core values of good character, academic potential, dedication to community service, and leadership. Woodard is this year’s recipient of the Pat Brinkley Shumlison Memorial scholarship, which is an additional one-time award given to a student for exceptional leadership.

Woodard received the Pat Brinkley Shumlison Memorial award for outstanding leadership in contributions to his community center.

“Giving back to those living in western North Carolina was important to my father, and it’s an honor to continue his legacy through this program,” said Edie Cecil, WNC Communities’ Board of Directors member and George H.V. Cecil’s daughter. The scholarship program continues the storied legacy of Mr. Cecil and his family, who were dedicated to supporting the rural communities of western North Carolina. One of the founders of the WNC Honors program, Mr. Cecil served the program for 71 years, remaining an active member of the scholarship committee throughout his lifetime. 

The 2025 George H.V. Cecil Journey Scholarship will open early next year. Check back on the scholarship page of our website or contact gailparker@wnccommunities.org for more information.