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HEF awards scholarships

South Boston News
From left, first row, Amber Lowery, Cheyenne Hughes, and Andrew Austin. Second row: Mary Tharpe, William Solomon, ODEC, Scott Adams. Third row: Jessica Hodge, Linda Owen, HEF Scholarship Committee member. Fourth row: Chris Lumsden, CEO Halifax Regional Hospital, Joan Martin, Denise Taylor-Forrest, HEF Scholarship Committee member. / June 28, 2010
The Halifax Educational Foundation, Inc. (HEF) and its sponsors awarded seven scholarships in an awards ceremony held recently at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) in South Boston.

Following the awards ceremony, the recipients and their families were honored with a reception. Awarding scholarships to deserving students directly supports the mission of the HEF to provide affordable and accessible educational and workforce training opportunities for the citizens of Halifax County, South Boston and Southern Virginia, according to Steve Mize, chair of the HEF Scholarship Committee.

2010 marks the seventh consecutive year in which the HEF has awarded scholarships to outstanding students. Without scholarships, many students simply would not be able to afford a higher education, Mize added.

Working with Mize on the Scholarship Committee are HEF board members Morris Bryant, Jay Burnett, Linda Owen, Arthur Reynolds and Denise Taylor-Forrest. In an awards ceremony in the lobby of the SVHEC, the following sponsors and their scholarship recipients were recognized.

Chris Lumsden, CEO of Halifax Regional Hospital presented the Hope Scholarship to Jessica Hodge. Hodge is a nursing student in the Southside Virginia Community College nursing program at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center with the goal of becoming an LPN. As a single mother, Hodge is determined to show her young son that anything is possible with hard work and determination. Hodge became interested in nursing while pregnant and she has fallen in love with the profession. During his presentation, Lumsden described Hodge as patient, caring, dependable, hard working and extremely eager to learn; all excellent qualities for a pediatric nurse.

The Hope Scholarship was established as a tribute to Chris’ parents, Buford T. and Alveleta Hope Arthur Lumsden. Since his parents provided him and his siblings with the education and opportunities to be successful in life, he and his family were pleased to establish this scholarship in their parents’ honor as a means of giving back to this community.

Will Solomon with Old Dominion Electric Cooperative presented two ODEC Scholarships to graduating high school seniors Cheyenne Hughes and Mary Tharpe. Hughes has been accepted into the Southside Virginia Community College nursing program at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center with the goal of becoming an RN. She is already in the Nursing Assistant’s Program and took the State Board Examination on May 12, 2010. Solomon described Hughes as very focused, career oriented, extremely polite and courteous. As a current employee at The Woodview, she is caring, compassionate, respectful and cheerful.

Solomon presented the second ODEC Scholarship to Mary Tharpe. Tharpe has also been accepted into the Southside Virginia Community College nursing program at the SVHEC with the goal of becoming an RN. Solomon pointed out that Tharpe has been a very active volunteer in the community with a number of organizations including the Halifax Volunteer Fire Department since 2008. She has been interested in the medical field since she was a small child and is every excited to put her training including classes in Certified Nursing Assistant, Medical Terminology, Pharmaceutical and Emergency Medical Technician in use towards becoming an RN. Solomon went on to describe Tharpe as a caring, bright, compassionate, outgoing and cheerful young lady.

Steve Mize, HEF Scholarship Committee chair, presented the Virginia Penick Estate Scholarships. The Penick Scholarship was established by the daughters of the late Virginia Penick to further the mission of the HEF.

The first Penick Scholarship was awarded to Scott Adams. Adams is a Mary Baldwin College student at the SVHEC majoring in psychology with a minor in education. His goal is to be a Special Needs teacher and baseball coach. After a terrible automobile accident in December 2007, Scott was in a coma for three weeks and has since been recovering from a traumatic brain injury. Thanks to his recovery, Adams has now gone back to school to get his degree and become a teacher. Mize reported that Adams has volunteered as a mentor at South Boston Elementary Adams and has been a wonderful source of guidance and inspiration to his mentees and very committed to helping them any way he can.

The second Penick Scholarship was awarded to Joan Martin. Martin is also a Mary Baldwin College student at the SVHEC majoring in psychology. Martin is currently employed at the Halifax County Middle School and she wants to continue to be involved in the public school system after she earns her degree from Mary Baldwin College. Despite the loss of her father, her mother and her husband to cancer, Martin has remained focused on earning her Bachelor’s Degree from Mary Baldwin. Mize commented that Martin is well respected and very positive to be around. He went on to describe her as a woman of faith, full of initiative and perseverance. She has overcome many obstacles in her life and is focused on completing her degree in two more semesters.

HEF Scholarship Committee members Linda Owen and Denise Taylor-Forrest presented two HEF Scholarships to Andrew Austin and Amber Lowery. Austin is a student in the nursing programs of both Danville Community College and Southside Community College at the SVHEC. His goal is to become an LPN at the completion of his educational training. As an adult returning to the classroom, Austin has been both challenged and successful in each class he has taken thus far in the programs. Owen described Austin as hard working, dependable, sincere and very personable.

The second HEF Scholarship was awarded to Amber Lowery and was presented by Denise Taylor-Forrest. Lowery is enrolled in the Averett University Master’s of Education program at the SVHEC. She is currently employed as a health and physical education teacher at a middle school in Danville, and is continuing her education in order to achieve full accreditation. As a single mother, Lowery wants to show her son that hard work and dedication pay off. According to Taylor-Forrest, that is her major motivation for pursuing her M.Ed. through Averett University at the SVHEC. Taylor-Forrest went on to describe Lowery as having an uplifting personality, inspiring others, enthusiastic and an outstanding member of the community.

Established in 1997 as a non-profit organization, the Halifax Educational Foundation, Inc. (HEF) operates to promote and enhance the availability of affordable and accessible educational and job training opportunities through the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) in South Boston for the citizens of Southern Virginia. The foundation is led by a 33-member Board of Directors consisting of community leaders, elected officials and volunteers. Working towards its vision, the HEF raised funds in the community through grants, private donations and a matching bond referendum for the renovation of the former Export Leaf Tobacco Stem Factory Warehouse, built in the mid-1850’s, to provide academic and job training space for the operations of the center. In 2001, the state-of-the-art SVHEC facility in downtown South Boston was dedicated and opened on the banks of the Dan River.

Since the SVHEC opened at 820 Bruce Street in 2001, the HEF has continued to respond to the Center’s needs as student interest and consequently enrollment at the higher education center have dramatically increased, a trend that continues today. Projects have included expansion and further renovation within the current SVHEC building (Advanced Technology Lab for workforce development, The Center of Nursing Excellence and the Business of Art & Design Lab, for example). In order to accommodate the significant increase in student traffic, the HEF also expanded the parking lot at the SVHEC and more than doubled the number of available parking spaces.

Currently, a student at the SVHEC can earn a degree from a GED to a PhD without leaving the South Boston town limits. Due once again to the ever increasing student enrollment numbers, the HEF is currently responding to the need for expansion of the SVHEC by renovating the historic American Tobacco Warehouse (ATW) located just down the street from the current building. The former ATW Building, built in the 19th century and now being called the Innovation Center, was donated to the HEF by Eva Harris and her son, Mike. This center will be operated by the SVHEC and will house the signature Business of Art & Design program, comprised of the Product Design & Development and Digital Art & Design educational tracks utilizing advanced technology and digital design laboratories. In addition, the Innovation Center will include an R & D Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiencies. When the renovation is completed in late 2010 and opened in 2011, this facility will provide space for the critical educational and workforce job training programs needed for the high-tech and highly skilled 21st-century jobs being recruited to this region of Southern Virginia.

For additional information on the wide variety of programs available at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, feel free to visit the center at 820 Bruce Street in downtown South Boston, call (434) 572-5440 or view the center’s website at Additional information about the HEF is also available at For more information about the HEF scholarship opportunities, go to

Applications are accepted from April 1st through April 30 annually.

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