BCC Foundation board member boosts school’s legacy and builds her own
During her twenty years residing in Brunswick County, CAROLYN FELTON has worked full time and also been involved in various community projects, always giving freely of her time and talents.
It was when she was invited to serve on the Brunswick Community College Foundation Board in 2010, however, that she realized how many students’ lives were positively changed by foundation scholarships and found her true calling as a community activist, she says.
Felton’s most recent idea was to organize the first LEGACY GROUP dinner and social, held in September, to bring together former foundation board members and college trustees as well as current administrators in the LaDane Williamson Student Center on the BCC campus.
Organizers invited 124 people to the event including family members of officials who had died. About sixty-eight of those invited attended the event. According to organizers, the dinner proved so popular among participants it is now planned as a yearly event, allowing those who have served the college and foundation to stay active and engaged in all the foundation activities.
The dinner is free to the invited guests and organized to foster goodwill and participation in foundation activities, Felton says, building greater support for the college in general.
As an active board member, Felton is leaving a legacy of her own.
During her tenure as chair, the foundation board launched one of its most successful endeavors: The Student Ambassador program. BCC students who have received foundation scholarships are selected to serve as ambassadors for the foundation and the school. They learn to tell their stories to large and small groups and to represent the college and foundation.
“We have nine student ambassadors for 2017-2018,” pursuing degrees in horticulture, business administration, nursing, and associate’s degrees in arts and sciences, Felton says.
“This is putting a personal face on a scholarship,” she adds.
The ambassadors are paired with mentors who teach them not only about public speaking but also how to network, providing interpersonal skills not always taught in classrooms.
Felton said the ambassadors’ presence contributed to the success of the Legacy dinner.
“Our student ambassadors are employees of local businesses, aspiring musicians, parents to children grown and small, as well as dedicated BCC students,” Felton says, noting the current Student Government Association president and a BCC Fins baseball player are among this year’s ambassadors.
“I love the idea of using the student ambassadors to tell the story of the foundation,” she says, noting the diversity in age and economic backgrounds of the students who have received scholarships.
In fact, learning about the numerous women who had never attended college and decided to attend BCC while raising families and holding down jobs is what made Felton so passionate about the foundation when she first joined.
The average age of students in the BCC curriculum programs is 23, while the average age in the continuing education/workforce development programs is 43.
“They decided they wanted to achieve more, and it has to be so much more difficult with people depending on you at home. But they do it,” Felton says.
She also played a key role in building up the foundation’s Women in Philanthropy and Leadership participation, pairing female mentors with female student ambassadors to build leadership skills and confidence and develop a strong community network.
Felton works full time as a financial adviser for a major bank but carves out time to organize, meet, mentor, and help the foundation meet its goals.
As the mother of five grown daughters, Felton has always emphasized working hard for something they feel passionate about. She says she has found that in her role on the foundation board.
She currently chairs the committee for the foundation’s annual major fundraising event, Bella Italia, set for February 2 at 6 p.m. at 101 Stone Chimney Place in Supply.
The event will feature authentic Italian cuisine provided by Angelo’s Pizzeria & Bistro including wine tasting, specialty hors d’oeuvres, dinner, and dessert.
To learn more about the Brunswick Community College Foundation, its upcoming events, and available scholarships, go to brunswickcc.edu/foundation.
To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, visit www.terahwilson.com.