Wellmont Foundation provides $10,000 gift to help fund scholarship at UVa-Wise in honor of Brent Kennedy
A generous gift from Wellmont Foundation has helped fund a scholarship at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise in honor of N. Brent Kennedy, an alumnus who once worked for both the College and the foundation.
The $10,000 gift was presented to UVa-Wise during the annual CVC History Night, a celebration where alumni of the history department honor former faculty members and special guests. Proceeds raised at History Night will also be used to fund the scholarship as well.
A resident of Kingsport, Tennessee, Kennedy is the founder of the Melungeon Research Committee. The History Department and the Center for Appalachian Studies established the scholarship in Kennedy’s name for students studying history and Appalachian Studies.
The scholarship will be awarded to rising juniors or seniors who minor in Appalachian studies, with preference given to students majoring in history who demonstrate outstanding ability in their studies. Preference is given to students from Southwest Virginia, but qualified students from outside of the area may be considered.
“Brent Kennedy means so much to our college,” Chancellor Donna P. Henry said. “It is obvious Wellmont Foundation holds Brent in high regard as well. We appreciate the foundation’s generous gift, and we know the scholarships awarded will make a difference to our students.”
Kennedy earned degrees from Clinch Valley College and the University of Tennessee. He is known for his research on the origins of Melungeons, a group of people of mixed ethnic background who settled in the hills of Appalachia. After years of wondering about the mysterious Melungeons, Kennedy’s research revealed his family shared the Melungeon heritage.
“I am humbled to have a scholarship named for me at the college that is my home,” Kennedy said. “You are all such a gift to me, and I think you for your support. It means the world to me. God is good all the time.”
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Further demonstrating its commitment to assisting college students with their education, the Lonesome Pine Hospital auxiliary has started another endowment for a local college.
The auxiliary recently presented a $10,000 check to the University of Virginia’s College at Wise that will be used for scholarships to students in need. This comes just a few months after the auxiliary gave a $10,000 check to the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation to assist students there.
“UVa-Wise is an outstanding college that has produced exceptional graduates who are making a difference in our community and throughout Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee,” said Pat Bowden, the auxiliary’s treasurer. “We are pleased to help local college students with the expenses associated with their studies and look forward to seeing their contributions to the workforce once they earn their degrees.”
Applicants who live in the towns of Big Stone Gap and Appalachia will receive primary consideration for the scholarships. The next group of applicants who will potentially receive a scholarship would live in Wise and Lee counties.
Donna P. Henry, UVa-Wise’s chancellor, said the scholarships will help more of the university’s students achieve their goal of receiving a degree.
“The value of a college degree in furthering a person’s opportunities for a successful professional career cannot be overstated,” Henry said. “Attending college is not cheap, though, so we continue to have a need for additional scholarship dollars. We are grateful for this auxiliary and the rest of the community whose support for UVa-Wise has helped elevate the caliber of our programs.”
The auxiliary has made a positive difference in the hospital and the community for decades through its fundraising efforts and donations. Bowden said the money for the UVa-Wise scholarships was raised in many ways, such as gift shop sales, jewelry shows, book sales and bake sales. The money was placed in a certificate of deposit, which recently matured, leading the auxiliary to consider the best long-term use for the funds.
In addition to the auxiliary, the Lonesome Pine Hospital Community Fund has provided tens of thousands of dollars to support nursing students, many of whom subsequently work for Wellmont Health System. Dale Clark, the hospital’s president, said that partnership benefits the region.
“Lonesome Pine and the rest of Wellmont have a deep connection to the community and are interested in supporting its advancement,” Clark said. “We are grateful to have excellent institutions of higher education nearby that are preparing their students extraordinarily well to enter the fields of their choice. We have seen the quality of their academic programs through the many graduates we have been fortunate to hire.”
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