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Salem Glen sponsors scholarship/mentoring program

By Larry Stombaugh
For the Clemmons Courier

The Clemmons neighborhood of Salem Glen has awarded its first scholarship of what is planned to be an annual award, thanks to a well-organized community effort. The Salem Glen College Assistance Program plans to award a scholarship every year to a student who will be attending Forsyth Tech Community College or Davidson Community College in either a degree or certificate program. The first scholarship recipient is Mateo Perez who graduated this spring from East Forsyth High School. He is attending Forsyth Tech this fall.

Scholarship recipients will also be assigned a mentor to assist them with their studies. The mentors will be residents from Salem Glen who have backgrounds and expertise in the areas of study that are being pursued by the scholarship recipients. Mentors will provide encouragement, resources, and opportunities for career exploration.

Ken Burkel, who was on the board of directors for the Clemmons Community Foundation, came up with the idea for the scholarship. Burkel is a resident of Salem Glen, and he recognized that the neighborhood has a giving spirt that would support the idea of establishing a scholarship for a local student.  He met with six residents in the community to form a scholarship committee, and Susan Preston was chosen to be the chairperson.

Preston is a retired high school English teacher who moved to North Carolina from Buffalo, New York. After her son was accepted to Wake Forest, the family visited Winston-Salem and immediately liked the area. Eight years ago, she and her husband built a home in Salem Glen, and they enjoy living in the golf course community just south of Clemmons.

“This is a very giving community,” she said, noting that $2,500 was raised in just a few weeks to fund the first scholarship. “My neighbors are such generous people who are involved in community projects such as raising money each month for the Clemmons Food Pantry.”

The Salem Glen Scholarship Committee hopes to raise at least $25,000 as the Clemmons Community Foundation will match dollar-for-dollar up to $25,000 to create an endowment so that the scholarship can be offered in perpetuity. The foundation will also manage the fund and will provide information about the scholarship as well as supplying applications to local high schools.

The criteria for the scholarship are based primarily on financial need, and the recipient must be a resident of either Forsyth or Davidson counties. Preston indicated that there are no academic requirements for the scholarship because the committee wanted it to be available to older adults who might have academic records that are now out-of-date or not relevant to an older student looking to continue their education. The residency requirement is based on the location of Salem Glen that includes both Forsyth and Davidson counties.

When the scholarship committee met, they discussed how there is a shortage of skilled and technical workers, and they decided to offer both the scholarship and the mentoring program to help the scholarship recipients succeed in earning their degree. Financial issues and a lack of academic support are cited as the main reasons that students in two-year college programs do not complete a degree, so it was determined to put a specific focus on these issues.

Mateo Perez

The Salem Glen College Assistance Scholarship is proud that Mateo Perez is the first student to be selected to receive a scholarship. Perez is a 2020 honors graduate of East Forsyth High School. He is enrolled in Forsyth Tech’s Aviation Electronics Technology program. His career aspiration is to be an aviation systems technician and to oversee research projects for an aerospace company or the government. His assigned mentor is Jerry Drummond who is an engineer and a retired associate professor who taught at the University of Akron in Ohio.

Perez built an impressive resumé while at East Forsyth. He was a Crosby Scholar and a member of the National Honor Society. He was also the captain and commander of the Junior ROTC. During the past three summers, he worked at local libraries in Forsyth County through the Summer Youth Employment Program.

Many college students face difficult financial challenges to afford a post-secondary education. Our community can be proud that Salem Glen has recognized this need and has developed a scholarship that will help many local students in the future.