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Berner endowed scholarship at CCU benefits engineering students

October 12, 2016
Walter T. Berner Jr. Muriel and Claudia Berner

The Walter T. Berner Jr. Endowed Scholarship at Coastal Carolina University will benefit students enrolled in the College of Science’s dual-degree engineering program. Berner’s wife, Muriel Berner, and daughter Claudia Berner recently established the fund in his memory. The gift supports Coastal’s I’M IN endowment campaign, which has a goal of increasing the University’s endowment $20 million by 2020. Learn more about the campaign at coastal.edu/endowment.

To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be rising sophomores and enrolled in the program, which offers the opportunity to begin pursuing a bachelor’s degree at CCU while preparing for an engineering degree from Clemson University. The scholarship recipient will spend three years at CCU majoring in one of four degrees and then spend two years and one summer at Clemson majoring in one of eight engineering degrees that is compatible with their major at CCU. While at Clemson, the student will complete the remaining courses needed for the CCU degree.

“Higher education is expensive,” said Claudia Berner. “It’s hard for many people to afford. This scholarship is inspired by my father’s love of learning. He would be very proud to see new engineers join the workforce since engineering was his passion.

“My father really believed in education. He encouraged my siblings and me to go to college. He said that no matter what you major in, you will graduate a much better and well-rounded individual because of a college experience. He believed that education opened doors for you and not only made an individual stronger, but a community better. Education creates opportunities so that no matter where you begin, you will have the tools to go anywhere you want to go.”

A native of Miami, Fla., Walter Berner earned a mechanical engineering degree from Tulane University. While serving in the U.S. Navy, he completed two tours of duty as a chief engineer on several ships. His civilian career included more than 40 years as an engineer with Exxon Research and Engineering.

In 1986, Berner and his wife relocated to Murrells Inlet, where he was active in the community. He served as an original member of the Murrells Inlet board of directors, the Georgetown County Water and Sewer Board, and the Georgetown County Architectural Review Board. He also chaired the Waccamaw Neck Council, where he was a driving force in the rebuilding of the Wacca Wache Marina Landing, the MarshWalk and Veterans Pier.

Berner died in July 2010 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for several years. During that time, Claudia Berner made a promise to her father that she would provide in-home care for him while the disease slowly took away his independence. That promise inspired her to open Murrells Inlet-based Homewatch CareGivers, which assists local families who need home care for their loved ones.