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CCU award recipients pay down student loans, get head start on grad school and careers

June 22, 2017
Alison Lane is on the right.Benjamin Flo plans to use his Trustee Award for grad school.Taylor Barrett has a job already, but plans to use the award funds to buy supplies for her classroom and pay off student loans.

Coastal Carolina University student recipients of the $5,000 bonus Board of Trustees Award, given to graduates who earn their degrees a year early, plan to use the money to pay down student loans, enter graduate school and get a head start on their careers.

This is the first class that signed up for the accelerated degree program established by CCU’s board of trustees in 2014. The program is open to all first-time freshmen entering CCU. Twenty graduates received the award for completing the program.

“As a low-income student, I was very aware coming in to the university that I had four years of funded school available to me, and being able to graduate in three years took tremendous financial stress off my family and me,” said 2017 graduate Alison Lane of Myrtle Beach, who is using the bonus to pay off medical bills and student loans. During her time at CCU, she took 18 credit hours per semester, worked two jobs and took summer courses to graduate in three years. Her bachelor’s degree is in English.

Benjamin Flo of Conway graduated with a degree in biology and plans to use the award funds to transition into CCU’s Master of Arts in Teaching program. “When mom and dad aren’t there to take you back home,” said Flo, “the extra income is a godsend for the transitional period between undergrad and either career or graduate school.”

Taylor Barrett, who graduated in May 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, already has a job teaching third-grade math and science at Academy of Hope Charter School in Conway. She plans to use the money to buy supplies for her classroom and pay off her college loans.

“I have always been the type of person who loves to be efficient and wanted to finish as soon as possible,” says Barrett of Ocean Isle Beach, N.C. “It was a lot more work to finish in three years, but worth it in the end because I am only 22 and have my college degree with a job to follow. The college experience is great at Coastal, but finishing in three years is the best way to go!”

Natalie Hoffman of Tabernacle, N.J., graduated with an MBA through the More in Four program, in which students can get a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in four years instead of five. With her $5,000 award, she plans to pay down student loans.

“Being involved in the Get More in Four program has opened the doors to amazing opportunities that will continue to shape and enhance my future,” said Hoffman. “Being 22 years old and entering into the real world having a master’s degree is a great advantage! Receiving this award is an honor, and I will continue to cherish the time I spent at CCU, the professors I met along the way and how hard I worked to get where I am today.”

Ralph Byington, provost and executive vice president at CCU, said the Trustee Award was designed to recognize students who have the determination to complete their studies in a three-year period.

“Quite often, these students have postundergraduate ambitions, and this encourages them to expedite their studies at the graduate level,” he said. “Others appreciate the value of entering their careers more quickly. This award exemplifies the trustees’ commitment to academic excellence at Coastal.”

Rounding out the rest of the inaugural Trustee Award class are: Olivia Barnhardt of Purcellville, Va.; Robert Blenkle of Patterson, N.Y.; Ashley Canter of Surfside Beach; Jalyn Carlson of Silt, Colo.; Christopher Durand of Conway; Taylor Farrow of Brooklawn, N.J.; Austin Finley of Conway; Allison Franklin of Salisbury, Md.; Marissa Green of Conway; Mariah Jardine of Oxford, Pa.; Clark Jesse of Frederick, Md.; Morgan Loucks of Norwich, N.Y.; Emily Peal of Conway; Samantha Proulx of Groton, Mass.; Matthew Rentz of East Greenbush, N.Y.; and Rachel Warner of Lusby, Md.