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At around age 10, Zy’lice Land decided she wanted to be a doctor someday. On Sept. 7, she began the next leg of her journey as an incoming freshman at UNC Charlotte.

The ambitious 17-year-old from Laurinburg, NC, plans to major in biology with the goal of specializing in emergency medicine, she said.

Land, proving wise beyond her years, said becoming a doctor means a lot of years and “a lot of schooling.” An expensive enterprise, for sure, and she set her sights on finding a way to pay for it without burdening her mom, Jahnell Carmichael, with debt.

“I wanted to lift that weight off my mom,” Land said, and ultimately free herself from becoming mired in debt after the schooling is done.

Land applied for about 20 scholarships, and received 15 scholarships and 3 grants that will cover her freshman year and beyond, she said. One of those scholarships — the African American Network-Carolinas, which was started by the Advocates for African American Employee Resource Group at Duke Energy in 2001 — is administered by Foundation For The Carolinas (FFTC), which manages nearly 150 scholarship funds. 

In 2020, FFTC awarded nearly $2.4 million in scholarship grants to more than 940 students, said Qiana Austin, Vice President & Scholarships Program Officer. Established by generous fundholders, an array of FFTC scholarships provide support for students — ranging from kindergarten to graduate school — with a variety of academic interests and backgrounds.

Drew Grantham, a gymnast and graduate student at N.C. State, was awarded the Carolina Panthers Graduate Scholarship. Her career goal is to work in the athletic administration of a Division 1 college.

Like Land, graduate student Drew Grantham, of Durham, said she didn’t want to take on “the financial black hole of a loan” if she could help it. 

Grantham, a gymnast, received a full athletic scholarship for her undergrad years at NC State, and she turned her competitive spirit to the search for scholarships to pay for graduate school expenses.  

She applied for — and received —the Carolina Panthers Graduate Scholarship, which was started by former Panthers owner Jerry Richardson in 1997 and provides graduate-level scholarships to athletes from the Carolinas. With the $10,000 scholarship and some smaller stipends, Grantham’s tuition and fees are practically covered for the year, and she only has to work to pay her personal expenses and can focus her energies on her studies, she said. 

Grantham, 22, is in the second year of graduate school at NC State where she entered an accelerated bachelors/masters (ABM) program. Her career goal is to work in the athletic administration of a Division 1 college.

She said she feels an immense sense of gratitude that the Panthers scholarship will allow her to “walk away without that financial burden of a loan.” Grantham said her parents have always been extremely supportive, but she’s “proud to be able to find a way to pay for (graduate school) myself.”

FFTC scholarship programs

The FFTC applications process starts in early December. To learn more about the range of funds and eligibility requirements, visit the online scholarships portal. Here’s a sampling of  FFTC scholarships and the 2020 recipients.

African American Network – Carolinas
Provides scholarships to college-bound students from North Carolina and South Carolina who are pursuing a major in engineering, math, science, computer science, accounting, finance or business administration. Must attend a four-year college or university located in North Carolina or South Carolina.

  • 2020 recipients: Zy’lice Land, of Laurinburg, NC; Nya Suber, of Anderson, SC; and Jordan Wyke, of Charlotte.

Carolina Panthers Graduate Scholarship
Provides graduate-level scholarships to athletes in North Carolina and South Carolina on the basis of leadership, citizenship and academic merit. 

  • 2020 recipients: Tatiyanna Minor, of Charlotte; and Drew Grantham, of Durham.

The Panthers organization also funds the Sam Mills Memorial Scholarship Fund for high school athletes from Mecklenburg County and Spartanburg County, S.C., who wish to pursue a four-year undergraduate degree. 

  • 2020 recipients: Akiya Phillips, of Charlotte; and Richard Lee, of Roebuck, SC.

Charlotte Rotary Public Safety Scholarship
Provides undergraduate scholarships to the children of Mecklenburg County first responders — police, fire, MEDIC and sheriff on the basis of academic merit, financial need and community service.

  • 2020 recipients: Jasmin Holmes, of Charlotte; Allyson Johnson, of Concord; Emma Hinkle, of Kannapolis; Harrison Walser, of Monroe; and Matthew Wagner, of Fort Mill, SC.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Emergency Services Scholarship
Provides undergraduate scholarships to students seeking to obtain an Associate or Bachelors Degree for employment in Emergency Services careers, including Emergency Medical, Fire and Law Enforcement to include but is not limited to, studies in Emergency Medical Science, Emergency Medical Technician(EMT), Paramedic, Firefighting/Fire Science, Law Enforcement and Emergency Management.

  • 2020 recipients: Lauren Baker, of Matthews; Joi Briscoe, of Harrisburg; Jacob Bryant, of Stanfield, NC; Serena Evans, of Charlotte; Emily Hernandez, of Charlotte; Kiara Jackson, of Charlotte; Emma King, of Gastonia; Zaniya Mininall, of Charlotte; and Kelsey Rose, of Charlotte.

Holcomb Family Scholarship
Provides scholarships to students of Cabarrus and Mecklenburg counties.

  • 2020 recipients: Joi Briscoe, of Harrisburg; and Hazel Whyte, of Charlotte.

Want to start a scholarship fund?

FFTC Scholarship Funds can be established by individuals, families, businesses or nonprofits with a minimum gift of $25,000. Learn how to create your own scholarship fund.

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