SFSF Receives 30 Applications for Financial Aid for the 2023-2024 Academic Year June 2, 2023
Total Amount Requested Tops $160,000!
The Step Forward Scholarship Fund (SFSF) has received the highest number of applications and the highest total dollar request in its four years of existence for the coming 2023-24 academic year. Applications are up 66 percent over last year with the total amount requested up 57 percent. “Without question, there is a strong need for this support among our GC employees,” said Bill Wallace, one of SFSF’s founders and its current president. “In 2022. We received 18 applications, requesting $102,000 in financial aid. To receive 30 applications this year requesting more than $160,000 shows how the program has grown in recognition among our employees. It also speaks to the generous support of our members who provided the resources required to expand the program to meet the current demand.”
The independent, nonprofit organization was established in 2019 to provide financial aid and mentoring to Governors Club employees and the children of employees. So far, it has awarded 55 scholarships totaling more than $260,000. Of this year’s applicants, 15 have received scholarships in prior years, 13 are children of employees and 17 are employees. Six applicants are the first in their families to attend college while the program received sibling applications from three different families.
Said Dr. John Zaremba, head of the SFSF Scholarship Committee: “Our committee is impressed by the diversity of this year’s requests and by the brother and sister applications from employee dependents. Clearly, SFSF is creating a ‘furthering your education’ climate in the homes of our employees.”
Applications came from students enrolled at the University of North Carolina campuses at Chapel Hill, Asheville and Charlotte and from Appalachian State, Duke University, NC State and the University of South Carolina. The program also received applications from employees enrolled in programs leading to certificates and licenses.
Scholarships can range from $500 to $6,000, with one $10,000 Governors Scholarship awarded per year. Full-time and part-time employees of Governors Club and their children can apply for scholarships. Eligibility requires employment at Governors Club for nine or more months and an average work week of 20 hours.
Scholarships can help cover the costs of tuition, room and board, books and equipment required for course work, housing deposits and testing fees. The program also will provide a stipend to students to enable them to take unpaid or low-paying internships. The SFSF also provides mentoring services that help students with school and course selection, financial aid submissions and school applications.
SFSF Alumni: Where Are They Now? May 15, 2023
An update on SFSF recipients
Since beginning in 2019, the Step Forward Scholarship Fund has awarded 55 scholarships totaling more than $250,000 to employees and their children due to the generosity of Club members. The fund recently checked in with three former recipients to see where their scholarships led them.
Dr. Brianna Colello Clubhouse Server, 2018-2021 Scholarship recipient: 2019-2021
“I was a fortunate recipient of the SFSF scholarship from 2019 to 2021, which helped me reach my education and career goals, especially during the trying COVID times. The scholarship funds helped me purchase necessary books and tools for my education, and most important, it allowed me to take a course to prepare me for, and pass, my board exams! The scholarship truly helped reduce the financial and mental stress as a graduate student, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.
“I graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2021 as a Doctor of Physical Therapy and subsequently moved to Buffalo, N.Y., my hometown, to further my career as a neurologic physical therapist. Apart from my education and career updates, I was married in September and bought a beautiful home with my husband. Currently, my time is spent caring for my patients, walking my dog, and restoring my old home with my husband! I will be forever grateful for my time spent as a server at Governors Club; I met the most wonderful people there that truly care about one another. Thank you for being supportive and generous!”
Austin Conklin Server, Server Captain, Bartender: 2018-2021 Scholarship recipient: 2019-2021
“My career and livelihood have been going extremely well following my graduation from NC State in the spring of 2021. I attribute my success, in part, to the SFSF for investing in my education and career future. It is an unfortunate truth that money can oftentimes be a barrier to success for hardworking people; therefore, I believe the SFSF members are providing a powerful service for bolstering the community.
“Within just three months of graduating, I was hired by Chatham County’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Department. I began as a GIS Technician, and immediately embraced the flexibility of my entry-level position to learn new GIS skills as well as the Python Coding Language. My drive to strengthen and diversify my GIS knowledge was rewarded in the winter of 2022, when I was promoted to the position of GIS Application Specialist. This new role has positioned me as the lead GIS application developer, allowing me to showcase my creativity and problem-solving skills to create user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing mapping applications.”
Adrian Marquis Clubhouse Server, 2020-2021 SFSF recipient, 2021
“After graduating from a Full Stack Web Development coding bootcamp in January 2021 with Thinkful, I began my career search in the web technology industry. I was offered a contract position with John Deere as a Content Analyst in June 2021. About a year later, my department was reorganized and I subsequently inherited management of the web version of Deere's award-winning publication, The Furrow, and have been creating the digital version of it ever since.
“In October 2022, I applied for and was hired as a permanent John Deere Digital Publisher. In an enormous leap of faith, I challenged myself to develop these skills and, thanks in part to the SFSF contribution to this career pursuit, I have a great future with one of, if not, the most historic American companies in agricultural technology. My personal developmental goals are boundless within the company and I have already begun to lay out plans to pursue growth in the Geo-Spatial Analytics department.”
JoJo Castellanos: Building a Career in Real Estate April 4, 2023
Josefa “JoJo” Castellanos, a server in the Governors Club dining room, has a new title these days: real-estate agent.
JoJo, who received a Step Forward Scholarship Fund (SFSF) award in 2022, is working part-time at Governors Club Realty after receiving her license in November from Trav Talks Real Estate school, where she completed her online coursework. “What made me choose real estate is the fact that there is so much to do in this field, and you will go as far as you push yourself,” JoJo said. “I loved the idea of helping someone or a family find their dream house and being there every step of the way.”
Those qualities also resonated at Bold Real Estate where she is now a staff member. “She’s a go-getter, she’s hungry, she’s smart, she’s wanting to learn,” said Scott Kelley, a real-estate broker at the company. “We’re very excited to have her on board,” said Kristine Holm, the broker-in-charge at the firm.
JoJo was born and raised in Durham, the third of four daughters to Angela and Lucas, who both work in food services at the Morrisville campus of Lenovo, a global computer equipment provider. She started work at Governors Club in October 2020 and graduated early from Holton Career and Resource Center, a vocational high school, in January 2022.
A career in real estate also appealed to her sense of altruism. “One of my main goals is to be able to help the Hispanic community or people who really don't have the proper resources to know the process of buying,” JoJo said. “I want to be able to make the process as smooth as possible and make it fun instead of stressful.”
A big disadvantage in the Hispanic community can be a lack of documentation, she said, “so that already makes it harder to purchase a home.” “Most people don't even know where to start when it comes to buying a home because it's not just about seeing a home that you like; you have to take into consideration can you actually afford this house, are you able to obtain a loan,” she said. “And most Hispanics are not able to obtain a loan because they don't meet the requirements -- for example, their credit score.”
Sometimes, JoJo said, that’s due to a lack of documentation. Or it may be that “they haven’t built their credit because they haven’t used it, or their credit history isn’t good,” she said. “If they have a bad credit or need to build their credit, I will help them with that.”
In the meantime, JoJo relishes her daily interactions as at Governors Club. “I like working at the club because I'm seeing the same people every day, and because of that I get to know a member better, their likes and dislikes,” she said. “Working at the club has taught me more patience and more attention to detail.”
Kelley applauds JoJo’s people skills. “She’s got a reputation out here at the club – people like her,” he said. “Sales is at least two things: Your ability to sell and relationship-building.”
JoJo is grateful for last year’s SFSF award. “Many people don't talk about all the expenses that are included when going into real estate; you have to pay for classes, pay to take the test, there are fees if you join a firm,” she said. “The fact that GC offers scholarships just shows the appreciation the members or any donors have toward us,” JoJo said. “Not many jobs offer as much help as Step Forward because not only does it provide financial help, but it also helps with mentoring, helping you get to where you want to be.”
Catching up with SFSF Recipient Colin Liebe February 1, 2023
Step Forward Scholarship Fund (SFSF) recipient Colin Liebe admits that he’s always been a numbers guy. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill senior, who works in the Governors Club (GC) Golf Department, said that at Chapel Hill High School he was a “huge fan” of math classes, with calculus his favorite class “by far.”
He started his college career at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., studying math and statistics. He also was a member of the Washington and Lee baseball team, At Chapel Hill High School he was on the varsity baseball team for four years and captained the team the last two.
Ultimately, Washington and Lee was not the right fit. “I chose W&L mainly because of the opportunity I had to play baseball there,” he said. “I enjoyed the baseball aspect and loved my teammates, but Greek life dominated the social scene, and I never had the desire to join that community. I wasn’t happy at W&L when I wasn’t playing baseball. I decided to transfer to a place where I knew I would be happy. UNC was a no-brainer.” Colin was born in New Jersey and moved to Chapel Hill when he was 3. His mother, Jen, works at Carol Woods Retirement Community and his father, Greg, at GlaxoSmithKline. He has a younger brother, Trevor, who is at NC State, and an older brother, Garrett, who graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South.
“I grew up a huge UNC fan and spent a lot of my free time going to UNC football, baseball and basketball games,” he said. “I knew I would be happy at UNC.” Colin transferred as a statistics major, and as part of his course of study he was required to take an introductory computer science class. He was hooked. “I immediately switched my major to computer science,” he said. “I really enjoy the problem-solving skills that the major requires, and I feel it has opened up a lot of opportunities for me.” Colin has two courses in computer science and one in statistics to complete his degree, and will join Cisco Systems Inc. after graduation as a technical consulting engineer. He will be developing technical solutions to problems that Cisco customers face when using the company’s high technology services and products.
He worked last summer at Infosys Limited, a technology company providing business consulting, information technology, and consulting services, as a software engineer intern. While a good experience, he found that there was a lack of human interaction in writing software. “I just couldn’t sit and write code 24/7,” Colin said.
The past two years in GC’s Golf Department, Colin said, have been a big positive in his social development. “My time at GC has certainly made me more outgoing,” Colin said. “Growing up, I was always a fairly quiet person and never really sought out conversation with people I didn’t know. As a result of the social aspect that is required of this job at GC, I have become far less reserved and have gained a valuable life skill, which is being able to create conversation with just about anyone. I enjoy all of the conversations that I have with the members and fellow employees at GC and look forward to meeting new people when I am at work.” Colin added while he has forged some great friendships with some of his co-workers, he has also gained friendships with members. “Being that I’m a college student, there are members who take interest in my academics as well as my next steps after college,” he said. “It’s nice to feel cared about while at work. The free golf isn’t too bad, either!” The SFSF scholarship he received in 2022, he said, was an indication of the strong bond between members and the staff. “Getting the scholarship has meant a lot to me because it shows me how much the members care about the employees at GC,” Colin said. “I do my best to take care of the members while I’m at work and they clearly do the same for us by providing opportunities such as this scholarship. I can’t thank the SFSF and those who have donated to the scholarship fund enough.”