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Scholarships Have ‘A Massive Impact,’ Lander Banquet Speaker Says

Keynote Speaker Rob Strickland addresses scholarship donors and recipients at the Eleanor Shiflet Teal Scholarship Banquet, held last week at Lander University. Photo by Laura Brown

"Had there not been a scholarship here, I would not have been able to come to America," sponsor and keynote speaker Rob Strickland said at this year's Eleanor Shiflet Teal Scholarship Banquet.

The banquet, an annual event at Lander University, represents an opportunity for scholarship donors and recipients to meet each other.

Strickland, a native of Hull, England, came to Lander on a soccer scholarship. He was named to the Peach Belt All-Conference team in 1999 and 2000, and to the Peach Belt All-Tournament team in 1999. He is now the senior regional consultant vice president at First Citizens Bank Wealth Management in Columbia.

He said the scholarship he received "made a massive impact on my life." In addition to the opportunity to play soccer, he was able to pursue a degree. He also met his wife, Angela, who currently serves on Lander's Board of Trustees, while the two were students at Lander.

Referring to the development that he sees at Lander, Strickland said, "This school is really going places. Be proud of your school. When you have the opportunity to give, I hope you can."

Current Lander soccer player Jordan Skelton, of Newcastle, England, also spoke. The recipient of a V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation Endowed Scholarship, as well as an athletic departmental scholarship, Skelton said that, "Soccer is a dream, and something I will certainly give my all to achieve, but working towards a business degree is something that is also special. Having that education sets me up for success and offers more opportunity if professional soccer is not where I am meant to be."

Lander students Courtney Cannon, a political science major from Greenville, and Jessica LeBlanc, a nursing student from Lexington, also spoke.

Cannon, who is assisted by a Robbie Barnes Political Science Endowed Scholarship, hopes to pursue a juris doctor degree after graduating from Lander. She thanked the scholarship donors present for giving students like her "the hope and motivation to chase after our dreams."

LeBlanc, the first recipient of the Kaitlyn McKenzie Rector Nursing Endowed Scholarship, said that she aspires to be a caring nurse like Rector, a former ICU nurse at Self Regional Hospital who passed away in 2017 as the result of a pulmonary embolism. She thanked Rector's parents, Robert and Tracey, "for being here tonight and creating this scholarship in her memory."

Lander's mission, according to President Richard Cosentino, is helping students to launch their careers or attend graduate school. "However," he said to the donors in attendance, "it would not be possible to accomplish this mission without the support of good and generous people like you."