At Lander, we know that leadership begins with scholarship. The impact that Lander University graduates have on their workplace, and the world, would not be possible without the generosity of those who provide scholarship opportunities for our students.
Steve and Linda Bolton Endowed Scholarship
Steve Bolton graduated from Lander in 1969 with a degree in sociology. During his senior year at Lander, he won the Hodges Medal for best all-around athlete. He was also president of Lander’s student body and a member of Lander’s first tennis team.
Following his graduation, Bolton began a 21-year career as a helicopter pilot for the U.S. Army, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He then worked for several defense contractors and was owner of a management and consulting company.
After graduating from Lander, he only returned to Greenwood sporadically, and his “giving to Lander was also sporadic,” he said.
He began to think about doing more as a result of attending his 40th class reunion and “seeing first-hand the growth and progress at Lander.” He said that his late wife, Linda, also “encouraged me to get back involved in Lander life.”
He began by making contributions to the tennis program and The Lander Foundation. Since then, he has served as an active member of the Foundation, the Lander Alumni Association Board, and as a volunteer for many University initiatives.
In 2021, he established the Steve and Linda Bolton Endowed Scholarship. The scholarship is open to any major in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, with preference given to first-year students.
The scholarship helped Alexandria Castro, a sociology major from Simpsonville, to enjoy a successful first year at Lander. She made the President’s Honor Roll during the fall of 2021, and the Dean’s List last spring.
Castro said that the scholarship “has definitely helped ease the financial burden of college,” and allowed her to concentrate on her studies.
“It’s also helped reaffirm that I found a major that I enjoy and do well in,” she said.
While unsure of her career path, she said, “I’m currently looking at public relations or an archivist position.”
Katherine Davis Cann Endowed Scholarship
The Katherine Davis Cann Endowed Scholarship was created to assist a rising junior majoring in history or political science. To be considered for the award, a student must also have an exemplary academic record, good character, and potential for future service.
Dr. Kathy Cann, whom the scholarship honors, graduated from Lander with a B.A. in history in 1969. She also earned an M.A. in history at the University of North Carolina, and a Ph.D. in history at the University of South Carolina.
The author of two books and numerous book chapters about South Carolina history, Cann retired as professor of history and chair of the Social Science Division at Spartanburg Methodist College, where she encouraged many of her two-year students to consider continuing their education at Lander. She also served as president of the Lander Alumni Association.
Cann’s husband, Professor Emeritus of History Dr. Marvin Cann, joined the Lander faculty in 1967 and taught at Lander for 38 years.
“For me, it was a fulfilling career in a college that attracted good students, offered an educational opportunity to many first-generation students, and provided an enjoyable professional association with a group of dedicated colleagues,” Marvin said.
The Canns are impressed with the quality of Lander’s history and political science programs.
“We especially appreciate the academic leadership provided by Dr. Lucas McMillan and the scholarly achievements of many of the faculty. Beyond their scholarly contributions, we appreciate the close individual attention the faculty provide for their students,” he said.
Over the years, Cann and his wife have supported Lander in a variety of ways.
“The Katherine Davis Cann Scholarship seemed an effective way to provide continuing support to outstanding students in the history and political science programs,” he said.
Senior public history major Cameron Jones, of Aiken, said he was “extremely grateful” for the support of the Cann Scholarship. Because of it, he added, “I don’t have to stress about any financial problems.”
A resident assistant, president of Lander’s Black Student Union and member of the Phi Alpha Theta honor society, Jones has been on the Dean’s List his entire time at the University.
After graduating, he would like to serve as director of an African American museum.
“I have a passion for teaching Black history and educating others about our culture,” he said.
Criscillis-Collins Endowed Scholarship
Scholarships are an integral and foundational piece of higher education that provide financial assistance to aspiring students. Through a generous donation, Ken Collins has endowed a scholarship in honor of Melissa Criscillis, his nephew’s daughter-in-law.
“My relationship with her has grown very close through family gatherings,” said Collins. “I now consider her and her family as a very close part of my family.”
Collins learned of Lander nearly four decades ago, when both his niece and nephew graduated from the University. “I learned from them how good Lander’s nursing program is. Because of their Lander experience I became a friend and fan of Lander.”
“Jesus has blessed my life in so many ways and has given me the resources to help others,” said Collins. “I take great pleasure in using those resources to help children have a stable home environment and others to better themselves by getting an education.”
“Uncle Ken is such a special person and he has such a big heart for children,” said Criscillis. “I have always worked with kids and he has always been intrigued with listening to my nursing stories, from transport issues with helicopters, to me learning how to work in the operating room for heart surgeries.”
“Other than family, nursing has been the most rewarding aspect of my life,” added Criscillis. “I worked full time and attended school full time for all four of my degrees,” she said. “I have been blessed with an amazing family that was very supportive of my academic endeavors and nursing career.”
Her family’s support helped drive her to obtaining four degrees: an associate degree in nursing, bachelor’s in nursing, a master’s in nursing and a doctorate of nursing practice. “I had to work to help my husband care for our family and home, and did not want my choices to take away from my family, and I put a lot of pressure on myself,” she said. “And it was worth every minute.”
“I watched her children grow and saw what a great mother she was to her two boys and what a great wife she was to her husband,” said Collins. “I have so much love and respect for her and I consider her my daughter.”
After school, her career launched her into the role of a pediatric intensive care nurse, and she was “lucky to love the role, the patient population and the ability to form relationships with patients and families.” Eventually, she transitioned to a pediatric critical care transport nurse. “I was able to grow and had more autonomy, which led me to the nurse practitioner role.”
Now Criscillis works as the lead advance practice provider for the pediatric heart surgeon at Augusta University Health. “I absolutely love my career, my patients and my work family,” she said.
“Nursing provides so many opportunities. It has been so rewarding to help others through times of joy and sadness, and I know nursing has made me a better person.”
Collins wants the scholarship to help someone from Oconee County or the Upstate of South Carolina get a degree in nursing. “Hopefully this scholarship will make getting a degree a little easier financially and let them be able to enjoy their college experience,” he said.
Criscillis echoed this sentiment, adding, “The giving, caring nature of Uncle Ken motivates me to do more for others, and I hope this feeling is passed on through this scholarship.”
And although new, the scholarship already has been earned by its first recipient: Matthew Burgess, of Seneca. When he learned he was the recipient of the scholarship, Burgess felt “very proud and happy for myself and my family. I view the scholarship as a result of all the hard work I have put into the nursing program and on the baseball team here at Lander University.”
This story is featured in the Spring 2023 edition of Lander Magazine. Read more at www.lander.edu/magazine.