By Justin Jones, Staff Writer
Friday, July 27, 2012 —
A Stanly County student is on her way to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill without the stress of paying for her education after receiving a full-tuition scholarship.
Kristi Walker, 18, received the scholarship on behalf of the North Carolina Division of Veteran’s Affiars at the Veteran’s Affairs Office in Stanly County.
To be a recipient of the award, one must be either born in North Carolina, or have a father who was a citizen of North Carolina at the time of enlisting for military service. The scholarship will cover Walker’s tuition, room and board allowances.
“At first we were very concerned. I didn’t know if we’d have to take out loans or things like that,” she said.
The award became available to Walker because of her father’s service in the Air Force from 1987-1991. To be eligible for the scholarship, the recipient’s father must have served in a combat zone or adjacent waters to a combat zone. Randi Walker served in two combat campaigns, in Panama and Operation Desert Storm. Randi received a campaign medal for his service.
Rod Barbee, the Veterans Service Officer, presented Kristi Walker with the award.
“Like her parents, I’m proud of her. I knew the first time she walked through the door she had a good head on her shoulders.”
According to Barbee, his office had little to do with awarding the scholarship, but that it was earned by Walker. To receive the scholarship, she filled out paperwork, turned in recommendation letters, as well as completed a series of interviews.
“Her dad’s service just gave her the opportunity. She still had to do the work now,” he said.
“But she earned it [in the interview]; that’s where she had to excel.”
Walker has excelled in school, graduating from Stanly Early College High School as class valedictorian.
Walker graduated from the school, which is a five-year program located on Stanly Community College’s campus, in four years, leaving with a high school diploma and associate’s degree. She found out she would receive the scholarship on the day of her prom, overshadowing the events of the night.
“They were all encouraged,” she said of her parents after receving the award. “But when I received (the news) prom meant nothing anymore.”
The signs of relief from her father and mother, Diane, were visible, allowing room for a joke typical of a proud father.
“It’s a stress relief to send her to school. We finally got her there,” he said joking.
“But she’s accomplished everything she has set out to do up to this point. And we’re very proud.”
Upon entering UNC, Walker plans to study journalism, with other interests including international affairs.