Students, supporters honored during scholarship ceremony

Robert and Betty Hill have a history of supporting students in East Carolina University’s College of Engineering and Technology.

Dr. Ed Howard, associate professor in the Department of Engineering, greets engineering student Nicole Obando and her mother, Natalya, during the ceremony.

“This is our 14th event. I didn’t realize it had been so long,” Betty Hill said during the annual Robert and Betty Hill Recognition of Excellence Awards Ceremony.

The ceremony honors the college’s scholarship recipients, and the donors and sponsors who support them.

Not only do the Hills sponsor the event, but also they support an annual scholarship, which this year went to Kenly Montes. The Hills said they provide such support because they know what it’s like to be students.

“Robert is a 1962 graduate of East Carolina, and we got married when he graduated,” Betty Hill said. “When our daughter started kindergarten, he sent me to college, so we can relate to the different students, the ones who are fresh out of high school and also to the ones who are later in life or want a career change because I was one of those.”

In total, 82 students received $113,000 in scholarships.

“This is a special day to recognize and honor the many students who are receiving awards and scholarships, and to express our appreciation to all of our scholarship donors and supporters,” said Dr. Harry Ploehn, dean of the college. “… Every dollar of scholarship support helps our students devote more time to course work, activities like student organizations or research that prepares them for careers and life after ECU.”

One of those students recognized was Dylan White, the recipient of the David J. Smith Leadership Award. Smith, who was an industrial distribution and logistics major in the Department of Technology Systems, served in the Marine Corps and died after being injured by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2010.

Dylan White stands with Mary Jane McWilliams, mother of David J. Smith, after White received the David J. Smith Leadership Award.

White, a construction management major, received the award for exemplifying Smith’s characteristics of leadership, integrity and service. White holds leadership positions in three student organizations and even dressed up as Buzz Lightyear while visiting children at the Ronald McDonald House.

“David would be very proud of this. He loved this school so much,” said Mary Jane McWilliams, Smith’s mother.

White said he had watched a video about Smith and felt honored to receive the award.

“One thing that stood out to me was that he was smiling. He would make someone’s day,” White said of Smith. “And I want to challenge this group — even myself — that it doesn’t cost anything to put a smile on your face, and you can change someone’s life. You can be the difference in a good day or a bad day.

“David, I look up to him. He meant so much to so many people, and I want to leave that same legacy behind.”

Nicole Obando, a senior engineering major, received an engineering general scholarship.

“It’s a privilege and an honor,” Obando said. “I’m not used to getting awards like this. It’s nice to see the support from the school and donors, and it definitely motivates me to continue and finish off strong.”

She attended the ceremony with her parents, mother Natalya and father Mario.

“I’m extremely proud,” Mario Obando said. “This is a way to recognize all of her efforts. I’m proud of her career path. She’s only 22 years old, and we’re very happy to watch her grow and how she’s evolving into the person she is.”

Senior Samuel Cox is a double major in information and computer technology, and economics. He is eyeing a career in cloud computing, something he said would not be possible if not for the scholarships. As a double major, Cox has too many college credits to receive governmental financial aid.

“If I didn’t have these scholarships, I’d be in deep trouble,” he said.

Scholarship recipient Samuel Cox talks to a fellow student during the Robert and Betty Hill Recognition of Excellence Awards Ceremony.

Cox received the Hitachi Astemo CET Development Fund Scholarship and a technology systems scholarship. He thanked all those who support the college through student scholarships.

“I really appreciate the assistance and I’m sure every student appreciates it as much as I do,” Cox said. “It allows us to succeed in our education, and we couldn’t do it without them.”

Anyone interested in supporting College of Engineering and Technology student scholarships can go online to the college’s website and click on the giving tab.

Department of Computer Science scholarship recipients include Abelson Abueg, Madison Rose, Andrew Edwards and Leen Lynn Abu Samhan.

Department of Construction Management scholarship recipients include Nathaniel Hanselman, Benjamin Williard, Christopher Adams, Christian Bachelor, Jorge Lopez, Sterling Ostdahl, Robert Jordan, Jennifer Perea, Luke Dobson, Nathan Groves, Destiny Jackson, Clark Lambert, Nicholas Robinson, Kennedy Henderson, Joseph Dupree, Drake Barclay, Sawyer Garrett, Karigan Seagle, Phillip Tarte, Dylan White, Nathaniel Harrell, Tyler Davis, Richard Hancock, Brady McKay, Leondre Horne, Davis Latham, Sarah Blackwelder, Helena Kirk, Mackenzie Turner, Jacob Hansen, Spencer Peed and Connor Dennison.

Department of Engineering scholarship recipients include Kyle Kirian, Ariel Lineberger, Nicole Obando, Hannah Sowers, Daniel Franklin, Devon Rhodes, Meredith Bullard, Joseph Ha, Leah Hulett, Niya Johnson and Cora McQuaid.

Department of Technology Systems scholarship recipients include Mitchell Locklear, Kristy Zanatos, Damaris Jackson, Jonathan Pena, Shane Patterson, Ashley Lewis, Aycee Carter, Evan Tosto, Brian Tran, Samuel Cox, Corbin Forrester, Darrell Roberts, Michael Russell, Thomas Coble, Julian Cruz, Zachary Korosi, Miles Mayer and Starr Pridgen.

College of Engineering and Technology scholarship recipients include Darrell Roberts, Brian Tran, Hannah Blackburn, Oasis Lopez, William Read, Makayla Selby, Dylan White, Samuel Cox, Meredith Bullard, Johnathan Calvo, Christian Cannon, Leah Hulett, Miles Mayer, Ian Murphy, Kenly Montes and Kevin Cruz-Torres.

To view a Facebook album featuring more than 90 photographs from the ceremony, click here.

Scholarship recipients and donors pose during the Robert and Betty Hill Recognition of Excellence Awards Ceremony.