Crosby Scholars Invitational and Breakfast of Champions

Crosby Scholars Nurtures Success
Surround yourself with people who will support your success.
That's the message Olympian Kathleen Baker shared with Crosby Scholars who attended the Breakfast of Champions - and that's what Crosby Scholar alumnus Israel Suarez said Crosby Scholars did for him.
"I've surrounded myself with the right people at the right times in my life," said Baker, a 2016 Olympian who won a silver medal in the 100m back and a gold medal swimming back on the 4x100 medley relay. "I've been able to have great support systems."
Baker, a Winston-Salem native who attended Forsyth Country Day School, began swimming with the Crazy Ducks when she was five years old. She is a rising junior at the University of California - Berkley. She said it's important to "take your God-given talent and work for it."
Baker acknowledged many people helped her achieve her goal, including not only family and coaches, but also doctors who treated her for Crohn's Disease as she trained for hours in the pool - who never told her she couldn't achieve her dream. She has become an advocate for others coping with chronic illnesses and hopes to inspire them to achieve all their dreams, she said.
"I've also learned that confidence is really important in success," Baker said. "You need to know you can accomplish it. You're always going to be competing wherever your life takes you. I think it's important we all know there's something to overcome. I was one of the few that got to accomplish my dream. I'm so thankful."
Student Success
Suarez echoed Baker's advice. For him, Crosby Scholars became the support network that not only helped him to begin to dream of college, but also guided him through the applications process. He graduated debt-free from Catawba College. He's been admitted on a full scholarship to Wake Forest University in medicinal chemistry.
'I came here at (age ) 4 from Mexico, " said Suarez, whose parents didn't graduate from high school. "I was bullied because of my skin color and lack of understanding of the English language. It was challenging. Besides being poor and being Hispanic, I had an emotionally abusive father. It was rough. Statistics say that a student like myself without a supportive father, without knowing the language, I was supposed to end up in jail. I'm not supposed to be here."
Suarez is just one of the 8,830 Crosby Scholars graduates that the organization has assisted in its 25 years as a college access program. It has helped prepare more than 31,000 middle school and high school students for successful college enrollment.
Crosby Scholars serves more than 10,000 students with grade level advising, admission essay review, financial aid workshops, individual guidance, mock interviews, college tours, SAT and ACT prep and other college preparation tools, said Trent Jernigan, chairman of the board of directors. In the last nine years, 100 percent of Crosby Scholars have graduated from high school, and 98 percent of seniors have enrolled immediately in a 2- to 4- year college. Students complied with school rules to commit to remaining drug free, and they completed more than 117,000 hours of community service this year.
The Breakfast of Champions is the annual kickoff of the Crosby Scholars Invitational Golf Tournament. The tournament raises funds for the Last Dollar Scholarships that are available to students with financial need and provide up to $1,200 for up to four years of college. Last year, Crosby Scholars awarded $719,382 in Last Dollar Scholarships. This year's tournament raised more than $300,000, despite being rained out. The tournament has been rescheduled for the 26th of September.
"We want to thank you and your family for all that you have done to continue to bring this great program to the students in this community, " Jernigan said to Kathryn Crosby, who in 1986 brought Bing Crosby's National Celebrity Golf Tournament to Bermuda Run. The Crosby Scholars Program began in 1992 by the organizers for The CROSY, which was hosted and coordinated by the Sara Lee Corporation, with corporate sponsors across the nation. It transitioned to an invitational golf tournament and continues to raise funds for Crosby Scholars.
It's a joy to see all of you this morning," Crosby said. "Working very hard comes easy to the people of this community."
For College. For Life.
Mona Lovett, president and CEO of Crosby Scholars, recalled Suarez told her that in middle school, he had seen students eating cupcakes in a classroom, and that's what piqued his interest in becoming a Crosby Scholar. She said he volunteered so often at programs, he became essential.
“It’s something he wanted to do to give back to Crosby Scholars,” Lovett said.
Suarez was invited to speak at a dinner for the program’s expansion into Rowan County, and that’s when the president of Catawba College heard his story and offered him a full scholarship.
“Students, you never know who’s watching,” Lovett said. “You never know who’s in the room and what opportunity will be presented to you.”
Crosby Scholars set him up for success, Suarez said.
“They told me I was worth more than I thought I was worth,” he said. “It blew my mind that someone cared so much for me. In the face of adversity, I overcame that adversity. The obstacle I couldn’t overcome was how to find that right path for college. That’s what Crosby did. Crosby Scholars empowered me. It’s no wonder their slogan says, ‘for college for life.’”