Letter to the Editor
Sunday, December 9, 2018
This holiday season, I am writing to express the gratitude of the Crosby Scholars staff and board to our compassionate community for allowing us to further our goal of building a college-going culture in Rowan County.
At the end of our fifth year, our integral partnerships with Rowan-Salisbury Schools, Catawba College, Livingstone College and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College continue to flourish. Ongoing support from generous community foundations and local businesses contributes to the success of the program, which has now served over 6,300 students since 2013.
Through the sustaining support of Goodwill Industries of NWNC, F&M Bank, Wells Fargo Bank and community families like Fred and Alice Stanback, Nancy Stanback, Greg and Missie Alcorn, Larry Cloninger, Tom & Martha Smith, Robert & Jennifer Canipe, Owen & Elizabeth Norvell, Edward & Susan Norvell and many others, we have been able to enhance our services and increase our reach to the students who stand to benefit most from our program.
This fall, we sent 145 Crosby Scholars from the Class of 2018 off to 39 different colleges and universities. We are thankful for the sponsors and attendees of our BBQ, Bands & Boots fundraisers, who have helped make it possible to award $286,500 in Last Dollar Grants to our graduates over the past three years.
And perhaps most importantly, we are thankful to our students for putting their trust in the Crosby Scholars program and for giving us the privilege of walking alongside as they pursue the dream of higher education.
— Jessica Vess
Executive director, Rowan County Crosby Scholars
Rowan County Crosby Scholars
Rowan County Crosby Scholars, through the support of donors and community partners, awarded 138 graduates a $1,000 Last Dollar Grant to help finance their college education.
• Ethan Diaz, Elizabeth Haff, Logan Ridenhour and Paige Sloop, Appalachian State University.
• Mikayla Lambeth, Cabarrus College of Health Sciences.
• Will Anthony, Irma Begic, Andrea Garrido-Lecca, Darreon Gittens, Trilby Kirk, Drew Kisamore, Henderson Lentz, Autumn McGee, Katelyn Nesbitt, Jodi Nesbitt, McKenzie Upright, Lyshet Valencia and Tiffany Vang, Catawba College.
• Javin Goodine, Clemson University.
• Dominque Karczewski, Coastal Carolina University.
• Mackenzie Stall, College of Charleston.
• Ceci Cardelle, Duke University.
• Jailene Aguilar, Graham Bowes, Clarence Brownell, Joseph Dufour, Keshone Evans, Madi Fuller, Donté Hill, Alicia Kincaid, Chandler Lippard, East Carolina University.
• Destiny White, Gardner-Webb University.
• Marvin Scruggs and Rylie Stewart, Greensboro College.
• Tessa Nicolosi, Guilford Technical Community College.
• Micah Helms, Brandon Kimberlin, Mackenzie Reid, High Point University.
• Jamarius Hairston, Lander University.
• Fuller Ketchie, Lee University.
• Hannah Cargill, Lees-McRae College.
• Keelee Morgan, Liberty University.
• Jessica Eagle, Mitchell Community College.
• Bailey Graham and Cierra Hunter, Montreat College.
• Jibri Cowan, Shanadia Cowan, Keke Daniels, Quan Jackson, N.C. A&T State University.
• Taelor Davis and Shanice Miller, N.C. Central University.
• Tristyn Flowers, Devin Gay, Mercy Kreul, Bekah Lippard, Mikayla Mather, Baily Rayfield, Cameron Rayfield, Garrison Seitz, N.C. State University.
• Elizabeth Medina-Diaz, Ohio State University.
• Jonathan Brindle Jr., Marissa Meadors, Ivy Rabon, Kayla Smith, Bri White, Matthew Zucchero, Pfeiffer University.
• Emma Cooler, Daniel Garcia-Lopez, Queens University.
• Lindsey Cox, Christian Deneen, Mcgwire Smith, Khalil Vinson, Maddie Woodward, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.
• Jessica Driver, Salem College.
• Bethany Raynes, University of North Carolina at Asheville.
• Alex Burnham, Keegan Dillon, Makayla Dillon, Alex Ho, Susannah Horton, Amanda Patton, Lunar Singsomphone, Timmy Wilmot, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
• Aunika Allen, Kendré Bates, Allyson Baxter, Kelsey Borras, Dante Cataldo, Connor Childers, Nicole Cook, Anna Cox, Andrew Eller, Lydia Isaacs, Kalea Kennedy, Kaitlyn McCombs, Miguel Miller, Dillon Minehart, Angelina Palacios, Radha Patel, Ethan Rhodes, Jon Ritchey, Conrad Shugart, Elizabeth Thao, University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
• Dhasan Boler, Taylor Ellis, Miyahka Farris, Madison Full, Zach Hamm, Katie Howard, Julissa Pineda-tinajero, Jesus Sanchez, Deedee Woazeah, University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
• Madison Humphries, University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
• Julianna Cox, Hailey Overcash, Kaya Peele, Elena Turnbull, Hanna Venable, University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
• Abby Johnson, Virginia Tech.
• Taylor Wiggins and Robert Yount, Wake Forest University.
• Gisselle Anaya-Castillo, Evelyn Benitez-Repreza, Morgan Brown, Megan Driver, Eileen Nguyen, Levi Peterson, Alexis Witt, Daniel Woomer, Western Carolina University.
• Joe Brooks, Megan Huffman, Bryson Pope, Wingate University.
• Janae Bates, Jaylen Brown, Briana Dummett, Amarriya Harris, Khalil Oglesby, TJ Warren IV, Winston-Salem State University.
SALISBURY — Rowan County Crosby Scholars will enter the 2018-19 school year under new leadership. Jessica Vess, 39, will succeed Jennifer Canipe as the nonprofit agency’s new captain.
Canipe announced her retirement in May, and Vess, a former Crosby Scholars employee, was asked to step in as interim executive director. Canipe encouraged Vess to put her name in the pot for the permanent job.
“’If there’s anything in you that wants this job, you need to apply for it,’” Vess said Canipe told her.
Vess said she was “humbled and flattered” to be chosen.
Vess describes herself as “an East Coast girl,” as her family moved frequently when she was young. Around the time Vess started middle school, her family settled in the Chapel Hill area and chose to call it home.
Though she has an eclectic background that includes business, college admissions, youth ministry and music, Vess said her passion has always been college access and helping young people figure out their goals in life.
Vess earned her degree in business administration in 2000 from Chowan University and immediately accepted a job in the school’s admissions office.
“So that’s really about the time that I fell in love with college access,” she said.
She married her husband, Jeremy, in 2002, and the couple moved to Nashville, then to Salisbury to be near Jeremy’s family. Vess dabbled in music, worship ministry and youth ministry before accepting a job at Crosby Scholars in 2013.
Despite her other jobs, Vess said her passion has always been college access. But at the time, there were no local positions open.
“I wanted to find that avenue, but (Salisbury) hadn’t really presented it to me,” she said.
When Crosby Scholars was launched in 2013, Vess came on board as a program associate. It was Crosby Scholars’ first year, and the program were still fluid. But Vess said she’s been proud to watch it grow.
“It’s really neat to have been involved in this program from its infancy,” she said.
Vess held several jobs at Crosby Scholars before leaving to be a full-time mom to her newborn daughter, Josie, in 2016. But her stint ended on a high note, with her overseeing the program’s first crop of seniors — the same students Vess had worked with throughout their high school careers.
“To really be with them the whole way was a really neat experience,” she said.
Even juggling motherhood and worship ministry, Vess still volunteered with Crosby Scholars. She ran training, helped with the website and social media, and offered her expertise whenever asked.
“I still had my hands in that work,” she said.
When Canipe called and asked if Vess would serve as interim executive director, she agreed.
“Jennifer contacted me and asked if I would help in this transition period,” Vess said.
Now, Vess is excited to take Rowan County Crosby Scholars into the future — but she knows Canipe’s departure has left a void in the organization.
“She’s a powerhouse,” Vess said of Canipe. “…At first it was a little bit overwhelming, the shoes I was being asked to fill. Now I look at it as standing on her shoulders instead of filling her shoes.”
A change in leadership won’t result in any hard and fast changes in the organization, Vess said. Crosby Scholars is modeled after a program in Forsyth County, a model Vess plans to uphold. But there are small ways to innovate, she said.
The Crosby Scholars staff is constantly searching for new ways to reach more students and to help students meet their goals, she said.
“There’s always new ways to go about trying to meet those goals,” she said.
Vess hopes to cultivate deeper relationships with the school system — particularly with the guidance and career and technical education departments.
“Those are some things I’d love to see our program tackle in the future,” she said.
In the meantime, Vess and others at Crosby Scholars will continue to get the word out about the program.
“We’re always educating the county on who we are, what we do and how we can help,” she said.
While she has no concrete vision for the program, Vess does have dreams. Her biggest one, she said, is that every Rowan County student would consider Crosby Scholars a resource at their disposal and that the program would “bring hope and a future” to any student considering college or their future — in any form.
“So that’s where we want to come in,” Vess said. “We want to support them on all fronts. … We want to make magic for people.”