Golden LEAF Scholars Luncheon Highlights Impact of Scholarships
Amear Moftah ’25 has always said he’s from Shelby, because most people don’t know where his small hometown of Mooresboro, North Carolina is. “But we just got a Dollar General,” said Moftah. “So we’re growing!”
Moftah, along with his classmate Joseph Ammons ’25, spoke about their small towns at a luncheon for Golden LEAF Scholarship recipients on Sept. 15 in Talley Student Union.
The LEAF in Golden LEAF stands for Long-Term Economic Advancement Foundation. Golden LEAF strives to “increase economic opportunity in North Carolina’s rural and tobacco-dependent communities.” Part of the nonprofit organization’s mission is investing in the young adults of these communities by providing resources for university education, in the hopes that those scholars will return to their homes with critical skills for rural advancement.
“More than half of Golden LEAF scholars return to their rural communities after graduation,” said Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer Scott T. Hamilton. “This is an important component of Golden LEAF’s strategy to help rural communities thrive by creating a future generation of skilled, educated workers to come back home to live, work and raise families.”
This statistic has surpassed original expectations, only further motivating the foundation to invest in students. This past year, the board voted to increase the annual amount awarded to each scholar.
The Golden LEAF Scholarship has been awarded to 140 NC State students across campus for the current school year. Since 1999, the foundation has given more than 6,000 scholarships across the UNC System and NC Independent Colleges and Universities campuses.
During the program, Hamilton reiterated the foundation’s commitment to fostering a strong community of scholars, from leadership development programs and internships to luncheons like the September one. This year’s event provided an opportunity for current scholars to meet leaders from Golden LEAF.
Attendees heard from Chancellor Randy Woodson, student scholars Ammons and Moftah, and Hamilton. Both Moftah and Ammons spoke about how Golden LEAF’s support is allowing them to build strong skills for post-graduation and inspiring them to give back to their hometowns.
What this [scholarship] translates to is economic freedom.
Ammons, a biological and agricultural engineering major, was able to complete an internship in his western North Carolina hometown of Mars Hill over the summer through the Golden LEAF Rural Internship Initiative, an opportunity for scholars to get paid by Golden LEAF for internships in rural North Carolina related to their area of study.
“I got to return to my roots because of this scholarship,” Ammons said.
“Using my new expertise to clean the waterways I grew up playing in is more meaningful than I could have imagined. It showed me how much my home needs workers like me and reminded me how much I love those mountains.”
Ammons and Moftah agreed that Golden LEAF goes above and beyond in connecting students back to their hometowns.
“Golden LEAF’s mission is to reduce the economic disadvantages that many rural communities face through education and empowerment of students like us,” said Moftah.
Moftah, a double major in crop science and agribusiness, spoke at the luncheon about how Golden LEAF is preparing him for future leadership roles in the soybean industry. This past year, instead of worrying about getting a job, he was able to get involved on campus and go on two academic trips out of state.
“Golden LEAF is helping me achieve my goals through money,” said Moftah. “That might sound simple, but what this translates to is economic freedom.”
“They give students like us the chance to grow into professionals who bring back economic opportunities to the countless little hometowns that made us who we are today.”
Beyond scholarships, Golden LEAF is enriching the Wolfpack community through other investments, such as the Plant Sciences Initiative. At $48.5 million, the funding Golden LEAF provided to support the new Plant Sciences Building was the largest ever grant to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and one of the largest to NC State.
Golden LEAF has been a natural partner for a land-grant mission university that also strives for success and prosperity for all North Carolinians, especially lifting up non-urban communities.