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RT Students Receive Morris Scholarships

WINTERVILLE—A pair of Pitt Community College Respiratory Therapy students were among the six recipients of the North Carolina Association of Respiratory Educators’ Tom Morris Scholarships this month.

Second-year students Travis White and Tracey Whitley were notified Feb. 8 that they had been selected to receive the $500-awards, which will be presented Thursday at the High Country Conference for Respiratory Care in Blowing Rock.

“To have two of six scholarship recipients from PCC is wonderful,” said PCC Respiratory Therapy Program Director Wendy Ayscue. “Travis and Tracey are great representatives of the caliber of student we like to have enter the workforce. They will make excellent respiratory therapists beginning in May, and this scholarship will greatly assist in completing the requirements for their credentialing exams and state licensure.”

A total of 35 students representing 10 community colleges applied for the Morris Scholarships, which are awarded to deserving first- or second-year respiratory therapy students who demonstrate academic success and/or financial necessity.

White, who lives in Greenville, is on track to graduate in May. A member of several respiratory care organizations, he has recorded a 3.53 GPA and was the 2015 recipient of PCC’s Dr. Robert Shaw Respiratory Therapy Scholarship. He was also elected vice president of the PCC Association of Respiratory Therapy Students (PARTS).

Having lost a grandfather and aunt to lung cancer and another grandfather to emphysema, White says his eyes were opened to respiratory disease at a young age.

“I decided early that I wanted to go into health care, motivated by the drive to help others and their families overcome similar hardships that my family and I went through,” he said.

A Dean’s List student from Ayden, Whitley has posted a 3.7 GPA at Pitt and is also on track to graduate this spring. She is a member of the American Association of Respiratory Care and the N.C. Society for Respiratory Care and also serves as recording secretary for PARTS.

Whitley, who served in the Navy for six years as a photojournalist, says she decided to pursue a career in respiratory care after the “most influential person” in her life, her grandmother, was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2012.

“I wanted to learn anything and everything I could to understand her disease process and help her,” Whitley said. “When asked why I decided to transition from the military to this career field, that is the short answer. However, now that I’m in the program, my eyes have been opened to boundless possibilities.”

Each applicant for the Tom Morris Scholarship was required to complete an application and one-page essay explaining why he or she should be chosen for the scholarship. Among several other criteria, the application selection committee considered each applicant’s demonstration of a positive attitude, good character, integrity, responsibility and commitment.