Twenty years after the first cohort of Golden LEAF Scholars received their awards, our community now includes several thousand alumni. These individuals are leaders all over the state of North Carolina, living out the values of the Golden LEAF Scholarship as teachers, bankers, doctors, lawyers, consultants, scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, and more. They remain a vibrant and committed group of individuals who significantly contribute to North Carolina’s rural communities.

Alumni Spotlight

Stokes County native Samantha Bowen is a High School Science Teacher at South Stokes High School. She received her bachelor’s degree in History and minored in Chemistry and Spanish at UNC-Chapel Hill.

When asked what helped her decide to live and work in a rural area, Samantha shared, “I probably would not have chosen to live or work in a rural area had it not been for my Golden LEAF internships. My first job out of college was at the UNC School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. While I enjoyed living and working in the Chapel Hill/Durham area, I missed the sense of community that I had felt with my neighbors and coworkers when completing my summer internships in my home county. After about six months in this position, I decided to move back to Stokes County and pursue a career in teaching. I love working in my rural community because of the close relationships that I am able to build with the people I work with and on behalf of.”

Samantha’s hope for rural North Carolina is for it to “be perceived as a place of opportunity for all North Carolinians, but especially those that grew up there.” She went on to share that “Many young people feel that they need to leave behind their rural roots and move to an urban area in order to achieve their career goals and be successful. I think this narrative can be changed through persistent leadership, targeted investment, and a strong vision for a brighter future.”

Check out Samantha’s full spotlight.

Alumni Regional Events

In the next year, Golden LEAF will host three regional events to connect, engage, and inspire alumni. Check this page for event updates!

Western Alumni Event: October 2, 2022 [postponed]

Central Alumni Event: February 2023

Eastern Alumni Event: April 2023