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First recipient named of Charles R. Preston Scholarship

First recipient named of Charles R. Preston Scholarship

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Gragg

Shown, from left, are CVCC Foundation Chairman David Sain, Carol Preston, Tatum Preston, Whit Preston, Charles R. Preston Scholarship recipient Dawson Gragg, Tom Briegel, Charlsye Preston-Briegel and CVCC President Garrett Hinshaw. They are standing in the machining lab in the Workforce Solutions Complex.

HICKORY — Catawba Valley Community College student Dawson Gragg has been named the recipient of the first-ever Charles R. Preston Scholarship through CVCC Foundation Inc.

Gragg has been attending the Computer Integrated Machining (CIM) program through the Workforce Solutions Complex at CVCC since August 2019, and he plans to finish his work in the CIM program and work in the automotive field making parts for custom cars.

Preference for the Charles R. Preston Scholarship was given to students involved in technological programs taught in the Workforce Solutions Complex — one of a number of projects at CVCC that the late Charles R. Preston was passionately instrumental in completing.

Gragg is thankful for the financial relief that this first-time scholarship is providing him in his path to receiving an education.

“I just think it’s an honor to receive a scholarship like this,” Gragg said.

“I’ve never gotten any scholarship. I’ve never had anything money-wise come to me like this. This will definitely help me out in the future for sure. I can’t thank them enough for doing this. It really means the world to me. To really help me out like this will push me further and further.”

Gragg was originally focused on a career as a full-time EMT and nurse following a nine-month stint as a volunteer fireman at his local fire department in Hudson, but after discovering the machining program at Catawba Valley Community College his career path changed drastically.

“The CIM degree gives me a great career path to do many things I have always wanted to do,” Gragg said. “I’m very thankful for the creation of the Workforce Solutions Complex, and I’m very thankful for those individuals like Mr. Preston who saw a need — both for the community and for the student — and worked so diligently to make it become a reality.”

Earlier this year, CVCC Foundation Inc. announced the establishment of the Charles R. Preston Scholarship Endowment with funds provided by the Preston family and memorial gifts. The scholarship honors the memory of the late Charles R. Preston, a community leader in the Catawba Valley region.

Preston’s leadership was paramount at Catawba Valley Community College where he served on the CVCC Board of Trustees, including being elected chair of the board in September 2013. 

Beyond his impact at CVCC, Preston was a community leader who was engaged civically — serving in political office and giving back to entrepreneurship, volunteerism and environmental causes. He received numerous awards including the state’s highest honor — The Order of the Long Leaf Pine — from the governor of North Carolina in July 2015.

Preston’s wife Carol and family including son, Whit Preston, and daughters,Tatum Preston and Charlsye Preston-Briegel and husband Tom were in attendance Thursday for the scholarship presentation held at the machining lab at the Workforce Solutions Complex — one of the late leader’s favorite places on campus.

“Charles was passionate throughout his life about access to education for everyone and the power of education to change people’s lives,” said Carol Preston. “He was very involved with Catawba Valley Community College and especially the Workforce Solutions Complex. We wanted — as a family — to remember and honor him by creating this scholarship. We are grateful to everyone who contributed and worked to make this happen. We know he would be honored, and we are pleased to present this inaugural scholarship to Dawson Gragg.”

As the recipient of the Charles R. Preston Scholarship, Gragg receives $1,000 for tuition, books, insurance, and fees.

If you would like to make a gift to the Charles R. Preston Scholarship, contact Teresa Biggs, executive director of the CVCC Foundation Inc., at 828-327-7000, ext. 4288 or tbiggs@cvcc.edu. You may also mail a check to the CVCC Foundation, Inc., 2550 Highway 70 SE, Hickory, NC 28602.

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