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Gordon creates Highlanders Scholars Program

Gordon State College (GSC) has announced that it received a total gift of $500,000 from the Cadence Bank Foundation; Georgia Power Foundation; and Joseph W. Evans, a member of the Cadence Bank board of directors, to establish the Highlanders Scholars Program (HSP). The HSP is a regional access experience that will identify, support and nurture 14 Associate in Science graduates who will continue their studies at Georgia Tech starting their junior year.

The HSP provides an essential entry point into higher education for talented scholars from the College’s 14-county primary service region seeking a local start to their engineering pathway. Candidates will be nominated yearly in January with a 14-scholar cohort announced each March.

A recent study commissioned by the Jack Kent Cook Foundation shows that students who complete associate degree programs and transfer to selective institutions have equal-to-higher graduation rates versus students who either enrolled directly from high school or transferred from other four-year institutions.

“We at Gordon State College are thrilled to lead this project, which will provide engineering education to those who have been historically underrepresented in STEM majors. We deeply appreciate the work of the Cadence Bank Foundation, Georgia Power Foundation and especially Joe Evans for funding a project that will transform lives,” said GSC Interim President, Donald J. Green. “We look forward to expanding this program in the future and providing more talent to grow Georgia’s economy.”

Each HSP scholar will receive an award covering 100% of tuition, including room and board, while enrolled at GSC. They will attend a mandatory pre-freshman and a six-week summer bridge program, where they will prepare for the new expectations and requirements of college courses while in a close-knit peer group. The scholars will also conduct a research internship focused on solving a local issue within GSC’s 14-county primary service region.

“More than 140 years ago, our company was developed by neighbors helping neighbors, and we’re proud to carry on this strong legacy of community support,” said Dan Rollins, chairman and CEO of Cadence Bank. “With this gift, the bank aims to play a significant role in enhancing Gordon State College’s reputation as a leading educational institution and fostering a more diverse and inclusive STEM workforce.”

Rita Breen, executive director of the Georgia Power Foundation, said that by investing in the HSP, they are empowering the future workforce in the state.

“We are excited to partner with Gordon State College to increase the number of underrepresented students studying in STEM disciplines,” Breen said.

A Georgia Tech faculty mentor will be paired with each scholar during the first two years at GSC and will ultimately become their faculty advisor upon transferring to the institute.
To learn more about the Highlanders Scholars Program, visit

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