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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Hard-working twins benefit from Carolina Family Scholarship

Kyle, left, and Kevin Cheek with their mother, Karen Jenkins-Cheek

Kyle, left, and Kevin Cheek with their mother, Karen Jenkins-Cheek. Photo by Ronda Manuel

UNC Pembroke juniors and identical twins Kevin and Kyle Cheek spend their summers in Chapel Hill working at the University to make their college experience possible.

For the past two summers, the Sanford natives performed maintenance work throughout residence halls across campus with the facilities’ team.

The opportunity to work on campus not only provides funds for their education, but it also gives them the opportunity to spend summers with their mother Karen Jenkins-Cheek, a 15-year veteran with the Department of Parking and Transportation.

The Cheek brothers work hard to stay in college and maintain high grades. In recognition of their outstanding academic credentials and to ease the financial burden of paying tuition, they have been awarded $2,000 for each of the past two years from the Carolina Family Scholarship.

“The Carolina Family Scholarship has been extremely helpful because it provided us with money that we did not have,” Kevin said. “We probably would not have been able to go to school if we didn’t have this scholarship.”

Saving the scholarship

The scholarship, which was established more than 10 years ago, provides need-based aid to employees’ dependents that they can use at any of the 17 campuses in the UNC system or 59 institutions in the North Carolina Community College System.

A year ago, the future of the Carolina Family Scholarship appeared tenuous. Bruce Egan, one of the original organizers of the scholarship, who had retired, asked the Employee Forum to champion and promote the scholarship to ensure its continued success.

Jenkins-Cheek, a long-time Employee Forum delegate herself, said she was excited the forum responded to Egan’s call.

“I am honored that someone paved the way and now the forum can continue to carry the torch,” Jenkins-Cheek said.

As a mother of four children, including two daughters in high school, she always taught her children the importance of getting a college education.

“All of my children have excelled in their academics, A/B honor roll, and have done really well in their scholastic achievements,” she said. “I am proud of all of them.”

Paying it forward

Kevin and Kyle are both majoring in biology and minoring in psychology. They are active in Life Group, a student organization that provides them with the opportunity to discuss life situations from a biblical and religious perspective.

They have participated in the university’s gospel choir and have set their sights on graduate school. Both brothers aspire to attend the UNC Physician Assistant Program through the Department of Allied Health Sciences. They believe this will be a chance for them to give back to their community, an important value in their family.

She believes the Carolina Family Scholarship shows great support from the University to employees, but emphasized
faculty and staff can provide support as well.

“If someone is able to provide and help you, then you pay it forward,” Jenkins-Cheek said. “You give back and donate money to help someone that is in financial need. Paying it forward is a big thing for me and my family.

“I would strongly encourage all faculty and staff members that believe in education for our future to financially support the Carolina Family Scholarship Fund.”

If you’d like to learn more about ways that you can support other families in the Carolina community through the Carolina Family Scholarship Fund, please contact the Employee Forum at employeeforum@unc.edu.