Endowed Scholarship

College of The Albemarle Foundation Board of Directors Chairman Doug Gardner (left) and Northeast Academy for Aerospace and Advanced Technologies Chief Executive Officer Andrew Harris sign a memorandum of understanding for the Pailin Nicole Cheeks Memorial Scholarship Endowment.

The College of The Albemarle Foundation and the Northeast Academy for Aerospace and Advanced Technologies have joined forces to establish an endowed scholarship in memory of a NEAAAT student who died in an automobile accident in February 2018.

An agreement between the two schools was signed last week creating the Pailin Nicole Cheeks Memorial Endowed Scholarship. A signing ceremony was held at the NEAAAT campus in Elizabeth City.

The agreement described the endowed scholarship’s namesake as “a fun-loving soul who demonstrated every day what it means to be a positive force in the lives of others. From her electric smile to her always positive demeanor, Pailin (Nicole Cheeks) was a light to all those who knew her.”

To scholarship is designed to celebrate Cheeks’ life by helping support NEAAAT graduates who pursue a college or university degree.

Doug Gardner, chairman of the COA Foundation Board of Directors, said it’s exciting to have the Pailin Nicole Cheeks scholarship — which already has been awarded twice — now established as an endowed scholarship.

The Palin Nicole Cheeks scholarship fund was started in 2018. Total funds in the endowment are $20,278. The COA Foundation will maintain a minimum balance of $10,000.

Plans are for one scholarship of $1,000 to be awarded for academic years 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23.

After that, the scholarship will be awarded annually, with the COA Foundation Board of Directors deciding each year to award between 4 and 5 percent of the remaining balance.


Andrew Harris, chief executive officer of NEAAAT, said he hopes the community will help grow Pailin Nicole Cheeks scholarship. People are encouraged to continue to give to the fund, he said.

Melissa Copeland, whose family initiated the scholarship, was on hand for the ceremony. Her son dated Pailin, she said.

Also on hand was Christi Cheeks, Pailin Nicole Cheeks’ mother. Christi Cheeks said she appreciates the scholarship, believing it will help keep her daughter’s memory alive and allow her daughter to continue to help others.

“It keeps her name alive,” she said. “It keeps her in everybody’s memories. And she’s helping out.”

Gardner said COA offers practical programs that enable students to get good jobs. The college helps dreams to come true for students, he said.

“I do want to thank you on behalf of the College of The Albemarle for what you have done here,” Gardner said, referring to those who helped start the scholarship and contribute to the endowment The community is filled with wonderful, giving people, Gardner added.

To be eligible for the Pailin Nicole Cheeks Memorial Endowed Scholarship, applicants must be a current graduate of NEAAAT, show good character traits, a strong commitment to obtaining a college or university degree, and display a passion for making a positive difference in the lives of others. They also must have a grade-point average of 2.5 or higher.