Shane Fogarty excelled at GECHS and Gaston College, and will attend NC State with the help of a scholarship from the SECU Foundation

Senior Shane Fogarty graduated at the top of the Gaston Early College High School Class of 2020, and on May 15 he also completed his Associate in Engineering degree by taking mostly upper-level math and science courses at Gaston College. GECHS offers Gaston County students the opportunity to receive a high school diploma while working toward an associate degree from Gaston College.Male posing outside

“I decided to attend Gaston Early College High School because I knew I would benefit from the tight-knit and highly motivated students and staff,” said Fogarty. “The rigorous course of study at GECHS and the many opportunities to get involved with clubs and community service made the decision to attend early college much easier. Plus, I feel more prepared to attend a four-year university since I have already taken college classes and learned how to navigate a college campus.”

One of the clubs in which he participated was the Gaston College Student Government Association. Being a senator in the organization helped Fogarty develop leadership skills. “SGA not only allowed me to grow as a leader,” he said, “but it also introduced me to amazing Gaston College faculty, fellow senators, and executive board members. Without SGA, I would not have gained the valuable experiences of event-organizing, effective communication, and team-building.”

Those skills contributed to Fogarty being selected as one of eight Gaston County high school seniors who received the People Helping People Scholarship presented by the State Employees Credit Union Foundation. The scholarship, valued at $10,000, is awarded to students who have achieved excellence in academics and community involvement, and who exhibit good character, leadership and integrity.

Recipients of the scholarship are selected by North Carolina Local Education Agencies/School Districts. The scholarship committee for the Gaston County School District felt that Shane’s essay epitomized what SECU was looking for in their People Helping People essay. “The work Shane has done with Teens Changing Gaston County has been all on his own and is a powerful way to make a difference in a community,” said the committee. “Shane didn’t just go somewhere and volunteer. He designed the actual volunteer opportunity, wrote the grant and then implemented the volunteer opportunity. He is a strong leader with great empathy and passion for helping others.”

The scholarship will help financially when Fogarty attends NC State University beginning in fall 2020. He plans to major in architecture. “It meant a lot to receive the SECU scholarship,” he said. “Of course, it was nice to see my hard work pay off, but I also appreciate SECU’s investment in my future. As an architecture major, I will have a minimum of four or five years of undergraduate education to become accredited. With the addition of expensive materials for studio-based classes, the SECU scholarship certainly takes a weight off my shoulders.”

Although Fogarty has not yet fully visualized the direction he would like his architectural career to take, he said, “I hope that my career as an architect will entail the values of leadership, teamwork, and community involvement that I have learned from Gaston College and GECHS.”

The coronavirus pandemic has prevented GECHS and Gaston College 2020 graduates from seeing their educational journeys culminate in graduation ceremonies where friends and families can celebrate their hard work and achievements. Fogarty has words of support for his classmates. “I know these are difficult times for everyone,” he said, “but I sincerely hope that my fellow graduates realize the magnitude of their accomplishments. Admittedly, graduating within the boundaries of what COVID-19 will allow us to do is not ideal. Despite this, I hope that the class of 2020’s takeaway is that we can overcome any obstacle, count on our community to uplift us, make the best of a bad situation, and even thrive amidst a pandemic.”

About Gaston College

Gaston College is one of 58 community colleges in the North Carolina Community College System. Serving both Gaston and Lincoln counties, Gaston College enrolls approximately 8,000 students each term in curriculum programs and averages over 17,000 annually in its Economic and Workforce Development and Continuing Education programs. Gaston College offers over 100 fields of study to obtain a degree, diploma or certificate. To learn more about the College’s services and programs, visit the Gaston College website at

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