Mullen Holland & Cooper Scholarship awarded to Gaston College student Irma Palencia
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Irma Palencia Receives Mullen Holland and Cooper Scholarship

Mullen Holland & Cooper Scholarship awarded to Gaston College student Irma Palencia

Gaston College student Irma Palencia has been announced as the 2017-2018 recipient of the Mullen Holland & Cooper Scholarship, which was established by the Gastonia-based law firm of Mullen Holland & Cooper, PA, to provide financial assistance to promising paralegal students at Gaston College.Irma Palencia photo

“We have seen firsthand the quality graduates from Gaston College,” said Jason Shoemaker, a partner at MHC and coordinator of community relations. “MHC strongly believes that investing in education ensures a successful future for our community. The MHC philosophy ‘All Things Law Since 1950’ not only describes the Firm’s history and diverse legal practice, it also embodies our commitment to community we live, work, and serve. Students like Ms. Palencia exemplify the dedication and hard work that has such a meaningful impact in the legal profession and beyond.”

Palencia is extremely grateful for the scholarship. “Receiving the scholarship was a blessing, literally,” she said. “It means wonderful people care about others’ education. It means someone out there believes in my dreams and in me. Sometimes we can’t see the potential we have within us, but others do. It means…hope.”

In 2016, Palencia received the prestigious Governor’s NCWorks Award of Distinction as the Outstanding Workforce Development Young Adult. She was recognized for the hard work and determination to succeed which led her to overcome many hardships and difficulties and earn her Adult High School Diploma. She entered Gaston College in the Pre-Nursing program, but decided to change to the Paralegal Technology program due to her job as a Bilingual Advocate with The Shelter of Gaston County.

“I saw the need for bilingual people in court and I’m able and capable of helping,” Palencia said. “I want to be able to help people who face daily language barriers in my community. It’s also fun to know the law and how to find the law. It’s constantly changing.” She will get her Paralegal Associate degree in spring 2019, and hopes to find a paralegal position with an immigration law firm in Gastonia or Charlotte. Her educational goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree and become a certified interpreter paralegal for an immigration firm.

The Mullen Holland & Cooper Scholarship Fund contributes at least $500 annually to the Gaston College Foundation for the purpose of providing financial assistance to a student who meets the eligibility requirements. To be eligible, the student must be currently enrolled in Gaston College, be actively pursuing a paralegal degree, and have achieved a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 at the time of application for the scholarship. The Gaston College Scholarship Selection Committee, in consultation with the Office of the Vice President of Student Services and Enrollment Management, is charged with vetting scholarship applicants.

One $500 scholarship will be awarded annually and the funds, payable in two $250 installments, will be credited to a student account set up to reimburse Gaston College for the student’s educational expenses including, but not limited to, tuition, fees, or books. Scholarships are not renewable for a second year.

For more information about scholarship opportunities at Gaston College, go to

If you would like information about establishing a scholarship to benefit students at Gaston College, please contact Julia Allen, Executive Director of the Gaston College Foundation, Inc., at 704-922-6511 or


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