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Tomas family endows scholarship at SCC

SYLVA – In his role as president of Southwestern Community College, Dr. Don Tomas has seen up close the impact a hand up can have on students as they work toward college degrees.

That’s the main reason he and his wife, Allison, are setting up the Allison and Don Tomas Endowed Scholarship Fund In Memory of Amy DuBose McGehee and William Joseph Tomas through the SCC Foundation.

“Southwestern is a unique college where many amazing people pursue their dreams,” said Dr. Tomas, who became president in 2011. “This college has become very special to Allison and me over the years, and we want to extend a hand up to help future students achieve their educational goals.”

It’s the first time an SCC president has set up an endowed scholarship while in office. Full-time students accepted into one of SCC’s Health Sciences programs, including the WNC RIBN Nursing Program, are eligible to apply for the scholarship.

“Don and I both lost a sibling during our childhood years, so we decided to endow this scholarship in memory of his brother William and my sister Amy,” Allison Tomas said. “They remain close to our hearts, and it is an honor naming this endowment in their memories.”

During Dr. Tomas’ tenure, the SCC Foundation has grown exponentially to assist more students than ever. Toward the end of his first year as president, SCC was only able to award $23,000 in scholarship assistance. This year, SCC awarded a record $191,000 to 164 scholarship recipients.

The SCC Foundation’s assets have more than doubled (from $3.3 million to $7.6 million) in Dr. Tomas’ time at Southwestern, and the college has nearly tripled the number of endowed scholarships (from 21 to 59) over the same span. 

To reach endowed status, a scholarship fund at SCC must reach a threshold of at least $15,000.

Allison Tomas has also taken on an active role with the SCC Foundation and has been a part of the annual fundraising gala’s planning committee every year since the event’s inception in 2014.

That event alone has raised more than $500,000 over the years.

“Dr. and Mrs. Tomas have always placed fundraising for student scholarships at the top of their priority list,” said Brett Woods, Director of the SCC Foundation. “It is a privilege to serve in this capacity with a leader who wholeheartedly embraces the value of supporting student success through scholarships.”

For information about the Allison and Don Tomas Endowed Scholarship Fund In Memory of Amy DuBose McGehee and William Joseph Tomas, contact Woods at 828.339.4241 or


For more than 55 years, Southwestern Community College has served Jackson, Macon, Swain Counties, and the Qualla Boundary in Western North Carolina by providing a wide range of educational options for residents in all stages of life.

SCC has been ranked among the nation’s Top 10 community colleges six times in the last 15 years – including a No. 1 ranking in’s listing of the “Best Community Colleges & Trade Schools of 2020.”

Through a supportive learning environment, Southwestern offers more than 40 degree programs (including more than 90 credentialing options, 28 of which are offered online) in Health Sciences, Arts and Sciences/College Transfer and Career Technologies.

A variety of community resources – including the Small Business Center, Workforce Continuing Education and Career Services – are also available.

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