Biotech Student Receives Taylor Scholarship

Greg Ackerson - Taylor Scholarship graphic

WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College student Gregory Ackerson was recently announced as one of five recipients of this year’s Samuel M. Taylor Memorial Life Sciences Scholarship.

Ackerson, a Winterville resident, is in his second year of PCC’s biotechnology program and is on track to graduate in May. He has received $1,500 through the scholarship to cover tuition, fees and books.

“(Gregory) is definitely one of our star students,” said PCC Biotechnology Department Chair Christy Weeks.

After working in the construction industry most of his life, the 42-year-old Ackerson said he decided to further his education to make a better life for himself and his family.

“Going back to school was a tough decision for me, but one I am glad I made,” he said. “… It took me a while to figure out exactly what I wanted to do, but I feel confident about the decision to pursue an associate in applied science degree in biotechnology. I really enjoy working in the lab, and I plan to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry.”

Ackerson says the Taylor Scholarship will “help lift some of the financial burden” associated with pursuing his educational goals as a full-time student with a family.

“I dedicate a lot of my time to my studies and spend my free time with my children,” he said. “I want to teach my children by example that education is important. Receiving this scholarship will help me in my efforts.”

This is the second year Samuel M. Taylor Memorial Life Sciences Scholarships have been presented to North Carolina community college students enrolled in life sciences programs, such as biotechnology, biopharmaceutical technology and medical laboratory technology. The awards were established with the N.C. Community Colleges Foundation to honor the late Sam Taylor, a long-time NC Biosciences Organization (NCBIO) president who died of pancreatic cancer last year.

NCBIO has set a goal of raising $250,000 to create an endowed fund that will provide at least four scholarships a year in perpetuity.

“We are so gratified by all the organizations and individuals who have stepped up to honor Sam’s legacy and extend our sincere thanks to them,” said NCBIO President Laura Gunter. “He knew that an educated and qualified workforce is needed to drive the discovery and innovation for which the industry is known. He especially wanted our state’s citizens to have the educational opportunities and resources they need to have outstanding careers in the life sciences.”

Among his many noteworthy achievements, Taylor was instrumental in the establishment of the NCBioImpact training program to support the growth of biopharma manufacturing in North Carolina and ensure training opportunities for state residents seeking careers in the industry. BioNetwork, the N.C. Community College System’s life science training initiative, is a key member of the NCBioImpact collaborative.