Sponsors for Academic Talent, Inc. - History
The Sponsors for Academic Talent, Inc. (S.A.T.) program began in 1984. Mrs. Mary Morgan, and her her husband, Dr. Ken Morgan, believed that there were not enough scholarships available recognizing excellent academic, community-service oriented and well-rounded students as compated to other specified scholarships in areas such as athletics and music. After some reserach, it was decided to model this new scholarship after the Morehead Scholarship program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which rewards students with academic excellence and extra-curricular activities, as well as, participation in athletics, church and civic activies. Mrs. Morgan presented this idea, now known as the S.A.T. Scholarship program, to the Onslow County Board of Education and to the Superintendent and staff at the County Office, where it was unaimously endorsed.
Mr. Mike McMillan, the editor of the Jacksonville Daily News at the time, was the first President of S.A.T. The first treasurer was Mrs. Vera Piner, and she has continued to volunteer and lend her expertise to this day!
The difficult part of the program was to begin raising funds. Mrs. Morgan and a staff member of the Board of Education volunteered for this enormous job. The met with Mr. Alvin Morton of Jones-Onslow Electric Membership Corporation, which led to the first donation of $5,000. The second contribution was from the phone company of the time - Carolina Tel and Tel - by Mr. Grady Strickland. Through the tireless efforts of Mrs. Morgan, including many phone calls and visits to civic organizations, $43,646 was raised. A total of $41,000 was distributed in 1985, the first year of the program, with each deserving scholar receiving a $500 scholarship.
In the early 1990's, Dr. Kay Gresham became the executive director of the S.A.T. program. Her untiring efforts and outgoing personality made her the perfect person to successfully carry the program forward. Dr. Gresham continued in that capacity until her untimely death in 2013.
To date, $2,867,500 has been raised and $1,867,500 has been awarded to hundreds of worthy Onslow County students. Some of this money has been generously donated through endowed scholarships in honor or in memory of many distinguished individuals.