50 for 50

Wanda and Ollie Sweeney — Helping Sandhills make dreams come true

Larry Allen

Sandhills is extremely fortunate to have the strong support of people who have come to this area to retire, people who enthusiastically help Sandhills continue to change lives through education. Excellent examples are Wanda and Ollie Sweeney who moved to Pinehurst from Raleigh in 1999 after Mrs. Sweeney retired from education and Mr. Sweeney from a career with IBM.  

“I grew up in Candor and from 20 miles away watched Sandhills being built,” remembers Mrs. Sweeney, who was a teacher and instructional resource person in Raleigh. “From the beginning, Sandhills was an outstanding school.” The Sweeneys, huge fans of education, learned more about Sandhills from their visits to the area and in talking to Mrs. Sweeney’s brother, Harlan McCaskill, Sandhills’ first Dean of Continuing Education. The Sweeneys became members of the Sandhills Guarantors Program. “Guarantors remove the obstacles that students face in getting an education,” Mr. Sweeney says.

The Sweeneys’ strong belief in the power of education has motivated them to also support five endowed scholarships. “Our first was a technology information scholarship in 1999,” says Mr. Sweeney. “Another scholarship allowed a Sandhills graduate to continue his education at UNC-Greensboro.”

The Sweeneys have enjoyed meeting scholarship recipients at the annual dinner for donors and students. “We talk with students and alumni who tell us how education makes dreams come true,” says Mrs. Sweeney. “We’re thrilled with Dr. Dempsey’s leadership, including keeping those who give involved with the school.

Because of their contributions, the Sweeneys are now members of SUMMA and The Mary Luman Meyer Society, a group of donors who have supported the students and the mission of the college at the highest level.

Mrs. Sweeney’s importance to the school also includes serving as a GED instructor for 13 years. Both Sweeneys have also attended enrichment classes at Sandhills.

This area is lucky to have Sandhills, a school that always puts the needs of students first,” Mr. Sweeney concludes.


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