Family uses fishing tournament proceeds to launch scholarship

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Following a successful fishing tournament fundraiser held last year, the friends and family of a popular late employee of Motts Channel Seafood in Wrightsville Beach will honor her memory the best way they know how: through education.

Starting in 2017, a New Hanover County student will apply $5,000 toward his or her education at Appalachian State University through the Mandie Phillips Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship fund will have an endowment of $25,000, meaning it will be there for years to come, following the Mandie Phillips Memorial Inshore/Offshore Fishing Tournament, hosted in October 2016 by Motts Channel Seafood, which raised a total of $30,000.

“The biggest fear when you lose someone is they’ll be forgotten,” said Allie Phillips of her sister Mandie, who died in a car accident in 2014. “We’ve made sure that’s never going to happen. That’s the best feeling in the world.”

When the owners of Motts Channel Seafood first learned that Phillips made the dean’s list at Appalachian State University in her first semester there, they were impressed, but not surprised.

“We were shocked when she said she wanted to study physics,” said Alison Long, the market’s co-owner. “She had such lofty goals. You believed her when she said she wanted to be the first female president.”

Earlier this month, the family met with Appalachian State officials to talk about how to set up the scholarship. While organizers originally envisioned awarding six scholarships of $5,000, they said that setting up an endowment offers the opportunity to provide a scholarship in Mandie Phillips’ name for years to come. When she died, Phillips was a senior at Appalachian State, majoring in political science with a minor in physics.

The scholarship will be merit based, taking into account the grades, activities and academic achievements of the awardees, with the only requirement being that it is a New Hanover County student attending Appalachian State. Last year, 47 students from New Hanover County attended the university located in Boone, North Carolina.

Phillips said her sister received a scholarship help to attend Appalachian State, so it’s fitting that her memory is tied to education at the school.

“She loved school, she talked about it all the time,” Phillips said of her sister. “It meant a lot to her.”

Long and Phillips also said they were overwhelmed with the support they received at last year’s tournament and plan on hosting it again in 2017. Those proceeds would be put toward the scholarship endowment, potentially growing the size and number of recipients for future scholarships.

Appalachian State will manage the fund, with a panel of school officials and students determining who will be awarded the scholarships, tournament organizers said. Phillips said allowing the school to manage the scholarship will ensure that it can be awarded impartially to a local student.

“They will set the criteria and they will select the recipients,” Phillips said of the panel. “It will go to someone who works hard and earned it, like Mandie did.”

Email terrylane@luminanews.com

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