Susan K. Preston Memorial Scholarship created for residents in COA’s Nurse Aide program

By on October 2, 2019

Caption (seated left to right): Amy Alcocer, Executive Director, COA Foundation; Gail Sonnesso, Founder and Executive Director, GEM Day Services, Inc.; Catherine Pfendler, Board Member, GEM Day Services, Inc.; Angelo Sonnesso, President, GEM Day Services, Inc. Board. (Standing left to right): Noel Preston, husband of the late Susan K. Preston; Tim Sweeney, Dean, Dare County Campus.

On September 25, College of The Albemarle (COA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with GEM Day Services, Inc. to create a restricted annual scholarship called the “Susan K. Preston Memorial Scholarship.”

The scholarship, established with a gift of $5,000, will provide funding for residents of Dare, Currituck and/or Tyrrell counties who are enrolled in the Nurse Aide program at COA, or who work as a Certified Nurse Aide.  Preference will be given to students who plan to work with dementia patients.

GEM Day Services, Inc. is a community based non-profit organization that offers a supportive environment for adults with memory loss, physical and mental disabilities, as well as those in need of socialization.  The scholarship is named after the late Susan K. Preston, an Outer Banks resident who passed away in 2018 after a courageous journey with frontotemporal dementia.

Mrs. Preston was a retired educator, a Dare County Master Gardener and a regular volunteer with Outer Banks Hotline.  Through military transitions across the globe, Mrs. Preston stayed very active in philanthropic work that included P.E.O. International and the American Red Cross, and one of her greatest honors was serving as an Arlington Lady at Arlington National Cemetery.

Mrs. Preston’s husband, Rear Admiral (ret.) Noel Preston, attended the signing and expressed his sincerity for honoring his late wife.  “The results of this scholarship will provide great benefits for people in our community,” Mr. Preston said.  “Gail Sonnesso and GEM have done so much for dementia patients and their caregivers on the Outer Banks.  This partnership between COA and GEM will build upon that work, and naming the scholarship after Susan is a special honor for a special lady.”

For more information on how to apply for scholarships at COA, visit or call 252-473-2264, ext. 2265.

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