Country singer Niemann performs, funds raised at annual scholarship gala

by:JONATHAN BROOKSHIRE/Social Media Coordinator

It was a night full of opportunity and community at the 18th annual Scholarship Gala.

Hosted by the  South Plains College Foundation, the Gala was held on Feb. 27 at the Physical Education Complex on the Levelland campus to raise money for scholarships that students receive from the college.

“I am think I am an optimist, and I am also a realist, and I understand our economy right now, and it’s being challenged,” said Julie Gerstenberger, director of development and alumni relations at SPC. “We are totally blessed that we have had such success tonight.”

The Gala has raised a remarkable $180,000, according to Gerstenberger. That includes the 45 silent auction items that garnered more than $8,700, and $61,000 that was brought in by live auction items.

The 500-plus people who attended also contributed to the total, with each paying for a table or individual seats.

The elegant evening began at 6 p.m. Food catered by Great Western Dining was served at 6:30 p.m. The event also featured a live auction, silent auction, and a performance by former SPC student Jerrod Niemann.

Walking into the P.E. Complex, guests were greeted by Campus Ambassadors and directed past each of the silent auction items.

Among the items in the live auction was a bowie knife donated by former SPC faculty member, Darrel Raines. The knife featured a Barbados Ram horn and a Buckeye burl and sold for $10,000. An antique-style diamond ring, donated by Vickie Wisian, sold for $3,000, and a one-carat diamond necklace donated by Atchison’s Jewelry sold for $6,000. The last item that was sold in the live auction was a handmade guitar crafted and donated by  Darrell Grimes, former vice president for academic affairs at SPC.

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Jerrod Niemann performing at 18th Scholarship Gala on Feb. 27. JONATHAN BROOKSHIRE/PLAINSMAN PRESS

The custom electric guitar was also featured in the live performance by Niemann.

His performance included many of his favorite songs by past artists, songs that he helped write, and his own hit single, “Lover, Lover.”

“I wish there was a better word than surreal, but it’s so amazing!” Niemann said. “It’s amazing to be able to come here tonight and peek behind the curtain and see why I was lucky enough to have a scholarship.”

Niemann graduated with a degree in performing arts technology, with a commercial music option. He currently serves as a member of the commercial music advisory board.

“A couple years ago, I was lucky enough to become part of the advisory board of the commercial music program,” Niemann explained. “I had so much fun sitting around with other SPC alumni and other advisors trying to come up with ways to save money and to get the bang for the buck for the college.”

While attending the advisory board meetings, Niemann says he  asks the questions, “What could we have learned? What do we wish that we could’ve had? And what’s not here now that we wish the kids could have?” He says he is happy that he attended SPC, adding that there are only a handful of programs in the United States for commercial music. There are two in Nashville and the program at SPC.

Niemann describes SPC as an affordable college that has passionate staff and faculty. Niemann and his wife donated $10,000 during the evening to help SPC continue to change lives, according to Niemann.

Niemann describes the citizens of West Texas as “generous, gracious, kind and amazing people that care about what happens in their neighborhood.”

The night’s theme centered on unity through community and opportunity. The focus is to bring the SPC community to give opportunities to the thousands of students who attend the college so they can reach their goals.

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