Ross Fellowship Recipient Grateful for Opportunities and Rights

For Immediate Release:
November 2, 2016

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 540-868-7134

Sherando High School Graduate Awarded LFCC’s Prestigious Ross Fellowship

Future pharmacist studies, works, and serves others

LFCC student and Ross Fellowship for Service and Scholarship recipient Mark Layden is looking forward to casting his first general election vote in next week’s presidential race. As a naturalized U.S. citizen, the 2015 Sherando High School graduate doesn’t take this right for granted.

“It’s definitely a huge honor to be able to exercise my right,” he said. “It’s just a wonderful thing, once you become a U.S. citizen, you get the rights of a U.S.-born [citizen], you can all be equal.”

Receiving the prestigious Ross Fellowship for Service and Scholarship for the 2016-2017 year is another huge honor for Mark, who was born in Thailand and came to the U.S. when he was 6-years-old. The fellowship covers the cost of Layden’s full-time tuition and textbooks for the year, as well as the purchase of a computer.  He will also receive a $1,000 stipend upon the successful completion of a year-long service learning project. Mark was one of 51 applicants for the fellowship.


“This is already an opportunity America has given me,” he said. “It would be a lot harder in Thailand.”

Only the wealthy in his homeland are able to afford a college education, Mark said.

He began his LFCC career while still in high school, earning 25 college credit hours through the dual-enrollment program.

For his service project, Mark volunteers with both the Salvation Army in Winchester and Royal Haven Nursing Home in Front Royal.  At the Salvation Army, he helps in the pantry and will work on the Angel Tree program at Christmastime.  At the nursing home, Mark assists staff and residents. He will also shadow a med tech, a valuable experience as he pursues his dream of earning a doctorate in pharmacy

Mark has kept a high GPA while also working at CVS as a pharmacy technician. He will return to his other job, at Lowe’s, during breaks from school. He’s also involved in numerous extra-curricular activities and volunteer work at LFCC, including the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, the Student Government Association, and the Ambassador program. As an Ambassador, Mark does outreach for LFCC at area high schools and helps with campus tours.

He is financing his education “100 percent” on his own, so he’s especially grateful for what the fellowship is allowing him to do.

“It’s helping me focus my resources towards my career so that I don’t have to worry that much about working as much during the semester to pay for LFCC,” he said. “That way, I can spend more time studying and achieving a high grade so that I’m more competitive [with other pharmacy school applicants].”

By attending LFCC, Mark is continuing a family tradition. His older brother, Kittikun Kijbamrunglarp, spent two years here before transferring to James Madison University and earning a degree in quantitative finance this past May. His mother, Lumyai Layden, also went to LFCC, before transferring to JMU.

“So, definitely LFCC has done a lot for my family,” Mark said.

He decided while a high school sophomore that his first step upon graduating would be to go to LFCC for two years, to save money before transferring on to a university.

Mark posted this picture from Humpback Rock in Afton to his Facebook page.

Mark posted this picture from Humpback Rock in Afton to his Facebook page.

“Mark’s selflessness and can-do spirit were really apparent in the application and interview process,” explains LFCC Educational Foundation Chair Emily Marlow Beck. “He believes his parents have done so much for him that he wants to be responsible for paying his own way through college.”

The Ross Fellowship springs from the generous bequest made by World War II veteran Charles Ross.  The Front Royal resident left his $1.4 million estate to the LFCC Foundation in 2013.  For more information about the Ross Fellowship, please visit

“We are so grateful that Mark can benefit from the generosity of Mr. Ross,” says LFCC President Cheryl Thompson-Stacy. “I think Mr. Ross would be pleased that someone with Mark’s character and integrity is able to further his education and serve his community because of this generous educational award.”


Founded in 1970, Lord Fairfax Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With four locations — Middletown, Warrenton, Luray-Page County and most recently, Vint Hill— the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. LFCC offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. LFCC also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. LFCC serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Lord Fairfax Community College. Lord Fairfax Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors. LFCC also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment.