Irene Nolan Memorial Scholarship Fund established at Outer Banks Community Foundation

Published 6:49 am Wednesday, January 5, 2022

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Irene Nolan was a force for good for nearly two decades on the Outer Banks. She was a journalist and newspaper editor, an early board member for Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation, a volunteer for other causes and a friend to many island residents.

The Irene Nolan Memorial Scholarship Fund was recently established by Nolan’s longtime business partner and Island Free Press co-founder Donna Barnett. Renewable college scholarships will be awarded in Nolan’s name to students on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, with preference given for students pursuing English-related degrees.

Nolan moved to Hatteras in 1991 after a successful career at the Louisville, KY Courier-Journal. She married C.A. Boxley of Frisco. She became editor of the Island Breeze, a southern Outer Banks publication and 16 years later, she and Barnett launched the Island Free Press (IFP).

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“This has been a dream of mine since Irene’s untimely death in 2017,” said Barnett. “Irene was many things to me.  A second mother, a mentor, a friend, and an icon. She was also a lot of things to this community, and was considered the voice of our islands. It was only fitting to start a scholarship in her name. I am so excited about this scholarship coming to fruition, and look forward to watching it grow and help more and more students through the coming years.”

“As one of many writers who were lucky to work with Irene at the Island Breeze and the Island Free Press, I can’t think of a better tribute to her legacy than to help the next wave of Outer Banks writers pursue their own love of journalism,” said Joy Crist, current editor of the Island Free Press. “Irene remains the soul and backbone of the IFP, and I’m beyond grateful to Donna and the Community Foundation for finding a beautiful way to shine a spotlight on an incredible journalist, editor, and friend.”

This fund, like most other Community Foundation scholarship funds, will offer up to four years of scholarship funding to each student recipient. The fund is endowed, meaning that the bulk of its assets will remain invested and only 5% of its earnings will be spent each year, meaning the fund will be a perpetual source of scholarships for students on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.

Anyone may contribute to the Irene Nolan Memorial Scholarship Fund by sending a check to the Community Foundation with the fund name in the memo line or by making a contribution online at and selecting the fund from the searchable funds list.