Black Alumni celebrate scholarship, award History Maker honorees
Published: Sunday, February 10, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 10, 2013 20:02
Attendees strolled into Palmer Place around 6 p.m. in their finest wear for the 2013 Black Alumni History Maker Reception.
The reception celebrated both past alumni and the SMU Black Alumni scholarship.
The SMU Black Alumni scholarship hopes to retain black students at SMU.
“We had thought about a really big problem facing black students, which was really finances,” Black Alumni Board chair Lauren Driskell said.
“Personally, I knew a lot of people that I started SMU with that weren’t able to continue on and graduate because of finances. We felt that this was a problem we wanted to stop.”
The Black Alumni Board granted their first scholarship for $7,500 to current student Leah Johnson. The board aims to raise $10,000 or more this year to offer more benefits to eager students.
Co-Community Service Chair Ashley Hamilton stresses the accomplishment of gathering alumni to support current students.
“We have people who come and want to be a part of SMU,” Hamilton said.
“It’s not the cheapest place to go, but there is a community here and we’re a family, we’re going to help you succeed whether we have to help you scratch your way to the top.”
The reception buzzed with candor as patrons young and old poured into conversations. Hors d’ oeuvres, fine cheeses and seasoned meats were made available around pink and purple gladiolas.
Patrons chatted over chilled beverages until the ceremony started at 7 p.m.
“Grey’s Anatomy” actress and Meadows alumna Jennika Hinton passionately delivered a speech that emphasized giving back to the community. Recent Meadows graduate Dameron Growe and graduate student Kamika King were the featured performers.
“Most of us, in our minds, don’t think we have enough money to come here, so any way that we can get that we don’t have to pay, and not only for us but provided by our own people — always wonderful,” Growe said.
The 2013 Black Alumni History Maker honorees are Gerard Andrews (’91), Kelvin Beachum, Jr. (’11, ’12), Roni Dean Burren (‘99), David Huntley (’80), Rhonda Belt Rhea (’77), Rev. Richard Stewart (’60) and Yulise Reaves Waters (’02, ’08).
BET News correspondent and Meadows alumna Melissa Knowles-Stewart hosted the event.
Patrons lingered on after remarks were over, dining and sipping and chatting away. Jazz and pop standards played through speakers as the event came to a slow halt around 9:00 p.m.
“The reception was amazing, Brandy Bryan-Mickens said. Bryan-Mickens serves on the the Black Alumni Board as Development Chair.
“We had a great turnout. We have people who spanned several decades. We built up a lot of energy around this event, so we’ll be able to grow bigger and better than before.”
Black Alumni Board chair-elect Dr. Michael W. Waters expresses similar confidence and optimism.
“We look to grow bigger and stronger as an organization,” Waters said.
“We look to have networking opportunities for our alums. We’re looking to provide multiple scholarships. The sky is the limit.”