Coalition celebrates scholarship recipients

Jasmin Mitchell, Staff Writer

Students, faculty and staff gathered to recognize 15 recipients for the 2015-2016 FMU African American Faculty and Staff Coalition (the Coalition) Scholarship.

The Coalition’s 15th annual scholarship banquet was Feb. 19. The banquet was held in the Smith University Center at 6 p.m.

President of the Coalition, Dr. Daphne Carter-McCants gave insight on how this scholarship came about at FMU.

She said the Coalition established its first scholarship and named it in honor of former FMU administrator Dr. Joseph E. Heyward in 2003. In 2007, the university established a scholarship in memory of the late Rebecca S. Lunn, an academic counselor, to be administered through the Coalition, and the Dr. LeRoy “Pete” Peterson Endowed Scholarship was established in honor of chemistry professor Dr. LeRoy Peterson in 2008, according to Carter-McCants.

Before the banquet officially began, the guests arrived in groups and ate hors d’oeuvres prepared by the Aramark catering services. The appetizer spread included shrimp served with cocktail sauce, fruit, wine and salad.

“It typically takes an entire year to plan this banquet,” McCants said.

The dean of the library, Joyce M. Durant, presided over the banquet. Junior biology major Jordan Griffin, one of the 15 scholarship recipients, started the program with the welcome. Following the welcome was an invocation by the Lead Groundskeeper Anthony W. Lester.

Musical entertainment by Quinn Bell, Tyler Brunson and Lorenzo Vice played as the guests ate their meal.

A video tribute showed the 2015-2016 recipients and recognized the Coalition committee for their hard work and dedication.

Justin Gaskins, junior general business major, and Angelica Rainwater, senior early education major, gave their testimonies as two scholarship recipients. They shared how they felt about receiving the scholarships and how they used it to help further themselves academically.

“It makes you feel like you’re someone,” Gaskins said. “It makes me feel like I’m somebody and it warms my heart that someone offered me help. I feel humbled.”

The keynote speaker for the banquet was a graduate from Winthrop University, Marcus D. Benjamin. Benjamin is from Bishopville, S.C. He is a speaker, a consultant and the author of nine books, including “COMPETE,” “Rebranding Business” and “I Have Decided to Think.” Benjamin is an award-winning manager, entrepreneur and founder of The Benjamin Agency and The Daniel Center of Leadership in Charlotte, N.C.

He talked about his academic background from fourth grade to high school and then college. He gave words of encouragement for students trying to achieve their goals. He gave advice about working hard, especially during stressful ordeals and said it is beneficial to work through weaknesses so that they may be conquered.

“One of the greatest things a young man can have is pressure,” Benjamin said. As Benjamin closed his speech, H Vashon Brown presented the Diversity Award to psychology professor Dr. William Wattles. Wattles is the seventh Diversity Award winner.

“I felt honored to receive such an award,” Wattles said. During his speech Wattles said he has heard many negative stereotypes about African Americans. It wasn’t until that he began teaching his students at FMU that he realized they were just stereotypes.

“My students actually were the ones teaching me,” Wattles said.