AAFSC gala celebrates achievements


Photo by: Austin Kemmerlin

The AAFSC has significantly increased its scholarship awards since its founding year.

Nisheeka Simmons, Staff Writer

The Francis Marion University (FMU) African American Faculty and Staff Coalition’s (AAFSC) 13th annual scholarship gala took place on Tuesday, Feb. 25.

The theme of this year’s event was “Empowering and Inspiring Positive Change.” Dr. Leroy Peterson, Jr., chemistry professor, described the evening as an opportunity for the AAFSC to honor and recognize scholarship recipients, supporters and coalition members. Peterson said that the ability of the organization to provide for students has grown significantly since the creation of the first Joseph E. Heyward scholarship in 2003.

“That first year, we were able to award one Heyward scholarship for $250,” Peterson said. “For the 2013-2014 school year, we were able to award thirteen Heyward scholarships for $800 apiece, two Peterson scholarships for $500 apiece, and two Lund scholarships for $1000 apiece.”

According to Dr. Daphne Carter-McCants, assistant dean of students, to receive an AAFSC scholarship, a student must have a 2.5 grade point average, exhibit financial need, be a full-time student at FMU and complete the interview process.

During the program, six of the seventeen scholarship recipients participated in a special presentation. They each expressed their thanks to the coalition, gave a little background about themselves and told the audience how they would use their funds to further their studies.

Later in the ceremony, the fifth AAFSC Diversity Award was presented to Yvonne Davis, the acquisitions coordinator. According to Davis, this award highlights the efforts of an FMU faculty or staff member who has worked diligently to promote and foster diversity on and off campus. Davis, who has worked here for 34 years, said that she was delighted when she found out that she had been nominated for the award.

“The committee had a meeting two weeks before the original date of the banquet (before it was rescheduled due to the ice storm),” Davis said. “Antwan called and told me that I had been submitted and asked if I would receive the award. Yes!”

Davis went on to say that as a founding member of the AAFSC, she enjoyed watching the progression of the organization’s events on campus. She said specifically that she liked how much the students got involved with the scholarship banquet and how much of the student body actually attended this year.

“This is one of the prime events that I really enjoy because it allows me to see how much the student s appreciate it,” Davis said. “We even had student musicians play our entertainment throughout dinner and the program.  They did an awesome job, and I think they even got a few more gigs due to their performance.”

According to Davis, a highlight of the evening was the keynote speaker, Linward C. Edwards II.  Edwards graduated from FMU in 2004 and is now an attorney in Florence.  Davis said she enjoyed listening to a speaker that she was able to watch progress from a student to an active member of the community.

“I have witnessed all that he has accomplished and his commitment to our young people,” Davis said. “He captivated the audience, and that let me know that the students that attended were really listening to what he had to say.”

Davis encourages others to support and donate to the AAFSC and to continue to support the youth of the community.