The words of the Black Faculty and Staff Organization’s president rang true Sept. 16 during the group’s Founders’ Award Scholarship Luncheon as faculty, staff, students, administrators and community leaders from all walks of life came together to celebrate academic excellence.
“We exist and operate as one,” said Cedric Miller, BFSO president for 2013-2014. “This university that sits in the hills of northern Georgia is a great university due to its commitment to embracing diversity. Our commitment is to work as one, to live as one in our community and to prosper as one.”
UGA President Jere W. Morehead echoed Miller’s sentiments as he spoke to the luncheon attendees in Mahler Hall of the Georgia Center.
“As you look at all the factors that now consistently rank the University of Georgia as one of the top 20 public research universities in America or one of the Public Ivies-as we were designated again (recently)-in my view, one of the most critical factors in that ranking is ensuring that everyone on this campus feels welcome, feels supported, feels celebrated for who they are and what they bring to the campus community,” Morehead said.
The luncheon was a fundraiser as well as an opportunity to recognize UGA students who are the 2013 recipients of the $750 Founders’ Award Scholarships.
The undergraduate recipients were Babijide K. Oluwadare, a microbiology major, and Chelsea Fitzhugh, a biological science major. The graduate recipients included Ashlee Garnett, who is working on a doctoral degree in counseling psychology, and Ciera Victoria Scott, a doctoral student studying counseling psychology. Chioma E. Enyinnah, a third-year doctoral pharmacy candidate, was the recipient of the scholarship for professional students.
Along with their scholarships, the recipients were presented with an honorary citizenship award from the city of Athens and a brass replica of a historic building in the community. On hand to present those items were Patricia Barron, chief magistrate court judge for Athens-Clarke County, and Mayor Nancy Denson.
“This afternoon truly belongs to the five scholarship recipients … whom I have affectionately named the BFSO Five,” said Barron, who gave the keynote address for the 11th annual luncheon. “I’m proud of their accomplishments.”
During her address, Barron, who also is an adjunct faculty member in the School of Law, gave the BFSO scholarship recipients five pieces of advice: to focus on earning their education; to become a part of the community; to be conscious of their economic impact on the community; to learn who they are and their place in society; and to recognize a greater power.
“College for so many of us in this room was a turning point in our lives, a time when we could pique new interests, try new things, plan out futures and follow our dreams,” Barron said. “College allows you to grow in ways unimaginable. To the BFSO Five, I salute you for all you have accomplished and all you will accomplish in this institution.”