The Black Faculty and Staff Organization’s 15th annual Founders’ Award Scholarship Luncheon honored the achievements of UGA’s African-American students and celebrated the university’s commitments to diversity and inclusion.
In remarks to the 350 people in attendance, UGA President Jere W. Morehead highlighted the importance of diversity at the university.
“Let us remember that the diversity of our student body and the diversity of their academic and extracurricular experiences are absolutely critical for their future success,” he said. “The individuals in this community, especially the individuals in this very room, work hard every day to create a more inclusive environment and community that will nurture success.”
Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander, an associate professor of employment law and legal studies at UGA’s Terry College of Business, gave the event’s keynote address. In it, she encouraged students to find a source of inspiration to motivate them through difficult times.
“What you’re doing, preparing yourself to go out and create the life you have envisioned for yourself, is not going to be an easy thing to do,” Bennett-Alexander said. “I want you to have something that gives you a well to draw from when life does not treat you the way you want to be treated.”
Bennett-Alexander’s motivation is her ancestry. She spoke at length about her paternal great-great-grandmother, Dinah Ratliff, who was born into slavery, lived through Reconstruction and was separated from nine of her 11 children. The sacrifices her great-great-grandmother made and the hardships she faced in her life continue to inspire Bennett-Alexander today.
Bennett-Alexander also thanked the president for his own efforts to make UGA a more diverse and inclusive place for all students.
Proceeds from the luncheon, held Oct. 23 in Grand Hall of the Tate Student Center, go toward the BFSO scholarship fund and programming. At the luncheon, a total of $3,500 in scholarships was awarded to seven students. According to Susan M. Williams, BFSO vice president for faculty and a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, the scholarships were awarded to the students based upon their essay responses, extracurricular activities, awards and honors, GPA and letters of recommendation.
Christian Reynald Laurent and Kelsey Reddick each received an undergraduate Founders’ Award, while Brittany M. Williams was honored with the graduate Founders’ Award, and Valerie Marcano received the professional Founders’ Award.
Nettie Brown received the Melanie A. Burden Community Award. Morgan Easley received the Myron G. Burney Service Award, and Ayodele F. Daré received the Mark Dawkins Leadership Award.