FAMU alumni ‘Strike' a chord at gala
Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 2:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 2:48 p.m.
The Alachua County chapter of the FAMU National Alumni Association awarded $1,000 scholarships to four recent high school graduates and inducted Alachua County Tax Collector Von Fraser and Florida Rep. Clovis Watson Jr., D-Alachua, into the association as honorary members at the 2013 Denim & Diamonds Scholarship Drive & Gala.
William “Bill” McCray of Tallahassee, a retired FAMU administrator and FAMU Sports Hall of Fame member for his contributions to the school as a swimmer more than 40 years ago, made it be known that the four scholarship recipients — Shantel Blakely of Eastside High School, Quentin Bryant of P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, Andrea Pringle of Gainesville High School and Kamile Wade of Buchholz High School — will be held to a high standard.
“Let the record show we expect great things from them,” McCray told the crowd of nearly 100 who attended the gala Friday night at the Senior Recreation Center.
The event also included remarks by McCray, who talked about several recent FAMU accomplishments, including the school recently graduating more than 100 students from its prestigious pharmacy program; Dr. G.W. Mingo, president of the association, who mentioned FAMU was the only black college represented at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship earlier this month in Eugene, Ore., and association member Darrell Johnson, who talked briefly about his fondness for FAMU.
Johnson, who grew up in Tallahassee, said his days on “The Hill” started before he ever enrolled at FAMU because his parents used to take him to FAMU football games when he was a child.
Also, the association recognized two of its supporters, Fred Batie and Carl Gordon, for their tireless work with the association throughout the year.
Elaine McClain-Franklin, association secretary and chair of the gala planing committee, and Rosalyn Monroe, an association member and gala planning committee member, presided over the presentation part of the event.
McClain-Franklin said many students applied for the scholarships, adding that Bryant, the only scholarship recipient in attendance, was chosen for writing an outstanding essay.
“This young man’s essay was out of the ballpark,” said McClain-Franklin.
Bryant told the crowd that he was starting school at FAMU on Monday. He said although he didn’t have much of a break between graduating from high school and entering college, he said it is better for him because “there won’t be many people on campus running around.”
Both Fraser and Watson were in attendance and both were excited to be honored, but Fraser vociferously expressed his happiness.
“Hey, I’m a Rattler!” Fraser shouted with enthusiasm, as McClain-Franklin handed him a framed certificate and a FAMU baseball cap.
McClain said Fraser, who is legendary for attending community events in the black community, often attends the association’s monthly meetings, which are held from 6-7 p.m. every third Thursday of the month at Caring and Sharing Learning School.
After the presentation of the awards, disc jockey Sam Cornell of Gainesville played old-school soul and R&B music for those in attendance, some of whom wasted no time getting on the floor when Cornell played “The Electric Slide.”
Before hitting the floor, the Rattlers in attendance sang FAMU’s alma mater and McCray led them in reciting the school’s charge, which ends with the promise that the Rattlers will “Strike! Strike! And strike again!”