FAMU alumni group hosts gala

Four county high school grads receive scholarships


Published: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at 2:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at 2:41 p.m.

Ava Frazier will be the first person in her family to attend a four-year university in the fall when she takes her dreams of becoming a homicide detective or a lawyer to the campus of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.

And with the help of a $1,000 scholarship she received from the Alachua County Chapter FAMU National Alumni Association 2014 Scholarship Gala, Frazier plans to make her family and others proud.

"Receiving the scholarship means that it is something I can use to help me out of poverty, and it is something I can use to help me achieve a life of success, and I will be using it at Florida A&M University this fall," said Frazier, a 2014 graduate of Newberry High School.

For various reasons, Frazier was the only one of four scholarship recipients to attend the gala held Friday at the Senior Recreation Center. The other recipients, all 2014 Alachua County high school graduates, are Alphonso Barber, also of Newberry High, who will major in journalism; Na'Kaylia Bush, of Gainesville High School, who will major in nursing; and Shaniea Flagg, also of Gainesville High, who will major in a medical-related field.

The association awards four $1,000 scholarships annually to high school seniors graduating from Alachua County schools who have been accepted to and plan to attend FAMU.

The theme of the program was "Returning to our Roots," and many of those in attendance were dressed in traditional African attire. The program also featured dinner, a fashion show and wine tasting at a tiki bar with wine made from grapes grown in a winery at the FAMU Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research in Tallahassee.

The theme also was a tribute to the late Thomas DeSaille Tucker, a native of Sierra Leone in West Africa, who was the first president of FAMU, which was originally called the State Normal College for Colored Students. The school opened on Oct. 3, 1887, with 15 students and two instructors.

Greetings were provided by the husband-and-wife duo of Carl and Hazel Gordon, who ended their remarks by encouraging the crowd of nearly 100 residents to have a "striking good time," a play on the popular FAMU slogan — "The Rattlers will strike and strike and strike again."

Later during the gala, Jesse Heard, who received the FAMU National Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award in 2010, recognized the Rev. Adrian Taylor, pastor of Springhill Baptist Church, as an honorary Alachua County Rattler. Taylor did not attend the event, but Darrell Johnson, a deacon at Springhill and a FAMU graduate, received a certificate of appreciation and a FAMU cap and shirt on behalf of Taylor.

Heard said Taylor is a big supporter of education and the association.

"Whenever we bring the president of the school to town, we always host him at Springhill," Heard said. "They make us feel very welcome over there and we always have a great time. He is a big supporter of education, his church has a lot of programs going on over there and he is very involved in the community."

During his brief comments, Dr. G.W. Mingo, president of the association, said the group has grown to 50 dues-paying members during the past year after averaging between 30-35 the past several years. He also said the association will actively attempt to grow its membership, because there are almost 400 FAMU graduates living in Alachua County.

On Sept. 20, the association will host a bus trip to FAMU for the first home football game. The Rattlers will face Coastal Carolina at 5 p.m. in Bragg Stadium. The trip will cost $80 for association members and $100 for nonmembers. The cost includes a ticket to the game, transportation on a chartered bus, a snack and a visit to the Viticulture center. The bus will leave Mount Olive AME Church at 721 SE 8th St. at 7 a.m. and return between 10-11 that evening.

The association meets at 6 p.m. the third Thursday of each month at Caring and Sharing Learning School at 1951 SE 4th St.

For more information, call 352-222-9424.

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