February 1, 2016

Black Alumni Give Students a "Boost" With New Scholarship

You can change jobs. You can change your spouse. You can change your name. You can even self-identify your gender and race. But you cannot change your alma mater. As alumni of Guilford College, we are imbued with a subconscious and selected, authentic - though not always enthusiastic - acquiescence to our permanent relationship with “5800 West Friendly Avenue” and all of its heritage.

Many Black alumni of Guilford College have spent the better part of 50 years resisting, contemplating and longing for a way to reconcile how this most permanent fixture in our lives provided us with a stamp of approval to go on to bigger and better things, yet left us apathetic or worse when reflecting on our place among the 24,000 some alumni. So we obscure memories of our first roommate, affections for our favorite professors, pride in our sports teams, curiosities for whatever happened to that upperclassman friend who took us under their wing, or that underclassman we did the same for, and desire to provide and maybe even request post-graduate career advice and support.

Committed to the lifelong participation of Black alumni in leadership, service, and celebration of culture and friendship, the Black Alumni of Guilford College (BAGC) was formed in 2004 to take on the challenge of doing reconciliation work by changing dispositions from ‘longing for’ to establishing and growing; from no history to celebrating the first Black graduates; from no connection between classes to uniting via social media; from no legacy to hosting the Black Alumni Reunion; from fragmented story-telling to the documented Timeline of Guilford’s Black History; from resenting the racial injustices on campus to holding Guilford accountable for providing an equitable, multicultural environment; from fewer than 5% of Black Alumni giving to the College to having our own scholarship, The Boost Award.

We are Guilford, now, more than ever before.

Every Black alumnus of Guilford College has a footprint in this journey. Whether it was opening a door, setting an example, being the first or the best, disrupting or unifying, staying the course, or making sacrifices, the collective achievements of Black students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni is integral to the pride we take in our history. In fact, every member of the greater Guilford College community has a hand in this journey, as far back as Levi Coffin, and can share in the pride of their contribution.

The annual Journeys in Blackness banquet on Saturday March 5, 2016 celebrates our vast achievements and rich culture.

All should plan to participate in this year’s banquet to honor the award recipients for the Adrienne Israel Student Academic Excellence Award, the Doug Gilmer Freshman Leader Award, the Ed Lowe Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, the M.L. Carr Athletic Award, and the many other awards that will be presented.

New to the banquet is the BAGC BOOST Award. This award was conceived in 2015 out of a vision expressed by generations of Black alumni, who endured financial hardship and desired recognition from their peers who have shared experiences and aspirations. Led by then BAGC Advisory Board (BAGCAB) executives David Hopkins ’91 (President) and Lydia Lovell ’75 (Treasurer) and Christina Atkins, Office of Advancement, the BOOST awards were established to assist students with emergencies and recognize academic excellence.

The Emergency Fund is for students meeting Guilford’s criteria for need-based financial aid to help manage unexpected expenses throughout the year that include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Health-related issues
  • Purchase or replacement of essential textbooks and school supplies
  • Emergency travel for medical treatment, a family emergency, e.g. funeral
  • Participation in programs, which SUBSTANTIALLY enhance that student’s career opportunities

Students eligible for the Merit Award must be enrolled as a full-time student at Guilford College, have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.8 or a term GPA of 3.0 or higher for the most recent two semesters, be involved in at least two extracurricular activities, and at least one community service program on or off campus.

Decisions are governed by a Committee consisting of the Board Treasurer and President, a Designee of the Office of Alumni Relations, a Designee of the Office of Advancement, a Designee of the Multicultural Education Department (MED) and a Student Representative from the Black Student cultural awareness organization (e.g. BASIB, AACS, BUS). Awardees are determined at the end of the fall semester and awarded in the spring.

Alumni and friends of the BAGCAB have donated to BOOST at an exceptional rate, surpassing the committee’s first year goal by 100%. The first Merit awardee has been determined and will be recognized at the 2016 Journeys in Blackness banquet. While the inaugural phase of the award has been outstanding, fundraising efforts continue in order to sustain the award as well as increase the amount distributed in future years. BAGC Founding member, George “Scooter” Brown ‘89, said this organization was established to “do for others what was not done for us.” What better way to affirm pride in your alma mater, build a legacy and maintain a connection to the journey, than to make a donation to BOOST? You can make a gift here.

We cannot change the fact that we are alumni of Guilford College. But we can change our attitude and our actions. We have many reasons to be proud of our alma mater. Let’s continue to build on to all of the wonderful things that make the legacy of Black alumni a cherished piece of Guilford’s heritage.