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Annual Scholars Luncheon celebrates giving and learning

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By Anna Drake04/12/12 -  

On April 12th, nearly 250 alumni, friends and students gathered to celebrate the transformative learning and generous giving that enrich the university each day. Queens' annual Scholars Luncheon offers students an opportunity to thank the benefactors of the scholarships they receive; for donors, this event provides a chance to meet and learn about the students they support. This year's eighth annual event featured keynote remarks from Col. Marion H. "Moe" Ward, as well as a video presentation and personal remarks from two scholarship recipients: Alma Beciragic '14, Alex Hemby Presidential Scholar, and Freddie Sherrill '15, Ginter Fellow.

Following an invocation by Gilman Presidential Scholar Steven Goodson '14, President Pamela Davies recognized new scholarship commitments and highlighted the Byrum Challenge, a matching gift opportunity made possible through Porter Byrum's $20.9 million gift to Queens last year. Dr. Davies spoke about the excitement of improvements to Queens' campus, but reminded guests that "there are other things happening at Queens that aren't quite as visible. Our most important work, the core mission of our university, is transforming the lives of our students, building and enhancing both their knowledge and their character, and enabling them to discover their talents and aspirations under the guidance of a caring and renowned faculty."

In eloquent, heartfelt remarks, Col. Moe Ward shared the story of his courtship and marriage to Shirley Tison Ward '49, namesake of the Shirley Tison Ward '49 Presidential Scholarship he established after Shirley passed away last year. "My goal is not only to honor her memory," Moe said, "but to encourage and support young students at Queens who show academic and leadership qualities in achieving their goals. In so doing, we are contributing to the abilities of our nation's future leaders and to the enhancement of this magnificent educational treasure, Queens University of Charlotte." As he left the stage, the audience recognized Col. Ward with a standing ovation.

Following a video highlighting the gratitude of several scholarship recipients, Alma '14 and Freddie '15 shared live remarks about their journeys to Queens. Alma described her family's flight from war-torn Bosnia and the critical role education played in her parents' ability to rebuild their lives. Alma said, "Because of my family's experience, I find personal satisfaction in excelling academically; coming to the US as a refugee made higher education a privilege, a privilege that Queens and the Hemby Presidential Scholarship made possible."

Closing the program, Hayworth College student Freddie Sherrill shared the story of his unstable childhood and decision to fully commit to education as an adult. Freddie recognized his mentor Bill Vandiver, a Queens Trustee, for changing his life and encouraging him to pursue higher education. "I felt a strong need and desire to inspire my children," Freddie said, "and after lots and lots of prayer, here I am standing before you today. I hope to use my degree to help others who are struggling with everyday life and its decisions. I want to concentrate on our youth and help them to develop a blueprint for life, no matter what their situation may be."

View the video produced for this year's Scholars Luncheon. Visit www.queens.edu/scholars-luncheon again soon for photos from the event. For more information on the Byrum Endowed Scholarship Challenge and establishing or contributing to scholarships at Queens, contact Anna Drake, Director of Donor Relations, at 704-337-2493 or drakea@queens.edu.

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