FORT VALLEY — Several hundred Fort Valley State University alumni and members of the community attended a scholarship banquet at the school Monday.
More than 600 people attended the university’s 23rd annual Black History Month Scholarship Luncheon, said Vickie Oldham, director of marketing and communications.
The event was expected to raise between $150,000 and $200,000 directly for student scholarships, said Larry Rivers, president of the university.
“In order to educate this generation and generations unborn, we need to continue to raise funds,” Rivers said.
At Fort Valley State, 95 percent of the students receive some form of financial aid, Rivers said at the event.
Helping the students at Fort Valley State will result in far-reaching benefits, said U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga.
“It’s important for us to take time and make an investment not only in black history, but American history,” Bishop said.
Lorraine C. Miller, who serves as the 35th clerk for the U.S. House of Representatives, was the event’s keynote speaker. Miller, the first black person to hold the House clerk position, is also the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Washington, D.C., branch and serves on the group’s national board of directors.
She focused her remarks on unemployment, the economy and pay inequality in the black community. However, Miller said by obtaining an education, individuals can benefit from more financial opportunities.
“Students at Fort Valley State University are on the right track toward economic stability in the marketplace,” Miller said.
She also touched upon other issues such as the U.S. Census, which is important in determining allocation of resources to schools and social services, as well as legislative districts.
“The Census has a tremendous effect, and we must be counted. ... We need to make sure people of color are counted,” she said.
While the black community has made progress in the last century, further achievement is an ongoing task, Miller said. “Even though we’ve made much progress, much more work needs to be done,” she said.
At the event, three of the university’s 74 Presidential Scholars for 2009-10 were recognized for earning high grades. Based on academic achievement, students receive funding for tuition, room and board, and the scholarships are renewable for up to four years.
“We have students who meet the standards that need some additional financial support. That’s what the activity is designed to do,” said Rufus Green II, event co-chairman.
Providing financial support to today’s students is an investment in the future, said Green.
“One day Fort Valley State University will provide society with teachers, lawyers, doctors ... whatever society needs to advance,” Green said.
To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 256-9751.