Thank you so much for attending the Abramson Scholarship Foundation’s 20th Year Anniversary Celebration a couple weeks ago. We hope you enjoyed the event as much as we did. We were thrilled to have so many of our founders, former and current board members, past presidents, current and former Scholars, mentors, and sponsors — over 250 people in all — celebrating this milestone together. And, of course, we were very excited that Fred’s sister, Pearl Chisolm, her daughter, Carol, and several other members of Fred’s family traveled to DC to be with us, and we are honored that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg could join us as well. Duke Ellington’s jazz ensemble did a wonderful job opening for the extraordinary Denyce Graves — both performances were spectacular.
Of course, the stars of the evening were our remarkable Scholars. We were thrilled to have 24 Scholars ranging from 1993 (the first year) to the present in attendance, including all the Scholars who spoke quite movingly throughout the evening. 2006 Scholar Janeese Lewis (St. John’s) and 2009 Scholars Sharnita Brice (Towson) and Nico Hinkle (Florida A&M) got the evening started by speaking at the VIP reception and 1993 Scholar Dr. Rhondee Benjamin-Johnson (Spelman) and 2008 Scholar Kalon Hayward (Fordham) spoke at the program. In introducing Duke Ellington’s jazz ensemble, both Dr. Benjamin-Johnson and Kalon spoke eloquently about what the Foundation means to them; Dr. Benjamin-Johnson pointed out that the Foundation’s financial assistance allowed her to focus on her studies at college (she then went on to Harvard Medical School) and Kalon thanked the board members who not only supported him for all of college, but also separately contributed to his attendance at the British American Drama Academy’s selective Shakespeare Program at Oxford University in London a couple of summers ago. Dr. Benjamin-Johnson is a physician of internal medicine and the Medical Director of the Mary’s Center (Georgia Avenue-Petworth site), an organization that provides access to health care services regardless of a participant’s ability to pay. Kalon is a 2013 theater major and college graduate, who is now acting in and producing plays in New York City. 1996 Scholar Cinnamon McCann and 1999 Scholar Aaron Jenkins, both board members, powerfully closed the evening’s program. Abramson alumni include doctors, lawyers, business people, advocates, auditors, and accountants, and we could not be more proud of them all. Other Scholars attending the event included 1994 Scholar Dr. Jocelyn Ajala (Cornell); 1996 Scholar Dr. Jamila Perritt (Brown); 1999 Scholar Anthony Borges (Morgan State); 2001 Scholar Lynettra Artis (Amherst); 2002 Scholar James McClelland (North Carolina A&T), board member; 2007 Scholars Brittany Coote (Maryland), Berta Gonzalez (Barry), Christina White (Temple) and Michael Yeldell (Pittsburgh); 2008 Scholars Frank Fleming (James Madison), Louis Ngonzo-Biyo (Catholic) and Anaia Peddie (Spelman); 2009 Scholars Michelle Brown (Virginia Commonwealth) and Miya Upshur-Williams (Sarah Lawrence); 2011 Scholar Omotayo Aweda (George Washington); and, 2013 Scholars Yue Ou (Maryland) and Roger Sanchez (American).
Thank you to everyone who helped make last Thursday a success, starting with our planning committee’s co-chairs, Leah Tulin and Diane Robertson, and everyone on the committee. Special thanks to ABC Imaging and John Kucia and Chris Graae from Cox, Graae and Spack Architects for the impressive art that infused the room and conveyed the Foundation’s past 20 years. In addition, thank you to our generous sponsors, without whom the event would not have been possible. Because of you, we raised over $100,000 to continue supporting deserving young people through all four years of college and beyond.
As we enter our scholarship season, please know that our important work is not done. Our goal is to award our biggest class of four-year Scholars to date, and to do so, we need your help. We are assisted tremendously in this endeavor by our named scholarship sponsors CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the Danaher Corporation, and the Quadrangle Development Corporation – each of these organizations generously commits to supporting Scholars for all four years of college. If you or your organization, or someone you know, would like to partner with the Abramson Scholarship Foundation and support a Scholar, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or donate online.
Thank you for celebrating our first 20 years of scholarships and ensuring that the Abramson Scholarship Foundation continues to support deserving young people for the next 20 years and beyond.
Addy R. Schmitt