Helping students achieve academic dreams through scholarships was a common theme for Samford University's Scholarship Society luncheon Oct. 23 on the University campus.
The luncheon recognized 195 individuals and organizations that provided annual or endowed scholarships during the 2004-05 academic year. The luncheon also served as the official dedication for the new Wall of Honor for fully endowed scholarships of $100,000 or more.
"This wall serves as a daily reminder to Samford students of the generosity of so many," said Michael D. Morgan, Samford's vice president for University Relations, moments before a ceremonial ribbon-cutting in the east lobby of the Ralph W. Beeson University Center.
"There are few feelings more satisfying than to talk to a student that you know is here because of what you and others have provided," said Samford University President Thomas E. Corts, who was among those honored, along with his wife, Marla.
"I am grateful that [Samford] still serves a clientele that reaches out to all walks of life," Corts said. "For those of us who similarly had some help getting through school, we should have a sense of obligese to provide for those who come after."
Two current scholarship recipients spoke of their Samford experiences to the capacity crowd in the University's Flag Colonnade.
Angelique R. Turner, a junior biochemistry major, told of "wanting to become more than I was." The former valedictorian from Birmingham's inner-city Carver High School, noted that "it is individuals like me who give others hope."
"Life in the Samford 'bubble' has not always been easy," Turner said. "I have had both bitter and sweet experiences.
"As a member of the Samford family, I believe we won't grow together until we learn to embrace our diversity."
Turner was quick, though, to express appreciation for those who contribute to Samford. "Should Samford be disparaged because some lack the funds to attend here? Absolutely not. There are many who have sacrificed for those of us here."
Sam McBride, a sophomore sports medicine major, hopes to attend medical school, just as Turner does.
"First, I want to thank you for your generosity in making it possible for Samford to be excellent in academics," McBride said. "I also thank you for your motivation to give. I'm here because of your efforts, and that motivates me to want to succeed."
McBride also said that scholarship donors provide an example for current students and others. "I realize there is an example of academic excellence and of giving. I am looking forward to a lifetime commitment to this institution and the day I can give back."
Samford Provost J. Bradley Creed noted that "many have walked through these doors because of someone who had the foresight to give. A scholarship is a gift that will last forever.