Thursday, June 15, 2006
Literacy Alliance hands out scholarships
By SUE WATSON
Six deserving GED graduates were handed $500 scholarships to the college of their choice by the North Mississippi Literacy Alliance in Holly Springs at the regional meeting.
The regional alliance is composed of literacy councils, some libraries like First Regional Library, community colleges and ICS Head Start, according to Betty Jo Dulaney, with the Tunica County Literacy Council. The Alliance has met several times in Holly Springs and now calls its annual meeting the NMLA Spring Fling.
Some areas included in the North Mississippi Literacy Alliance are Grenada, Bolivar County, Oxford, as well as Tate, Tunica, DeSoto and Marshall counties.
Two scholarship awards are named in the memory of individuals - the Sharlotte Stewart Scholarship after a member of the DeSoto County Literacy Council Board of Directors, and the Sister Anne Whitehead Scholarship. The rest are NMLA Scholarships, Dulaney said.
Joe Ford, an adult literacy instructor with the Byhalia area, was guest speaker, and encouraged literacy teachers to “be happy and train yourself to do a good job.”
He said it takes dreamers, organizers and doers, to get the job of literacy done.
“Continue to give service to others and you will find a life full of grace,” Ford said, in brief remarks.
Kindness and a good attitude are attributes of good teachers, he said.
Ford spoke several times of reaching “your will to point.”
Ethel Horton, who presided at the meeting, spoke of unselfishness as another attribute of a good teacher.
“Being a leader is not about you, it’s not about us, it’s not about me,” she said. “It’s about what I can do for you.”
Dulaney presented the scholarship certificates after saying that the scholarship applications were evaluated for merit based on a letter written by the GED graduate, a letter of recommendation from an instructor, and the expression of goals by the applicant.
“That’s because if you ever quit having goals, you are in a stagnant era,” Dulaney said.
David J. Burgess, sponsored by Mary Murphy with the DeSoto County Literacy Council, was homeschooled, studied for and passed his GED, and has completed one year at Northwest Mississippi Community College with a 3.0 grade point average. He wants to attend seminary and become a minister.
Burgess has made two mission trips, one to El Salvador and another to Canada.
In accepting his scholarship, Burgess said he feels called by God to make a difference in the world.
“There’s more in the world than just me,” Burgess said. “God has called me in this world to make a difference and helped me get focused on the most important thing and it’s not me, it’s others.”
Candi Hammonds, also received her GED with the DeSoto County Literacy Council and wants to attend nursing school.
“I wouldn’t be able to be standing here today without Pat (Blakney) and Mary (Murphy),” she said. “It took me six years to get my GED. I grew up in a very rough life and I thank God for Mary and Pat. If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be here.”
Myles Ledet of New Orleans took GED classes through Coahoma Junior College after arriving in the North Delta as a Hurricane Katrina evacuee.
“I enjoyed reading his letter, because he took advantage of his time and got his GED,” said Dulaney while presenting Ledet’s scholarship certificate. “He took carpentry and wants to open his own business.”
Ledet also expressed thanks to the Almighty “for bringing that hurricane along.”
“Because it woke me up a bit,” Ledet said.
He offered lessons learned.
“Stay close to your family and never take anything for granted, because you never know when it could be gone,” he said.
Ledet wants to study corporate management in college. He took his GED during the three weeks he was in a shelter in Tunica post Hurricane Katrina.
Tonya Mathis wants to use her scholarship money to study medical technology. She thanked her teachers for “pushing her” to finish her GED and “make it better” for her kids. Mathis studied for her GED with the Lafayette County Literacy Council.
Margaret Gookin of Tunica was also homeschooled, passed the GED and just completed her first semester of college at Northwest with a 3.5 grade point average.
Gookin wants to study early childhood development and become an educator and is also interested in mission work.
Gookin said she dropped out of high school as a sophomore because of a medicine she was taking.
“Thanks for helping me out,” she said.
John Miles from Coahoma County, a sixth scholarship winner, was not present at the awards ceremony.
Dulaney urged members of the Alliance to do as much as they can to raise money for literacy scholarships.
“The price of education has gone up,” she said.
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