Two Grambling State University students are the first HBCU students to receive scholarships from the Advertising Education Foundation of Houston (AEF– Houston).
Richard Klein, chairman of the AEF– Houston, said Erina Love and Justin Madden were chosen from a pool of about 300 applicants to each receive a $2,000 scholarship, making it “the first time any HBCU has won a scholarship. He said they competed with students from universities in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Klein said the organization created an HBCU-specific scholarship for the first time last year without success, but the scholarship committee was impressed with the Love and Madden applications. “We couldn’t give it away because no one fit the requirements,” he said about last year’s scholarship pool.
Audrey Gilbreath, president and chief executive officer of Gilbreath Communications, contributed money for the first Gilbreath Communications Education Fund scholarship, which Love won. Gilbreath, a 1979 Grambling State University alumna who asked the group to open the scholarship opportunity to any HBCU student, said she saw a need for more HBCU students to get help as they consider advertising and marketing careers.
“I came up through the ranks when not a lot of African Americans were participating in the club,” said Gilbreath, referring to the AEF– Houston. An Arizona native who has been a member for 10 years said “it’s important in the communications field that we encourage our students to participate.”
Both students were elated to receive the news recently, each saying the scholarship award is a blessing.
“There was always a semester at Grambling when I had a delinquent account,” said Madden, 22, a senior mass communication major from Los Angeles, “I always owed them something. This scholarship was like the light at the end of the rainbow.”
Out of the sixteen scholarships awarded, Madden received the Saurage Research Academic Distinction Scholarship, named after marketing research strategist Susan Saurage-Altenloh. “When I get into grad school I’ll have $2,000 I can put towards my education and that’s less money out of my pocket or my mother’s pocket,” added Madden, who is editor-in-chief of The Gramblinite campus newspaper and who has been an active member of the university’s Student Government Association (SGA).
Love, 23, the newspaper’s campus editor who is an SGA senator, plans to focus on taking grant writing courses because she intends to go into non-profit organization work. “The greatest thing that separated me was how I am going to use my mass communication degree,” said Love. “Instead of going the regular route of working with a big corporation, I want to work at a non-profit.”
The scholarship recipients were chosen by board members and members of the organization’s advisory council, Houston-area professionals in “advertising, communications, interactive marketing, journalism, radio/tv, commercial art, public relations or related fields.”
AEF-Houston is a non-profit corporation and is the scholarship foundation of the American Advertising Federation of Houston. Annually it offers 15 $2,000 scholarships, and some internships, to students.
Applicants are judged based on their academic and personal backgrounds, campus and professional experiences and financial need. Gilbreath described Love and Madden as “outstanding students not only in school but also in community service.” She said “they did everything, which made it hard, which is a good thing.”
Scholarship winners will be honored and recognized April 17 at a monthly luncheon of the AAF-Houston.