Tears filled the eyes of senior Alexus King as she talked about how she may not have been able to finish school this semester, but for a special gift.
“I would not have been able to stay in school,” said King, biology major from Los Angeles. “This means so much because it has been hard for my mother to afford my education. This is a blessing.”
King is one of seven Grambling State University students to receive the first Dr. Neari F. Warner Scholarships, named in honor of Warner, who served as the university’s acting president for three years, from 2001 until 2004. She is the first, and only, woman president — and she helped Grambling State keep accreditation and stay open during her tenure. Today, Warner is a visiting professor with the Executive Ph.D. program in urban higher education at Jackson State University.
The $1 million scholarship fund provides undergraduate GSU students that have completed at least one semester at Grambling State and those who have a demonstrated financial need to be considered. This is the first year the Warner scholarships have been awarded. Warner, like many others, faced financial trials during her years as a Grambling student. She is pleased to know that the funds are going to students who need it the most.
“It’s an honor to have a scholarship in my name,” said Warner, who was the university’s convocation speaker at a morning program at the T.H. Harris Auditorium. “We started this in 2003 when the students decided to tax themselves. Over the years the money has accumulated and I am happy to be here to see the first recipients. I came to Grambling on a scholarship and I knew that if I lost it I wouldn’t be able to continue my studies.”
Grambling State students were so impressed with Warner’s efforts at the time that they decided to raise money for scholarships by making individual contributions with a scholarship fee. That money was later matched with money from the state. Then it was named in Warner’s honor.
Each student was granted $2,000. “These students were chosen based on need,” expressed Gloria George, interim associate vice president for enrollment management who coordinated the scholarship applications and advised interested students.
Ian Wagner, 27, a senior from New Orleans, said he is “truly blessed” and thankful that he can pursue plans to be a physician.
Ruport Rose, a former Tiger basketball player from Baltimore, said he will pursue a basketball career abroad.
St. Lucia native Kishan Butcher, a senior engineering technology major from Catries, said she needed the scholarship to finish her final semester.
Douglas Riley, a junior engineering technology major from West Palm Beach, Fla., said he is happy and plans to find ways to give back.
Phares Wabo, a senior accounting major from Cameroon, and Xavier Bennett, a sophomore mass communication major from Fayetteville, Ga., were not present at the special luncheon in the president’s dining hall after the convocation program but they, too, are Warner scholars, each receiving $2,000 scholarships.
“These are some of our most deserving students, and it was heart-warming and emotional to hear their stories,” said President Frank G. Pogue, who along with wife Dorothy, has funded endowed student scholarships at three universities where they have served. “Dr. Warner meant a lot and means a lot to this university, and now she’s having a meaningful and lasting impact on these Warner scholars who might not have continued their education without this much-needed support.
“They see the financial assistance as a blessing,” added the president. “We consider each of them a blessing.”
Pogue noted that he and his wife, Dorothy Pogue, have endowed student scholarships at three of the universities where they have served, and they have endowed scholarships at Grambling State.
“I understand fully the purpose of endowed scholarships to help students,” he said. “My wife and I know that without this kind of support that most of these students wouldn’t be able to continue their matriculation.”