News

Voorhees holds 117th Commencement Exercise with higher education advocate

April 15, 2014

Billye Jewel Aaron, wife of baseball legend Hank Aaron, will deliver the commencement address during Voorhees College 117th Commencement Convocation on Saturday, May 3 at 11 a.m. in the Leonard E. Dawson Health and Human Resources Center.

An advocate of higher education for African-Americans, Aaron has showed her passion for higher education through her work with the United Negro College Fund. The Mayor’s Masked Ball, which she founded with former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, continues after 28 years to be one of the organization’s most lucrative special events and is now replicated in other major UNCF campaign cities.  

During Aaron’s 14 years working for UNCF, for 10 years she co-hosted the Atlanta Lou Rawls Parade of Stars telethon, broadcasted on WXIA-TV, 11Alive, and traveled the southeast supervising UNCF fundraising programs.  She became the second woman in the organization to rise to the level of vice president for the southern region.

In December 2011, Aaron was honored again at the ball by Michael Lomax, UNCF’s president and CEO, with the announcement of a new UNCF scholarship initiative in her honor—the Billye Suber Aaron UNCF Legacy Scholarship.  Although she has long been retired from UNCF, she continues to give her time and her talents to UNCF fundraising projects and continues to be one of UNCF’s major donors and devoted volunteers.

In 2007, Major League Baseball and the national Boys and Girls Club partnered with the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation, a philanthropic trust co-founded by Aaron and her husband that makes grants to children between the ages of nine and 12 to assist them in developing their talents and chasing their dream. The purpose of this partnership was to create another Aaron initiative called the “44 Forever” program. This program provides grants each year to 44 high school juniors and seniors across the United States who are members of the Boys and Girls Club seeking to develop their talents and chase their dreams.

Prior to working with UNCF, Aaron held teaching positions in the Atlanta public school system, and at Spelman, Morehouse, South Carolina State and Morris Brown Colleges.

She made her debut on WSB television’s “Today in Georgia” in June 1968 becoming the first African-American woman in the Southeast to co-host a daily, regularly scheduled talk show. In her broadcasting role, she interviewed local, national and international celebrities and dignitaries.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Texas College, she later received a master’s degree from Atlanta University. Aaron has receive honorary doctorate degrees from Allen University, Texas College and Spelman College.

Aaron has received many honors and awards including the Greater Atlanta YWCA Woman of Achievement Award, Governor's Statewide Volunteer Leadership Award and Council of National Alumni Associations' Distinguished Service Award. Additionally, she, along with her husband, received the 2003 Martin Luther King Jr. “Salute to Greatness” Award.

For more information, contact Teesa Brunson, communications director, at 803-780-1194 or at tbrunson@voorhees.edu.