Denmark, S.C. – Voorhees College inducted 14 students into the W. Franklin Evans Honors College, during a ceremony March 24 at 11 a.m. in Massachusetts Hall. This year’s keynote speaker, selected by the lyceum committee, was Reverend Derrick Rice, a founding pastor of Sankofa United Church of Christ, a community activist and civic leader.
The inductees, joining 64 current members of the honors college, are Diamond Bullard, Lawrenz Ellman-Sanders, Keyanah Felder, Keyshaun Fleetion, Kristian Ford, Tierra Hamer, Ja’Myah Haynes, Janice Hearn, Jaden Johnson, Xavier McClatty, Adam Pressley, Bernyla Sparks, Ebony White and Lonnie White.
“We’re proud of you being inducted into this W. Franklin Honors College program that is dedicated to Dr. Ronnie Hopkins the 10th president of Voorhees College. We know that the number 10 represents higher purpose, and that President Hopkins is a catalyst for honors education,” Rice told students.
“I want you to celebrate and contemplate what it means to be ‘The Talented Tenth.’ Question whether there’s a responsibility that comes with that because some would say you are now set aside, elite and somehow more special than the other students on the campus. Small surroundings so usually stunt your growth,” Rice said, as he encouraged students not to be too complacent because of their success.
Gwenda Greene, Ph.D., founding dean of the Voorhees College Graduate School and dean of the honors college, congratulated the students and advised that they represent the epitome of the next level of excellence.
“This induction is public because Voorhees has made academic excellence a top priority. As an open program, we want all students to aspire and compete to be among the top of their classes,” Greene said. “Induction is an honor, but honors college graduation is the real goal.”
According to Greene, students with a 3.2 and above grade point average are invited to apply to the honors college. They must write an essay and get recommendations as part of the application process.
“The honors college induction celebrates an amazing cadre of students who have worked hard during extenuating circumstances (a pandemic) and have achieved and excelled in their academic work,” said Herman “Skip” Mason, Jr., Ph.D., director of library services, assistant professor of library sciences and theological studies and chair of the lyceum committee. “They are scholars, leaders and trendsetters.”
During the ceremony, Greene announced the establishment of two awards to honor Hopkins; The Talented Tenth award recognizing Hopkins as the 10th president of Voorhees and the Ronnie Hopkins Next Level of Excellence Award, which will be presented to graduating seniors in recognition of their commitment to academic excellence.
Rice, who holds degrees from Morehouse College and the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), has traveled throughout Europe, the Caribbean and Africa. He is currently the director of the Lutheran Theological Center in Atlanta.
While studying at the ITC, he was recognized as a member of the Dean’s List, Who’s Who Among College and University Students in America and Theta Phi International Honors Society. He is a member of numerous organizations and co-founder and spiritual advisor for Let Us Make Man, an organization committed to reclaiming Black manhood.
The honors college is named for W. Franklin Evans, Ph.D. and the ninth president of Voorhees.
High-resolution images of the honors college inductees and Rice are available at the following URLs:
Stacia Townsend (picture here) represented her daughter, Ebony White, during the honors college induction ceremony. Ebony was unable to attend the event.
Derrick Rice, the keynote speaker.