Denmark, S.C. – As part of Voorhees University’s 2022 Homecoming celebration, the Class of 1972 donated more than $140,000 in honor of the university’s 125th anniversary, creating an endowed scholarship. The class presented the check during the men’s basketball game on Nov. 12., following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for implementation of the scholarship a day earlier.
The scholarship will be given annually by the university in accordance with the MOU. Scholarship candidates must be full-time students with a minimum GPA of 2.75. Beginning in the 2023-24 academic year, two students will receive a $1,000 scholarship each, and as the endowment grows, more students will receive $1,000 scholarships.
The homecoming theme was ‘Remember the Times.’ “Members of this class are demonstrating how they remembered the times and how we will remember them with this exceptionally generous scholarship endowment,” said Ronnie Hopkins, president of Voorhees. “We are grateful and proud of these alumni for their untiring support of Voorhees.”
Although the alumni had two years to reach their original goal of $50,000, they had exceeded their goal before the first year ended. They decided to continue to raise funds, setting their sights on a goal of $125,000 to reflect the university’s 125th anniversary.
“We not only reached that goal but shattered it,” said Jerome Geathers, who initially challenged the class to remember Voorhees University with a generous donation to be used for scholarships and creative classroom initiatives. Geathers is a member of the Voorhees University Board of Trustees.
Class members coordinating the fundraising activities included Mary Burke and Bessie Meeks.
The classmates’ dedication to Voorhees shows how the university is special. “We came from various backgrounds,” said Meeks. “While some classmates came from urban areas, many of us arrived on campus from rural or farming communities and were the first generation in our families to attend college. Our instructors were always looking for ways to pull us up and send us on to greater opportunities, and for that, we are thankful.”
Meeks believes constant communication through email blasts, Zoom meetings, scheduled quarterly meetings, distribution of financial reports and transparency helped the group to bond further and stay focused on their mission.
According to the Baccalaureate and Commencement Convocations Voorhees College program from May 7, 1972, there were 156 graduates. Fifty-six classmates donated to the cause.
“The university is small, and the class is small,” said Burke. “We’ve had many successful graduates in the class. Voorhees was responsible for helping us to be successful and in giving us the tools and opportunities we needed to succeed. I am very, very honored to be a graduate, and I am very grateful for what they did for me. Our class felt that they needed to give back.”
Burke believes faith played an important role in the commitment to support the university financially. “Voorhees is affiliated with the Episcopal Diocese. When the university does things, I think its central goal is to be what Jesus wants us to be. We believe in the Lord; we believe that He blessed us. We are spiritually bound to do what the Lord wants us to do,” she said.
“Our class cheerleader, Patricia Green, demonstrated the highest level of professionalism by preparing programs, organizing a class banquet, coordinating luncheons, helping to design class hoodies worn during the parade, and mostly by keeping us motivated,” added Burke. “She is developing a commemorative bulletin which will document our extraordinary, two-year journey.”