Tamekia Ford recalled her days as a college student at the University of South Carolina-Aiken, where she received her undergraduate degree, and Columbia College, where she obtained her master’s degree.

Just as she did, Ford told a group of high school seniors and college students that “you will encounter people of different backgrounds, political views and social views, but stay true to yourself.”

That was her message to the 2017 recipients of the Ella C. White Memorial Scholarship Fund, who received a total of $21,500 in scholarships at the organization’s annual awards program on May 11 at Palmetto Electric Cooperative’s community room.

“When you are on campus, know that you are somebody. Be somebody that is open-minded,” said Ford, who is now a teacher at Whale Branch Elementary School and is a past recipient of the Ella C. White scholarship. She advised the scholarship recipients to be disciplined, be involved in college activities and attend study sessions in order to reach their goals.

Each year in May, the Ella C. White Memorial Scholarship Fund awards scholarships to local high school and college students who demonstrate a financial need and a commitment to further their education.

“Our goal is to help as many students as we can. College costs show no signs of slowing down, but we can give a boost to our local students and families by helping with tuition,” said Emma J. Campbell, chairman of the scholarship fund’s board of directors. “It is a struggle for many of our recipients and their families to pay for college. When students are eager to further their education, we must not let them down.”

Awards of $1,000 were given to the following Bluffton High School seniors: Evelyn Diaz-Garcia, Rishaud Drayton, Emanuel Dudley Jr., Kendra Gardner, Kashief Hamilton, Ijheri Jefferson, Mateo Saunders, Victoria Sulak and Jillian Vannoni. Hilton Head High School seniors Noah Flores, Andreas James, Mckenna Leitner, Jamia Leonard, Trivone Murray, Kemei Oats, Sydney Segars and Joseph Robinson received $1,000 scholarships as well as Rachel Joyner, a senior at May River High School.

The following college students, who previously received a scholarship from the Ella C. White fund, were awarded $500 each: Akia Johnson, Brittany Kitty, Reyna Lawyer, Aubrey Jenkins, Treasure Days, Alison Cohen and Malika Williams.

Hilton Head High School principal Amanda O’Nan, who attended the awards ceremony, thanked the organization for its efforts to support students, not only at Hilton Head High but throughout the Lowcountry. “Given today’s economy, every penny helps and counts,” she said.

The scholarship is named for the former public school educator, Ella C. White, who was married to Nathaniel White, a native of Hilton Head Island. Ella White died in 1972; scholarships have been awarded since 1973, originally to students at the former H.E. McCracken High School in Bluffton.

Ella White’s family established the scholarship as a memorial to her dedication to teaching and helping students excel. The Eureka Club of Hilton Head, of which White was a member, administers the scholarship fund; its members serve as the board of the directors. The board raises money for scholarships through donations and an annual fund-raising dinner.

This year’s fundraising dinner will be held on Nov. 3 at the Sonesta Resort in Shipyard. The guest speaker will be attorney and CNN commentator Bakari Sellers. Tickets for the affair are $75. For tickets or sponsorship information, call Carolyn Grant at 843-422-0707 or Carol Campbell at 843-684-1644.

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