Hosting the event for the first time since changing from college status, Philander Smith University raised money for deserving students via its 2023 Scholarship Gala on Nov. 3 in the Statehouse Convention Center's Wally Allen Ballroom in Little Rock.
Attendees feasted on a dinner consisting of ginger chicken with sweet chili demi, wild rice and fried brussels sprouts.
Guests were welcomed by Olivia Wilkins and Michael C. Prescot Jr., Miss and Mr. Philander Smith University 2023-2024. The lineup of program speakers: Dr. Terry Esper, board of trustees chair ("Elevating Excellence"); Dr. Kaleybra Mitchell, the university's associate vice president for institutional advancement ("Uplifting Our Mission," a call to donate); Desmond Merritt, senior and university scholar ("Excellence Magnified"); and Charles King, vice president for institutional advancement ("Still Moving Forward").
Dr. Cynthia A. Bond Hopson, interim Philander Smith president, gave remarks and special recognition. Student honorees were Alex Hardy, presented the newly-established AT&T Scholarship; Justin Woods, recipient of the Ozell Sutton Leadership and Service Scholarship; Reagan Parker, who earned the Young Women of Excellence Scholarship and Mario Jones, who received the President's Gala Scholarship.
An oversize check representing a $1,785.16 donation was presented to the university from representatives of the United Supreme Council, 33° of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Prince Hall Affiliation, Southern Jurisdiction USA Inc.
-- Story and photos by Helaine R. Williams