The National Society of Collegiate Scholars’ Inspire Integrity Awards are the only student-nominated faculty and administration awards scholarship. Students nominate full-time faculty and administration who, through their lessons and actions, made a significant impact on the lives of their students and instilled a high degree of personal and academic integrity. Meet this year’s recipients! Check out the profiles of the other winners, Eric Goins, nominated by Julia Ostrovsky, and Andrea Sununu, nominated by Rachel Higson.
I write to express an immense sense of gratitude in being selected to receive the Inspire Integrity Award. I would like to share this very prestigious award with my students, faculty, and staff, with a clear understanding of what this award symbolizes. I promise to represent the award and previous recipients with clarity of message and soundness of purpose and deed. I have to admit that I was a bit surprised, accompanied by excitement, when I learned of my nomination and subsequent selection. I make every attempt not to bring attention to myself and understanding that all that I do and the values that I attempt to represent are much larger than one individual. Very few things in life are entirely the work of just one person- and believe me when I say this is no exception. I, too, understand that there are so many others that are also worthy of being recipients of this award.
I have spent a lifetime trying to live by my parents’ teachings, to treat others as I wish to be treated, to never stop learning, to work hard, to try to make a positive difference in people’s lives, to love and embrace family, and to always keep God first in my life. There are so many very special people that I would like to acknowledge as I prepare to receive this very distinguished award. Please know that this extraordinary occasion could not be possible without the deeds presented and the stage that was set relative to my support system of students, family, friends, and colleagues.
I take joy in understanding the many stories as they relate to our students who attend Tidewater Community College, who serve as an inspiration to me. I hear stories of trials, tribulations, and times where the belief was strong that they would not make it to see another day. I hear stories of anticipation, aspiration, determination, and ultimately inspiration of what they have become; these are the drivers as we make every attempt to frame personal, professional, and student success. I take pride in understanding the environment in which I was raised, surrounded by a very impoverished existence and being able to use education as a platform and being a testament to all that is possible, not to mention the blessings all along the way called relationships, which encompassed many very positive mentors who believed in me when I did not believe in myself. I make every attempt to instill that sense of belief relative to the lens through which my students view life. I make every attempt to become that agent of change in the lives of many and to become a sense of comfort, allowing them to believe that they can, instead of being consumed by the thought process that they cannot. I see so many of them that relate to my story and have them believe that all things are indeed possible.
You see, growing up as a youth in rural Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in a household comprised of both mom and dad and seven siblings, was in my view exceptional. We would be considered by today’s standards a very poor family. My family did not possess the riches and material goods but possessed the wealth that lies within the familiar setting, the teachings and demonstration of how to live life through the lens of my parents. They taught me that as I move through this thing called life, I should make every attempt to make a difference each and every day of which I was blessed to rise and see the light and make it count, to never allow society, circumstance, or persons within my environment to define what success is to me, and that I should be the author of what that success truly is, rather than allowing someone else to do it for me. They said that you must envision it to be it. Looking back on my life as a child and reflecting on my mother and father’s life, you see that they did not possess a high school diploma or a college degree but demonstrated the requisites to earn a DOL, a “Doctorate of Life.” To my father and mother, who are no longer with us, I say thank you. My hopes and dreams are, and always will be, to make you proud. My hopes are that I have done so.
I would be remiss in not mentioning the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who devoted his life to issues of justice and opportunity. He taught us how the lack of education meant the potential and dreams of millions of children could never be realized. King often referred to education as the great equalizer. As an educator, I know that education is indeed the best equalizer, because I am a testament to that statement of fact. I, too, am a testament to the importance of education within the parameters of the schoolbook, but even more so within the context of life. Education serves as a bridge between despair and hope. It allows everyone, regardless of their background, the opportunity to achieve on the basis of merit. King inspired Americans to think beyond themselves, look past differences, and strive for equality.
I would like to thank the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, my family, friends, colleagues, and my community for shaping me, and I can only pledge to you that I will continue to be a quiet drum major for making a positive difference in the lives of many. Again, thank you.
The Inspire Integrity Awards are presented each year during Integrity Week. Faculty and administration recipients are awarded a $1,000 professional development award, and the students who nominate them receive a $1,000 scholarship.