A current student and young alumna will be inducted at a Feb. 18 ceremony celebrating the rich history of Elon’s black students, faculty and staff.
Since she started working in the Multicultural Center in the Moseley Center last summer, Janelle Bennett ’14 has walked past the African-American Wall of Fame almost daily. Never did she imagine that one day she’d see her own portrait smiling down from it.
“These people have gone on to do such impressive things,” Bennett says of the 15 individuals and 14 campus organizations honored on the wall. “They’ve shown how black students and faculty on this campus have made a difference here.”
After Saturday evening, Bennett will count herself among them as she and Jasmine Spencer ’11 will be enshrined on the wall for their achievements at a ceremony honoring Elon’s storied black history.
“The Wall of Fame is something that every African-American student at Elon knows about. It’s something that you really appreciate and I’ve always loved,” says Spencer, who now works as a reporter and weekend anchor for WCTI News 12, an NBC affiliate in Greenville, N.C. She will be recognized for being an anchor of the Phoenix14News team that won Elon’s first collegiate Emmy award for news in 2011.
“To know that I’ll be on that same wall with them, I’m excited,” Spencer says. “It’s truly an honor.”
Established in 1997 by L’Tanya Richmond ’87, a former director of the Multicultural Center, the African-American Wall of Fame spotlights 15 individuals and 14 campus organizations whose achievements and contributions have advanced the black community at Elon. The wall features several black firsts, from the first black students to enroll at Elon to its first black graduates, from the first black Homecoming queen to the first black drum major in the marching band, and many more.
Bennett, a sophomore from Yanceyville, N.C., will be honored as the first recipient of the Elon Black Alumni Network Scholarship, which was endowed by gifts from hundreds of Elon’s black graduates to support students. She says the scholarship has encouraged her to broaden her academic experience. A psychology major with minors in African/African-American studies and Spanish, Bennett has taken several classes in religious studies and is considering a classical studies minor.
“It’s opened my eyes and helped me believe that I really can achieve what I want to,” she says.
Spencer distinguished herself as a jack-of-all-trades for Phoenix14News, working in nearly every capacity for the show beginning her freshman year. Selected to be an anchor of Phoenix14News for her senior year, Spencer was a prominent part of the episode that Elon’s School of Communications submitted for adjudication by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation. The show won first place, and Spencer, Phoenix14News faculty adviser Rich Landesberg and five of Spencer’s fellow student journalists were on hand in Los Angeles to accept the award.
“We were all sitting around our table, with representatives from really big schools and celebrities all around us, even (actor) Terrence Howard! We were just in awe,” Spencer recalls. “When they announced that we won, we all just looked at each other thinking, ‘did they really just say Elon?’ We were absolutely ecstatic, and really proud, because we’d worked really hard.”
Both Spencer and Bennett are looking forward to a different, but no less exciting, awards ceremony on the 18th. Bennett is thrilled that, for the first time since she set foot on campus in August 2010, her entire family will be together at Elon.
“To come from such a small town and to be inducted into the Wall of Fame – and as just a sophomore,” she says, pausing in thought. “I’m really speechless.”
– Written by Kristin Simonetti ’05, Office of University Communications