As the Elon community gathered to celebrate 125 years of rich history during Homecoming 2013, the Elon Black Alumni Network celebrated the accomplishments of black alumni, students and faculty at its annual Black Alumni Scholarship Gala Nov. 9.
The event, which was held at the Lakeside Meeting Rooms, honored the recipients of the 2013 EBAN awards for demonstrated commitment to the community and Elon students. Honored were:
Ruby Thornton ’99
Gail Fonville Parker ’70 Distinguished Alumna Award
A consummate educator, Ruby Thornton graduated from Elon in 1999 with a degree in elementary education. She is an English language arts teacher at Thomasville Middle School in Thomasville, N.C. Before assuming that role, she served as elective teacher and coordinator for the Advancement Via Individual Determination program at Stephen Decatur Middle School in Clinton, Md. In that position, she was responsible for teaching students college and career preparatory skills, as well as critical reading and writing skills, often mentoring students from challenging backgrounds. Ruby resides in Greensboro with her three children, William, Melvin III and Camille.
Darryl Smith ’86
Eugene Perry ’69 Distinguished Alumnus Award
Shortly after graduating from Elon in 1986 with a degree in business administration, Darryl Smith joined United Parcel Service as a driver. He has been with UPS for 27 years and presently serves as vice president of sales for UPS Capital. During his time at Elon, Darryl was one of a few black students on campus, and fondly remembers dormitory custodians, cafeteria cooks, coaches and others who pushed him to pursue his dreams for the future. Darryl has a passion for mentoring young people and works alongside students at Elon interested in pursuing a career in sales. An Elon ambassador in his community, Darryl volunteers with the elderly and distressed youth and is actively involved with his church. He and Kimberly, his wife of 20 years, have two sons, Kyler, 14, and Colton,10.
Associate Professor of English Prudence Layne
K. Wilhelmina Boyd Outstanding Service to Students Award
Since joining Elon in 2005, Associate Professor of English Prudence Layne has worked as a tireless advocate for students, faculty and staff of diverse populations. After being selected to lead the African & African-American Studies program in 2006, Prudence has reinvigorated the legacy of Professor K. Wilhelmina Boyd, the program’s founding coordinator, by promoting knowledge about African and African-descended peoples through advocacy, research, scholarship, service and teaching. Prudence holds undergraduate degrees in English and political science and a master’s degree in English from Howard University and a doctoral degree in English from the University of Miami. She is the daughter of a proud mom, Mavis Layne.
The gala event also celebrated 50 years of black students attending Elon. In the fall of 1963, Glenda Phillips Hightower became the first black full-time student to attend Elon College, opening the doors for many generations of students to come. Fifty years later, Elon black students and alumni continue to make a significant impact on the Elon community.
Established in 2007, the Black Alumni Scholarship Gala is the main fundraising for the EBAN Scholarship. A portion of every gala ticket sold supports the scholarship fund. The 2013 scholarship recipient is Shakori Fletcher ’16.
In expressing her thanks to the members of the Black Alumni Network, Fletcher said her scholarship is making her “dream school” a reality. “I thank you – and I don’t take my time here for granted,” Fletcher said. “The opportunities I found here are premium.”
Fletcher said her mother always advised that “where God guides, he provides,” and she says she is following a formula she believes is true: “hard work, plus faith, plus support, equals success.”
The African-American Alumni Group was founded in 2000 and committed to endowing a scholarship to ensure financial circumstances are not barriers to earning an Elon degree. The group was renamed the Elon Black Alumni Network in 2010, and the scholarship was named the Black Alumni Network Scholarship. Awarded annually to a black student with demonstrated financial need and academic merit, the scholarship was fully endowed and awarded for the first time in fall 2011.