Feature photo: Dr. Michele Turner-Wood, Donovan Wood, Quashaema Bluitt, Shayla Waugh, David A. Lopez, Sonya Lopez, David A. Lopez II. Photo by AC JosepH Media
By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
GLASSBORO – Events honoring students with scholarships have always been a family affair, but for three families at the 59th annual Glassboro Orchid Club Scholarship Luncheon on Saturday (May 7), that took on a special meeting.
Scholarship winners David A. Lopez II, from St. Augustine Prep, and Shayla Waugh, of Our Lady of Mercy Academy, won the same club scholarship that their parents won in their high school years. Donovan Wood, an honor student at the Gloucester County Institute of Technology, won a scholarship at the same program where his mother was a community honoree in the past.
More than 150 people attended the annual luncheon chaired by C My Kolors graphic designs owner Sarah Fraley. The event honored local high school standouts and community leaders. The Glassboro Orchid Club is a member of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, Inc. and the New Jersey State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, Inc.
Rhasheda Douglas, assistant dean of the minority student program at the Rutgers University Camden School of Law, was the keynote speaker, introduced by Glassboro City Councilwoman Anna Miller.
The scholarship winners and their proud parents poised for a picture after the event, sharing the families ties from the past to the future at Masso’s Crystal Manor.
“It’s a proud day for the family and to appreciate seeing the legacy going forward,” said David A. Lopez with his wife Sonya as they took part in the photo. “It’s about Black excellence and that he has the leadership to follow in our footsteps and to take it further than where we took it.”
Lopez II, who will be attending the University of Miami to study entrepreneurship, won the Carmen Johnson Scholarship with the Glassboro Orchid Club, which is named after his aunt.
“Success is very important in this day and age and I want to thank everyone in helping me get to where I am today,” the younger Lopez said. “My dad always says he wants me to be better than him, so I’m working on that and my kids will be better than me.”
For Waugh, she hopes to become the first veterinarian in the family. Her mother, Quashaema Bluitt, is a local nurse currently completing her requirements to become a nurse practitioner. Her great grandmother was the first African American nurse in New Castle County in Delaware.
“It’s a blessing to see 18 years in the making come to fruition,” Bluitt said. “I was a young mom, 21, when I had her, so just to see her get a scholarship from a historic colored women’s organization is amazing.”
Waugh, who will be attending North Carolina State University, said she did not know her mother won the same scholarship until days before the luncheon, adding that it was a humbling experience.
“I’m glad to have won the scholarship knowing that it will help me financially,” Waugh said. “It feels great to know I’m keeping the legacy going on and maybe one day my children can do it. It shows me my strengths and weaknesses and how far I have pushed myself to get to where I am today.”
Dr. Michele Turner-Wood, a Glassboro dentist, was honored as a community award winner by the Glassboro Orchid Club previously at its annual luncheon. She said she felt proud to see her son Donovan Wood, who will be attending the University of Southern California, be recognized.
This year’s community award winners included realtor and nonprofit founder Quandell Iglesia, realtor and café/event space owner Sadiyyah Maamoon-Means, author Shannan Star and Edith Randall Alston.
“It’s truly honored to be recognized for your honor and talent,” Turner-Wood said. “It’s a blessing for the organization to recognize Donovan like this. He has worked very hard to reach this point in his life. I continue to expect great things for him.”
Wood said while USC is literally across the country from where he was born and raised, he will always be close to his mother and family in New Jersey.
“It feels really nice to be part of a legacy,” Wood said. “I am proud to be chosen out of so many amazing applicants. My mom has been one of my biggest inspirations over the years. She’s guided me every step of the way and I can’t thank her enough.”
Other Glassboro Orchid Club scholarship winners included:
*Savannah Duckworth, Woodbury High School, attending Berklee College of Music
*Jeremiah Harold (Rev. Dr. Bernice Willis Scholarship), Clayton High School.
*Dallas Hohney, Glassboro High School
*Ralph McBride, Glassboro High School, attending William Paterson University
*Qasim Muhammad (Dr. Dolores M. Harris Scholarship), Glassboro High School
Denise Williams, president of the New Jersey State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, Inc., told Front Runner New Jersey the state organization is part of the National Association of Colored Women’s clubs in 1896. It includes such luminaries as Harriet Tubman and Ida B. Wells as its founding members.
“Right now, we have a total of seven clubs around the state, and we continue to service our community the best way that we can,” Williams said. “It is extraordinary and wonderful to be part of such a legacy. The fact that the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs stand on the shoulders of such brilliant founders is a great honor. It’s a great honor to be a part of keeping that legacy moving forward.”
Maamoon-Means said of her award that it felt great to know someone is watching the good work you are doing through the community and hope she can continue to be a positive force.
“I think it’s very important to try to do what you can in your community as much as possible,” said Maamoon-Means, who attended Delaware State after graduating from Glassboro High School but returned to the area.
“I’m just proud to be able to have a business here and to be able to offer my knowledge of home ownership to our folks right here in our local community. I just want to hit continue to be a blessing.”
Also in attendance was Joyce Allen, the Northeast Region president of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, Inc. Members of the Glassboro Orchid Club includes Rhonda Freeman-Wright, president; Shari Blackshear, recording secretary; Carmen Graves, financial secretary; Denise Williams, treasurer; Sarah Fraley, chair of events; Marian Coles, past district president; Brenda Craig, past club president; Doris Lewis, past club president; Regina Ashton, Anna Miller, Jacqueline Dickens, Louisa Graves, Linda Millburn, Mary Norwood, Catrina Stroman and Gloria Williams.
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