The Sussex County Chapter of the Delaware State University Alumni Association held its Fourth Annual Holiday Dinner Dance and Scholarship Fundraiser Dec. 7 at the Millsboro Town Center. The event featured dinner, a dance, community service awards, recognition of past scholarship recipients and a rousing speech by Delaware State University President Dr. Harry Williams.
According to chapter President Robert G. Draine Sr., the DSU Alumni Association is committed to education and community enrichment. “We support scholarships for deserving high school seniors planning to attend Delaware State University,” he said.
Citing rising college tuition costs nationwide and increased financial stress on many families, Draine explained that money from scholarships is often essential for young people seeking to gain access to higher education. In fact, assisting area youth to obtain a college degree is a very personal matter for Draine. Buoyed by academic scholarships and sacrifices by his parents, he was able to attend what was then Delaware State College. He went on to graduate in 1960 and has made giving back to his alma mater a life mission.
Over the past four years, the Sussex County Chapter has provided four $1,000 scholarships to students throughout the county. In addition, the alumni association recognizes noteworthy individuals in the community who have contributed in terms of service and accomplishments. Honorees included Cartina Church, Sabrina Neal, Gregory Short, Claudia Waters, Darryl Burton and Jane Hovington.
The 10th president of DSU, Williams delivered an energetic rallying cry to the listeners. “My goal is for us to be the No. 1 HBCU in America,” he boldly proclaimed, highlighting the improvements made since his arrival four years ago. According to U.S. News and World Report, DSU currently ranks ninth among Historically Black Colleges and Universities, its highest position ever.
During a time when many states are struggling with budget cuts and higher education is under attack, Williams said he is grateful that DSU has avoided such pitfalls. He credits generous donors and a steadfast governor in Jack Markell, who is committed to properly funding higher education to allow DSU to enjoy record enrollment and loftier rankings. “We have been blessed as an institution,” he said.
Despite the challenges that lay ahead, Williams shared a clear vision of the future. “We are dreaming about the possibilities in terms of where DSU is going to be and how we are going to get there.” He ended with a solemn pledge, “We are going to continue to push this university forward in a positive way that’s going to allow us to continue to add value to the State of Delaware, to the United States of America and to the world.”