News Item

Lander Scholarship Banquet Filled With Stories of Achievement and Generosity

November 16, 2015

Lander University’s annual Eleanor Shiflet Teal Scholarship Banquet featured a host of powerful testimonials from alumni and students alike as they told stories of achievement made possible through gifts to The Lander Foundation.

The event was held Thursday, Nov. 12, in the university’s Horne Arena, and attracted more than 370 scholarship supporters and student recipients. The banquet serves as an opportunity for students to meet the donors who have made their Lander scholarships possible.

Lander President Richard Cosentino spoke about the opportunity afforded to him by scholarship supporters as an undergraduate student at the University of Baltimore. “I remember looking across the table at two wonderful people who provided me with a scholarship that allowed me to earn my bachelor’s degree in business administration,” he said.  Speaking to the supporters at Lander, he said, “I thank God for you, your generosity and for believing in our mission and our students.”

 Other speakers at the event were Dr. Usha Menon, class of 1992; Ettele Toole, a senior political science major from Augusta; and Covone Jesus VanDorn, a senior business major from Taylors.

Lander Foundation Gift Sparks Global Impact on Health

Dr. Menon, the first Lander graduate to earn a doctorate degree in nursing, spoke of how her Lander education has served as the bedrock for a sterling medical career that has included national and international awards for research and nursing.

“In the summer of 1987, I arrived at Lander from India with a degree in English literature,” she recalled. “Because of scholarships from The Lander Foundation, I was able to study here for five years and earn my degree in nursing.”

Fast forward to 2015, and Dr. Menon’s career is an amazing one. She has:

•    Garnered over $20 million to support her extensive research in early detection of cancer;
•    Been selected as a Top 100 Alumni Legacy Leader by Indiana University School of Nursing;
•    Received the inaugural Investigator with a Brilliant Future Award (2006) from the American Academy of Nursing;
•    Inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame (2014); and
•    Assembled a team devoted to providing cervical cancer screening for women in Ethiopia.

Today, Dr. Menon expresses her gratitude for Lander’s launching of her career by providing scholarship support for current Lander students. “At Lander, I learned to be persistent, to be resilient and to dream big. I give support today because I know that I can be the change that I want to be in the world. Lander students are not merely succeeding, they’re soaring.”

Academic Scholarship Provides Volleyball Player With Total College Experience

Toole spoke to the audience via video as she recuperated from surgery. She originally came to Lander with an athletic scholarship as a member of the Bearcat volleyball team. She has since stepped away from the team to concentrate on her studies and has received an academic scholarship.

“Being a Lander Bearcat means being a part of a university that encourages you to do more than just be a student. It’s being a part of a community that proudly wears blue and yellow and supports academic and athletic programs. It’s about experiencing college rather than just attending,” she said.

“To the donors, I and my fellow students will never be able to express our appreciation for all your support. My only hope is that we make you proud, and one day we can be sitting where you are: giving back in such a big way.”

Scholarship Bridges Gap

After graduating from high school, VanDorn joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve before enrolling in college. During his banquet address, he emphasized the gap bridged by scholarships that has turned the dream of earning a college degree into a reality.

“I come from a middle-class family, and for me the question was not what college I wanted to attend, but rather how was I going to afford to go to college? I had two part-time jobs but needed help in closing the gap between who I was and who I wanted to become.

“When I received my first scholarship in 2013 from Lander’s School of Management, I smiled from ear-to-ear. It was just like opening a Christmas gift. I was amazed that someone who didn’t know my name believed in me enough to donate their own money.

“As I prepare to graduate this December, I’ve come to realize that being successful is not about what you can achieve, but how much you’ve helped others to succeed.”

The Lander Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization operating solely to support Lander. Through gifts, the Foundation is able to:

•    Support scholarships that prepare students for a lifetime of learning and scholarship
•    Sponsor faculty and staff development enabling them to remain experts in their fields, as they continue to inspire Lander students
•    Build academic programs that equip students for careers of the next century.
•    Maintain, upgrade and create facilities where future generations of Lander students will learn, play and thrive.

To find out how you can support The Foundation, call (864) 388-8350(864) 388-8350.

Scholarship Banquet_Web

Dr. Robbie South (left), chair of Lander University's William Preston Turner School of Nursing, with Dr. Usha Menon, class of 1992, at Lander’s annual Eleanor Shiflet Teal Scholarship Banquet. During the banquet, Dr. Menon spoke of how her Lander education has served as the bedrock for a sterling medical career that has included national and international awards for research and nursing.