11th Annual First Lady’s Hats and Gloves Scholarship Tea at Claflin Celebrates Visionary Women Who Lead

Mar 24, 2017

The second decade of the First Lady’s Hats and Gloves Scholarship Tea was held Tuesday (March 21) at Claflin University in Tullis Arena, Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Physical Education Center.  The venue assumed a new identity as it was transformed and decorated with black and white stripes, soft white drapery, and custom made hatboxes galore. The evening was a tribute to unsung "sheroes," the traditional presentation of scholarships to deserving visionary students, tea tasting, and a celebration of sisterhood.

“We have come a long way from when this event began 11 years ago,” said Claflin First Lady Alice Carson Tisdale at Tuesday’s 11th Annual First Lady’s Hats and Gloves Scholarship Tea.  Tisdale is the wife of Claflin President Henry N. Tisdale.  The theme of this year’s tea was “Celebrating Sisterhood: A Shared Legacy of Public Service.”

“We started with perhaps 30 people who attended our first event.  Now we have 550,”she said overlooking the mostly female audience amid the array of stylish hats of practically every size, dimension and color.

The First Lady’s Hats and Gloves Scholarship Tea is held annually in March as part of Claflin’s celebration of National Women’s History Month.  Proceeds from the event benefit the Alice Carson Tisdale Scholarship.  Specialty teas of assorted flavors and blends; door prizes that include elegant fur pieces, flamboyant hats with eye-catching, ornate designs, and vendors with affordable luxury accessories were among the special features of the tea.

Three Claflin students were awarded $2,000 scholarships and laptop computers by winning an essay contest and for their impressive academic achievements.  Pennshelia L. Griffin  (Yemassee, S.C.), a freshman human performance and recreation major; Melody K. Rivers (Sumter, S.C.), a junior early childhood education major; and Brandi C. Taylor (Columbia, S.C.), a junior biology major were this year's recipients.  The topic of the essay matched the theme for 2017 National Women’s History Month:  “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.”

The three laptops were donated by Mrs. Emma Harvin, vice president of ASTI and the president and founder of One Source Office Products, an office and technology supply company in Rockledge, Florida. She also is the wife of Mr. Moses Harvin, a member of Claflin's Board of Trustees.

Although the tea was a festive and fun-filled event, the loudest applause of the evening was heard when a check for $10,000 was presented to Dr. Iris Bomar, associate vice president for institutional advancement,  on behalf of the event’s planning committee to support the Hats and Gloves Tea Endowed Scholarship Fund.  More than $50,000 has been raised for scholarships for female scholars at Claflin.

 “Claflin University recognizes that providing access to a first-rate higher education is essential to the continued progress of equity and equality for women globally," said Dr. Peggy S. Ratliff, chair of the First Lady's Hats and Gloves Scholarship Tea planning committee.  "The current student population at Claflin is 65% female, and several of these students are first-generation college students.  Therefore, in our celebration of women , the Committee decided to invest in the education of deserving young women with  promise by providing scholarships to assist with their tuition at Claflin University," Ratliff said.

The First Lady's Visionary Award was established to recognize outstanding women in leadership positions who are making an influential and significant impact throughout the community and state. This year, the Orangeburg graduate chapters of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (Beta Zeta Omega Chapter); Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated (Orangeburg Alumnae Chapter); Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated (Delta Chi Sigma Graduate Chapter); and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated (Alpha Omicron Zeta Chapter) received the award.

“It is very fitting that we honor these powerful and influential sororities tonight," said Tisdale. "These groups of women continue to light the torch for excellence in all that they do.  They carry out their sorority platforms with dedication, determination, dignity, perseverance, and always…a determination to see it through…to the very end.  They are civically engaged, sponsor educational programs and provide scholarships, mentor, leadership forums, and serve as positive role models for our youth. They truly are visionary leaders,” said Tisdale.

Actor/songwriter Joseff McKenneth Goodwin, a 2007 Claflin graduate provided a high-energy and soulful mixture of R&B and gospel songs. Goodwin, who was accompanied by members of Claflin’s Concert Choir, studied music at Claflin before moving to New York City to study music and theater training at New York University.  Goodwin started his career as an opening performer for R&B/Soul sensation Dave Hollister and gospel recording artists William Murphy and Byron Cage. He also was a finalist on MTV’s fourth season of P. Diddy’s “Making the Band.”

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