By Hazel Scott
Alabama State University’s Golden Class of 1973 marked its 50th anniversary Thursday, May 4, with a reunion celebration on campus and with the announcement of a historic gift for scholarship support and Strategic Initiatives of the University.
The Golden Class raised $253,000 the largest gift from a Golden Class in recent history. The donation was presented in the form of a giant check to ASU during the Spring 2023 Commencement Reunion Brunch in the J. Garrick Hardy Student Center Ballroom.
“Our class wanted to raise the bar so people coming behind us will have something to work toward. This is only a down payment. The final check will be written in November when the Class of 1973 brings that amount to $300,000. This gift is the Class of 1973’s way of helping O’ Mother Dear invest in the next generation of scholars,” said the Hon. Johnny Hardwick, Montgomery County Circuit Judge and Co-Chair of the 1973 Golden Anniversary. “We love our alma mater.”
President Quinton T. Ross, Jr. said the Golden Class of 1973 has shown their love and loyalty for their alma mater in so many ways, including by their generous support for scholarships and many other programs that enhance the ASU experience for students.
“The generations of alumni who walked our halls and studied in our classrooms when a lot of us had yet to start our higher education journey are the foundation of our culture. Thank you all for your continued support and laying that strong foundation that we continue to build upon today,” Ross said. “This means a lot to ASU, for alumni to see the value of giving back…It’s paying it forward to allow our students to experience the same education of a lifetime that our Golden Class has experienced. I think their excitement and energy are an inspiration to those who want to see Alabama State University’s legacy grow.”
Michael Washington, Chairman of Finance for the Class of 1973 and the owner of Division 12 Consultants, issued a challenge to the Class of 1974 and each Golden Class after that.
“We are going to reset the $300,000 we hope to give later this year. So, I charge you to do better than our Class in giving back to an institution that has given you so much. We want to keep the bar high. This University is on the move. With the vision that Dr. Ross has for this institution, he needs support not only from our class but the entire community as well. With more funding, he can bring in more programs and attract more students. If we want the best and to remain a first-class institution, we have to support that with finances and with encouragement,” said Washington whose sister, brother and daughter also graduated from ASU.
The Golden Class Reunion/Brunch is an annual event honoring alumni who return to the ASU campus to celebrate their 50-year class reunion and walk across the graduation stage for the second time to be honored by the University’s President as being members of ASU’s Golden Class.
A Special Moment
A special moment during the Thursday night event was when three unsuspecting students were called on stage to receive $5,000 each to pursue their medical dreams. The students were Landon Hale, a sophomore majoring in rehabilitation services; Chandler Brown, a sophomore majoring in psychology, with a minor in chemistry; and Esaelynn Cameron, a sophomore majoring in biology.
“This young man and two ladies are future doctors. They have aspirations of going to medical school, but it’s going to take a little help to get them there. They have to take a test called MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). These monies will help them to get through the MCAT. This is where your dollars are going, Class of 1973,” said Col. (ret.) Gregory Clark, Vice President of Institutional Investment.
A Golden Class Member’s View
Class of 1973 member, Dr. Charles S. Hill, an ophthalmologist in the Metro Atlanta area, said ASU shaped his future.
“I came from a humble background and had to work four part-time jobs to get through Alabama State…I’m a living example of how Alabama State helps its students. I came from nowhere with only a dream.,” he said.
Hill said he had exceptional professors, especially Mrs. Hunt, who took him under their wings and guided him, counseled him and led him in the right direction. “Mrs. Hunt was like a mother to me.”
Hill recalls one professor, Bobby Young, who pushed him to excel.
“You had to be on your game in his classroom….At the end of the semester, I had a 97 average in his class and he gave me a ‘B.’ He told me that 97 in his class was a strong ‘B’ and I would have had to make 100 to get an ‘A.’ I smiled and aimed for that 100 the next time.”
His studies in comparative anatomy and his graduate studies at ASU, Hill said, helped him be competitive in medical school, where he received his degree on a full scholarship from the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. He has been in practice for more than 20 years.
“I learned that the key to success is hard work,” Hill said. “You can’t get around it if you want to succeed. It’s not going to be easy, but you can accomplish anything you want to if you put in the work.”
Hill has an established ASU scholarship in his name for pre-med students.
The Class of 1973 had a memorable reunion with three days, May 3-5, of events including a reception, a brunch, a tour of the campus, socializing with classmates, the Golden Reunion Gala, and the highlight – walking with the current graduation class during the Spring Commencement.