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Luncheon brightens students’ futures

SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS SHARE SMILES – At the first annual Humboldt Leading Ladies Luncheon Dr. Janice Epperson (back right) congratulated the scholarship recipients, along with recent pageant winner, Ms. Winter Tiara Pankey. Those receiving scholarships are (from left) Madison Pettigrew, Chelsi Brown, (Pankey), Destiny Shutes, Aareonia Johnson and Madilyn Donald. All scholarships were awarded to students from Humboldt Jr./Sr. High School.

by Ariel McRae

On a dreary day in Humboldt, some of the city’s finest ladies gathered with a few students from Humboldt Jr./Sr. High School to make their day a little brighter. The first annual Humboldt Leading Ladies Scholarship Luncheon was held at the Opera House in downtown Humboldt on Wednesday, April 4 at noon.

The scholarships awarded were designed to provide the winning students from the Humboldt Jr./Sr. High School graduating class of 2022 with funds to use toward furthering their education upon the completion of their high school diploma.

All five of the students that applied for the scholarship, Chelsi Brown, Destiny Shutes, Madison Pettigrew, Madilyn Donald and Aareonia Johnson, were awarded the honor and invited to attend the event to recognize their success and to be imparted with advice from speakers as well as from the group of women responsible for the luncheon.

Marquita Patterson

After a brief lunch, Humboldt City Schools Superintendent Dr. Janice Epperson, Marquita Patterson and Joan Smith gave opening remarks to the gathered group of women. They invited the applicant reviewers Angela Reid, Linda Hawks and Rita Steward, up front for acknowledgement of their role in selecting the winners.

Throughout the program, Patterson and Smith were tasked with introducing each table of esteemed women. Every table was designed and themed by the influential women seated around them. During these introductions, the table sponsors stood to give the scholarship recipients’ advice and well wishes.

The speakers of the luncheon were Amanda Love, executive director of the Humboldt Chamber of Commerce; Donna Seymour, board member of the Humboldt Housing Authority, board member of the Stigall Museum and columnist for the Humboldt Chronicle; and Judy Fletcher, retired CPA and financial committee member for West Tennessee Health Care. These prominent women from the community spoke to the young ladies as future leaders about life after school, and the importance of leadership, perseverance and character in their personal and professional lives.

Joan Smith

Love spoke first on leadership and dubbed the room as, “the room where it happens.” She quoted this from Lin Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical “Hamilton” meaning every lady in that room was witnessing greatness happening in front of them.

Respect, admiration and a healthy dose of laughter were shared around the room as each speaker shared their thoughts on their assigned topic especially when Seymour was at the podium discussing perseverance.

“All the times you have pushed on even when you felt you couldn’t, that’s perseverance,” Seymour mentioned to the girls. “Never forget how much strength you have learned and developed along the way.”

Seymour ended her speech by giving an anecdote on once not understanding what the term G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) meant, but now that she knew it didn’t mean to be an actual goat she laughed and told the room, “Always be the G.O.A.T.”

At the conclusion of the event, the students were invited up to the front to accept their scholarships and were given large checks with their awarded amount. The scholarships ranged in amount from $400 to $1,000. 

“Always maintain your good character, set your goals high, and dream big,” Fletcher challenged the students to remember.

Last Wednesday, under the cover of April showers, these hopeful May graduates were given a number of useful tools so their budding futures could blossom with unlimited potential. 

PACKED HOUSE – Over 200 prominent women attended the first annual Humboldt Leading Ladies Scholarship Luncheon last Wednesday at the Opera House in downtown Humboldt. The luncheon was spearheaded by Dr. Janice Epperson, superintendent of Humboldt City Schools. The purpose of the luncheon was to offer advice and encouragement to the five female HHS scholarship recipients.

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