by Shirley Brown, ARGUS Society Editor
The Harris-Stowe State University Alumni Association held its 20th Annual Brown and Gold Gala at the Norwood Hills Country Club. The event recognized and honored Alumni for distinguished career achievements and outstanding service. Friends, family, business associates, and members of the Harris-Stowe State University staff and faculty joined alumni for the event which was held during Homecoming Week as Harris-Stowe State University celebrated its 165th Anniversary.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to alumni Julius Hunter and Dr. Joylynn L. Pruitt Adams. Julius Hunter wrote the words and music to the rousing Harris-Stowe Alma Mater song. Before retiring, he celebrated thirty-two years in broadcasting that included senior anchor and reporter at KSDK News Channel 5. At KMOV, TV Channel 4, Hunter was the first African American assigned to a primetime position in St. Louis. After retiring from broadcasting, he worked as Vice President for Communications at Saint Louis University for five years; A National Dean’s List recipient, Dr. Pruitt-Adams’ career spans forty-five years as a classroom teacher, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent. She currently serves as superintendent of Riverview Gardens School District.
Alumni Dr. Rise’ D. Black, Bishop Illona Dickson and Dr. Thomasina Hassler received the Distinguished Alumni Award. Dr. Rise’ Black, a retired educator, served over 35 years in education. She served in the St. Louis Public Schools and the Riverview Gardens School District; Bishop Illona Dickson is the founding pastor of the Radiant Life in Christ Apostolic Church, Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. A recently retired teacher, she spent 35 years in the St. Louis Public School System. She is the first female in the history of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World to be elevated to the Office of Suffragan Bishop and Chairman of the Midwestern District Council; Dr. Thomasina Hassler is a former high school counselor. She is a former adjunct professor at Harris-Stowe and serves as an Assistant Teaching Professor and Director of the Matthew D. Davis Social Justice/Racial Justice Institute at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Dr. Hassler was appointed to the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners in 2019 and is currently the Chair of the Board of Managers for the St. Louis County Metropolitan Police Academy.
Alum Mary Becks-Larde received the Alumni Community Service Award. From 1972-2007, she served as an elementary teacher and twelve years as an elementary counselor. As a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., she served as chair of the Stork’s Nest for twenty-four years; Alum Reverend Dr. Doris Graham received the Alumni Community Servant Award. She retired in 2005 as assistant principal of Ames Visual and Performing Arts Magnet school after serving thirty-eight years in the St. Louis Public Schools System. Dr. Graham currently serves as an elected member of the St. Louis Community College Board of Trustees. In 1988, she became the first African American woman elected to serve on the Ferguson-Florissant School Board.
Several Alumni received the Outstanding Alumni Leader Under 40 Award. Honorees included William E. Archibald, Deontrel Brownlee, Neidra Butler, Ed.D., Pamela Davis, Jeffrey Terrell Dean, Sharnice Frazier-Boyd, Jazminique Holley, Batrice Jackson, Jamez Kinnard, Amanda Moore, Mark Morgan, Jr., Brooke Pressley, Malinda Romsey, Imani Scutchins, Ronnesha Smith and Jaylia Washington.
The Gold and Brown Gala is the premier fundraising event of the HSSU Alumni Association. Support is critical because proceeds from the Gold and Brown Gala benefit scholarships for Harris-Stowe students with a financial need. Scholarship contributions also serve as an investment in the future of those students and help to ensure their success. With 96% of Harris-Stowe State University students receiving financial aid and many being first generation attendees, scholarship support is one of the most critical needs supported by the Alumni Association.
As Harris-Stowe continues to flourish and expand, the need for student financial support will increase. Harris-Stowe proudly offers the most affordable bachelor’s degree in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Expanding from one academic program to 14, Harris-Stowe has achieved great success through the years. Dr. LaTonia Collins Smith is President of Harris-Stowe State University, Jeffrey Shaw is Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Shirley A. Brown is President of the Harris-Stowe State University Alumni Association.
For information about the Harris-Stowe State University Alumni Association, visit www.hssuaai.com or in addition to Alumni President Shirley Brown, contact any member of the HSSU Alumni Association Board: Sarah Archibald, Carolyn Thomas, Kalifa Gray, or Nia Smith.
Nominate a Doer: To keep readers informed on who’s who in the community, Shirley A. Brown’s column will highlight a community “Doer” each week. A “Doer” is an individual or organization committed to making St. Louis a better place to live and work. Readers are invited to send “Doer” recommendations to Ms. Brown. Send recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org.