ECSU students set goals and claim their blazers: BlazerScholars express pride in their accomplishment

Kesha Williams
April 11, 2011

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This year, five males and three females top the list of ECSU students who collectively received more than 100 awards and certificates for academic achievement at the 2011 Honors Program Convocation. It was held on April 7 in the auditorium of the Mickey L. Burnim Fine Arts Center.

They earned the prestigious Blazer Scholars Award, which is reserved for graduating seniors who have maintained a 3.75 grade point average (GPA) or higher for six consecutive semesters. The eight students earned all of their credit hours at Elizabeth City State University and have not transferred to ECSU from another institution. Each Blazer Scholar received a certificate and a blazer bearing the university seal on the breast pocket and gold buttons.

The students and their majors follow:

  • Joshua Askew, political science
  • Kanika Bryant, English
  • Blake Cooper, biology
  • Amber Lester Jones, English
  • Mark Ladow, aviation science
  • Rena Moore, criminal justice
  • Alexander Nwala, computer science
  • Dexter Peele, biology

Dr. Velma Blackmon, director of the Honors Program, said the ceremony is a joyous occasion for students and their families.

"This is the one convocation where the best students know they will be recognized for their high academic standards. The convocation is held to honor those who have achieved the things for which we are proud --academic achievement," Blackmon said.

Each department in the university's four academic schools sends its chairperson or another representative to bestow the awards during the annual convocation. Comments from the Blazer Scholars follow:

Joshua Askew:  "I am honored but know that it wouldn't have been possible without the support of my family and the faculty at ECSU. I am hoping that it gives me a competitive edge in officer candidate programs for the military." Askew maintained a 4.0 grade point average.

Kanika Bryant: "I have aspired to be a Blazer Scholar since I entered ECSU as a freshman and became a member of the university's Honors Program. I believe the distinction is among the highest honors bestowed upon an undergraduate, and I am overwhelmingly pleased by my accomplishment."

Blake Cooper: "I can't begin to describe how excited I am to be the recipient of this award, and I give God the glory. I learned, from trial and error, that you should always pace yourself when studying and not concentrate all of your study time the night before an exam -- rewarding yourself after small achievements goes a long way.  Ecclesiastes 9:10 states it best, 'Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might...' "

Amber Lester Jones: "My goal when I first came to college was to maintain a GPA higher than the one I graduated high school with -- a 3.7. I first heard of the Blazer Scholar distinction in a seminar for the ECSU Honors Program. From then on, I was driven to earn my own blazer. Now that I am a Blazer Scholar, I really hope to inspire my younger sister, a freshman at UNC-W, who is very intelligent. I want her to stay focused on what is most important for her right now -- her education."

Rena Moore: "I entered college with the determination to graduate at the top of my class. When it was time to study, it was time to study. I allowed little to interfere with my study time because my grades reflect me. This is truly a breathtaking achievement and I would really like for this achievement to inspire high school seniors. This achievement requires that you have the initial mindset to succeed academically, from the very beginning of your collegiate years."

Alexander Nwala:  "I come from Rivers State in Nigeria, born the last child into a family of seven. Diligence and honesty are my core values. I am humbled and very grateful to God and the school as I receive the Blazer Scholar distinction, and remain hopeful it would add to the platform that will lead me into a post-graduate program to study artificial intelligence -- robotics. I believe any student who strives to succeed and perseveres by consistent diligence will succeed."

Dexter Peele:  "It was my goal to achieve the Blazer Scholar. I learned about this award during the beginning of my freshman year. Prior to receiving this award, I was accepted to pharmacy school. Maintaining the Chancellor's List for several semesters has given me a competitive edge. This will help serve as an indicator that making good grades is possible as long as you have the right mindset."

Mark Ladow was unavailable for comment.