Luther Vandross scholarship inches Fernander closer to his goal
Kesha Williams July 15, 2014
You might say that Brian Fernander swapped one coastal setting for another when
he departed his native Nassau, Bahamas, two years ago to continue his college education
in Elizabeth City. His goal is to graduate with honors and sail to a promising future.
Since arriving at Elizabeth City State University as a sophomore, Fernander has been
busy studying for an accounting degree. Last spring, his hard work earned him induction
into Beta Gamma Sigma, an international honor society reserved for outstanding business
students. In order to fulfill his desire to perform as a singer and dancer, he also
selected a minor at ECSU -- music performance. That, too, kept him busy singing with
the University Choir and performing in skits and musicals. He has relied upon the
university's Financial Aid Office for help covering the costs of his education. As
an international student, Fernander is not eligible for U.S. federally funded financial
He was delighted to learn he was the recent recipient of a $1,000 scholarship from
the Luther and Mary Ida Vandross Fund. Managed by the Philadelphia Foundation, the
fund was established to honor the memory of Luther Vandross, an award-winning R&B
singer who died in July 2005, and his devoted mother Mary Ida, who died in 2008. Scholarships
from the fund assist students seeking to graduate from Historically Black Colleges
and Universities. In the fall of 2014, Tracie Hunter, director of ECSU's Office of
Financial Aid anticipates awarding 5 additional scholarships to eligible students
in the amount of $2,500 from the same fund.
"The scholarship came right in time to settle fees for the spring 2014 semester. I
was extremely grateful and elated to be granted this scholarship as it is difficult
for international students to get financial aid," Fernander said.
"As an international student, I felt like the minority," he continued. "But that has
inspired and motivated me to do what was required to succeed and make the best of
my undergrad experience. I also felt the need to succeed to pave the way for future
international students who may be in search of an institution with a thriving international
Fernander shares his positive ECSU experience with friends, family and former teachers
in the Bahamas to assure them that this 123-year-old institution is the place where
dreams come true. His projected graduation date is December 2014. He will be the first
in his family to earn a B.S. degree in Accounting.