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Alice Carson Tisdale said the 13th annual First Lady's Hats and Gloves Scholarship Tea was a bittersweet occasion.

The retiring Claflin University first lady used the Tuesday event at the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Wellness Complex as an opportunity to thank supporters and tell the crowd of new opportunities and challenges.

“I have truly enjoyed this special event during the many years of its existence,” she said. “I pray that this flagship event will continue on in years to come as we recognize and celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of the many unsung heroes living among us as well as with our scholarships for deserving young women."

All proceeds from the event benefit the Alice Carson Tisdale Scholarship, which is presented to female students during the tea. The students are chosen based on need and academic success.

"I want to express my deep thank you and appreciation for the love and friendship you continually extended to me over these past 25 years. ... I'll see you around often."

Claflin President Henry N. Tisdale and the first lady, for whom the university’s honors college is named, are retiring at the end of the 2018-19 academic year. While Mrs. Tisdale says she is looking ahead, she also told the Hats and Gloves attendees of challenges.

"I want to confess to you this evening that life does indeed keep us busy and often presents us with many curves and challenges, some joyful, some not so joyful. Such as been my case over the last three to four months.

“As most of you know, I took a bad tumble in November and fractured my hip. Well, while on the road to recovery, I have since been diagnosed with breast cancer. I have been in treatment for a time and trust me when I say that I am progressing well."

She is looking ahead to retirement.

“Having had plenty of time and opportunity to reflect, refocus and reset, I don't need sympathy or sorrow because I don't plan to sit around and do nothing. I plan to, in the words of Jill Scott, live my life like it's golden."

And she plans to be a voice for others.

"I plan to stand beside our nine honorees this evening and walk in their paths for better health care, first-class services for women and benefits for women and children. And I plan to join the march and voice for improving our educational system and opportunities for the children of South Carolina. I plan, my friends, to continue in my healing. And I encourage you to join me and become an advocate, a champion for women's and children's rights everywhere. I invite you to join me."

Aligning with the 2019 Women's History Month theme, the tea was themed "Visionary Women: Champions of Peace and Nonviolence." Master of ceremonies was Steve Brown, rising comedy star who has been showcased on Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam and the Tom Joyner Morning Show.

The 2019 Visionary Leadership Award honorees are women who have made history by being among the largest group of African-American females ever to serve in the S.C. House of Representatives. The representatives were honored for their dedication and service to South Carolina and their ability to work in the House to bring positive change.

The honorees are:

  • Rep. Wendy C. Brawley of Hopkins (District 70).
  • Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter of Orangeburg (District 66).
  • Rep. Chandra E. Dillard of Greenville (District 23).
  • Rep. Rosalyn D. Henderson-Myers of Spartanburg (District 31).
  • Rep. Patricia Moore Henegan of Bennettsville (District 54).
  • Rep. Annie E. McDaniel of Winnsboro (District 41).
  • Rep. Anne Parks of Greenwood (District 12).
  • Rep. Leola C. Robinson of Greenville (District 25).
  • Rep. Krystle N. Simmons of Ladson (District 117).

The 2019-20 student scholarship recipients are:

  • Latyra Capers of Summerville, freshman biology major.
  • Esther Njeri of Radcliff, Kentucky, junior biology major.
  • Tani’ja Wills of Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, sophomore biology major.

Each received a $2,000 scholarship and laptop computers given by Emma Harvin, president, One Source Office Supplies, Melbourne, Florida.

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Aliya Byrd is a student in the mass communications department at Claflin University and reports for The Panther, the student newspaper. www.claflin.edu/news-events/the-panther.

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