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DeLand, FL 32720
NAACP support helps grads from DeLand, Deltona succeed
Deltona girl wins this year’s scholarship
posted Apr 30, 2014 - 8:07:57pm
DeLand High School graduate Arvia Bruten Hall doesn’t even remember the amount of the Freedom Fund scholarship she received in 1990, but the support represented by the NAACP award made all the difference.
“The money assisted me financially, but, more importantly, the moral support from my community and organizations such as this one also helped to instill confidence within me that allowed me to soar without fear,” Hall said.
Hall was valedictorian of her DHS graduating class back then, and was headed to the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. Today, she is the mother of three and a senior manager with General Electric Co.’s power and water division in Atlanta, where she has worked for 14 years.
Sean King of Deltona also received a NAACP scholarship in 1990, the year he graduated from Deltona High School.
"It made a difference for books and Raman noodles," King said. "One dollar for a 10-pack went along way at the A&P market."
King went on to earn a degree in finance and business management, and a master's degree in business. He worked in Atlanta after graduation, and was brought home to West Volusia by Covidien, to work as a production supervisor. Now, King is a self-employed business owner, and helps others with business start-ups.
The same support that helped launch Hall and King’s successes will undergird another outstanding high-school graduate this year, as the West Volusia Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People prepares for its annual Freedom Fund banquet Friday, May 2.
The West Volusia Branch of the NAACP gives at least one scholarship a year to a deserving high-school senior. The banquet will also include a keynote address by Dr. Patrick Coggins of Stetson University, and the presentation of the local branch’s first Difference Maker of the Year award.
Alexa Ruby Hardrick will be introduced as this year’s scholarship recipient.
Hardrick, a Deltona resident and a student in the International Baccalaureate program at DeLand High, is a member of the National Honor Society, the IB Club, and the DeLand High School Concert Choir.
“I am the oldest of three children. My brother, Kariden, is 11 years old, and my sister, Sienna, is 5. Most of all, I love God and, secondly, my family. We spend a lot of time together, and I love being a big sister, even on the more challenging days,” Hardrick said.
In addition to singing, Hardrick enjoys photography, reading and movies. She is enrolled for fall at Rollins College, where she plans to major in psychology.
That leap away from home and into college is easier with the support of family and community, Hall learned from experience.
“I was one of the few African-American female students pursuing an engineering degree. Knowing that my community had invested in me and had allowed me such an opportunity encouraged me to seek to make them proud rather than succumb to negative statistics,” she said. “Through my faith in God and with the support of my family and community, a foundation was laid for career excellence and advancement in the field of industrial engineering.”
Hall isn’t able to attend this year’s Freedom Fund banquet, but she does visit frequently in West Volusia. Her mother, Louise Bruten, and a number of aunts, uncles and cousins live in DeLand and DeLeon Springs.
Mike Williams of Deltona, president of the West Volusia Branch of the NAACP, said this year’s Freedom Fund banquet is sold out, and the 250-plus attending represent the broadest cross-section of people he recalls at the annual affair.
Williams said the NAACP, first formed in 1909, is still needed, although its focus has changed.
“That’s a charge and a challenge we have, keeping it relevant,” Williams said. “Nobody’s hanging anybody from trees or dragging them behind cars.”
That doesn’t mean racial discrimination has disappeared, he said.
“It’s in the workplace and the schools,” Williams said. “There’s plenty of work to be done.”
The local NAACP chapter has been heavily involved in that kind of work this year in DeLand, where the city administration and Police Department have been working hand-in-hand with Williams and others to strengthen the relationships between police officers and residents of the mostly African-American Spring Hill community.
Those efforts, Williams said, led to DeLand City Manager Michael Pleus being named the inaugural recipient of the Difference Maker award.
“Nobody is more deserving than Michael Pleus,” Williams said.
This is the local NAACP chapter’s 24th annual Freedom Fund banquet. The event will take place at New Hope Baptist Church in Deltona. The theme is “We Shall Not Be Moved.”
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