Gift of Giving Gala Honors Black Terps’ Achievements

BY LAUREN BROWN | PHOTO BY STEPHANIE S. CORDLE

Nearly 400 students, faculty and alumni celebrated academic and professional achievement by black Terps at the third annual Gift of Giving Gala on April 7.

The event organized by the Student Success Leadership Council (SSLC), a student-run organization that focuses on developing student leaders and strengthening Maryland’s black community, also raised money for its emergency scholarship fund.

Alumni honorees were state Del. Jazz Lewis ’11, a first-term Democratic lawmaker from Prince George’s County; Craig Thompson ’92, a partner with the Baltimore law firm Venable LLP, a university foundation trustee and co-chair of Fearless Ideas: The Campaign for Maryland; and Jason Nichols ’00, Ph.D. ’12, an artist and African American studies lecturer at UMD.

Thompson says he was thrilled to learn of the honor and “became even more excited when I stepped into the ballroom and witnessed the energy and enthusiasm generated by the gala. I truly look forward to doing everything I can to help the SSLC achieve its goals and make the university even stronger!”

Four recent alumni were also honored as “influencers” for their contributions to the Maryland community and beyond: Shahrazad Hired ’17, Alexandra Givan ’16, Jazmyn White ’15 and Wendell Alston Jr. ’14.

Darius Williams ’19 and LaRen Morton ’18 were awarded for their leadership and service on and off campus as well as their scholastic achievements. Morton’s involvement included serving as a mentor with America Reads*America Counts, vice president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and student liaison with the Police Advisory Review Council. The family science major is a research assistant in the Early Childhood Interaction Laboratory and hopes to earn a doctorate in clinical psychology. Williams, an information science major and aspiring tech analyst, is a resident assistant; member of College Park Scholars, the Black Engineering Society and the Diazporic African dance troupe; and director of programming for the Caribbean Student Association.

“This event uplifts the campus and makes students excited about their experiences despite all the trying times we have faced,” says Mia McIntyre ’19, SSLC president. “It’s a celebration of our strength, resilience, solidarity and commitment to our professional and academic growth.”

Sydney Parker