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Gospel Concert Funds Scholarship and Launches Dreams
Chestertown, Md., November 17, 2014—This Saturday, Nov. 22, the 100-Voice Choir will perform its final benefit concert for Washington College’s Vincent Hynson scholarship, filling the Kent County High School auditorium with exuberant, uplifting gospel music. Co-sponsored by Washington College and the Kent County Arts Council, the concert will be held at 4:00 p.m. Doors open at 3:15 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $5 in advance (Big Mixx’s, Twigs ’n Teacups, Bookplate, The Music Life) and $7 at the door.
The Vincent Hynson ’87 Scholarship was created in 2006 after being proposed by Meredith Hadaway, then V.P. for College Relations and Marketing at the College, as a way to honor the memory of a teacher, coach and pastor who was committed to the community, especially its young people. The scholarship idea was embraced by then-president Baird Tipson, who personally made generous donations to its endowment over the ensuing years.
At about the same time that the College was looking for a way to publicize and fund the Vincent Hynson Scholarship, Sylvia and Bill Frazier of the gospel-focused S&B Productions, were looking to make Sylvia’s dream of a community gospel choir a reality. Leslie Raimond, the executive director of the Kent County Arts Council, helped put the two together, and the first 100-Voice Choir concert was staged in November of 2006 as the first benefit for the scholarship.
Brought to reality by early and significant support from the Indian Point Foundation, the Vincent Hynson Scholarship Endowment Fund now carries a market value of more than $700,000. Fundraisers do not intend to stop there; once the scholarship has reached $1 million in value, it will provide full tuition, room and board in perpetuity. To date, lead donors include Richard and Jane Creighton, Tom Crouse and Kay Enokido, Peter and Melinda Darbee, Mickey and Margie Elsberg, Nina Houghton, the Middendorf Foundation, the Seraph Foundation, the late William Susen, and Baird and Sarah Tipson.
The scholarship is awarded to a financially eligible student in Kent County in honor of the late Reverend Vincent Hynson, a nontraditional (i.e. older) Washington College graduate who earned a degree in history in 1987. Hynson was known and loved as an exemplary member of the local community, and the recipients of the scholarship are chosen in part by how closely their achievements and aspirations emulate his values.
The scholarship serves as a valuable tie between Washington College and its local community. “I firmly believe that the scholarship is one important way that the College can show its respect for the community that has supported it for well over 200 years,” says Tipson, who now lives in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, but plans to return for Saturday’s event. “I have been gratified to hear that members of the community take a great deal of pride in these scholarship winners and their success.”
Tipson enjoyed singing with the 100-Voice Choir while in Chestertown. “I am sorry the choir is disbanding after this final concert, but I remain a huge fan of Sylvia and Bill Frazier, who worked tirelessly to keep the choir going and have been major forces in preserving African-American music in Kent County,” he says. “It was a great honor to have sung with the choir, and our performances remain one of my most cherished memories of our time in Chestertown.”
Tipson adds that the Vincent Hynson scholars he got to know “were outstanding students whose careers will surely be a credit both to the College and to the Chestertown community.” The recipients to date are Joyell Johnson ’10, Christalyn Frisson Grandison ’11, and current senior Darius Johnson. Below is a summary of how each recipient has used the scholarship as a launch pad for further achievement.
JOYELL JOHNSON ’10
Johnson is in her final year of law school at New England Law in Boston, focusing on civil rights and international human rights law, with plans to spend her spring semester working at The Hague, in The Netherlands. The position at the Hague, where she will work for The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, is the latest in a string of valuable internships and positions Johnson has benefited from since graduating from Washington College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities and a concentration in Black Studies. She was a law clerk focused on immigration law at Catholic Charities of Baltimore, a research assistant for New England’s Center for International Law and Policy, and a paralegal for the Dorothea Advocacy Project, helping represent women with mental illness.
She is now a Judicial Intern with the Boston Municipal Court, a Regional Coordinator at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, working on an international initiative to address violence against women, and an Executive Comment and Note Editor for the New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement.
Staying busy with meaningful work is nothing new to Johnson. At Washington College, she was a 2009 Comegys Bight Fellow on the research topic, “The Evolution of the African American Woman: The Mammy Caricature.” She was principal organizer for the The Washington College Haiti Relief Project, Secretary of Diversity for the Student Government Association, and a recipient of the Outstanding Community Service Award.
For Johnson, following in the footsteps of a community leader was “absolutely” an important part of being a Vincent Hynson Scholar. “I applied, obviously, for the financial assistance, but I also wanted to apply because of who Mr. Hynson was,” she says. “It was more than just a scholarship, because I had heard stories about who Mr. Hynson was.
“While attending Washington College, I did not want to waste this opportunity. I became involved in student activities, studied abroad, and learned about different areas of study. Being exposed to social issues while abroad and in class inspired me to become a community leader, like Mr. Hynson. Not just in Maryland communities, but in any community. I would not be becoming a lawyer were it not for Hynson’s legacy, WC opportunities, and superb professors like Dr. Alisha Knight, Dr. Pamela Pears, and Dr. Donald McColl, who helped cultivate my interests.”
Johnson is sad to see the 100-Voice Choir come to a close. “My great aunt sang in the 100 Voice Choir,” she notes. “I am sad this is the last concert, but humbled to have been one of the Vincent Hynson scholars they supported.”
CHRISTALYN FRISON GRANDISON ’11
Grandison graduated from Washington College in 2011 with a degree in Business Management. During her time at the College, she was a member of Cleopatra’s Sisters and the Black Student Union, a caller for Phonathon, and a volunteer tutor at The Alley Teen Center. Since graduating, she has earned her graduate degree from Frostburg State University in business administration and married David J. Grandison, a Senior Airman with the United States Air Force. She is currently working in a bank on the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where her husband is stationed.
“Vincent Hynson was a wonderful man, teacher, community worker, and friend of my family,” she writes from Germany. “The fact that his impact on our community paved the way for me to attend such a prestigious college is humbling and has engrained his memory even further onto my heart. While at Washington College, I was blessed with learning opportunities, experiences and interactions that broadened my horizons. Thank you to all who have made my and others’ dreams possible through this scholarship, including the 100-Voice Choir.”
DARIUS JOHNSON ’15
Johnson is the current holder of the Vincent Hynson Scholarship and will be speaking at the November 22 concert. The Washington College senior will graduate in the spring with a degree in business management. His internships have included work with Doug Ashley Realtors and Radcliffe Corporate Services.
Johnson says it felt great to receive the Vincent Hynson Scholarship, “knowing my hard work had paid off. But I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family,” he adds. “Plus, it was a huge relief to know that my education wouldn’t be a financial burden on my family.”
The Vincent Hynson scholarship meant more than just the money, he adds. “The idea of being a community leader was very inspirational,” he says. “I’ve realized the importance of giving back during my time at Washington College, and I understand why Vincent Hynson put emphasis on doing that. … You don’t necessarily have to be a community leader to give back and make an impact on a community. Anyone can do it at any level,” he explained. “Empowering others is something I intend to do.”
Johnson has a lot of respect for the people who have helped him thus far in his achievements. As the final 100-Voice choir benefit concert approaches, he says, “It still is surreal that so many people can get together for a cause that provides the education for one student. The impact their efforts have had on me is immeasurable.”