BCU’s 48th annual National Convention was a success

Linda Swain


DAYTONA — The National Alumni Association of Bethune-Cookman University, Inc. held its 48th Annual National Convention on the campus of Bethune Cookman University (BCU) on Daytona Beach in June.  The theme of the convention was “Returning to the Old Landmark,” and was hosted by the mother chapter, Volusia County.

There were numerous highlights of this year’s convention, specifically the president’s State of the University’s Luncheon, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial Breakfast with Lee Ryant, class of 1972 as keynote speaker and music provided by the Thomas D. Demps Alumni Concert Chorale.

Then there was the Ms. Alumni Coronation at which time Linda Swain from the St. Petersburg Chapter was crowned Ms. Maroon for the 2016-17 year.  Thanks to the financial support of the people in this area, this is the first time in the history of the St. Petersburg/Pinellas County Chapter to have had a contestant make the Ms. Alumni court for two consecutive years.

Gwendolyn “Gwen” Anderson, president of the St. Petersburg/Pinellas Chapter was the recipient of the Edward Rodriquez Award by the National Alumni Association of Bethune Cookman University, Inc. for outstanding service to developing the local chapter and the national alumni association.

Additionally, there was a motorized tour of the campus with an opportunity to make stops along the way and enter the new dormitories and other buildings.  Many conventioneers were heard saying: “This is a great convention,” “When are we coming back to Daytona?” “It is alright to go to other cities in Florida, but there is no place like home.”

The campus was just breathtaking with colorful landscaping and the beautiful new buildings to compliment the old and historic buildings. This tour was a memorable part of the convention, especially for those who had not visited the campus for some years.  Many were mesmerized by the growth of the university, and to think it was all started with a vision of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, five little girls and $1.50!

On Saturday evening, the National Alumni Association of Bethune Cookman University, Inc., Volusia Chapter sponsored and honored graduates in education for their years of service at an Alumni Golden Awards Gala.  The attire was semi-formal and formal and the attendees were dressed in shades of gold as they dined and danced the evening away.

The St. Petersburg/ Pinellas County Chapter had six members honored during the gala with a cumulative total of over 200 years of service to the young people in our public school system.  The honorees in order of years of service:

  • Mrs. Arthurene “Art” Williams – 38 years of service
  • Mrs. Gwendolyn “Gwen” Anderson – 37 years of service
  • Ms. Helen D. Davis – 35 years of service
  • Mr. Alvin Porter – 33 years of service
  • Mrs. Daphne Porter – 32 years of service
  • Johnny Welch – 31 years of service

The convention closed with a spirit-filled church service, which was held in the historic Heyn’s Chapel on the campus of BCU.  The message for the service was brought by Rev. Obbie Burns from the Atlanta Chapter and music was provided by Vanessa Lloyd, Mrs. Alumni 2016-17 from the Volusia County Chapter.

Next year’s convention will be held in Miami from June 21-25 with the theme of “Living the Legacy – A Red Carpet Affair.” Mark your calendar and make plans to attend if possible.

The St. Petersburg/Pinellas County Chapter welcomes new members and those wanting to return.  Meetings are held on the second Thursday of each month starting in September and ends in June with an end of the year social/dinner.

Meetings are held at the Enoch Davis Center, 1111 18th Ave. S at 6:30 p.m.  For more information, please contact President Gwen Anderson at (727) 867-1664 or e-mail her at bccgrad74@gmail.com

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