Scholarship Helps Student to Excel in School and Athletics

By Benny L. Smith, APR

Tiqeece Brown is probably not your typical college student.

While most students have large gaps of time throughout the week to hang out with friends, Tiqeece uses his time management skills to be able to play college football, study for his upper-level classes and serve as a mentor to underclassman.

He not only just completes each task, but excels in them as senior at Winston-Salem State University.

"It gets really busy, but somehow it works," Brown, 21, said during a recent on-campus interview.

Dressed in a green shirt and tie, the honors student described the impact of a $5,000 scholarship Food Lion and Coke awarded to him for being a grand prize winner in its 2015 CIAA Essay contest.

"First of all, I just want to thank Food Lion and Coke for taking the time to show that you care by giving back to your community," Brown said. "Now I find myself leaning towards those brands when I need to purchase something. That is the least I can do to show my appreciation."

The scholarship helped Tiqeece to continue his studies at WSSU, where he is majoring in Political Science with a 3.7 G.P.A. He has been on the deans list at the university since attending. The funds also allowed him to purchase books for classes and focus more on school as opposed to juggling a part-time job like some other students.

It also allowed him to continue to excel at sports, where as a linebacker with the WSSU Football special teams, Tiqeece helped win the CIAA Football Championship just last fall.

It actually was football that introduced him to the essay contest existence. Last year after practice, his coach informed the team about the scholarship. The team then walked over to Hill Hall on the campus to learn more about it through a formal presentation.

"I knew that I was a great writer so I just thought on a whim that I would enter," Tiqeece said.

With the deadline only two days away he immediately started typing out his thoughts to answer the essay's question, “How has your CIAA school influenced your perspective on life or view of the world?”

It took him only 30 minutes. He then took it to the writing center to have them review it and "they really liked it." Weeks later, while watching a Netflix movie in his dorm room he got that email that would make him jump for joy.

"When I saw that the grand prize scholarship was $5,000, I thought I had just won the lottery," he said.

The student ran down the dorm hall excited before calling his mom in Shelby, N.C., to share the exciting news.

"It was just a good day!"

The following is Tiqueece's winning essay. Please note that the views and opinions in this essay may not reflect the views of Food Lion.

Tiqeece Winning Essay

Inmate 32546 drags his feet across the black and white speckled floor. With each step chains rattle relentlessly. In his orange attire, the prisoner is escorted on each side by men in blue.  Pacing down the hall, he droops his head and shakes it from left to right as memories are etched into his skull. He arrives in a room where a wooden chair awaits him. He sits down as he is welcomed by straps. He is veiled with a black cloth. A curtain is opened to spectators with stone-cold faces with their postured bodies. A smirk arises from the guards face. A quick prayer is mumbled by the inmate.

All of a sudden the lights flicker in a Morse code manner. Okay and pause.  The prisoner is an African American, but you probably already assumed that due to the misconceptions portrayed by the media that all black people are primitive and violent. What did he do? He probably deserves what is happening to him, right?

Maybe the prisoner is me in the future or who I am supposed to be, according to society and statistics. What if I told you that this whole scenario was an allegory pertaining to the status quo and/or stereotype of society? As a Black man in America, I was taught that I had one strike against me already because I was an African American.      

Websters dictionary definition of the word Black states: dirty, absence of light, thoroughly sinister or evil, characterized by hostility or angry discontent, and very sad. There are a plethora of negative connotations associated with the word black compared to the dearth of positive connotations. With that being said, the status quo for some time was to ostracize or outcast these darker toned people.

I have understood that black is meant to be a malicious thing and that people that are Black will be the low man on the totem pole of the social gradient and etc. WSSU has prepared me to overcome such misconceptions as the experience here has helped instill in me the qualities of a person with good character.     

Transferring into Winston-Salem State from a PWI (Predominately White Institution) has impacted me more than I intended it to prior to arriving. I transferred in for the sole purpose of just playing football, but this Institution of Higher Learning has taught me life lessons and that people indeed do care if you succeed. This program is rich and known for winning in all aspects of a school, from academics to athletics. The HBCU experience has taught me to embrace my Black culture and to persevere even when times are unbearable. Through dealings with society and what is portrayed in the media as of late (i.e police brutality against minorities), my CIAA school has taught me to always strive to do better, be cordial as well as peaceful, and that my black life does matter to this world as a person of my intellectual caliber can contribute to making this world a better place.

The prisoner in the scenario mentioned earlier is an analogy of how, as a Black person in White America that we will forever be the victim of white patriarchal capitalism/society (success is defined by money, etc.).  Winston-Salem State University has given me tools to use as a stepping stone to escalate to the top. This institution encourages its students to even run for political offices and to always aim high. To always get it in writing or the principle of and check again to ensure one is doing all they can to validate ones means of being successful. I am accustomed to winning, at WSSU, we are all winners. 

There is a plethora of diversity here which is much appreciated. I look at life as a challenge and that no one owes you anything.  I am the darker brother, who will always maintain my integrity.

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