The Oraphine Watkins Crump Scholarship. It’s an inspiration that united five alumni in their quest to give back to VCU. It’s a fitting salute to an African American woman whose achievements and aspirations were extraordinary for her time. And it’s a financial lifeline created to help support first-generation students enrolled in the School of Business.
“We all wanted the same thing separately, but at the same time,” remembers Rodney Taylor ’17. “Then Angela Bartee (Assistant Director of Development) pointed out we’d be more effective working together.” So that’s how Taylor came to team up with Executive MBA alumni DeMond Chapman, Linda Hines, Akia Jackson and Joel Phillips to create the $5,000 scholarship. “I have been incredibly blessed,” says Taylor, “so I wanted to do my small part to help keep people focused on education.”
Designed especially for first-generation college students, the Oraphine Watkins Crump Scholarship will allow the recipient to work fewer hours in off-campus jobs, thus committing more time to studies and extra-curricular activities.
Linda Hines understands that situation well. “It’s especially challenging for those who have no direct mentors in the family to serve as role models,” she says. “I wanted to pursue my education, but then I wanted to help others.”
DeMond Chapman works for Dupont. His parents instilled the value of education in him, and his employer echoed that theme, supporting his MBA degree. “It changed my career trajectory,” he says. “I want to give another person the opportunity to do some of the things I’ve been able to do. Education is a critical way to make life better.”
“Our scholarship seemed more important aligned with Oraphine,” says Chapman, “because she was all about education. She was a trailblazer. It’s the perfect name.” Crump died at age 96 last June. She had served as a branch manager of Consolidated Bank and Trust for 25 years and was the first African American woman on the New Kent County School Board.
Her friend Patricia Paige volunteered with her at Second Liberty Baptist Church in New Kent. “She was ever so proud of that church,” she remembers. “If it was any kind of community event, she was all in.”
Kia Jordan ’17 is Crump’s only granddaughter. “She would truly be honored that her story can be shared,” says Jordan. “There’s not a day that goes by I do not hear some of her lessons come out. ‘Know that nothing is too small of a feat. You can do anything you put your mind to. As long as you have goals and you lean into your support system, you’ll be okay.’ That’s exactly what she did.”
And that’s exactly what the scholarship donors hope to do -- provide goals and a support system that will increase the graduation rate of first-generation students. The $5,000 awarded to recipients in their sophomore year will continue until they receive their diplomas. For now, the founders have committed $25,000 over a five-year period, but they hope funding will eventually grow to support more students every year.
“We’re looking for a scholarship applicant who has educational aptitude but also wants to help others,” says Hines. Like Crump, the ideal student will have plans to pay it forward.
Crump’s friend Paige just grins. “If we could tell her about this scholarship now, she would get on the phone and call everybody. Then she’d have me make copies of the flyer and give me a list of people I needed to send it to so they could all donate too.