Thursday, October 28, 2021
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Celebrating 45 Years of Black Excellence
By Tensie J. Taylor, Associate Director USC BAA
Published April 29, 2021

Cassandra Mayfield-Anderson, Kenneth Frank, Lika Dozier, Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray and Sam “Bam” Cunningham

On Saturday, May 1st at 5:30 pm PST, the University of Southern California Black Alumni Association (USC BAA) will host its [virtual] Annual Scholarship Gala, celebrating 45 years of Black Excellence! If one has attended a USC BAA event before, (s)he knows how elegant and experiential it is. Whether the gala transpires on a private yacht with Grammy-nominated artist Anthony Hamilton, or at the beautiful Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, or at the Grammy Museum in downtown Los Angeles listening to the soulful, mellifluous sounds of songstress Lalah Hathaway, USC BAA puts on a classy affair with intent and purpose. With each event, the goal is to raise money for scholarships for Black students, and for the past 13 years under the hegemony of Dr. Michele G. Turner, USC BAA has soared in academics, scholarship, and mentorship of Black students due to the philanthropic spirit of dedicated volunteers, alumni, celebrities, board members, and corporate sponsors.

Due to COVID-19, this year’s event will be held virtually with the promise of still being excitingly exquisite. Five phenomenal alumni will be honored for their philanthropy, legacy, service, and volunteerism to USC BAA. The honorees are: Mr. Kenneth Frank ’89 who will receive the Outstanding Alumnus Award; Mr. Sam “Bam” Cunningham ’73 who will receive the Legacy Award; Mrs. Cassandra Mayfield-Anderson ’74 who will receive the Donor Vanguard Award; Ms. Lika Dozier ’99 who will receive the Outstanding Mentor Award; and Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray ’02 who will receive the Kilgore Service Award. USC Black Alumni Advisory Council Board Chair Mr. Simeon Stewart states, “We are proud to honor such exceptional alumni who have assiduously made strides to this organization. We cannot do what we do in BAA without the support of people like Rev. Murray, Cassandra, Lika, Sam, and Kenneth, and we pay homage to them and their legacies.”

Each year, BAA assists more than 100 scholars with financial aid, and to date, has awarded over $4.5 million in scholarships to Black USC students. Founded in 1976 by Rev. Dr. Thomas Kilgore Jr., the USC Black Alumni Association is a leadership network established to strengthen the legacy of educational attainment and excellence of USC’s Black students. The BAA provides scholarship assistance, career mentoring, and cultural advocacy through alumni networking, volunteer involvement, philanthropy, and social enterprise.

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Signature programs and events assist students with their academic, career, and holistic development, and these include: the Legacy through Leadership Mentoring Program, the Scholars Program, Toastmasters, Inc., the Pinning & Affirmation Ceremony, and the Aligning for Black Excellence in Higher Education Summit. Additionally, BAA’s Advisory Council (BAC) gives strategic guidance concerning BAA’s mission, alumni engagement, student matriculation support, scholarship growth, and donor cultivation. The BAC plays a pivotal role in the success of the Black Alumni Association, where members are diligently involved and give their time, talent, and treasure to advance Black student achievement. The core values and principles of compassion, partnership, accountability, stewardship, and service are at the helm of the BAC.

As of March 15, the USC Black Alumni Association welcomed a new Executive Director, Dr. Patricia Tucker, to add to its existing team of Ms. Tensie J. Taylor, associate director, and Mr. Gary D. Brown, assistant director. Taylor and Brown lead BAA’s Legacy through Leadership Mentoring Program and the BAA Scholars Program, respectively, and have been instrumental in growing the organization with alumni volunteers and donor support.

To purchase tickets to the 45th Annual Scholarship Gala, visit www.usc.edu/baa.

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