To honor the legacy of the grandmothers who guided and inspired her to reach her goals, Georgetown native Kay Vanderhorst DeWalt has started a scholarship at Winthrop University.
The Legacy of Empowerment Scholarship, funded by an annual luncheon, will provide financial assistance for students who demonstrate a need, with first preference given to minority female students.
DeWalt dedicated the scholarship to her grandmothers, Beatrice Funnye and the late Juanita Vanderhorst.
“This is an important way to honor my grandmothers and afford other young women the opportunity to be empowered through education,” DeWalt said.
She said Funnye and Vanderhorst encouraged their children and grandchildren, as well as community members, to empower themselves through education. Funnye, who lives in Georgetown, said she values a good education.
“I’m from the old school, but I have always believed in education,” she said. “I raised eight children and they are all educated. I thank God for that because it was hard in those days.”
She said that she always taught her children and grandchildren to put God first. She added that education is very important today, especially for minority females.
“In the world we live in now, it is needed,” Funnye said. “There is a lot of failure with men and ladies have to step up to the plate. This is an important time for women to be educated.”
She said she is proud of DeWalt for providing this scholarship for young people.
“I think it is wonderful. I think she is doing a great job, something that is needed,” Funnye said. “I’m proud of her to think of something like that. She is a very talented young lady and a wonderful granddaughter.”
Funnye’s son and DeWalt’s uncle, Ray Funnye of Georgetown, said creating this scholarship is a reflection of her upbringing.
“Kay is a quintessential professional, always wanting to help others be good at what they want to do,” he said. “Both of her grandmothers were very good role models for her; they taught her how to be caring, loving and always reaching for the stars.”
He agreed with his mother that education for minority women is important.
“Minority women are the first teachers of our young boys and girls,” Ray Funnye said. “Having them empowered through education, there is a good chance that our next generation will be prepared for life experiences.”
DeWalt hosted an empowerment luncheon in June to share her vision with more than 40 inspiring women — including family, friends and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority sisters — who have influenced her life. In the spirit of the luncheon, many attendees made gifts to the Legacy of Empowerment Scholarship.
She plans to make the Legacy of Empowerment luncheon an annual event, and over time, building the scholarship to the $25,000 endowment level as a way to “pay forward” the invaluable lessons her grandmothers taught her.
DeWalt and her husband, Eric, who is a 2000 graduate of Winthrop University, reside in Charlotte, North Carolina, with their three children. Earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education at Winthrop, DeWalt serves as a Title I facilitator and instructional coach with the Fort Mill School District.
Meredith Carter, communications coordinator for Winthrop, said the Legacy of Endowment Scholarship “illustrates the university’s increased emphasis on creating a flourishing culture of philanthropy, with fundraising defined as an essential priority in the Winthrop Plan, the university’s strategic plan through 2025.”
To make a donation to the Legacy of Empowerment Scholarship go to www.winthrop.edu/foundation, or send checks made payable to “Winthrop University Foundation” to: Winthrop University Foundation, 302 Tillman Hall, Rock Hill, SC 29733.