By Zenitha Prince
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper
The recent massacre of nine congregants in an African-American church in Charleston, S.C., by a self-proclaimed White supremacist has been marked by stories, not so much of hate, but of touching tales of forgiveness, graciousness and an outpouring of love.
In another of those inspiring stories, Southern Wesleyan University (SWU) this week announced it is offering full tuition scholarships to the four children of DePayne Middleton-Doctor, a university employee and one of nine victims killed in the tragic Emanuel AME Church shooting June 17.
“Right now, more than anything, we want DePayne’s children to know we love them,” said University President Todd Voss in a statement. “We want to honor DePayne’s service to SWU and her belief in Christian higher education as an important element in Gracyn, Kaylin, Hali and Czana’s future success.”
A 1994 alumna of Southern Wesleyan, Middleton-Doctor was employed at the institution’s Charleston learning center as an admissions coordinator. Former colleagues praised her for her embodiment of Christ-like principles, including her demonstration of love and service to family, students and co-workers.
“DePayne was a wonderful woman and co-worker who embodied the best of what we do here at SWU,” said Dean Grile, senior director of recruitment services and director of the university’s Charleston learning center. “She enjoyed reaching out to working adults to give them a second chance or a first opportunity to improve their lives and their family’s lives through education.”
The scholarships will cover each child’s tuition for their entire enrollment, if they choose to attend Southern Wesleyan, according to Chad Peters, vice president for enrollment management. The awards are the university’s way of honoring a beloved employee, who often boasted of her children’s accomplishments to co-workers.
“As a community we are deeply saddened by the loss of a valued employee who faithfully served and ministered to adult and graduate students in Charleston,” Peters said. “We realize the scholarships won’t ease the pain of loss that the children are dealing with now and in the future; however, it is our desire as a community for each of them to know we care about them.”
Middleton-Doctor was among several people killed when alleged assailant, 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, opened fire on the group that had gathered for Bible study in a racially motivated attack.
Hundreds of mourners, including President Barack Obama and a congressional delegation, attended funeral services for the victims.