Tiffany Burgess awarded $5,000 in Alltel Wireless’ “Words of Wisdom” essay competition

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tiffany Burgess with poet Dr. Maya AngelouSouth Carolina State University freshman Tiffany Burgess from Kingstree, S.C. was selected as a grand prize winner in Alltel Wireless’ fourth annual “Words of Wisdom” essay contest for students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Burgess was one of ten winners selected from a pool of over 1,300 applicants and received a $5,000 scholarship to the HBCU of her choice. Burgess also traveled to Little Rock, Ark. for a reception in her honor at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library where she was presented her award by world-renowned poet.

Burgess’ essay was selected by educators, business leaders and Alltel Wireless employees based on her response to the essay question, “In remembering the past, what will you do to contribute to a brighter future?”

In her essay, Burgess compares life’s trials to that of a tree taking root. She writes, “Just like the things that try to prevent the tree from growing, there are things that [can] delay … [people] from getting to where they intend to go…Having a determined strong-minded mentality [will help people get] through the storm and rain…As people continue to stand, they are like that strong tree; their roots become stronger, healthier, studier and thicker.”

Following graduation from SC State University, Burgess plans to “give back to [her] community and surrounding areas in ways that are not just beneficial to one race, creed, social economic class or culture” by teaching biology at an area high school and sharing her story and words of inspiration.

“This award speaks volumes to caliber of students we have at SC State University. Tiffany is a wonderful example of an expressive mind in which intellect, strength and dedication to a brighter future reverberate,” said Dr. Leonard A. McIntyre, President of SC State University.

“Alltel Wireless continues to celebrate the achievements of African American students with our ‘Words of Wisdom’ essay contest,” said Regina Woziwodzki, director of multicultural marketing for Alltel. “It is with such pride and respect for their accomplishments that we honor these ten students for their commitment to their education and the future.”

“The challenges our predecessors faced serve as a constant reminder that we must all do
our part to ensure a brighter tomorrow,” said Dr. Angelou. “These young people are truly an
inspiration. I enjoyed spending time with each of them and hearing about their plans for our future.”

To continue the celebration, Burgess and her guests also enjoyed a private concert with R&B sensation Ruben Studdard at the Windsong Performing Arts Center. Studdard, a HBCU graduate from Alabama A&M University, performed at the “Words of Wisdom” reception for the first time this year.

“Pursuing a quality college education can be a costly endeavor,” said Studdard. “I applaud all the scholarship recipients for their commitment to furthering their education by participating in programs that celebrate our unique culture and history.”

While in Little Rock, Burgess toured local historical landmarks including the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion and Central High School, where nine African American students led the way for public school integration in the United States.