Gregory Benjamin, Director of Alumni Relations, represented Cheyney University at the 49th NEED Benefit Dinner. NEED provides career and college access services which empower at-risk, underrepresented youth from the Pittsburgh region to aspire to learn about, prepare for, and complete higher education. Many past and present Cheyney University students have received financial aid from NEED.
The keynote speaker for the evening was Dr. John H. Jackson, president and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education. Dr. Jackson gave an inspiring speech and congratulated the more than 40 scholarship finalists on their achievements. He reminded these graduating high school seniors that this was just the beginning, and that there would be many obstacles along the way to success. He challenged them — on the stage, face to face — to keep going and never quit because they were our future.
He reminisced about how the world had changed so quickly and that he was from the age when not that long ago, there were only 20 television stations and now there are hundreds. You could hear many in the audience laugh and respond “we only had three,” indicating that they were indeed even much older than Mr. Jackson. He received a standing ovation for his stirring message of hope and inspiration.
Sylvester Pace ‘76, President and CEO of NEED, former Alumni of the Year, and currently a Cheyney Foundation board member, presented the state of NEED and closing remarks. Several prospective Cheyney students including (Keyona Ayers and Ebony Brown) and parents attended the dinner. The prospective students had an opportunity to personally dialogue about their futures at Cheyney University with many alumni. Also in attendance were several Cheyney Foundation members, president/CEO, David Brooks Alston, Directors Althea W. Harris, Wilbur L. Kirkland and Carmen Martinez-Skinner, CUNAA board member, Gaynelle Turner Lewis, former CUNAA board member, Dr. Henry Harper, Pittsburgh Chapter President, Tammy McMillan and Pittsburgh chapter members, Chris Carter, Gerald Smith and Kevin Walker and current Cheyney student Yohanna Mohammad.