- Associated Press - Saturday, June 16, 2018

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Nearly three years after the Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s was killed in the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church, one of his lasting legacies continues to grow: The Reverend Pinckney Scholars Program.

Originally funded by $3.2 million in anonymous donations shortly after the June 17, 2015, shooting, the program recently announced nine new scholarship recipients and an additional $3 million worth of donations to help expand the program’s offerings.

The Pinckney Scholars program will offer much more than money.

Going forward, the donations will help create a college readiness program for 30 scholarship applicants during their junior year of high school. Pinckney Scholars will be eligible for paid summer internships as rising college juniors and seniors. The fund will also cover the cost of professional development events, conferences, study-abroad programs and summer learning opportunities for the scholars.

“These program enhancements make the program stronger and will allow students more access to life-shaping opportunities,” said Darrin Goss Sr., president of the Coastal Community Foundation, which administers the scholarship. “The students are living in the manner of their program’s namesake, to honor his life and legacy.”



The Pinckney Scholars Program offers up to $10,000 for each of the four years of college to black high school seniors from Beaufort, Charleston and Jasper counties - three counties Pinckney represented as a Democratic member of the state Senate.

With the announcement of nine new scholars this week, the total number grows to 30. After next year, it will support 40 scholars at a time through their four-year education.

Previous years’ recipients have already built an impressive reputation.

The 21 students have a combined grade point average of 3.68. They have earned teaching fellowships, led campus organizations and collaborated on community service projects. Many of the scholars recently came together to build a Habitat for Humanity house.

Monejah Black, a rising junior in Winthrop University’s mass communications program, was a member of the first group of Pinckney Scholars in 2016. She graduated from the Charleston Charter School of Math and Science a year prior and joined the Air Force Reserves. She was not sure if her nontraditional path to college would be the right fit for the program.

Her fears were dispelled when she went in for her interview.

“I just knew from right then that it was something I wanted to be part of because I was so welcomed and so accepted,” Black said.

This scholarship feels different from the others she’s earned. The namesake carries special meaning for Black, who heard Pinckney preach a sermon not long before he died. When she traveled to Germany with the Air Force this year, administrators of the scholarship checked in on her and offered advice.

Two of this year’s recipients are graduates of Academic Magnet High School. Jerry Manigault is heading to the Clemson University Bridge Program in the fall. He has been active in ministry with his church, Hope Assembly of God, and participated in the Chucktown Squash program (now known as Kids on Point), where he earned awards including Most Valuable Player. He completed a senior thesis on the effectiveness of after-school programs for students from low-income homes.

He said he was “skeptical” about his chances of earning the scholarship, but he ultimately won the selection committee over.

“I told them I was a hard worker,” he said.

Manigault’s classmate and fellow Pinckney Scholar Kira Adkins recently became the youngest student ever accepted into the Medical University of South Carolina’s College of Pharmacy. She completed all of her undergraduate prerequisites through Advanced Placement and Trident Technical College classes while still in high school. The scholarship organizers will introduce her to her fellow recipients at a meeting next week.

“They’re going to talk to us about finances, going to teach us a few things,” Adkins said. “They’re definitely instilling different skills that we’ll need in the future.”

Pinckney’s widow, Jennifer, interviewed all of the scholarship recipients this year and said the program is a reflection of her husband’s lifelong dedication to education.

They met in college, when she was attending the University of South Carolina and Clementa was enrolled at Allen University on the other side of downtown Columbia. Beyond that, he was a lifelong learner who earned master’s degrees in divinity and public administration. He was pursuing a doctor of ministry degree at Wesley Theological Seminary at the time of his death at age 41.

“There would be plenty of times that he would be coming home to get his studies done, and, of course, the girls want to play with Daddy, but I would say, ‘Daddy’s got some homework he needs to get done.’ He preached it, he taught it, and just was a good example of it overall,” Jennifer Pinckney said.

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Information from: The Post and Courier, http://www.postandcourier.com

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