In 1968, Gwendolyn Matthews Hilliard became one of the first two Black students to enroll at Meredith College. She went on to become the first Black woman to graduate from Meredith in 1971. She has since become the namesake for a scholarship that is awarded to Black scholars.
The Gwendolyn Matthews Scholarship was originally created in 2006 by the African American Alumnae Chapter of Meredith College but reached the $50,000 requirement for full endowment during the 2017-18 school year. The endowment of the scholarships reads, “The Matthews Scholar will be known as a respected student scholar who demonstrates ethical and academic leadership qualities both in and outside the Meredith Community. Upon graduation, its donors hope her life as an alumna will always include Meredith College in service as an ambassador, advocate and supporter.”
During Giving Day this year, the Gwendolyn Matthews Scholarship was a major focus. Meredith College’s Black Student Union (BSU) said that they learned about the scholarship when they were researching Gwendolyn Matthews Hilliard’s history at Meredith. Prior to Giving Day, they contacted the Alumnae House for more information on the scholarship and its endowment status. BSU added that the scholarship is “very much needed for Black-identifying students on campus” and that they “appreciate all who donated to [the scholarship] on Giving Day.” Hilary Allen, Director of Alumnae Relations, added, “Once a scholarship has been endowed, it cannot be unendowed, which is an endowment’s beauty. The investment of the money, the endowment itself, is something that the College will have in perpetuity and will be awarded annually.”
The Gwendolyn Matthews Scholarship is available to incoming students. It is a “merit-based scholarship for a traditional-aged, African American undergraduate student with an unweighted high school GPA of 3.25 and [they] must maintain this GPA while attending Meredith.” This scholarship is awarded based on information provided to the Office of Financial Assistance, who selects a recipient based on criteria of the scholarship and the information they receive from students.
By Elinor Shelp-Peck and Olivia Slack, Co-Editors in Chief