“Misty Copeland came from a background similar to many VECA students,” said Dr. Brian Gerber, faculty coordinator for the STEAM Center for Applied Creativity and Innovation. “Therefore, it was a natural fit to give the proceeds, totaling $7,500, to VECA students to provide them the opportunity to develop their talents, whatever they might be. The donation will support VECA’s mission to do whatever it takes to help students succeed academically so they can graduate high school and attend college.”
Copeland is a ballet dancer who overcame a turbulent childhood and many obstacles to become the first female African-American principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre in New York City. While at VSU, she took time to greet VECA students and offer them words of encouragement.
“Her model of grace and beauty and how she overcame various struggles in her life resonates with our students,” said Dr. Mae McKinney, VECA principal. “This donation means that VECA students will be provided more resources for greater learning opportunities in and outside of the classroom.
“It is our goal to use this donation to further VECA's education program by providing and funding more innovative tools through technology, classroom supplies, professional learning for teachers, and field experiences for students outside of the classroom. It is evident that VSU understands the value of education and the impact this donation will make on the students at VECA. We are truly grateful.”
The donation was generated by ticket sales to Copeland’s keynote talk, table donations from a dinner with Copeland, and sponsors of her VSU visit. The artist and patron sponsors were The Scruggs Company, Coleman Talley, Fresh Beginnings/ELEAD1ONE, Drs. Roy and Cheryl Copeland, Dr. Charlene Blache, and Farmers and Merchant Bank.
The check was presented at the dinner prior to her talk.
VECA is a school within the Valdosta City School System that works in partnership with VSU. Students earn both a high school diploma and up to 60 semester hours of college credit by the end of their senior year. The target population for VECA includes low-income, first-generation high school/college students who are struggling learners with potential. The students have access to many VSU resources and are considered part of the university community of learners.