April 24, 2015 – Fort Valley State University alumni recently shared how the institution’s social sciences department impacted their lives and careers during the 35th annual Banks-Pierro-Rutland-Bellamy Colloquium on April 10, 2015 in the C. W. Pettigrew Farm and Family Life Center.
Throughout the morning, students presented research papers in the auditorium of the W.W.E. Blanchet Computer Technology and Mathematics Building, while competing for cash prizes. At noon, organizers held a luncheon that honored student scholars and researchers, and recognized distinguished graduates.
At the banquet, Fort Valley State University alum Dr. Ira Hicks, who enrolled at FVSU in 1945, gave a tribute to the three founders of FVSU’s social sciences department, recounting personal observations about each professor.
He described former sociology professor Dr. W.S. M. Banks as a leader. Hicks said Dr. Earl Hamilton Pierro, another FVSU sociology professor, had the ability to make every student feel as if he was only teaching them. Former professor, Dr. Stanley Rutland, expected excellence from his students, and historian Donnie D. Bellamy was a successful writer, he said.
The social and behavioral sciences departments also honored three alums during the colloquium luncheon.
Dr. Louvincey Dewitt (Riggs) Brown, a 1972 FVSU honors graduate, received the Dr. Donnie D. Bellamy Award of Distinction. Brown, a retired Professor Emerita of Communication from Georgia Perimeter College, was honored for her contributions to education, research and scholarship. Brown is a renowned expert on Gullah Language and culture, and is collaborating on a manuscript about the African American Linguistic Diaspora.
“I dedicate this award to my mother and father who consistently supported me in every way,” Brown said. “My mom instilled in me a love of language and continues to inspire us through the intellectual enterprise.”
Attorney Karin D. Vinson, a 2006 Presidential Scholar from FVSU, received the Outstanding Alumna Award in Social Sciences. Vinson earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the department in 2010 and graduated summa cum laude. She earned her Juris Doctorate from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in 2013. Last year, she started the Law Firm of K.D. Vinson and Associates in Byron, Ga. that offers legal services in family law, estate planning, criminal law, personal injury and general litigation.
“My entire family attended FVSU. I’m extremely appreciative of this honor that belongs to God, my family and friends,” Vinson said.
Gloria Smith Cissé, a licensed professional counselor for Certified Choice Theory Reality Therapy in Macon, Ga., was awarded the Outstanding Alumna in Behavioral Sciences. Cissé thanked the nominating committee and the members who chose her for the award.
“I think of FVSU as a becon of light and a lily in this Valley, and a place that I found what I was looking for,” she said. The counselor came to campus in 1997 as a nontraditional student. Cissé was a single mother, at the time, who worked at a grocery store. One day, she decidedshe wanted to enroll at FVSU and wanted to be considered as an intellectual. She met Dr. Terri Earl-Kulkosky, a retired professor in behavioral sciences, who helped her.
“They wrapped their arms around me and acknowledged my type of intellect and what I wanted to be,” she said. “I was among people who appreciated what I had to offer, and in an environment where they considered us as family. I came home and got what I needed. Not all of my experience was pleasant, but then I got a degree, and then more than one. I really appreciate those who came before me, like Dr. Bellamy.”
The professor continued, “Students, don’t let someone tell you that because you don’t score high on a standardized test that you can’t make it. It doesn’t mean you can’t be someone. Come to where you are appreciated,” Cissé said.