USC Aiken’s Black Alumni Council holds inaugural scholarship breakfast in honor of the university’s first black student

The University of South Carolina Aiken Black Alumni Council (BAC) is creating historic strides for students of color on campus.

On Saturday, Sept. 23, the organization hosted the inaugural Brayboy Brooks Scholarship Breakfast, named after the university's first black student, Barbara Alicia Brayboy Brooks, at the Center for African American History, Art, & Culture in downtown Aiken.

Breanna Kennedy and Zulymon Drew are both seniors at USC Aiken and received $1,000 each for their outstanding leadership skills, desire to help others and high scholastic achievements on campus.

"I feel very encouraged, enlightened, and inspired," said Kennedy, who is majoring in molecular biology. Drew, majoring in business, said he feels very honored to be the first recipient of the award.

Brooks attended USC Aiken in 1964 and treasures the time she spent on campus. "This entire celebration warmed my heart," she said. "Most folks did not know about me being the first African American student at USCA, except for my family. It was humbling for my grandkids to attend the ceremony and to be especially proud of me; now that they realize it was an important milestone."

Brooks said she was shocked when she was contacted by the BAC about naming the scholarship after her. "All these years and someone is going to pay tribute to me for not being afraid to venture out to further the education I so longed for in the 60s. I was absolutely delighted. I was floored."

USC Aiken Director of Diversity Initiatives Dr. Jamel Hodges explained that it felt befitting to name the scholarship after Brooks because of her willingness to overcome adversity and segregation.

When asked what advice she has for the scholarship recipients and all students of color, she said to continue to work, stay focused, and face challenges step by step. "If the quality and character of the first two recipients is an indication of things to come, certainly you will succeed in your future endeavors."

Brooks works as a public accountant (CPA) and is the owner and manager of Jackson-Brooks Funeral Home, Inc., the first funeral home in Aiken, which was started by her husband's family in 1912. She is also affiliated with several professional organizations, one being Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

For more information, contact Angela Saxon,