Continuing a Legacy of Educational Success
Throughout her life, Bessida White has been enriched by her family's fond recollections of school days at Rappahannock Industrial Academy. Established at the turn of the 20th century, it was the only high school serving African American youth in the Tidewater region. Bessida's mother, father and several cousins attended the school and her grandmother taught there.
As a current member of the Academy's alumni association, Bessida enjoys collecting oral histories of surviving alumni, as many of the school's records were not preserved after its closing in 1948. The alumni loved their school so much. They received a fine education and made lifelong friends who were more like family."
Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the Rappahannock Industrial Academy Alumni Association (RIAAA) continues to carry out the vision of its founders to give back to the community that raised and educated them. While RIAAA has provided scholarship support to local students for decades, they decided to partner with The Community Foundation in 2005 to streamline the selection process and to ensure the scholarships will continue for generations to come.
The impact of their generosity is best told through students like Georgiana Lee, who aspires to become a forensic psychologist. Georgiana enrolled in Old Dominion University this fall after graduating magna cum laude from Rappahannock Community College. In a letter to the committee, she wrote, Without the financial support of this very committee I would not have been able to begin my academic career and go on to do such great things. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. With your support my dreams are becoming a reality!"
As part of their 40th anniversary, RIAAA is raising funds to grow the scholarship endowment. The fund currently provides two-year scholarships to one student each from Essex, King and Queen and Middlesex Counties. The long-term goal is to provide four-year renewable scholarships for three students. Apply for this scholarship or others offered through TCF.