WILMINGTON — Art Brooks’ legacy as a community leader with a special interest in fostering the success of local African American youth achieved a milestone in 2020 when two recipients of the college scholarship established in his name graduated this spring.
Vanessa Cheyann McKee and Jamaica Chapman became the latest college graduates whose road to success was made a little easier as recipients of $1,000 Art Brooks Hot Hoops Leadership and Citizenship Scholarships.
The award was established in Brooks’ honor following his retirement in 2012 after 19 years as director of multicultural affairs at Wilmington College. He continues to serve as an influential leader in the community.
“It makes me feel good that Jamaica and Cheyann graduated from college and that a scholarship with my name on it helped them along the way,” Brooks said. “Of the seven scholarships given out since 2014, they represent the third and fourth recipients to earn their bachelor’s degrees, with the other three still in school. I’m proud of all seven!”
McKee was a student leader and graduated summa cum laude from Wilmington College with majors in criminal justice and psychology.
Chapman is a graduate of the nursing program at the University of Cincinnati, where she took advantage of a co-op program at a Level 1 trauma center, an experience that led to a “dream job” with UC Medical Center’s Emergency Room.
Other local scholarship recipients include Tiara Harris, a sophomore in radiologic technology at Wright State University; Seth Murdock, a junior at Robert Morris University majoring in biomedical engineering; and Tyreese Ford. a junior at the University of Cincinnati majoring in sports management. Jaiden Williams Newbry and Sydni McGee graduated college in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
McKee, who is employed in her field with intentions of pursuing graduate school in the near future, shared her appreciation for Brooks and the scholarship.
“It was an honor to have received it. Brother Art’s commitment and devotion for diversity and inclusion have burned bright for decades now, and I am grateful to have been a recipient of that passion,” McKee said.
She noted that, in light of Brooks’ service to WC students as director of multicultural affairs and adviser for Black Student Initiative (BSI), she had the unique opportunity to “give back” to him in a special way. “I held leadership roles, including as BSI president, and served in the organization that we both love and take great pride in.”
Like McKee, Chapman noted how honored she is to have received the Brooks Scholarship, as he has been like a family member to her and many other black youth in Wilmington.
“He has known me ever since I was in diapers,” Chapman said. “One thing I’ve always associated with Brother Art Brooks is his warm smile and his positive, well-thought out response to anything thrown his way.”
Both expressed their appreciation to members of the community who have supported the scholarship fund. They hope future college students will have an opportunity to receive Art Brooks Hot Hoops Leadership and Citizenship Scholarships.
Persons in the community have contributed to the scholarship fund as a means for honoring Brooks’ longtime commitment to young people. The scholarship is awarded to former participants in Wilmington’s Hot Hoops program who also were active leaders as high school students and, now, show great promise as they enter college.
First awarded in 2014, the scholarship fund is in need of bolstering in order to continue providing financial assistance to young men and women wishing to further their education after high school.
Local attorney William “Bill” Peelle is a longtime supporter of the Hot Hoops program and again this year chairs the scholarship’s fundraising drive.
“Art has dedicated his life to the education and mentoring of youth,” Peelle said. “He’s been an especially positive advocate for an at-risk population as a role model and effective leader. Many friends have contributed to the scholarship fund as a means for perpetuating Art’s significant impact.”
Eleanor Harris, executive director of Harvest of Gold, which administers the scholarship, praised Brooks as a “great asset” to the community.
“His love for our youth and especially his work with mentoring young African American males will always be a reminder to them of someone who cares,” she said, noting that Brooks remains active in the community, continuing his positive influence upon local youth.
Brooks said, “It is a real honor” to have his name attached to the scholarship.
“I am very thankful to the Wilmington and Clinton County communities for their continuing support of our Hot Hoops program under the direction of Eleanor Harris and the leadership of Marque Jones in heading the Harvest of Gold Board,” Brooks said. “It is truly gratifying that this college scholarship will continue to assist our Hot Hoops participants.”
Persons interested in contributing to the scholarship fund can send their gift to: Harvest of Gold, Art Brooks Hot Hoops Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 1061, Wilmington, OH 45177.