Hypolite (right) with scholarship recipient Rachael Steelman ’17 (left).

by Ebony Harmon Hypolite ’06

Though I have been out of school and in the workforce for over a decade, my heart still beats strongly for my alma mater, and I’ve made it a point to stay connected with Stevenson through the giving of my time and my resources. When I was presented with the opportunity to create and fund a Stevenson scholarship in my name three years ago, there was no hesitation from me. I enthusiastically said, “Sign me up!” It’s true—I was excited about giving money!

To understand my enthusiasm for giving and supporting education, you must know a little about me and how this foundation was established in me through my family line. When learning about my lineage, I discovered that my great-great-grandfather was an educator in the Alabama school system for nearly half a century. This was a happy discovery, especially considering that his mother, my great-great-great-grandmother, had been enslaved and didn’t have many of the basic human rights we may take for granted—including the opportunity to read and write. My great-great-grandfather had a daughter, my great-grandmother, who was also an educator. And her daughter, my great-aunt, was an educator. I attended my great-aunt’s kindergarten for two years and attribute my love for learning to her. So I come from a great line of educators, and although my parents are not educators by trade, they were my personal teachers and a huge objective for them was to make sure I went to college. They were unable to establish a college fund for me, but with their will being strong and unyielding, the way would eventually present itself.

When Stevenson University offered me a 4-year full tuition scholarship, it was such a blessing and a weight off our shoulders. With the financial support of my parents and some small student loans, I was able to pay for my fees, books, room and board without stress. When I graduated from Stevenson, my parents had zero debt associated with my college years and that’s exactly how I wanted it. I also was able to enter the workforce with very manageable student loan payments.

I am and will forever be grateful to all of the donors who generously gave to Stevenson University so that I could receive a scholarship that would grant my parents and me peace of mind. I am a living, breathing, embodiment of the hope that has been passed down to me through my ancestral line starting with my great-great-greatgrandmother, Emily. I hope that the SU community will always be grateful givers—thankful to those who give to us and honored to give forward to others. I hope that the recipients of my scholarship will be grateful givers and one day give back to this amazing university that nurtured them, and continue the line of giving.

Ebony Harmon Hypolite, CPA, is a senior manager with SC&H Group’s Business Performance Management consulting practice, and a member of Stevenson University’s President’s Advisory Council. She is one of four leaders recently named to the Maryland Association of CPAs 2018 “Women to Watch.”