MURRAY, Ky. — Murray State University’s College of Education and Human Services held its sixth annual Scholarship and Service Recognition Banquet on Sept. 20 to recognize the college’s scholarship recipients for the 2018–19 academic year and to honor the generous benefactors who made those awards possible.

“This event creates a unique opportunity for our outstanding students to meet face-to-face with the donors who make our scholarship awards possible,” said Dr. David Whaley, dean of the College of Education and Human Services. “In addition to acknowledging the generosity of our incredible donors, each student in attendance was individually recognized for the respective awards they received.”

This year’s banquet dinner and program included an invocation by Philip Back, benefactor of the Philip D. and Dianne Back Scholarship, as well as a student reading by Juanita Williams, a student ambassador for the college and recipient of the Minority Educator Recruitment and Retention Scholarship.

“I am so appreciative of the opportunities that have been afforded to me here at Murray State University,” Williams said. “Coming into the University as a freshman can be intimidating and scary. The difference here at Murray State is that the faculty, staff and administrators all make themselves available to help you. All you have to do is invest in yourself because they have already invested in you.”

Williams is a senior and non-traditional student from Oak Grove, Kentucky, studying interdisciplinary early childhood education. During her presentation, she spoke of being the youngest of six children raised by a single mother who always encouraged them to follow their dreams and pursue their passions.

Williams is now married to her high school sweetheart, who is currently serving in the U.S. Navy and is stationed on the east coast. Earlier in her undergraduate time at Murray State, Williams became pregnant with the couple’s first child and didn’t miss a beat when it came to attending classes and completing school work. She is expected to graduate at the May 2019 Commencement ceremony.

“After graduation, I hope to continue my education by earning a master’s degree in special education at Murray State,” Williams said.

Stories like that of Williams and so many other students would not be possible without the kindness of the college’s scholarship benefactors. If you would like to contribute to the University’s scholarship funds or develop an endowment of your own, please contact Melanie Brooks and the Office of Development at or 270-809-3026.

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