Stella Brown, a rising senior from San Leandro, CA, recently became the first Bishop Scholar to be accepted at prestigious Regent’s Park College/University of Oxford – fulfilling the primary reason she transferred to Georgetown College in the first place.
“I just thought I’d have more opportunities like this at Georgetown,” said Stella, who brought a 3.9 GPA from Clark Atlanta University a year ago. “I’m really excited about spending fall semester in England!”
Stella didn’t immediately leap a year ago when the Pastor Emeritus of her church in Oakland, CA encouraged her to accept a unique college scholarship in far away central Kentucky. All she knew was this was being offered to African American students with strong connections to Bishop College, the historically black Baptist institution that closed in 1988 due to financial reasons. She spent two weeks researching the small liberal arts college – especially phone conversations with black students there. During the process, she learned that proud Bishop alumni and Georgetown College sealed a partnership in September 2007 just after the first four Bishop Scholars enrolled. Stella Brown is now one of 11.
Rev. Dr. J. Alfred Smith Sr. of Allen Temple Baptist Church, Oakland, is especially proud that the young woman he recommended to Georgetown president Bill Crouch in May 2008 will have this wonderful tutorial “Oxford experience.” Stella Brown is helping to carry on the name of his late wife – a Bishop graduate – with the Joanna Goodwin Smith Memorial Scholarship.
“Allen Temple Baptist Church and the progressive citizens of Oakland, California celebrate the academic achievement of Ms. Stella Brown at Georgetown College,” the Pastor Emeritus said. “Her studies abroad at Regents Park of Oxford University numbers her with other future leaders who are gifted and Christian.”
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), also a member of Allen Temple, has first-hand knowledge with Georgetown’s Bishop Legacy Scholars program. She and members of the Congressional Black Caucus honored Georgetown president Bill Crouch and the first five Bishop Scholars with a reception at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. on April 30, 2008.
“I am thrilled that the first Bishop College Scholar of Georgetown College selected to study at Regents Park College, Oxford University, is Stella Brown, a remarkable young woman from my district and a member of my home church, Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland. Stella proves to all of us that hard work and determination can allow us to overcome the many obstacles faced by black youth in America. I am grateful for the vision of Georgetown College for making this opportunity available.”
The followers of Allen Temple first heard the good news of Stella being accepted as a Visiting Student at Oxford’s Baptist-oriented college on May 17 (2009) when Dr. Joel C. Gregory – longtime friend of the Pastor Emeritus – was the guest preacher. (The church is now under the pastorate of Rev. Dr. J. Alfred Smith, Jr.). Gregory, a Professor of Preaching at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University and a Distinguished Fellow of Georgetown College, wrote in an e-mail, “The congregation exploded with a prolonged ovation for Stella, her mother, Drs. Smiths, Dr. Crouch and Georgetown College.”
tella’s Oakland church family would also be proud to know of her activities and priorities at Georgetown College. “Stella is very focused,” said senior Connie Mucker, her roommate and Step Team captain. “She’s certainly influenced my study habits. I’ll see her working on something that’s due in four days when I have something due in a day-and-a-half…and I know I’d better get busy.”
Mucker, a President’s Ambassador who often gets back from her library job after 11, is especially inspired by Stella’s nightly routine. “She probably spends an hour reading the Bible before bed,” she said. “And, if I’m struggling, Stella will pull out her Bible and say – ‘Here, read this’.”
Stella, who was pretty much all-study at Clark, saw coming to Georgetown College as a chance to “start over,” she said. “I decided I wanted to be more active, more involved.”
That she has – and still maintained a 3.8 GPA. In addition to being a member of the relatively new Georgetown Step Team, Stella was vice president of the new Ambassadors of Diversity (formerly the Black Student Union) – a change that welled-up from the students themselves. “It was really fun being part of bringing something new to campus and I think we were successful in getting all types of students together,” said Stella, who was particularly proud of last fall’s Poetry Jam that the organization sponsored.
Being part of the new Georgetown College Gospel Choir has been Stella’s favorite experience – an activity that made her feel more at home despite being more than 2,000 miles from California. “I’ve been singing since age 3, so this was something I was used to and made me feel comfortable on campus,” she said. Stella also noted the impressive diversity of the group – founded last year by non-traditional student Pamela Young – as being in keeping with President Crouch’s initiatives.
As part of her own “starting over/getting involved” initiative, Stella is earning a reputation of confidently introducing herself to people – such as faculty and staff – she wants to know, or wants to know her. For instance, impressed by a substitute teacher’s lesson one day last fall, Stella marched right into her office and introduced herself. “I still stop by every few days to see how (Dr. Emerick) is…because she now knows me as a person,” she said.
History professor Ellen Emerick remembers that day after class – and taking an instant liking to this new student who’s actually a Political Science major/Sociology minor. “Stella is a remarkably self-possessed young woman. She is curious and open – the ideal combination for a life-long learner. Being bright is just the icing on the cake,” Dr. Emerick said. “I’m so pleased she is going to Oxford as she really wanted the experience.”
Dr. Brad Hadaway, Director of Oxford Programs at Georgetown, was aware of Stella’s mind-set. “I have been consistently impressed with the ways that she’s met all the challenges that confronted her on the way to achieving that goal,” said the Philosophy professor. “It was strong determination and her willingness to work hard that won her a place at Regent’s Park College in the University of Oxford, and she can take great pride in that accomplishment.”
Georgetown Provost Rosemary Allen said, “Stella’s work is indicative of the high academic quality that is the hallmark of our diversity program. She has excelled in our highly competitive and academically challenging Oxford preparation program and earned her way to a slot at Oxford University. We are proud of Stella, as we are proud of all of our students who have been accepted to study at Oxford.”
As both a Bishop College graduate (1977) and a Georgetown College Trustee Fellow, Dr. Major L. Jemison is filled with pride. “This honor – Stella’s achievement – is exactly the type of thing I hoped and prayed would result from the Bishop-Georgetown partnership,”….said Rev. Jemison, the former president of the Progressive Baptist National Convention and current pastor of St. Johns Missionary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. “I hope all graduates of Bishop College are proud as well. And, this has to be exciting for Georgetown College graduates and current students, too.”
Georgetown College President Bill Crouch presided over the historic signing ceremony of the partnership between Georgetown and the alumni of Bishop College after opening convocation Sept. 11, 2007. He introduced four freshmen – two Bishop Legacy Scholars (offspring of Bishop alumni), David Boyle Jr., and alphael West, and two Bishop Scholars (recommended by Bishop alumni), Jarmar Smith, and Ashley Carter-Colwell. The Bishop alumni who participated were Rev. Dr. David Boyle Sr., and Rev. Dr. Russell Bailey, both of Memphis; and Rev. Dr. Denny Davis of Grand Prairie, TX. Georgetown’s relationship with the defunct Dallas institution began in 2005 when another partnership was struck with the four national black Baptist conventions and, at the time, the presidents were all Bishop alumni.