Pearson, Roberson Honored at Annual T.P. Vinson Banquet

Memorial banquet honors UM student and alumnus for service, leadership

OXFORD, Miss. – Oxford Middle School assistant principal Bradley Roberson and University of Mississippi senior Courtney Pearson were honored for their commitment to education and service Saturday (April 13) during the annual T.P. Vinson Memorial Scholarship Banquet.

Roberson, who received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education from UM in 2000, received the T.P. Vinson Memorial Educator Award. Pearson, a secondary English education major who became the university’s first black homecoming queen last fall, was honored as the 2013 recipient of the T.P. Vinson Memorial Scholarship.

“Theopolis believed that education was vitally important to improving our community,” said Jacquline Vinson, widow of Theopolis Pride Vinson, former assistant dean of the School of Education for whom the scholarship and award are named. “It pleases me that we are honoring his memory by recognizing an exceptional administrator like Mr. Roberson and a student like Ms. Pearson, who has proven that success can be achieved through perseverance.”

Established after Vinson’s death in 2003, the $1,000 scholarship is awarded annually to an outstanding African-American junior or senior education major. The scholarship was the first to be endowed in honor of an African-American faculty member at UM.

This year’s keynote speaker was Hickman M. Johnson, pastor of Farish Street Baptist Church in Jackson, who spoke on “Remembering the Man, Honoring his Legacy.”

“This scholarship was a great honor,” said Pearson, a Memphis native. “It could not have come at a better time. This award helped me be able to stay here for my final year, and it’s wonderful to be honored for work that I’m passionate about.”

Pearson was selected by the education school’s Scholarship Committee for her pre-service teaching skills and service with organizations such as the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. She has served on the Ole Miss Relay for Life committee for the past three years.

“We selected Courtney for this award the summer before her senior year,” said Whitney Webb, assistant dean of education. “This scholarship is given for demonstrating leadership and commitment to education, and she hit it out of the park.”

The educator award, which was established in 2011, is given each year to a Mississippi educator who displays excellence in education and leadership.

“For me, it’s an honor to receive an award with Dr. Vinson’s name on it,” explained Robertson, a Ripley native. “When I met him as a professor, I just knew there was something special about him because of the way he treated people and the level of expertise he brought to the classroom. Attaching his name to mine is humbling.”

David Rock, UM education dean and Roberson’s former professor, nominated him for the award.

“Bradley is one of the most dedicated, passionate teachers I have ever known,” Rock said. “He has genuine care for children and has a true commitment to help anyone learn. Educators such as Bradley make schools an amazing place for our children. He is also one of the brightest students I have ever taught; his mathematics skills are exceptional.”

Besides serving as assistant dean for the School of Education, Vinson was a pastor at Philadelphia M.B. Church. The scholarship fund was established by his wife and three children and accepts ongoing donations through the UM Foundation to support and recognize students of education and Mississippi teachers.