SPC's Ruth Jones McClendon Scholars

December 13, 2018

Public Information Officer

WITH THE HELP OF A LATE LEGENDARY LAWMAKER, ST. PHILIP’S COLLEGE STUDENTS FROM SAN ANTONIO’S PROMISE ZONE GRADUATE AS SCHOLARS

The success story that is the Promise Zone of San Antonio is a story of the positive transformation of San Antonio’s Eastside, and the only community in the nation to have received all four White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiatives, including Choice Neighborhoods, Promise Neighborhoods, Byrne Criminal Justice, and Promise Zone. Partners include: San Antonio Fighting Back, Beat Aids, San Antonio Housing Authority, Bethel Prevention Coalition, Eastside promise Zone, SAGE, Frost Bank, Office of Eastpoint, Gervin Academy, Wheatley Community School and education partner St. Philip’s College. 

St. Philip's College students from the Promise Zone of Eastside San Antonio are graduating Dec. 14 with the assistance of a legendary lawmaker who passed nearly one year ago.

The legendary lawmaker is The Honorable Ruth Jones McClendon and one of the graduating students from the Promise Zone who become a scholar thanks to a gift from McClendon’s strategic philanthropy is Alicia Perry.

Perry is the recipient of support from the Ruth Jones McClendon Scholarship fund at the 120-year-old college.

The final wishes of the former representative whose institutional constituents included the 120-year-old college and students in the Promise Zone neighborhood surrounding the college with a recommendation to donate to the Ruth Jones McClendon Scholarship fund established at the college for students in the 2016-2017 Academic Year. The program is a success by all measures. Nine of the first 10 students to receive the scholarship---all Promise Zone residents---graduated with a degree or certificate. The cohorts supported by the lawmaker’s legacy are diverse at St. Philip’s College. There’s a welder. A medical lab technician. And several cybersecurity specialists. Educators. Fine artists. A surgical technologist and several business specialists. 

One second group of 10 students to receive the scholarship has graduated to alumni status, and Perry is among the nine scheduled to graduate at various times in 2018 and 2019. The class of 2020 includes nine scholarship recipients. Up to 10 full time students can be selected each year to receive the $500 scholarship. They must live in the Eastside Promise Zone, have financial need while enrolled at St. Philip’s College, and have already completed 30 hours of course work.

"My family and I were researching scholarships specific to my neighborhood, and we saw the Ruth Jones McClendon Scholarship. The requirements described me perfectly," Perry said with a smile.

Among the 2018 Class of McClendon Scholars, Perry is likely the leading activist. The sociology student also became the college’s first HBCU Competitiveness Scholar this year, completing a season of giving back as one of the few community college-level students in a history-making competitiveness cohort helping officials in both the White House and at the Department of Education field a team of students to improve long-term national outcomes of critical importance---to include both community colleges and San Antonio. Perry did nonpartisan-but-passionate business with the higher education enterprise at the seat of government by formally identifying a specific federal policy and how she would plan to implement the policy for a positive outcome within her college and her community. Choosing to promote education at the middle school level, she worked on her project citywide as an employee with the college’s student success division and as a student at St. Philip’s College. Perry served as an officer and member of the college's Spirit and Pride Crew, and as a member of the college's i am woman team. Both organizations required her literally to walk each of the college's campuses, talking with students, canvassing and encouraging them to get involved. 

“Both awards inspire me to continue to strive for my goals and assures my belief that, hard work pays off,” Perry said.

The year 2018 marks the twentieth anniversary of Perry's rollercoaster academic journey.

"My first experience in college was definitely a low moment in my life because I was competing with other students whose grades were much higher. In 1998, I attended Southern University in New Orleans, and my declared major was psychology, but my grade point average was 1.2,” Perry shared. 

Today, Perry is both a dual scholar at the state and federal levels (White House and McClendon) and a student of sociology carrying a 2.7 grade point average at St. Philip's College, on track to graduate Dec. 14 with her first degree---an associate of arts degree---and continuing to take classes at the college before transferring to a baccalaureate degree program.

"My personal and career aspirations are to attend the University of the Incarnate Word to pursue a masters in sociology, whereby I can deploy my knowledge to assist non-profits in the community reach their full potential," Perry said. "My involvement in the community and my passion for learning will allow me to be a resource to persons on a quest for creating sustainable businesses. I plan to seek opportunities to serve on community boards," said Perry.

Off-campus, Perry maintains a dynamic, activist-oriented schedule. Her civic involvement includes active membership with the Drug Free Communities Coalition, Suit Up Mentor Program, Communities and Schools Mentorship Program, and Parent Teacher Association. New for 2018, Perry is a member of the National Council of Negro Women, Inc.'s San Antonio Ruth Jones McClendon Section, and the San Antonio Independent School District Leadership Council. That district is undergoing one of the nation’s most progressive transformations.

2018 also marks the tenth anniversary of Perry's entrepreneurial journey. "In August 2008, I put my entrepreneurial skills into action and opened ESSENCE OF BEAUTY PHASE II Salon," Perry said. "I operated my business for 10 years. I employed seven stylists over a 10-year period, and provided services to over 200 clients. My motto was “Make Today Great!" Perry explained.

Every White House HBCU Competitiveness Scholar has an agenda, and Perry is no exception.

"St. Philip’s College serves as a bridge to our community’s educational needs and much more," said Perry. "The project I work on for the White House Initiative for Historically Black Colleges is called Break the Cycle, Achieve the Dream. Through my project that was accepted by the White House and the college---Break the Cycle, Achieve the Dream---I work with area high schools, community organizations and other partners. Promoting higher education to students as young as middle school is hopefully encouraging them to look at what early college high school and other programs at St. Philip’s College have to offer. Early education attainment can and will change the quality of life for our residents and their families, breaking the cycle of poverty and allowing them to achieve their dreams of a much better life. Two goals for my program are to implement strategies with community partners and stakeholders in middle and high school to inform students and their families about the overall benefit of attending early college high school and community college," Perry concluded.

Perry is the matriarch in a family of 10 with several current or recent ties to her college of choice. Her family has included five St. Philip’s College students at one time, now down to a mere four when her spouse graduated in May and transferred to complete his bachelor’s degree. She joins fellow student-family members Tre’Von Chaney, Jaden White and Amirah Perry. Cheney is a high school senior graduating in May and White and Perry both high school juniors pursuing the associate in liberal arts pathway at the St. Philip's College Early College High School with San Antonio Independent School District, located on the St. Philip's College campus where all five members of the Perry family have studied and lived the college student experience.

So far, Perry is the only Perry family member to earn the scholarship founded by the legendary lawmaker for high-achieving folks in her rapidly transforming Promise Zone neighborhood. But that’s not a point of family contention, she said. No one has a beef with mom being a dual scholar and an employee at the campus where they all arrive and depart together most school days.

“We will all be present as a family for my graduation ceremony on Friday. For good reason, I’m not working in my usual role of helping our students succeed during the ceremony. I’m a graduating student and I’m the invocation speaker. Very excited,” said Perry. 

Information on the RJM Scholars at St. Philip’s College:

  • The 2018-2019 RJM Scholars areDaniel Chavez (welding), Mistie Eddie (LVN), Alex Hernandez (education), Lakia Hunt (fine arts), Crystal Lemons (English), Salvador Martinez (computer science), Claudia Miranda (Cybersecurity), Julieta Nations (diagnostic sonography), Elmily Ortiz (pre-nursing) and Antonia Rivera (fine arts)
  • The 2017-2018 RJM Scholars areVictor Cortez (business administration), Jonathan Garcia (cybersecurity), Ruben Garcia (occupational therapy assistant), Dominique Mann (pre-nursing), Pauline Mora (business administration), Alicia Perry (sociology), Rhynesha Thomas (liberal arts), Angela Thompson (business administration),Jasmine Richardson (education) and John Rivera (medical lab technician)
  • The 2016-2017 RJM Scholar Alumni areMichael AnguloNathalia Canizalez (occupational therapy assistant), Jessica Castro (digital and media arts), Betty Clay (business management), Isaac Huron (business administration), Nicole Jaskolka (surgical technology), Richard Ramey (sociology), Charles Sheppard (engineering), Hershel Stewart (computer maintenance) and Kanishia Young (computer maintenance)

2017-2018 Scholar comments:

  • I work so hard to better myself and with your help, I am able to make that dream possible. Supporting my newborn, I am working and attending school.” Angela Thompson (business administration)
  • The scholarship warms my heart and puts a smile on my face.” Rhynesha Thomas (liberal arts)
  • I am the first one in my family to go to college and your scholarship allows me to keep taking steps in the right direction.” Ruben Garcia (occupational therapy assistant)

For details on the Ruth Jones McClendon Scholarship program, contact Gloria P. Hernandez, college scholarship coordinator, at 210-486-2498, ghernandez@alamo.edu. For details on applying for the 2019 HBCU Competitiveness Scholar program at St. Philip's College, contact Dr. Angela McPherson Williams, the college’s director of student success, at 210-486-2090, awilliams284@alamo.edu. For details on the graduation ceremony Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. in Freeman Coliseum at 3201 E. Houston St., visit the college graduation page at http://alamo.edu/spc/graduation/, email the college record and registration team at spc-gradadv@alamo.edu or contact Tracy Shelton, the college’s associate director of records and registration, at 210-486-2292, tshelton@alamo.edu. The college also maintains the Ruth Jones McClendon Collection of archival materials in its Center for Learning Resources building at 1801 Martin Luther King Drive. Visit the daily free exhibits from the collection or obtain additional information on collection through inquiry with college archivist Rebecca Barnard at 210-486-2583 rbarnard3@alamo.edu.