$100,000 scholarship endowment established at Coahoma Community College
CLARKSDALE – A $100,000 scholarship endowment at Coahoma Community College is being established by Dr. J. Steven Blake, a successful Philadelphia gastroenterologist and Coahoma Agricultural High School graduate committed to “sharing his blessings.”
“This is the largest scholarship endowment in the history of Coahoma, and will provide significant opportunities for our students,” says Dr. Vivian Presley, CCC president.
“It reflects Dr. Blake’s amazing generosity and pays tribute to his family and the educational influences in his life,” she continued.
Speaking from Blake Gastroenterology Associates where he is Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Blake says , “I am blessed with successful accomplishments in my career, and I keep my eyes open for beneficial ways to share my blessings.”
For seven years, Dr. Blake expanded the lives of Aggie seniors with 10-day annual trips to Philadelphia, Washington, and New York to experience Broadway plays, museums, and travel by Amtrak.
Starting with the 2013 fall semester at CCC, the J. Steven Blake Foundation will name two incoming freshman as a Blake Scholar and a President Martin Scholar.
The scholarships honor Dr. Blake’s late parents, Alfred and Irma Blake and Dr. McKinley Martin, who served as CCC president from 1980-1992.
Asked to comment on scholarships being established in his name, Dr. Martin said, “I am super honored.”
“It is always wonderful when friends who have done well, help others,” continued Dr. Martin who suggested that other CCC supporters might want to contribute to the endowment too.
Each recipient will receive a 2-year full tuition scholarship ($4,200 value) and a $250 per semester ($1000 value) book stipend.
Dr. Blake anticipates completing his $100,000 pledge in five years to insure that scholarships continue into perpetuity.
Growing up on the Aggie and CCC campus, Dr. Blake, says his father had been recruited from Illinois to start Aggie’s auto mechanics program, and his mother was dietitian and assistant manager of the college cafeteria for 20 years.
“Dr. Martin has been part of my life forever; he was principal of Sandy Bayou when I was in elementary school, and he became president of Coahoma Junior College when I was student council president at Aggie.”
“Like family, he was always there, and he was close to my parents.” he said.
Although academic abilities and financial need are required of scholarship recipients, they do not need A averages, according to Foundation criteria, says Margaret Dixon, who chairs CCC’s Scholarship Committee.
However, the students must be ”community focused, have humble, generous personalities and demonstrate leadership.”
A self-professed entrepreneur, Dr. Blake soars on the importance of community and the need of individuals to connect with others.
“No business or church or even cruise ship can survive without community,” he says. “It’s almost like a mission.”
Following graduation from Aggie, Dr. Blake earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Mississippi in chemistry and zoology. He attended Medical Technology School in Tupelo and worked at Northeast Mississippi Medical Center before traveling to Philadelphia and earning his degree at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Dr. Blake completed one English course at CCC and graduated from Ole Miss. However, his siblings are Coahoma graduates. He also credits the excellence of Aggie teachers including science teacher Pat Brown with great influence on his life.
“All four of the Blake children were smart,” recalls Dr. Martin. “They were like my own.”
Coahoma awards 12 community-based scholarships in addition to academic scholarships. Dixon says the Scholarship Committee will be selecting the 2013 Blake and President Martin Scholarship recipients soon.