By Perry Howland
The two Wayne County students of color awarded the 2013 annual Timothy L. Barber Memorial Scholarships are almost mirror images of each other.
Lyons Central graduate Myishia Long is described by her school counselor Mary O’Connor-Alfred as having “ambition, academic talent and personal attributes to be a terrific asset.” If discipline, leadership and memory are personal attributes, then combined with his demonstrated ambition and academic talent, that would show Newark Central graduate Curtis Mason, along with Long, both exceeding the scholarship criteria and equally deserving of this year’s award.
“Shocked and excited” was how Myishia described “being chosen for such an honor. I am so excited to start the next part of my life.” Her ambitious agenda begins at Nazareth College where she will start this fall to work towards both a bachelors and masters in International Business. Her professional goal is to one day work in international marketing. Not forgetting her roots, she used a Foundations of Community class in high school as a springboard to working within Lyons on blood drives and at a health fair. She plans to sign up for community service opportunities while attending Nazareth, again fulfilling her goal of “being successful for who she is and not what she is.”
In his thank-you letter to Barber Committee member Mrs. Mary Zecher-Patton, Curtis expressed appreciation for having been selected as an award winner.
“If it were not for you (WARE) this award and memory might not be preserved and continue to live through the people that it touches,” she wrote.
How ironic that his reference to memory is reflected in dance teacher Brittany Bowman’s pointing out that one of his positive attributes during her two years working with him was memory. Curtis was also described as having “maturity as a leader” by his music teacher Mrs. Jean Bendix, and is noted in the many leadership roles he held while attending Newark.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be proud to know that 50 years after his March on Washington speech in which he implored that “people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” Curtis Mason and Myishia Long are well on their way to achieving their personal dreams. Dreams that Williamson Central graduate Tim Barber was unable to fulfill due to his untimely death in an automobile accident following his graduation from WCS in June 1987.
WARE is a three decades old group that has focused on being a study, support and action group with a philosophy of looking at the future with a shared vision. Following Tim’s death a scholarship fund in his memory was established. Since the first award in 1989, nearly $30,000 has been awarded to over 50 African American students.