USC: Annual fund will benefit aspiring middle school teachers
Less than two weeks before Jennifer Wilson was stabbed to death in her Shandon home, Wilson told colleagues she was upset there was no scholarship fund for prospective middle school teachers — the only program in the College of Education without such a scholarship endowment.
In her honor, such a fund will now exist.
USC’s College of Education has established the Jennifer L. Wilson Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund for students who “exhibit the qualities of an excellent teacher that Dr. Wilson worked so hard to instill in her students.” The college has already donated $2,500 to the fund and hopes to solicit donations for an endowment that reaches at least $25,000. The college will eventually donate $2,500 more, according to USC spokeswoman Megan Sexton.
The scholarship is simply a way to honor her legacy, said College of Education Dean Lemuel Watson.
“I think Jennifer Wilson epitomized the notion of what it means to be engaged in community and have a strong impact in individuals lives,” Watson said. “... I was so impressed with the kinds of things she talked about and her spirited energy was infectious and contagious.”
Watson said former colleagues, community members and others, including himself, have already pledged gifts to the fund. It will be administered through the Student Affairs Office in the college. Watson said he isn’t sure when the scholarship will first be awarded, as funds must first be procured.
David Virtue, one of Wilson’s best friends in Columbia, said recognizing potentially great teachers and leaders in middle level education is the way Wilson would want to be remembered.
Wilson was remembered by friends as a young and energetic professor who brought vivacity to a tight-knit College of Education. She had been published on dozens of occasions and brought more than $500,000 in grant money to the college.
But more than her research, Wilson loved teaching, Virtue said. She could talk with a crowd of sixth-graders as well as she could chat with graduate students, he said.
“I hope we have a difficult time awarding it because of the strong pool of applicants,” Virtue said.
USC says contributions should be directed to the USC Educational Foundation and mailed to USC Gift Processing, 1600 Hampton St., Suite 736, Columbia, SC 29208. Donors should designate on their checks that their gift is for the Jennifer Wilson Scholarship.