Gallatin Senior Awarded Prestigious African-American Scholarship

Gallatin High School senior Jamar Fuqua is on the fast track to success, and now he won't have to worry about college bills slowing him down. Tennessee Technological University has just named him the first recipient of a new "full-ride" four-year scholarship worth a minimum of $25,000.

Fuqua, son of Marsha and John Fuqua, received Tennessee Tech's first Riggio Scholarship, a minority-targeted award funded by Barnes and Noble CEO Leonard Riggio. Riggio and his wife gave $100,000 to establish four scholarships for outstanding African-American students interested in any Tennessee Tech Arts and Sciences program.

"This scholarship covers everything from fees to meals, a dorm room, books and more. Recipients literally will be able to go to college for free," said Jim Gray, Tennessee Tech's associate director of admissions. "We are proud Jamar accepted this award because he is such an outstanding leader and student."

Gallatin students elected Fuqua as only the second black student body president in 20 years, significant because the school's minority population is about 17 percent. He attributes his success to looking beyond color and focusing on leadership skills, lessons he learned by following his role model, Martin Luther King Jr.

"Being aggressive, getting students information and positive recognition, being available to discuss student problems, and not being afraid to 'get my hands dirty' with the work to be done are the keys that have helped me serve my friends," said Fuqua. "I'm just a student trying to help other students succeed."

Fuqua's aspirations include majoring in computer science, forming a computer consulting company and testing the political arena.

"I've made a lot of contacts with local politicians, as well as participated in events with Sen. Bart Gordon, Gov. Don Sundquist and other state politicians," Fuqua said. "I'm attracted to politics because I could use that forum to improve and support an issue very close to my heart - education."

Fuqua's list of awards include a Daughters of the American Revolution citizenship award and selection to the first Governor's School of Manufacturing. He has spoken at many civic and political meetings and was active in Tennessee Tomorrow, a state-wide leadership organization for teens.

His legacy to Gallatin High School includes an orientation program for new students and a student council "Star of the Week" award created to recognize positive student contributions.

"Jamar is one of the most honest, responsible and hard-working students we've ever had," said Gallatin High School guidance counselor Joan Tomlin. "He's compassionate, kind and selfless."

As Fuqua looks forward to college life at Tennessee Tech, he feels a little separation anxiety.

"I've visited the Tennessee Tech campus several times and think it's a perfect fit for me, but I almost wish I were staying at Gallatin one more year just to make sure our plans and hard work come to a successful conclusion," said Fuqua. "But I will leave knowing I made it easier for African-American students to follow in my footsteps, and knowing I can encourage others by obtaining a college degree and pursuing my dreams."