Keel preaches to the choir at scholarship brunch

By Jamie Sapp | Staff Writer

The Legends Club on Washington Road hosted the Augusta University Scholarship Brunch on April 30.

The event united donors and recipients of scholarship funds. It included welcoming remarks by Provost Gretchen Caughman, an invocation by Rev. Deacon Sandy Turner, remarks by President Brooks Keel, a presentation by Zach Kelehear, dean of the college of education and student testimonials by Adrienne Grant and Alicia Worzala.

Caughman said since working with Keel she has figured out that his number one passion is students and that he is an evangelist and the students are his choir.

“Can I get an ‘Amen’?” Keel said jokingly, after Caughman introduced him as a student evangelist. “I have been called a lot of things, but an evangelist has never been one of them.”

Students were encouraged to speak with their donors and personally thank them.

Keel said that “donor” is a word that is overused and they should be considered investors instead. He said they are investing not only in the university, but also in the students themselves.

“You have invested in these students,” Keel said. “You have invested in the future of this community, state, country and this world.”

Grant, while choking back tears, gave a testimonial on how after she had exhausted federal funds, faculty members helped her connect with the Coca-Cola Finish Line Scholarship. She said the scholarship enabled her to finish her degree.

Worzala’s testimonial included life events that started out with homelessness at the age of 16 and no high school diploma. Scholarships, funded by donors, assisted her in obtaining not only a high school diploma, but also a degree in accounting. She choked back tears and told the audience she had never told her story before.

Caughman said she almost cried when she heard Worzala’s testimonial and Keel said he was speechless.

Photos and quotes from each student recipient were streamlined on a large screen while the audience ate breakfast.

“Each one of these students has a very unique message and each one of these students have a common message and the common message is ‘I am proud to be at Augusta University and I am thankful for your support,’” Keel said.

The brunch was one of several events that President Brooks Keel and First Lady Tammie Schalue attended during the Augusta University Alumni Weekend. Keel was officially inaugurated on April 27. Keel said he and his wife are humbled by all of the events. He said the decision to accept the position as president of Augusta University was not as much a professional decision as it was a personal decision.

“This is my home, my town, my people (and) this is my university,” Keel said.

Shellie Smitley contributed to this story.  Contact Shellie Smitley at Contact Jamie Sapp at

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