By Rosie Lee Matlock-Muldrew
SAU Class of 1985
Serves on the SAU Foundation Board of Governors
I was born in McKamie, Arkansas, and graduated from Stamps High School in 1980. On graduation night, I watched a number of my classmates receive thousands of dollars in scholarships to attend various colleges. I received a $100 CB Radio Club Scholarship from a group spearheaded by Mrs. Esta Rufus, mother of one of my girlfriends, Donna Washington. Mrs. Rufus approached me after graduation and said, “This is how you help others. It is the thought that counts, not the amount. It is important to care about others.” I never forgot her words.
Coming from a family with sixteen siblings, I knew that my parents, the late Velma and Floyd Matlock, could not afford to send me to college. My mother was battling throat cancer, and she was constantly in and out of St. Michael’s Hospital in Texarkana. Also, at that time, I still had younger brothers in school.
I did know that I wanted to go to college, so I decided to work at Stamps Nursing Home for a year and save the money to commute to SAU the following year. But, like Mrs. Rufus, my sisters knew the importance of caring for others and had different plans for me.
Bernice (now Bernice Matlock-Taylor from Stamps) was afraid that if I started working for minimum wage, I would never pursue my education. She wanted me to be the first person in our family to graduate from college, and so she encouraged me to start college the fall after graduation. She suggested that I apply for financial aid and commute for the first semester to save money. Since I didn’t have a car, she allowed me to drive hers for the first two months of my freshman fall semester. She not only paid for the gas, but also provided me with a box lunch. She cooked her meals every day from scratch, so I enjoyed fried chicken, meat loaf, cornbread, fried fish and so many other good home-cooked meals. I had meals on wheels before Meals on Wheels existed. Another sister, Gloria, also helped tremendously while I attended SAU.
Later that semester, I started carpooling with two of my best friends, Deborah and Deloris Johnson from Stamps. Having friends to share the college experience made college even better. We became the Stamps Girls, supporting each other, motivating each other, and sharing our college expenses. We encouraged others from Stamps to commute to SAU. Our group grew, and we became unstoppable. I began to grasp the concepts of delayed gratification and the value of education.
Financial aid and work study paid for my college education. My first job was for Dr. Dan Ford, Dean of Liberal and Performing Arts. I began working for him a week before school started in the fall of 1980 and worked for him until I graduated. He was a wonderful person to work for and really motivated me to do my best.
For my sophomore year I moved on campus into Nelson Hall. This is when I really started understanding the importance of that Delayed Gratification Concept. As I matured, I realized the value of having people who actually cared about my future, and I began to enjoy sharing and helping others. I joined the Student Government Association and pledged Delta Sigma Theta.
During my first two years at SAU, I had the honor of meeting some of the best professors anywhere: Dr. Dan Ford, Dr Kathleen (Jordan) Mallory, Dr. Betty Blue, Mr. and Mrs. Brannon, Dr. Dorcas Moore, Ms. Charlotte Pickens and the list goes on. They wanted to help me learn, and the gifts of their time and caring were priceless.
As a member of the Black Student Association (BSA), I was impressed with the strong, caring student leaders. Officers such as Thelma Sanchez, Barbara Todd, Anthony Zackery, and LaQuita Morrison showed us the value of hard work and character. Ricky and Mickey Jasper, Javan Fuller, Daniel Johnson, Stan Askew, Sylvester Dunbar, Darryl Anderson, Chris Gilliam, Edgar Lee, Paul Brown , Willie Pegram, Rufus Wood and many other strong young men were role models for younger men. Female leaders such as Roberta Meeks, Cheryl Daniels, Gwen Roland, Shelia Thomas, Shelia Butler, Darlene Peterson, Beverly Jack, Renae Watts, Betty Hughes, Sherry Penix, Elaine Hubbard, Melody Burton, Georgia Johnson, Artie Pierce, Barbara Collins provided examples for the younger women to follow. The influence of these classmates made SAU a rich growing and learning experience for all.
Everyone was willing to give and help each other. We invited and paid for great speakers such as Reverend Jessie Jackson, Maya Angelou, and Julian Bonds because everyone was willing to give. Now, in 2014, the Dr. Kathleen Mallory Lecture Fund serves the same great purpose of giving SAU students the opportunity to hear inspiring speakers every year. The gift of knowledge is still valued at SAU. SAU graduates are still reaching back and helping others, pulling them up to new levels. This is how we keep the legacy going. T.D Jakes once said that “… whenever you see a turtle sitting on a fence post, always remember he didn’t get there by himself.” So many people helped me achieve my goals, beginning with my graduation from high school and continuing through my college years at SAU.
In 1983, while in college, I decided that I wanted to start a scholarship fund at SAU. Of course, I didn’t have the means do so at that time, but I had faith that it would eventually happen. I was able to help when the Delta Sigma Theta Undergraduate Chapter started The Little Miss Delta and the Little King of Hearts Pageant at SAU in the fall of 1984 to raise money for scholarships. In 2002, nineteen years later, I was able to complete The Rosie Lee Matlock Scholarship at SAU. It is the best investment I have ever made. The legacy of the scholarship speaks for itself; since 2002, twelve students who have received the scholarship money were able to continue their education at SAU. I am very humble at this point in my life, and so thankful that I have been able to invest in the future of our younger generation.
I have become what I am because of the people who helped me.
The help of others in a time of need is a priceless gift to receive; it is an even more rewarding gift to give.