Florida A&M University (FAMU) alum Congressman David Scott recalled his personal educational journey over half a century as he highlighted the need for scholarships to pave the way for present and future generations of students.
“I’m a living example of why it’s so important to have scholarships for our young people and that’s why the most significant thing I have done in my 18 years in Congress is to be able to pass a law that is giving $80 million to the 19 1890’s Land Grant African American colleges and universities,” Scott said in his pre-recorded 11-minute commencement address during the Virtual Fall Commencement Ceremony aired 10 a.m. Saturday on FAMU-TV, FAMU Facebook page, the FAMU YouTube channel and the FAMU mobile app.
More than 600 graduates obtained degrees from the University’s 14 colleges and schools. Scott received an honorary doctorate in recognition of his work first as a Georgia legislator for almost three decades and as a congressman since 2002.
“Congressman Scott has been a servant leader in the truest sense. He has been a strong voice for jobs, health care, education, our veterans, our children, and transportation since beginning public service. And he never forgot his roots,” said FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D.
A nine-term Democrat, Scott secured the funding in the 2018 Farm Bill, money that has resulted in 70 scholarships to FAMU students thus far. The initiative is geared to attract high achieving entering freshmen to pursue and obtain their baccalaureate degrees in food and agricultural sciences from FAMU in four years, and for qualified, transfer students in two years.
“God put me on this journey and gave me that vision. It took me three years to get it done,” said Scott, who was recently elected as chair of the powerful House Agriculture Committee. In Congress, Rep. Scott has been a strong advocate for jobs, health care, education, veterans, children, and transportation. He serves on the Financial Services Committee and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
He said none of his accomplishments would have been possible without FAMU and the scholarships that paid his way.
“It’s important for you to know what Florida A&M means to me,” he said. “My life story wouldn’t be the story it is if it wasn’t for Florida A&M University.”
When Scott graduated high school and wanted to attend college but didn’t have the money, his community stepped up.
“The people of Daytona Beach Florida got together and raised $300 and said, ‘Here, David go to the college of your choice.’ I got on my knees and I thank God for Florida A&M University,” Scott said. “I’m telling you this is because none of it would’ve happened had I not gotten that $300 from the good people of Daytona Beach, Florida.”
Back then, FAMU was on the trimester system and tuition cost $300. After Scott arrived on the Tallahassee campus, he received a scholarship from Alpha Phi Alpha auxiliary wives.
“They gave me another scholarship because I was one of those African American students who scored highest on the Florida 12th grade placement tests to graduate from high school,” said Scott was initiated into the Beta Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity while on campus. The finance major was also active in theatre. His internships led to other opportunities. After graduation in 1967, he attended the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, where he earned an MBA.
Scott said he not only got an education at FAMU, but he met his wife on the steps of McGuinn Hall. He was 19; the younger sister of baseball’s home run king Hank Aaron was 18.
“We’ve been together ever since and she’s been my partner,” Scott said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for Alfredia Aaron Scott. Together we’ve achieved wonderful things.”