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SFSU students awarded scholarship for determination, overcoming adversity



Matt Itelson
SFSU Office of Public Affairs & Publications
(415) 338-1743
(415) 338-1665


Press Release published by the Office of Public Affairs & Publications


Clanton scholarship established in memory of one of S.F.'s first African American longshoremen

SAN FRANCISCO, November 5, 2004 -- Six San Francisco State University students were recently awarded the Berry and Vera Lee Clanton Endowed Scholarship for their unwavering determination to reach academic goals in spite of personal and financial challenges.

This year's recipients are Diane Bhachu, Janien Harrison and Kyesha Thompson of Oakland; Cindy Alexander of San Francisco; and Kokeetia Mcelwee of Los Angeles.

The Berry and Vera Lee Clanton Endowed Scholarship Fund, established in 2000 by Vera Lee Clanton in memory of her late husband, provides guidance and financial assistance to deserving under-represented students at the University.

The scholarship awards students who are actively involved in their communities while overcoming adversity and physical challenges.

Harrison, a junior psychology major, volunteers as a peer counselor at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center while recovering from a car accident in 1999 that left her with left-sided paralysis. Bhachu is dyslexic and plans to open a resource center for seniors in Oakland after she completes a master's degree in gerontology.

The scholarship awards up to $2,000 annually per student. Preference is given to applicants who are first-generation college students, active participants in their church or community, single or teenage parents, and recipients of Aid to Families for Dependent Children or other public assistance.

Berry Clanton was one of the first African American men hired as a longshoreman on the San Francisco waterfront. He was not college-educated man but according to his wife, Vera Lee, he had a thirst for education that he shared with his community. Vera Lee continues to be an active member of San Francisco's African American community, continuing a commitment that she and her late husband started more than 50 years ago.

"We created a vision that would help educate young people in their pursuit of higher education," said Vera Lee Clanton, who lives in the Laurel Hill neighborhood.

For details on the scholarship, contact Evelyn Hooker, executive assistant to the vice president of student affairs, at (415) 338-2032 or

One of the largest campuses in the California State University system, SFSU was founded in 1899 and today is a highly diverse, comprehensive, public and urban university.


NOTE: For photos of the Clantons and scholarship recipients, contact Matt Itelson of the SFSU Office of Public Affairs and Publications at (415) 338-1743 or

Public Affairs Student Writer Audrey Tang contributed to this press release.

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Last modified April 20, 2007, by the Office of Public Affairs & Publications