This year’s Plattsburgh State homecoming weekend brought respected alumni back to campus along with tears to the eyes of students and faculty.
On Saturday, the PSUC administration officially named the ground floor of Macomb Hall the Kyla J. Relaford Room in dedication to the memory of former Educational Opportunity Program Director Kyla Relaford.
Relaford passed away suddenly during the spring 2018 semester.
The ceremony also celebrated the first distribution of the Kyla J. Relaford scholarship to PSUC bio-medical science major Richeal Quartey.
Quartey was a past advisee of Relaford before her passing and is the first recipient of the scholarship. She received a total of $1,700.
“[Kyla] always motivated me,” Quartey said. “Whenever I needed a pep talk, I could count on her.”
Quartey explains how she feels the scholarship is a piece of Relaford that will help her continue her journey through college, and looks at the scholarship whenever she needs an extra push during the semester.
“I have to work twice as hard to work toward Kyla’s goal,” Quartey said. “She wanted to see every one of us succeed and make her proud. Everyone wants to make their mother proud.”
Emotions ran high as faculty members were reminded of Relaford’s contribution to PSUC and her dedication to the welfare of the students.
Vice President for Student Affairs Bryant Hartman reminisced how Relaford started as a undergrad at PSUC and became “larger than life” within its community.
“The [EOP] program was always successful, but when Kyla took over as director, she carried it up to another level,” PSUC President John Ettling said.
Ettling described Relaford as being a kind woman who would show her students tough love and was more than an advisor and a colleague at PSUC.
“Kyla was 37 when she died. She could have been my daughter, but she was more of a mentor,” Ettling said. “She taught me how to make students feel welcomed.”
In addition to Relaford, two other locations were dedicated to sophisticated individuals associated with the college during homecoming.
On Saturday, The Krinovitz Recital Hall Honors Seminar Room B was dedicated to Dr. David N. Mowry. Mowry was the founding director of the Honors Center at PSUC.
On Friday, the first-floor commons of Champlain Valley Hall was dedicated to Plattsburgh Normal School alumnus James Augustus Wilson.
Wilson was the first African American to enroll and graduate from Plattsburgh Normal School, which used to be PSUC when it only offered service for the training of teachers.
During his enrollment, Wilson was an active organizer and director of the YMCA choir. He was chosen by his classmates to deliver the commencement address in 1902 entitled, “Up From the Depths.”
The PSUC administration also announced the existence of the James Augustus Wilson scholarship. Online applications for the scholarship went live on Oct. 12. Students can access the application from the school website and can either nominate themselves or be recommended by a faculty member. By the end of the academic year, two PSUC students will be awarded $2,500 each.
“It is high time that we here in Plattsburgh honored James Augustus Wilson,” Ettling said to end his speech. “His presence on campus will continue to shape the lives of students now and forever.”
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