Passing on the Good
By Katherine Jordan ’23
In Fall 2022, the Ward B. Miller ’76 Scholarship will identify its first cohort of five African American incoming freshmen who demonstrate community service. Because this scholarship is geared toward students helping the community, it is designed for recipients to be able to receive it all four years they are at the College.
To give Ward B. Miller a legacy that reflects his character, Vicki Smith Miller established the scholarship in her husband’s name after he passed away in 2019 at age 66. The scholarship is awarded through the Alumni Association’s scholarship program.
“I hope that the students will learn about and understand my husband and know who he was,” says Vicki. “He would be so happy that students will be able to go to college in his name.”
“This scholarship is about the legacy and love of a lost one,” says Brian Rowe, a development officer at the College who worked with Vicki to help ensure Ward’s sense of service to the community lives on through this scholarship. “To honor Ward B. Miller, we’re searching for community servants. The aim is to support the development of the recipients’ leadership qualities so they can be servants to the communities in which they live.”
Ward was raised in Charleston and graduated in 1976 from the College with a B.A. in political science. As a student in 1974, he was one of the founders of the Eta Iota Chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
After graduating, Ward spent most of his career at Wachovia Bank in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he met his wife, Vicki, at St. James AME Church.
“God brought me a man with strong faith and a passion for others,” says Vicki.
Not only did Ward have a successful career and marriage, he made a lasting impact on his customers, friends and community.
“There is no doubt that he knew and understood what it meant to make a positive difference in the lives of others,” shares Brenda B. Diggs, a professional mentor and friend of Ward’s. “Throughout his life, as a servant leader, he focused on the well-being of people and the community.”
“Ward was a change agent who epitomized integrity, compassion and excellence,” adds Deborah Deas, MD, MPH ’78. “He strived to uplift people from all walks of life, especially aspiring college students.”
Wherever he went, Ward would take time to talk with aspiring youth. “Mr. Miller always encouraged me to create my own voice and stand firm in my actions,” says James Brown, a rising college freshman. “Listening to God’s destiny was the most powerful weapon.”
Ward’s real passion, however, was helping non-profits. He worked with various organizations and served on several boards and committees. Ward continued his passion for non-profits into his retirement volunteering at the Community Care Center and Homeless Persons.
“He enjoyed working with non-profits because they were his way of giving back to the community,” reflects Vicki. “Ward was a community advocate who was involved at the grassroots level. You didn’t see his name printed a lot, but the community knew he was behind some of the events in the city.”
Through this scholarship, Vicki hopes to encourage African American students pursuing college degrees. She recalls her husband’s stories of going to school shortly after the Civil Rights Movement and how the African American students combined their efforts to encourage one another to excel.
“These students clung together in order to be successful, especially at a majority white school in the 70s,” she explains. “Though a different time, kids have witnessed events that older generations wish they would never see, including George Floyd’s death. It’s seen by African Americans as a reversion of what they achieved and attained.”
Knowing it’s what her husband would want, Vicki is taking a stand against such reversals by giving the next generation of African Americans the opportunity for an education. In doing so, she hopes for them to be successful and leave a lasting impact on their communities as Ward did for Winston-Salem.
Vicki hopes that her husband’s scholarship will create a chain reaction of love and good that will change society for the better. She encourages students to, “pass on the good that has been done for them, which in turn will be passed on to someone else.”
To donate to the Ward B. Miller ’76 Scholarship, click here.