SC State Foundation to Honor ‘Shining Stars’

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

ORANGEBURG, S.C. – The SC State University Foundation’s Board of Directors announces its 27th annual Scholarship Gala and Tribute. The black-tie event will take place on Saturday, March 3, at 7 p.m. in the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center on SC State’s campus. A reception will take place at 6 p.m. at the university’s Fine Arts Center.

The Scholarship Gala and Tribute is the signature fundraiser for the foundation, and its proceeds are allocated to student scholarships. The event, which features an awards ceremony, is also an annual opportunity to honor students who have distinguished themselves by demonstrating a commitment to service, integrity and excellence.

“The theme for this year’s gala, ‘An SC State Education, Your Gateway to the Future,’ is unique, as it highlights the significance that generosity has on the lives of students and the university,” said Gala chair and SCSU Foundation board member, Dr. Michelle Mosely.

“Every year the SC State University Foundation awards a multitude of scholarships, given by SC State alumni and friends, who believe in the importance of education and the potential of SC State students. I want our alumni donors and friends to know that with their generosity, our students achieve more than they ever imagined,” she continued.

Serving as the host for the evening is Charleston WCBD news anchor and SC State alumna, Octavia Mitchell Hilton, of Awendaw, South Carolina.

An Emmy Award-winning journalist, Hilton is well-known for her comprehensive news coverage of education. She is committed to reporting positive news about local schools and serves as a mentor to many students.

Hilton is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and Union African Methodist Episcopal Church. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from SC State.

Every year, four students are awarded the Shining Star distinction and an academic scholarship during the Scholarship Gala and Tribute. These students are recognized for their high grade point average in their academic college, commitment to serving others and strong leadership skills.

AshleyThe 2018 Shining Stars are senior, Ashlyn Foster; junior, Ariana Ruiz and sophomores, Jessica Glenn and Elijah Medina-Bandy.

Ashlyn Foster, a senior child development major, is a native of Spartanburg, South Carolina. She could not pass up the opportunity to attend SC State after hearing the Marching 101 Band perform at the Honda Battle of the Bands in 2011. From that moment forward, she knew that she wanted to be a member of the band as well. Foster also desired to experience the fascinating culture that a historically black college, such as SC State, has to offer.

She serves as a work-study student at the Child Development Learning Center on campus and is a trombonist for the Marching 101 Band.

The Shining Star distinction came to her as a surprise, as she was not aware that her hard work was being observed. She is dedicated to turning her challenges into victories and hopes to inspire other students to achieve their goals.

Foster aspires to teach at a child development center on a military base. Ultimately, she hopes to educate, encourage and lead children into a prosperous future. Upon graduation, she plans to attend graduate school.

AshleyJunior agribusiness major, Ariana Ruiz, is a New York native who has resided in Manning, South Carolina during most of her life. She declares that choosing SC State was the best decision for her, as she has learned valuable lessons that will help her throughout life.

Ruiz believes that being named a Shining Star signifies that overcoming adversity is possible for anyone, regardless of their race.

She helped SC State win second place in the National Black MBA Association Undergraduate Case Competition in September of 2017. She is also a student ambassador for the School of Business and a Presidential Scholar.

Upon graduation, she plans to attend law school, and make her mark on the world as a positive role model.

Jessica Glenn, a sophomore professional English major, is from Thomasville, North Carolina. The current Sumter, South Carolina resident, is a first-generation college student from her immediate household. She hopes to pave the way for family members who succeed her.

AshleyHer decision to attend SC State arose from her admiration of its rich history. During her first semester at the university, Glenn had the opportunity to interview a speaker from novelist, Jane Austen’s Symposium. Through that interview, she gained journalism experience, and her passion for writing soared.

A member of Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society, Glenn maintains academic success by keeping her ‘eyes on the prize,’ and having a positive attitude. She is honored to be an SCSU Foundation Shining Star and is grateful that her diligence is being rewarded.

After completing her undergraduate career, she aspires to become a journalist, author and entrepreneur.

Elijah Medina-Bandy is a sophomore biology major from Atlanta, Georgia. He decided to attend SC State because he knew that he would receive numerous opportunities to improve academically and professionally. An academic scholar, he has conducted cancer research in hopes of improving the overall health of society.

AshleyHe began his tenure at SC State as a football player, but due to an injury, he withdrew from the team. Despite the obstacles he faced, Medina-Bandy later joined the university’s track and field team and competed at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championship in Maryland. He also became a residential assistant on campus.

He is thrilled to be a Shining Star, as it exemplifies his commitment to succeed academically.

Upon graduation, he plans to attend graduate school at Emory University in his native city. He also aspires to continue cancer research and wishes to become an orthopedic doctor and surgeon.

Individual sponsorships for this event are available through purchasing general seating for $175. To purchase seating for the gala, please visit

For more information about the Scholarship Gala and Tribute, contact SCSU Foundation administrative coordinator, Angelia Jackson, at (803) 536- 7190 or