Joseph Bryant, a junior from Greensboro, is the initial recipient of the Laura Marie Leary Elliott Memorial Scholarship, which was created in memory of the first African-American to earn an undergraduate degree from East Carolina University.
The scholarship was created to assist students pursuing careers in fields that are historically underrepresented by minority populations. These fields include, but are not limited to, science, mathematics, engineering, and technology.
Bryant is majoring in chemistry. He is active in club basketball, the Pre-Pharm Club, ECU Ambassadors and the Chemistry Club. He is the son of Gralin and Annette Bryant, who are active members of the ECU Parents Association. Gralin Bryant graduated from ECU in 1983.
According to Zack Hawkins, director of Student Affairs Development, more than $32,000 has been raised so far for the scholarship, a sum that allows it to become endowed.
Alumni who gave $1,000 or more to the scholarship fund include Danny Scott and Connie Shelton, ECU Football Coach Ruffin McNeill, Ray Rogers, ECU Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Virginia Hardy, Linda Thomas and Valeria Lassiter. Many other black alumni and several of Laura Leary Elliott’s family members, including her daughter, Rachel Elliott Byers, and sister, Ruth Leary Asbury, also made contributions.
Bryant will be recognized during the Black Alumni Chapter Scholarship and Awards Banquet on Oct. 17 as part of Homecoming activities.
The $2,000 scholarship will increase in value in subsequent years, Hawkins said. In the future the scholarship will be awarded annually to one female and one male student.
Leary graduated in 1966. She taught school in Windsor for two years and then relocated to Washington, D.C. She worked for many years at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, retiring as a senior accountant in 2006. She died in 2013.