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CSM Celebrates Hawk Heroes, Kicks Off Inauguration Events for Dr. Yolanda Wilson

March 25, 2024

Celebrating Our Community, Collaboration, and Culture

The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) began a week of activities to celebrate the upcoming March 28 inauguration of CSM’s sixth president, President Dr. Yolanda Wilson, by expressing gratitude to the institution’s community partners and donors. More than 200 ‘Hawk Heroes’ gathered March 22 at the La Plata Campus for an appreciation dinner, and to hear directly from students, staff and CSM leadership about how their generosity changes lives.

“Your support is invaluable to us,” said CSM Foundation Board of Director’s Chair Randall Williams as he began the program. “We couldn’t do what we do, for students and the community, without you. Together, we are enhancing lives and strengthening the economic vitality of our region.”

“Since joining this team last year, I have focused on building success together, steering the College of Southern Maryland toward a renewed emphasis on student success, employee success, and community success – and through that lens, I have witnessed – over and over again – the unlimited generosity that Southern Maryland has for our institution,” agreed Wilson.

“I – and more importantly we – wanted the very first celebration of the week to be about this institution’s gratitude – and our students’ gratitude – to all of you who have given so generously – for so long – to the College of Southern Maryland,” she continued, noting that the evening was also sponsored by the college’s Student Government Association.

“I know that I speak on behalf of the faculty, staff, and students when I say thank you from the bottoms of our hearts, for the kindness that pours from yours,” she continued. “You are changing lives, and you are truly our Hawk Heroes.”

Thanks to donors and partners, the CSM Foundation – in the last five years – has raised $5.6 million dollars in scholarship and program funds and has awarded more than $4.6 million dollars in support of credit and workforce development scholarships and programs which support the college’s Student Government Association, arts, athletics, nursing, STEM programs, technology, outreach efforts, books, calculators, cyber labs, and more. That support resulted in the Foundation’s ability to award 680 scholarships annually, on average, for the last five years.

“There is a lot of CSM Love in this room tonight!” shared Foundation Executive Director and Alumna Toni Kruszka ‘11 who served as the evening’s emcee.

“While I have the stage, I want to take a proud mom and CSM Hawk moment,” she bragged. “My son, Vincent, is here tonight. He’s a full-time student at CSM and a member of the golf team. Go Hawks!  His being at CSM, thriving, fills my heart with so much joy. CSM is in his DNA – as his dad is also a CSM alum, two times!”


Real Students, Real Stories


2024donorreception5480.jpgThe evening’s first student speaker was Calvert County resident Asjah Hudson, who started attending CSM as a dual-enrolled student while at Calvert High School. Hudson, pictured left, will graduate this spring with her degree in Business Administration and plans to transfer to the Culinary Institute of America in New York City and pursue a career in the food industry.

“I plan to open a Southern Maryland pescatarian food truck, as I follow a pescatarian diet – that means the only meat I eat is fish,” the aspiring chef said. “And I want to show more representation in the mobile food business.”

Hudson is the recipient of the Hank Willoughby and Trueman Match scholarships. “The Florence B Trueman Help a Hawk Foundation awarded me $1,027 for the years 2022-2023 and the Hank Willoughby foundation has given me a renewal reward of $5,000 for the years 2023-2024,” she said. “These rewards have been tremendously helpful in my academic journey as I’ve been able to set aside worries about my financial package through CSM and have instead focused on saving my money now for the goals I have for myself in the future. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”

2024donorreception5512.jpgDaShawn Rustin, of Charles County, is a second-year Media Studies major and she explained how she left Howard University after her first semester to find herself, and after years of working in a variety of jobs, she ultimately found ‘her home’ at CSM. Rustin, pictured left, is currently a student ambassador, the student event representative of the La Plata Campus, the publicist of CSM’s Power of Words book club, a member of Women of Excellence, the Social Media Manager of CSM’s Athletics Department, a Thomas Mike V. Miller Leadership Academy student leader and more recently, a national 2024 Civic Season Fellow. She is also the recipient of the Charles County Commissioners’ Care Scholarship.

“In the future, I aim to use the media as a vehicle for change and representation, a concept I have embraced through my experiences and opportunities,” Rustin explained. “This includes combating stereotypes and advocating for authentic portrayals across various media platforms such as film, television, radio, and even video games. I am drawn to roles in PR and branding within the entertainment industry, aiming to ensure that these diverse narratives reach a wide audience.”

She then thanked the donors “for your investment in us, and in our futures.”

2024donorreception5522-1.jpg“CSM. A Community College that has exceeded all my expectations, my goals, my dream,” began Denzel Chance, of St. Mary’s County. Chance, pictured left, is a first-year college student who currently serves on CSM’s Student Government Association, the Men of Excellence, the CSM Volunteer Squad, and is the treasurer for EXITO club. 

“As a Maryland Promise Scholarship recipient myself, the ability to maximize my college experience without needing to worry on how I will pay for my tuition in the future identifies the promise that CSM and the Maryland Higher Education Commission has offered to what a student may accomplish in a short amount of time. I am extremely grateful to share my story with you and know that this story will be of many forthcomings.”

2024donorreception5544.jpgCSM alumna, veteran and small business owner Destiny Morgan, pictured left, also offered her thanks at the dinner reception. Morgan earned her associate degree in General Studies at CSM while working full-time in Bethesda. Following her graduation, she went on to join the military; complete her undergraduate degree in Communications at University of Maryland Global Campus; and earn her master’s degree in Management and Leadership with a focus on IT from Western Governors University. Morgan is currently pursuing a doctorate in Artificial Intelligence at Capitol Technology University.

 "’We go far when we go together,’ as President Wilson, often says,” Morgan shared. “This sentiment resonates deeply with me and reflects the essence of Kuinua, a Swahili term meaning ‘to elevate,’ which serves as the cornerstone of my company, my scholarship, and the new initiative I hope to start with this very campus.”

Morgan shared that her mother instilled in her the importance of not only elevating oneself but also uplifting others and creating opportunities for the community.

“The values of selflessness and communal support that I witnessed here at the College of Southern Maryland have become ingrained in my being,” she said. “Today, as both a former student and an alum, I find myself coming full circle. Once the recipient of support and guidance, I now stand ready to pay it forward, to pour into the next generation of students who walk these halls.

“As we move forward, under the inspiring leadership of President Wilson, I am filled with hope for the future of this institution,” she added. “Her dedication to leading from the front, her commitment to excellence, and her historic role as the first African American president to lead the college exemplify the transformative power of education.”

Inauguration Events

Since being named CSM president last year, Wilson has been tirelessly working to set CSM and the entire region on a path of “Going Far, Going Together.” This week, CSM celebrates its new president with a series of presidential inauguration events* designed to bring together CSM and the broader community to celebrate “community, collaboration, and culture.”

The formal installation of a college or university president is an observance steeped in academic tradition, including the processional and recessional of robed members of the faculty and special guests led by the college marshal, and accompanied by a presidential address. With the installation of Wilson as the investiture centerpiece, CSM will spend the week leading up to the ceremony hosting special events that highlight the tenets of Wilson’s commitment to students, partnerships, inclusion, civic engagement, and service leadership.  

Highlights of the week include demonstrations by faculty and students, tours of CSM’s state-of-the-art facilities, and opportunities for impactful conversations about community and service. 

You are invited to enjoy photos from Donor and Partner Dinner Reception at https://csmphoto.zenfolio.com/appreciationdinner.

*(Please note the Hawk Hangout scheduled for March 27 has been rescheduled to April 24 due to inclement weather.)

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