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A Scholarship of Opportunities and Excellence


The Class of 1980 is honoring one of its own, Phyllis Breland, by creating an endowed scholarship to support the student opportunity she has worked for throughout her career at Hamilton.

 The Class of 1980-Phyllis Holmes Breland Scholarship Fund will provide scholarship assistance to high-need Hamilton students, with preference to those participating in the College's Opportunity Programs. Breland, Hamilton’s Opportunity Programs director, retires this week. The programs are designed to provide access to select, promising high school students whose economic or academic circumstances would otherwise prevent them from attending college.

My hope is that this will promote excellence. My hope is that I have laid out a path and an expectation that reinforces the faith and hope that we give to our students by having this program here.

Breland’s retirement coincides with her class’s 40th reunion, and to Reunion Gift Co-Chair Stephen Starnes ’80, it seemed a natural and perfect fit to name an endowed scholarship in her honor. As a student, Starnes, like Breland, was a part of Hamilton’s Higher Education Opportunity Program. He says he would never have made it through College without that support.

“Many of us benefited from the support of Opportunity Programs, and hundreds of others have enjoyed the same privilege since then,” he and other class leaders wrote about the scholarship in a letter to classmates.

Class President Frank Tietje ’80 remembers Breland as an advocate for student opportunity even when she was a student. “It does not surprise me that she did come back to Hamilton. I mean, people don't always come back, but I thought it was an amazing hire when they brought her back. She's passionate, she loves what she does, and this is a population that she would put her life out there for,” Tietje says.

When Breland learned about the scholarship that would be named for her, she was surprised, humbled — and glad for future students. 

“I love the concept because I think that it will do for the coming students what Hamilton did for me, and that was to give me a shot at being the best that I can be with minimal worry about where monies might come from, or if my best interests were helped along the way, or if I could do things,” Breland says. “My hope is that this will promote excellence. My hope is that I have laid out a path and an expectation that reinforces the faith and hope that we give to our students by having this program here.”

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