Bennett CEO Marcia Taylor is now a member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, a non-profit organization that honors outstanding individuals and supports disadvantaged youth to pursue their dreams of higher education. Along with 10 other esteemed business and civic leaders selected from across North America, Taylor on March 23 was inducted into the Member Class of 2017.
“I am so honored and humbled to be a member of the Horatio Alger Association,” says Taylor. “It was an incredible, surreal experience to be at the ceremonies with all of the current members and my fellow inductees coming in. They treated us like royalty.”
New members were presented with their awards at the 70th Annual Horatio Alger Awards in Washington, D.C. – a three-day event that included an inauguration ceremony at the Supreme Court and induction ceremonies at the State Department and Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Constitution Hall. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a member of the Horatio Alger Association Class of 1992, presented each member with their medallion award during the Inaugural Ceremony. Members Lou Dobbs (Class of 1999) and Tom Selleck (Class of 2000) were Co-Masters of Ceremony for the Induction Ceremony.
For Taylor, the highlight of the ceremonies was spending time with the National Scholars – 116 high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds who were selected out of thousands to attend the event. They will all receive the Horatio Alger National Scholarship valued at $25,000. The annual event raised a record sum of $13 million to support its scholarship programs. Ceremonies included two breakfasts dedicated to meeting and honoring the scholars and a Member Forum, in which new members answered questions by the scholars.
“It was wonderful to be recognized and honored, but the ceremonies were really about the students,” says Taylor. “I really enjoyed getting to meet the scholars and hear their incredible stories. They are all high achievers despite difficult home lives. Some come from poverty. Others have suffered from hardships like abuse, and somehow have managed to succeed. We spent a lot of time sitting and talking with them, loving on them, and giving advice. It was so wonderful to be a part of helping the next generation who will one day be leading this country.”
Taylor mentors National Scholar Jesse Moore, who learned during the Induction Ceremonies that she was accepted to attend Harvard next year. Moore attends Union Grove High School in McDonough, GA, where Bennett is headquartered. When the high school senior learned about Taylor, she reached out, asking to meet and the two got together. They learned hat they have a lot in common, and the relationship took off from there, Taylor says. Moore was one of five National Scholar attendees selected to share their personal stories during the event.
Horatio Alger Association announced the 2017 Horatio Alger Award winners in December. Each year, the award is given to exceptional corporate and philanthropic leaders from across the country who have succeeded despite facing challenges. The award recognizes the new member’s ongoing commitment to higher education and their continued charitable efforts in their local communities.
“Marcia embodies the core values of the Horatio Alger Association, including perseverance, hard work and a proven strength of character during immensely difficult times,” said Byron Trott, president of Horatio Alger Association, when the awards were announced. “Her unwavering drive and fierce independence will surely inspire and motivate our Scholars as they embark on their own personal journeys. We are proud to recognize Marcia’s outstanding professional and personal accomplishments.”