Jason Taylor Highlights “Keeping the Promise”

Florida Memorial University President’s Scholarship and 130th Anniversary Gala

Gospel music vocalist “Y’Anna Crawley” amazes the crowd with her dynamic pipes

The 130th Anniversary Gala Committee at Florida Memorial University, South Florida’s only Historically-Black College or University (HBCU), invited superstar Miami Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor to take center stage at the famed Fontainebleau Miami Beach for a lavish celebration titled “Keeping the Promise.” After a pre-dinner penthouse reception for corporate sponsors, dignitaries, and University administrators, more than 500 guests came together in the majestic Fontaine Fleur de Lis Ballroom early to greet and congratulate an appreciative and humble Taylor, who made a grand entrance as the gala’s special guest and honoree.

The purpose of “Keeping the Promise” was to celebrate the University’s historic 130-year anniversary since its founding in 1879 and to raise funds to support the Florida Memorial University Student Scholarship Fund. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan were on hand to present a Proclamation to Sandra T. Thompson, Ph.D., the University’s interim president, for providing funding to deserving students. They also acknowledged Dr. Thompson for upholding the University’s motto to instill leadership, character, and service virtues within each student.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez congratulates Florida Memorial family for reaching 130-year milestone

WFOR 4 news anchor Jim Berry charismatically emceed the gala honoring Taylor, who received the University’s 2009 Community Leadership Award for his dedication and service to promote education through the Jason Taylor Foundation. During his acceptance speech, Taylor committed himself to creating a scholarship for a student to attend Florida Memorial University through his foundation. The scholarship announcement received a rousing applause and standing ovation from all guests in attendance.

After Taylor received his award, executives from Denny’s, Inc. were honored with the 2009 Corporate Partner Award for launching the newly-created Denny’s Single-Parent Student Resource Center on the Florida Memorial campus, and for contributing $25,000 to the University as the gala’s Founder Sponsor. Susan Mirdamadi, Vice President of Operations, Strategy & Support for the Denny’s corporate office, accepted the award for her generosity in providing computers, printers, and office supplies for the model center.

Members of the Florida Memorial University Ambassador Chorale Ensemble

While guests dined on fresh salad and roasted salmon filet, they were entertained with a spirited rendition of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” from the Florida Memorial University Ambassador Chorale Ensemble, followed by lively tunes from the FMU Presidential Jazz Band led by famous trumpeter Melton Mustafa. The evening was punctuated with a Denny’s-sponsored command performance from Y’Anna Crawley, winner of BET’s second season of “Sunday Best,” a gospel music competition. The vocal powerhouse performed two songs, one of which was aptly titled “The Promise,” an inspirational hymn concluding the evening on an upbeat note. The evening ended with a sumptuous dessert bar with miniature assortments of apricot apple crumble, bread and butter pudding, Bailey’s chocolate pie, and lemon meringue tarts.

Roy Campbell’s ENTERTAINMENT GROUP produced the event. Florida Memorial University’s 130th Anniversary Gala Committee was chaired by Dr. Barbara J. Edwards, Executive Assistant to the President, and co-chaired by Joyce R. Forchion, Director of Public Affairs.

Hon. Barbara J. Jordan, Commissioner, Miami-Dade County; Jason Taylor; Sandra T. Thompson, Ph.D., Interim President, Florida Memorial University; and, Carlos Alvarez, Mayor, Miami-Dade County

“Keeping the Promise” was a resounding success and exceeded last year’s annual goal in student scholarships. The 130th Anniversary Gala Committee acknowledges Founder Sponsor Denny’s, Inc. and these additional sponsors for their invaluable support: Aramark Management Services, L.P., AT&T-Florida, Allied Barton Security, GEICO, Ryder System, The Pepsi Bottling Group, American Airlines, Baptist Hospital, Becker & Poliakoff, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Cisco Systems, Florida Power & Light, Sodexo, Stephen H. Greenberg & Associates, Weiss Serota Helfman Pastoriza Cole and Boniske, BankUnited, City of Miami Gardens, Ocean Bank, Turner Construction and UPS.

For more information about Florida Memorial University, please call the Office of Public Affairs at 305-626-3624 or visit www.fmuniv.edu.