Roy Clarke Jr. and Iris Cooper McGuffin were interested
in finding a way to honor their respective parents while at the same time
helping future generations. They achieved that goal by establishing an
endowment, which recently became fully funded and is helping UNF students
become teachers and nurses.
The dual purpose of the endowment is unusual but reflects
the life of the individuals honored. Clarke and McGuffin were raised across the
street from one another in Jacksonville. McGuffin’s mother became a single
parent after her father died. Her mother not only raised the family but earned
her RN degree, became a hospital surgical nurse and served as a neighborhood
nurse. To honor her mother, McGuffin established the Evelyn Cooper Nursing
Clarke’s mother, Hazel, was the only child of 12 to earn
a college degree. She raised three children and taught in Duval County schools
for 25 years. While earning her teaching certification, she commuted to what
was then known as the Florida State College for Women and is now called Florida
State University. The Roy and Hazel Clarke Education Scholarship was created to
honor her efforts in particular and to give recognition to Clarke’s husband,
who supported his wife’s career.
“When Iris and I decided to create an award to honor our
parents, we wanted to be able to participate in the scholarship process. We
selected UNF because of its location, high-quality curriculum and it was an
institution that desired and encouraged our participation,” Clarke noted.
Clarke and McGuffin have met all of their scholarship
recipients, including Lauryn Philpot, a senior majoring in education. Philpot
has used the scholarship to help overcome a number of personal family challenges.
Her father, who underwent open-heart surgery when he was only 35, was a
stay-at-home dad while recovering. In 2007, Philpot’s mother suffered a stroke
shortly before losing her job in the mortgage industry. Although both her
parents are now healthy and working, Philpot has three brothers with college
plans, one of whom is currently at UNF. To help out, Philpot works as a
waitress on weekends, while completing her unpaid teaching internship during
the week. She is able to make ends meet with the Clarke Scholarship, which has
proved to be her lifeline.
“I believe God places each of us on this Earth for a
reason and for me, that reason is to educate other people, so they can live a
life just as great as the one I’ve been given,” Philpot said. “With education,
every person has an endless list of opportunities. I’m grateful for this