Pinckney Scholars remember the fallen senator, their ‘role model,’ one year after his death

Carmen Hamilton is one of two Ridgeland High grads who received the scholarship.

It’s hard for many to believe it’s been a year since nine people, praying and studying the Bible, were killed inside Mother Emanuel. Ridgeland High School graduates who received scholarships in the late Senator Clementa Pinckney’s name through the Clementa C. Pinckney Foundation, remember the beloved reverend and senator.

“I was hurt to know that he died that way and a shooter going to a church and just do that to some place that it so sacred…and kill him, one of the sweetest people that I can honestly say I knew,” Carmen Hamilton said.

Hamilton is one of ten scholarship recipients. She will receive $7,000 her first year at Charleston Southern University, but can receive up to $10,000 each year. Hamilton calls Pinckney a role model.

“I wanted to go into politics when I was younger, so I did a lot of research on him and when I knew that he was from Jasper [County]. It made me feel that I could really be a politician, because he came from here so I could do it,” she says.

Hamilton and her third grade classmates first met Pinckney on a field trip to the Statehouse.

Another recipient, Kayla Hasty, remembers that trip. She feels honored to have been awarded the scholarship, as well.

“I was very honored. It was a very overwhelming feeling because it’s just so much that you would like to do in remembrance of Reverend Pinckney. So, for me to be awarded his first scholarship, it was amazing because it felt like I was the few continuing a legacy that he left to us,” Hasty says.

Hasty will study physical therapy at South Carolina State University.

There are eight other recipients from the Beaufort and Charleston area. They will march in the unity walk in Charleston on Saturday, where they’ll be introduced to Dr. Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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