IOTA PHI AWARDEES—Curtistine Walker, Brian Burley, Charles Deshazer, Donna Jackson and Rashad Byrdsong (Photos by Debbie Norrell) (Feature Photo)
by Debbie Norrell, Lifestyles Editor
“You had to be there” is a phrase that is used when someone tries to describe a moment that you may not believe unless you saw it with your own eyes. Something like that moment when billionaire Robert F. Smith paid the debts of the 2019 Morehouse graduating class.
On Nov. 22, at the Rivers Casino with Eric Anderson as the master of ceremonies, The Iota Phi Foundation, The Philanthropic Arm of the Iota Phi Chapter, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., held their 2019 Achievement Awards Dinner. Scholarships of $2,000 each were presented to: Amaris Smith, Karson Alexander Kennedy, Cecil Price III, Carlyton James Mathews, Caleb Nesbit and Aliyah Holland. As the presentation of the scholarship awards concluded, Greg Spencer approached the podium with a message. Dr. Charles Deshazer was doubling the awards to $4,000. The students were excited by the generosity and could not believe what had just happened. Earlier Deshazer received the Exemplary Service Award for Medicine; Dr. Deshazer is Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Highmark Health Plan.
Awards were also presented to: Curtistine Walker—Exemplary Service Award for Business, Walker is the Director of Pittsburgh Public Schools Food Service; Daria Crawley, PhD—Exemplary Service Award for Education—Professor and Management Department Head at Robert Morris University and Donna Jackson—Exemplary Service Award for Community Advocacy—Board Chair of the Larimer Consensus Group. Darelle Porter, Executive Director of Ozanam, received the Citizen of the Year Award, Devin Patterson, a counselor and assistant professor at Community College of Allegheny County, received the Sylvester Pace Humanitarian Award while Brian Burley, author of YNGBLKPGH, speaker and entrepreneur, received the Emerging Leader Award. Rashad Byrdsong, founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Community Empowerment Association, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The men of Omega Psi Phi also took time to honor their own and presented the Undergraduate Omega Man of the Year Award to Tyrique Cox and the Omega Man of the Year Award to Ron Coursey Jr. Since 1984 the Iota Phi Foundation has given more than $350,000 in scholarships.