Students were asked about improving S.C. education. Their responses earned scholarships named for an iconic Rep. from York County

Sheila Burkhalter, vice president for student affairs at Winthrop University (center) with Bessie Moody Lawrence Scholarship Winners Emma Sutton (right), a Nation Ford High School graduate, and Madison Sexton (left), who graduated from Northwestern. (Contributed photo).

FORT MILL — Two exceptional young women were recognized at an ice cream social Saturday by the York County Democratic Women’s Council as recipients of $1,500 scholarships awarded by the Bessie Moody-Lawrence scholarship committee.

The 2019 scholarship winners are Nation Ford High School graduate Emma Sutton, and Madison Sexton, a graduate of Northwestern High School.

Sheila Burkhalter, vice president for student affairs at Winthrop University. was the event’s guest speaker.

The young women were required to complete an application and submit an essay addressing the question, “South Carolina is attempting to overhaul and improve the education system from K-12 through college. What should be included in this process from the perspective of your experiences in school to this date and your future collegiate plans?”

The winners were also required to attend a South Carolina college or university. Sexton is headed to Clemson University and Sutton will attend Wofford College.

The late Moody-Lawrence, a resident of Rock Hill, was 71 when she passed away in 2012. Born in Chester county, she grew up to become only the second African-American woman from York County elected to the South Carolina General Assembly. Nicknamed “The Velvet Hammer,” Moody-Lawrence, a Democrat, served eight terms in the S.C. House representing Dist. 49 starting in 1992. She also was an education professor at Winthrop.

As a legislator, Moody-Lawrence advocated for public education, affordable health care and children, among other issues.

“I want to give my profound thanks to our donors and advertising sponsors who have made it possible for the York County Democratic Women’s Council to offer the scholarships to deserving York County high school students each year,” said Vickie Holt, chairwoman of the Bessie Moody Lawrence scholarship committee.

“It is our goal to be able to increase the amounts we offer deserving young women and it is the sustained support of donors that allows us to recognize these deserving young women.”

The Bessie Moody-Lawrence Scholarship Committee is one of the many committees chaired by York County Democratic Women’s Council members. Anyone who would like to contribute to the scholarship fund to help future recipients attend colleges and universities in South Carolina can email Holt at for more information.


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