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Ben Rogers/Lamar University/BISD “I Have A Dream” Program dedicates special plaque honoring Lamar University “Dreamers” and graduates

The Ben Rogers/Lamar University/BISD “I Have A Dream” Program recently dedicated a plaque installed next to the magnolia tree planted on the Lamar University campus. Participants of the program planted the tree in 2003 in loving memory of Ben Rogers and in gratitude to the university for hosting hundreds of “dreamers” for summer institutes and for introducing them to college life and higher education, which was Rogers’ wish for all IHAD Groupyoung people.

A portion of the plaque reads, “Just as this tree shall grow with new life as it is watered with heaven’s rains, your hard work will be the seeds upon which your dreams will blossom.”

IHAD board member and Lamar University Major Gifts Officer Joanne Brown and Lamar University Assistant Vice President of Planning & Construction Katherine Miller contributed to the plaque design and helped plan the dedication.

The “I Have A Dream” scholarship and mentoring program was established in 1988 as a surprise 75th birthday present for the late Rogers by his wife Julie and his children and grandchildren. Since inception, the initiative has helped more than 450 young people graduate from high school and nearly 300 achieve an associate, bachelor’s or advanced degree.

Rogers was one of six children who lost his father at a young age. He grew up on the streets of Chicago and learned through hard knocks, hard work and what survival required. While becoming a successful businessman, Rogers always realized the importance of service to others, and he had a passion for providing opportunities for young people, offering support and resources to help struggling students graduate as doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers and other professions.

During the past five years alone, 30 “dreamers,” with the assistance of scholarships and mentoring, have obtained degrees from Lamar University. Currently, there are 16 “Dreamers” attending LU, including three pursuing their graduate degrees.

“We have been with them through all of their trials and tribulations,” said Regina Rogers, Ben’s daughter and founder of IHAD. “Through all of their good and bad life events, doing whatever it takes physically, financially and spiritually to help them achieve, and they have come out ahead. Life can be difficult. But with prayer, practical help and guidance, our program has demonstrated that young people can overcome anything. As our president Tom Abbage always says, ‘It’s not how many times you fall down, but how many times you get back up that determines your success in life.’”

“For the past seven years, we have had only one staff member, Margueritte Humphrey, who has served as student affairs director and been with the organization for more than 30 years,” said Rogers. “It is Margueritte who meets with the students weekly, motivating and encouraging them to succeed. As all of our ‘dreamers’ know, she is relentless in her desire to help them achieve their goals and graduate.”

Nearly 20 former and current “dreamers,” attended the dedication, IHAD Plaqueincluding Arquisha Miller, Mildred Piert and Chelsea Pete, who were present in 2003 when the tree was planted. Beaumont United High School Principal Dr. Charisma Popillion (IHAD Class of 1998) also attended. “More than anything, I Have A Dream is family that stayed with me throughout my educational career,” said Popillion. “Thank you for continuing to support me.”

IHAD board members President Tom Abbage, Joanne Brown, Paula O’Neal, Nancy Beaulieu, Elizabeth Petit, Marilyn Adams, Boyd Wells, Regina Rogers and Margueritte Humphrey also attended along with Lamar University representatives Katherine Miller; Juan Zabala, vice president University Advancement; Jeff Spoeri, associate vice president University Advancement; and Dr. Cindy Stinson, chair, JoAnne Gay Dishman School of Nursing. Unable to attend were IHAD board members Dr. Carolyn Crawford and Dorothy Yentzen.

The beautiful IHAD magnolia tree is located on the Lamar University campus near the visitor’s parking lot, off of MLK Drive, and next to the Wimberly and Plummer Buildings.

For additional information or to provide mentoring or scholarship support, please visit ihadbeaumont.org or call 409-892-8792 to speak with Brittany Pippin.