Lo­cal great grand­mother be­comes col­le­giate scholar

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By BAR­BARA HOWARD

On Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 22, a 54-year old great grand­mother made his­tory as she be­came one of the priv­i­leged stu­dents (and the old­est in the group) to be in­ducted into the Florida In­ter­na­tional Univer­sity’s (FIU) chap­ter of The Na­tional So­ci­ety of Col­le­giate Schol­ars (NSCS).

Ac­cord­ing to their lit­er­a­ture, The Na­tional So­ci­ety of Col­le­giate Schol­ars is the na­tion’s pre­miere or­ga­ni­za­tion for high achiev­ing stu­dents. Founded in 1994 at The Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., mem­ber­ship in NSCS is by in­vi­ta­tion only and is of­fered to stu­dents who carry a 3.4 or higher grade point av­er­age.

There are ac­tive chap­ters at more than 330 col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties across the coun­try, in all 50 states, the Dis­trict of Columbia and in Puerto Rico. FIU’s chap­ter was founded in 2001.

Mrs. Cheri Perry, an “Army brat” born in the Fort Ben­ning, Ge­or­gia Army Hospi­tal, is a Florida Bar-reg­is­tered para­le­gal with the pres­ti­gious Bice Cole Law Firm, PL. in Co­ral Gables.

She’s a “chip off the old block” in that her fa­ther, who has since passed on, be­came the first Black sol­dier to grad­u­ate at the top of his class in Of­fi­cer Can­di­date School (OCS) at Fort Sill, Ok­la­homa where he re­ceived his com­mis­sion as 2nd Lt. Ger­ald E. Howard.

When she came to Mi­ami at the ten­der age of 10, she was in­for­mally “adopted” by the Pres­i­dent of the Ur­ban League of Greater Mi­ami, Mr. T. Wil­lard Fair, who helped men­tor her and even­tu­ally ap­pointed her to the Board of Di­rec­tors of the Lib­erty City Char­ter School, where she served with then Gov­er­nor Jeb Bush, who also saw great po­ten­tial in her.

In fact, Gov­er­nor Bush re­quested Perry go to Tallahassee in 2001 to start his re­elec­tion cam­paign, which he won in Novem­ber, 2002 – be­com­ing the first Repub­li­can in Florida his­tory to win a sec­ond term. Perry was pep­pered by the press as to how she could sup­port Jeb, who Democrats had claimed to be a racist.

Perry, her­self a Black woman and a Repub­li­can, po­litely put a re­porter in his place. Then she re­turned to Mi­ami to sup­port Jeb who hand­ily won re-elec­tion.

A tal­ented scholar and as­pir­ing writer in her own right, Perry will be closer to re­tir­ing from the le­gal in­dus­try, so she can put all her en­ergy into writ­ing and pub­lish­ing her work after re­ceiv­ing her Bach­e­lor’s de­gree in English in De­cem­ber.

She comes from a long line of writ­ers. Her grand­mother, who passed in 2015 at the age of 94, was a re­tired univer­sity pro­fes­sor who had pub­lished sev­eral books, one of which chron­i­cled the life of Birm­ing­ham, Alabama Civil Rights Icon, Emory O. Jack­son.

And her mother, Bar­bara Howard, is an ac­com­plished writer as well. Yes, if you have not guessed it by now, Perry, who I call Cheri, is my el­dest child – my first born. So I am ex­tremely proud of her and have been for a very long time; espe­cially when she de­cides to do it on her own and not trade on my name and rep­u­ta­tion.

There have been so many peo­ple who have helped her when called upon, in­clud­ing peo­ple like Bob Gra­ham, be­fore he be­came Gov­er­nor of Florida, the late William “Bill” Turner when he served on the Mi­ami-Dade School Board and then went to the Florida Leg­is­la­ture, and of course, Fair, who con­sid­ered her one of his own.

I can’t be­gin to thank all the peo­ple who helped me with my daugh­ter since we moved to Mi­ami in 1974. You see, as a young di­vorcee, I be­came a sin­gle mother rais­ing three chil­dren. And all my chil­dren ex­celled, show­ing the re­sults of hard work and faith in God.

Cheri and her hus­band, a re­tired plumb­ing con­trac­tor and dis­abled Army vet­eran named Carl Perry have raised seven chil­dren, 10 grand­chil­dren (one on the way), and three great grand­chil­dren (with another on the way). They also have a large ex­tended fam­ily. And most of them live on what I call the fam­ily com­pound.

In the midst of all th­ese peo­ple, Cheri has suc­cess­fully main­tained a full-time job with a very busy lit­i­ga­tion firm, come home and man­aged a house­hold, stud­ied and done home­work and main­tained a 3.7 plus GPA to be­come a na­tional col­le­giate scholar.

Who wouldn’t be proud? That’s my baby! Thank you Fa­ther!

“Cheri has suc­cess­fully main­tained a full-time job with a very busy lit­i­ga­tion firm, come home and man­aged a house­hold, stud­ied and done home­work and main­tained a 3.7 plus GPA to be­come a na­tional col­le­giate scholar.”

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF BAR­BARA HOWARD

Cheri Perry, cen­ter, was in­ducted into the Na­tional So­ci­ety of Col­le­giate Schol­ars for out­stand­ing aca­demic achieve­ment.

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