In Chapter News, Events, General, Newsletter, Scholars, Scholarships on 06/26/2024 - 3:12 PM

Celebrating Growth: A Recap of Carson Scholars Fund 2024 Banquets

At the Carson Scholars Fund, banquet season stands as a pinnacle of our year!  Meeting scholars and their families to celebrate their achievements is deeply rewarding. This spring, we hosted six awards banquets across the country, honoring 570 new and 936 recognized Carson Scholars – our largest cohort to date.

Reflecting on our 28-year journey, we look to the future with a clear theme: Growth. As we prepare to enter our third decade of service, we aim to expand our reach, bolster connections with educators and schools, engage more deeply with scholars and alumni and strengthen our network of volunteers and donors.

Read on for highlights from each banquet!


Banquet season kicked off in the Steel City on April 6th with scholars gathering at Acrisure Stadium.  Charlotte Heyward Wesley, a prominent Pittsburgh philanthropist and the executive director of The Heyward House, was honored with the Spirit of Achievement award.  In her speech to the scholars, she underscored the profound impact of exceptional educators on their lives. Her own mother, a teacher, was a pivotal influence in her journey.  Wesley also reflected on the significance of everyone’s contributions and stressed the importance of leveraging their influence to value education and promote service to others.


Our southern scholars were in for a treat as the Chattanooga banquet featured two new twists! Ethan Bullock, a 9-time Carson Scholar, and Jaxon Thurman, an 8-time Carson Scholar, graciously volunteered their time and talents to host the banquet as our masters of ceremony. Additionally, Dr. and Mrs. Carson engaged in a Q&A session with scholars during the banquet! Scholars had the opportunity to submit questions for Dr. and Mrs. Carson to answer live during the banquet. This allowed guests to learn more about what influenced the Carsons to start the scholarship foundation, early career investments that have proven to be fruitful and Dr. Carson’s thoughts on seeing the successful outcomes of revolutionary medical procedures that he undertook during his career.  Carson Scholar alum Matthew Dormus traveled from Georgia to celebrate his induction into the Carson Scholars Hall of Fame.

West Palm Beach

Scholars and guests were treated to words of wisdom from world-renowned author James Patterson at the West Palm Beach banquet on May 9th.  Mr. Patterson was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award for the positive impact he’s had on society through his philanthropic work, innovative ideas and philosophy of encouraging others and giving back.  He and Dr. Carson participated in a Q&A session during the banquet in which scholars were able to ask questions of the duo.  Through this intimate experience, guests learned about the greatest mental challenges the men have faced in their careers, the superpowers they would most like to have and why, how they dealt with negative comments or feedback regarding their work and their favorite books as children.

Lee County

On May 11th, scholars and their guests gathered in Fort Myers, FL for the 15th annual Lee County awards banquet.  A longtime friend of the CSF and one of America’s most endearing and beloved iconic entertainers, Tony Orlando, was honored with the Generous Heart Award in recognition of his career spanning six decades, and his spirit of giving back to the community and those in need.  Tony spoke about focusing on the important people in your life and how they can help you in both times of need and success.


The atmosphere was buzzing at The Hall At Live! Casino on May 19th for the 28th annual Maryland Awards Ceremony!  The event was graced with scholars, donors, volunteers and friends of the CSF from Maryland and the mid-Atlantic region. Baseball legend and Maryland native Cal Ripken Jr. was honored with the Power of Excellence Award for his remarkable career playing Major League Baseball and for serving as a positive role model to others.  In his speech to the scholars, Mr. Ripken spoke about the power and importance of perseverance, its impact on his life and how, more than anything else, it allowed him to break records throughout his career.

West Coast

Last but certainly not least, scholars from the West Coast were celebrated in Carlsbad, CA on June 6th amidst the presence of multiple notable CSF alums.  Three-time Carson Scholar and current member of the CSF’s Associate Leadership Council, Grace Fogel, volunteered her time to serve as the master of ceremonies for the event.  Her kindness and warmth radiated as she led the order of events for the evening.  Very special guest, Dr. Bowen Jiang, was the evening’s honoree and was presented with the Sonya Carson Award, an award given in honor of Dr. Carson’s late mother.  Dr. Jiang is a board-certified neurosurgeon, spine surgeon and director of the Providence St. Jude Neuroscience Institute. There he leads one of the premier robotic spine institutes and comprehensive stroke centers in Southern California.  Dr. Jiang was a Carson Scholar in 2004 and completed his neurosurgery residency at Johns Hopkins where he worked closely with Dr. Carson! Notably, he is the first Carson Scholar who has been honored with an award by the organization as an adult.  William Tantribeau, a 2018 Carson Scholar, was in attendance to celebrate his induction into the 2024 Carson Scholars Hall of Fame.

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