Magnolia Foundation grant supports two Trident Tech scholarships named after former slave

For the second consecutive year, the Magnolia Plantation Foundation has funded scholarships for two students pursuing associate degrees in horticulture and hospitality and tourism management at Trident Technical College.

Eleis Lester, a resident of downtown Charleston resident, and Litasha Banks, who lives in North Charleston, are recipients of the scholarships named for 19th century attorney, journalist and diplomat Archibald Grimké.

Archibald Grimké

Born into slavery in 1849 on a Lowcountry rice plantation, Grimké was one of the first black students enrolled in the Harvard Law School. He was a cousin of the Rev. John Grimké Drayton, who in 1870 opened Magnolia’s gardens as Charleston’s first tourist attraction.

Lester, a horticulture major, and Banks, a hospitality and tourism management student, are each in their second year at Trident. They are scheduled to graduate in 2018.

Lester, a 2000 graduate of St. Johns College in Maryland, said, “The scholarship will allow me to enroll in classes that I could not otherwise afford as well as purchase important books and resources that will be vital to my career. Upon graduating, I hope to work in the public sector, helping municipalities design and maintain public spaces with a focus on native plants and sustainable practices.”

Banks attended Stall High School. She thought her dream of returning to school had passed her by. She has a goal to lead her own event planning company that specializes in weddings. Being selected for the Grimké scholarship, she said, shows that her hard work is appreciated. “No words could truly express the gratitude that I feel right now.”

In 2016, Katina Bosko of Summerville and Lynette Cobb of North Charleston were the first students selected for the Grimké scholarship.

The Magnolia Plantation Foundation, the non-profit arm of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, awards grants to local and national organizations that support a variety of causes. The foundation gave grants to selected non-profit groups involved with animal welfare, nature conservation, history, youth activities, education, horticulture and the arts.

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