Audrey Stradford of Tennesee State University is being recognized with the “Power of Dreams” Award at the 13th Annual Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase on January 24.
The Power of Dreams Award is meant to honor an individual who has helped HBCU culture thrive—by helping students achieve their dreams through positive support, guidance and leadership within the institution or community. Stradford will be the first to be recognized.
The financial aid assistant, known as “Miss Audrey” graduated from TSU in 1966 with a degree in Sociology. Though she returned to the university only 12 years ago, she has maintained her presence at TSU for more than 30 years by returning back to campus to volunteer over the years.
No matter if it was new student move in, homecoming activities, or encouraging students to remain in school and study hard Stradford never ceased to lend a helping hand to any student. Michelle Allen, who wrote the nomination for the award, said Stradford has made an impact on the lives of many students over the years and is very deserving of the award.
“’Miss Audrey’ has been very instrumental in the lives of students here on campus,” said Allen, TSU band office manager. She went on how to say how Stradford serves as a mother figure and does things for the students out of the goodness of her heart.
When first hearing the news Stradford found it hard to believe. “I was shocked and actually thought someone was pulling my leg,” said Stradford.
She added, “I’ve always been one to work behind the scenes. I’ve been a giver my whole life and it is hard for me to be on the receiving end.”
Stradford’s main focus has been to reach out a helping hand to students who just need a kind word of encouragement, or a motivational “kick in the pants” when they need it.
It is not uncommon to see her open her checkbook to help pay for a student’s textbook and tuition or buy them a hot meal. According to Stradford, it is the joy of seeing “her” students graduate after sometimes struggling, that makes it all worth it for her.
“The proudest moment for me is watching the students I’ve had an influence on walk across that stage and receive their diploma. And that gives me the greatest satisfaction and makes it all worth it.”