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South Boston Resident Jeffress Inspires with Founders' Day Address


February 2, 2010

South Boston area resident and Averett University graduate Wanda Bostick Jeffress was the featured speaker at the university's Founders' Day Celebration Jan. 21. Jeffress, who holds both a bachelor's degree and a master of business administration degree from Averett, urged students to influence the world through their own life stories.

"I challenge you that if you're not already involved, that you discover your passion and become a change agent," Jeffress said. "Our founders, forefathers, and mothers did so much with so little. The world needs you and your story to help remove conflict and fears, and shine a light of hope. Participate in economic development activities to alleviate unemployment. Use your talents, gifts, and skills to forge a pathway for others. Create and recognize that your story is your ticket to education, economic freedom and strength of character."

Jeffress shared her own inspiring story of growing up in Halifax County with very limited financial resources. She arrived at Averett with no money after selling a pair of scissors from her factory job to purchase the bus ticket to Danville. She described her January 1978 arrival at Averett as her personal "Founders' Day."

"My parents gave me wings, and Averett taught me how to fly."

An involved student, Jeffress made the most of her college experience recording many "firsts" for African-American students at the Averett. Today, she honors her own journey by helping others.

"As a way of continually showing my gratitude, I now try to be a change agent in the lives of young people who might otherwise get lost in the shuffle of life," Jeffress explained noting that a program she founded in 2005, College Matters, helps local high school students prepare for college.

Jeffress also supports higher education through membership on the Averett Alumni Board, the Trustee Board of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, the Higher Education Foundation, and the Danville Community College Panel on Black Concerns.

She concluded her Founders' Day address by urging the audience to take others along with them on their life's journey.

"We are challenged to take someone along with us on our journeys to success. We are challenged to create stories through partnerships and team efforts. Together, we can affect the news reports to reflect the good deeds of our youth and young adults. Together, we can find scholarships and endowments to not only continue our own education, but to provide resources for others who follow us."

Jeffress and her husband, Stan, live in South Boston where they own and operate Jeffress Funeral Home. The couple has a daughter, Zena, who lives in Glen Allen.