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Scholarship awarded in memory of long-time humanities professor

Scholarship winner Stephanie Drake (center) receives the inaugural Michael Murphy Memorial Scholarship. From left: Murphy's step-daughter, Darby Williams Hold, and wife, Lorraine; Drake; Seminole State President Dr. E. Ann McGee; and Foundation Executive Director John Gyllin.

UPDATE (Dec. 12, 2013): Following the Nov. 4 award presentation, scholarship recipient Stephanie Drake was surprised with an additional $1,100 of scholarship funding at the request of Michael Murphy’s family, raising her award total from the Michael Murphy Memorial Scholarship Fund to $1,500. After she presented her story in front of the Foundation Board of Directors, Board member Ken Rosenfield immediately offered Drake, who hopes to become a certified public accountant, an internship at his accounting firm, Rosenfield and Co. He also offered another $500 in support of the scholarship fund.

Seminole State College of Florida student Stephanie Drake is the first recipient of the Michael Murphy Memorial Scholarship, which honors a longtime humanities and religion professor who passed away in September 2012.

The sophomore from Leesburg applied for the $400 award at the encouragement of history Professor Dan Gilmartin. Drake is pursuing an Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree, which includes humanities and history courses.

The scholarship is named for Michael Murphy, who taught at Seminole State for nearly three decades. The award is open to students in any field of study who maintain at least a 3.0 GPA and who have enrolled in or completed at least two social science courses. Preference is given to students with an interest in humanities.

Murphy’s wife, Lorraine, and stepdaughter, Darby Williams Hold, met Drake for the award presentation on Nov. 4.

“I can’t tell you guys how much I appreciate this,” Drake told Murphy’s family at the presentation.

Described by friends, family and colleagues as passionate and caring, Murphy spent his classroom time teaching students to value concepts and ideas over dry facts.

Murphy was born in Ireland in 1925 and, after studying at St. Kieran’s College in Kilkenny, he was ordained into the Catholic priesthood in 1949. After a time, he moved to Kansas to continue serving the church in the United States, officially becoming a U.S. citizen in 1955. Murphy joined the U.S. Navy in 1958, serving in the Vietnam War and eventually rising to the rank of captain. It was after his retirement in 1980 that Murphy moved to Central Florida and began teaching as an adjunct professor at Seminole State.

“He was a World War II buff and a curious and avid reader,” said Lorraine Murphy, who retired from Seminole State in 1995. She said that her husband was passionate about teaching humanities, and that he was a huge fan of the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team.

Murphy’s stepson, Michael Williams, reached out to the Foundation for Seminole State College to establish the scholarship, so that his step-father could continue to help students who share similar academic interests and passions.

The Foundation offers several opportunities for interested donors to establish scholarships for Seminole State students. To learn about establishing a scholarship through the Foundation, call 407.708.4572.

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