By: Gretchen Phillips, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Oxon Hill, MD- St. Mary’s College of Maryland President Tuajuanda C. Jordan received the 2019 CEO’s Excellence Award and was inducted into the Prince George’s County Public Schools’ Hall of Fame, Friday, October 18, at the inaugural Excellence in Education Foundation (EFF) for PGCPS’ Alumni Hall of Fame Gala held at the MGM National Harbor Hotel.
A graduate of Suitland High School, Jordan was inducted along with six other distinguished individuals including former professional boxer Sugar Ray Leonard and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Kenny Lattimore. Inductees serve as ambassadors for the EFF, whose primary purpose is to promote and enhance the quality of the Prince George’s County Public Schools.
According to information provided by the foundation, the CEO’s Excellence Award is reserved for individuals who have made significant contributions to the school system, as well as distinguished alumni who have excelled through their community involvement or in their professional lives.
Unable to attend the gala due to prior commitments on the College’s campus, Jordan sent in her stead, a woman who she says if given the same opportunities Jordan had, would have reached amazing heights in her success. That woman was her mother, Geneva Jordan.
“She was so smart that she skipped grades while she was in school. But she had no opportunity, nor expectation, to attend college,” Jordan said of her mother, adding, “I am because she is.”
Geneva Jordan, accompanied by her son-in-law Eric Heatley, a PGCPS alumnus himself, proudly accepted the award on Jordan’s behalf.
Jordan, who holds a B.S. in chemistry from Fisk University and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Purdue University, said in a prepared video acceptance speech that it was in her eleventh-grade chemistry class at Suitland where her love of science began.
“The whole world began to make sense to me. And it was then that I decided to become a scientist,” she said.
The science courses she took during the remainder of her high school experience propelled her to earn her doctorate degree in biochemistry. Her career and accompanying accomplishments got their start back at Suitland.
“Now I am a college president in the state where it all came together. Thank you Prince George’s County Public Schools,” she said.
In 2014, Jordan became the seventh president of St. Mary’s College, the National Public Honors College, and has been widely recognized for her contributions to higher education and the larger community. Jordan encouraged all in attendance Friday night to consider supporting the EFF for PGCPS.
“Who knows what fruits will be born from the seeds you plant today,” she said.
The Excellence in Education Foundation for Prince George’s County Public Schools is a non-profit charitable organization that seeks to solicit, receive and manage contributions. The primary purpose of the Foundation is to promote and enhance the quality of Prince George’s County Public Schools. The Foundation seeks the financial support, business experience and expertise of the private sector to improve student learning and to ensure that PGCPS students are equipped with the requisite knowledge, skills, and resources to compete on the global playing field of higher education and the world of work.
St. Mary’s College of Maryland, the National Public Honors College, is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education through 2024-2025. St. Mary’s College is ranked one of the best public liberal arts schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Approximately 1,600 students attend the college, nestled on the St. Mary’s River in Southern Maryland.