Cousins establish Dodson, Dotson and Hairston Family Scholarship

Photo: Pictured from left to right are Rudy Coleman; Michael Hairston; Tim Diggs, Marshall alumnus and husband of Linda Hairston Diggs; Ruby Hairston, Marguerite Coleman’s mother; and Tommy Hairston.

The Marshall University Foundation Inc. recently established the Dodson, Dotson and Hairston Family Scholarship in memory of Marguerite Hairston Coleman, a Charleston native and 1967 graduate of Marshall University. The scholarship will benefit southern West Virginia students pursuing degrees at Marshall.

Coleman earned her bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory science and married the Hon. Rudy Bradford Coleman, a Beckley native, who received a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish in 1968. He graduated with his Juris Doctor (law) from Rutgers University in 1974.

Marguerite Coleman’s grandfather was a Hairston married to a Dodson. At least 10 cousins from the Dodson, Dotson and Hairston families, all West Virginia natives, graduated from or attended Marshall University. Education was important in their extended family, and all have gone on to live successful lives.  The scholarship was initiated by Angela P. Dodson and her brother, William A. Dodson Jr., both class of 1973, formerly of Chesapeake, West Virginia. They are among the first donors, along with Marguerite Coleman’s brother, Michael Hairston, a Charleston native and 1970 graduate; Roland Dotson, a Williamson native and 1975 graduate; and Rudy Coleman. According to Angela P. Dodson, the family decided to contribute to Marshall because of the positive experiences they had while attending the university.

“My time there was one of the happiest periods of my life and brings back many fond memories. The bonds I made there with professors, classmates and other friends and my cousins can never be replaced. I might never have known some of my Dotson cousins had we not all met at Marshall, realized we were related, as our great-grandfathers were brothers from Henry County, Virginia, and become close friends as well,” Angela P. Dodson said. “We knew our Hairston cousins who attended Marshall because our grandparents were siblings. Now, we all attend the same reunions and remain in constant contract through social media. The common experience my brother, several of my cousins and friends share because we were students at the time of the football team’s plane crash also binds us together in a special way.”

The recipient will be an undergraduate or graduate student, with special consideration to a student who has demonstrated experience in or commitment to working with historically underserved or underrepresented populations. First preference is to a resident of Kanawha, Logan, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo or Raleigh county in West Virginia.

The family has pledged $25,000 over five years to endow the scholarship and has challenged other families who have multiple Marshall alumni to create scholarships. Any individual is welcome to donate to the Dodson, Dotson and Hairston Family Scholarship through the Marshall University Foundation Inc.

Angela P. Dodson, a journalism major during her time at the university, said if she had advice for today’s students, she would tell them to work hard and play hard.

“I would advise today’s students to try to get as much out of the campus experience that they can – to try courses that stretch their abilities and minds, to take part in extracurricular activities they might not have considered before, and to cultivate as many friendships with different types of people as possible,” Angela P. Dodson said. “Students should not focus so much on their career goals that they don’t leave time for joy, experimentation and learning how to live as a whole person. Never again in life will so many ideas, opportunities, and amenities be as accessible as they are on a college campus.”

For questions about a student’s eligibility for the Dodson, Dotson and Hairston Family Scholarship, please contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance at Marshall University.