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In 2017, Fawn Weaver helped reveal a story that reshaped the history of Tennessee’s official sippin’ whiskey. Weaver discovered Nathan “Nearest” Green, a former slave, was the first master distiller and mentor of a young man named Jack Daniel.
After her revelation, in July 2017, Uncle Nearest, Inc., created a whiskey honoring the legacy of Nearest Green. She then founded the Nearest Green Foundation, which honors the legacy of Green and launched "Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey," by working with two Tennessee distilleries, but not Jack Daniel Distillery. Uncle Nearest is distilled in Bedford County.
She will share that story when she delivers the keynote address at the third annual Equali-Tea, which will be held 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, in the MTSU Miller Education Center, 503 E Bell St, in Murfreesboro. The keynote address is sponsored by First Tennessee Bank.
The (hats optional) High Tea raises scholarship funds for MTSU college women students, and also marks Equal Pay Day, the day that symbolizes how long women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Honorary co-chairs of the Tea are Dr. Phyllis Washington and Meagan Flippin.
Weaver, CEO, co-founder and chief historian of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, describes herself as a serial entrepreneur who has silently invested in real estate, tech and lifestyle brands for the past 24 years.
She is a TED speaker, as well as a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author who has appeared on popular radio, morning and talk television shows around the world, and been featured more than a hundred times in publications.
Green’s story, lost in time, was uncovered by Weaver and a team she brought together consisting of 20 archaeologists, genealogists, historians, archivists and conservators. She is currently overseeing 12 projects all related to honoring Green, with her favorite among them being the Nearest Green Legacy scholarship which provides full tuition and books for all Green descendants in college.
Currently, there are 10 Legacy scholarship recipients attending universities across the U.S. ─ from Texas A&M to the University of Missouri to Auburn University ─ with that number expected to increase exponentially in the years ahead.
The “High Tea” Scholarships for MTSU Students
This high tea event will help raise funds for two AAUW Murfreesboro scholarships that are offered to MTSU students.
The Ruth Houston Memorial Scholarship supports women 24 years and older who are returning to finish their undergraduate degree. Applicants must demonstrate academic promise and financial need.
The 2018-19 scholarship will be awarded to Kendra Warren and Marian Mendoza.
Warren is working toward a degree in social work and expects to graduate in spring 2019.
In addition to being a student and a single mother, she is also the director of a nonprofit that provides services to young women. She counsels and mentors young women in her church. She plans to continue with her education by going into the Master’s program in clinical social work or in marketing.
Mendoza is in the bachelor’s of science program in Psychology, minoring in mental health services and Spanish. She expects to graduate in spring 2019.
Originally from Venezuela, she chose her program because of personal experiences in advocating for her disabled sister and her children, this inspired her to want to help, create awareness, and educate others about disabled people. Her ultimate goal is to become an occupational therapist and open a center that will assist people in learning to improve their quality of life and even gain independence in living. She also has a leadership role in La Communidad, a nonprofit that serves the Latino immigrant community.
In 2015, the group marked its 100th anniversary by creating a second scholarship, named for long-time AAUW members Mattie Butler and Leola Fouts.
The Butler-Fouts Memorial Graduate Scholarship is presented to female graduate students from underrepresented ethnic or racial groups. Applicants must demonstrate academic promise and financial need as well as be enrolled in a graduate program at MTSU.
The 2018-19 scholarship will be awarded to Aubrenie Jones and Katherine Dye.
Jones expects to receive her Master’s degree in health and human performance in May 2019 as well as a graduate certificate in health care management. She already has several years of public health experience as a health educator and has been involved with helping to integrate health education into the school system and has worked in collaboration with the Rutherford County Health Department.
Jones also works with the Center for Health and Human Services and is actively involved in services to women and girls. Her ultimate goal is to work for the Center for Disease Control or for the Tennessee Department of Health.
Dye is in the accelerated MBA program and expects to graduate in August 2019. Her grandmother has been a pivotal influence in her life, including rescuing her from a difficult childhood, introducing her to her Hispanic heritage, and having her play soccer.
It was soccer that provided her with the necessary healing, as well as leadership and organizational skills that helped her succeed in college. It also sparked her interest in sports marketing and she hopes to break the glass ceiling for women in international sports marketing.
Each scholarship will provide $1,000 for the school year 2018-19.
The Equali-Tea raises scholarship and programming funds for the Middle Tennessee Fund for Women and Girls, a nonprofit organization in support of the mission of AAUW Murfreesboro: to level the playing field for women and girls in education and in the workforce.
The event is also the stage for the annual presentation of the Tempest Award, which is given to a community leader who has worked to better the status of women and girls in Tennessee.
The 2019 Tempest Award recipient is MTSU’s Associate Athletic Director Diane Turnham, who will be honored for her career-long fight to ensure women athletes have the same opportunities as their male counterparts.
Turnham was chosen for her work supporting female student-athletes at MTSU and other universities.
For the inaugural Tempest Award, former Murfreesboro Mayor Tommy Bragg was honored in 2017 and Dr. Phyllis Washington was honored in 2018.
Reservations are required and offered at no cost and can be made at Equali-TEA.org. Attendees will be invited to make a contribution to the Fund at the event. Your sponsorship of the event and your donation are both tax-deductible.
For more information about the 2019 Equali-TEA, visit Equali-TEA.org or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Equal-TEA is brought to you by MTSU June Anderson Center for Women & Nontraditional Students, Jennifer A. Sexton & Associates, Friends of AAUW Murfreesboro, Dr. Mary Hoffschwelle, Tommy and Jeanne Bragg, Rayna Corp., Spring Consulting, Dr. Susan T. Andrews of Family Practice Partners, and Keynote Speaker Sponsor First Tennessee Bank. Sponsorships are still available.
About AAUW Murfreesboro
Organized in 1913, AAUW Murfreesboro is a membership organization of college-educated individuals from all walks of life who share a common purpose—to level the playing field for women and girls in education and in the workplace.
Our branch does this through advocacy, education, and research. We are part of a national and state network that supports our work right here in Murfreesboro. Our national organization (200,000 members strong) is a powerful voice on women's issues in Washington, D.C. Our Tennessee organization unifies our presence throughout the state, bringing together all nine branches in Memphis, Nashville, Murfreesboro, Columbia, McMinnville, Martin, Knoxville, Maryville, and Oak Ridge.