Judson awards Mary Whitfield Lee Scholarship to senior Katie Speer | Judson College
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Judson awards Mary Whitfield Lee Scholarship to senior Katie Speer

Judson College has awarded the eleventh annual Mary Whitfield “Whit” Lee scholarship to Katie Speer, of Cullman, Ala., for the current academic year.

“I am so grateful to have received this scholarship,” said Speer. “To be put in the same category as Whit Lee is such an honor. I strive to set an example for young women just as Whit Lee set in her short time at Judson. She is clearly an inspiration to the Marion and Judson community.”

Speer is the daughter of Mark and Pamela Speer of Cullman, Ala., and is a graduate of Vinemont High School.

Speer is currently pursuing a double major in Business Administration and Religious Studies. After graduation she plans to look for a job in the business administration field. She says that her ultimate goal is “to use both of my degrees to go on mission trips and help open hospitals in third-world communities. God may have different plans for me, though. I will have to let Him guide me to the right places and remain thankful throughout my journey.”

Speer is a midfielder and striker for the Judson College Eagles soccer team and is an outfielder for the Judson softball team.

The Mary Whitfield “Whit” Lee scholarship was established in 2006 by George Crawford in memory of an outstanding Perry County student and athlete, Mary Whitfield Lee. Lee died on August 8, 1976, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident that occurred en route to a north Alabama softball tournament with the Judson College softball team.

Lee attended Marion public schools, Perry Christian School, and Morgan Academy in Selma before entering the high school division of Marion Military Institute.  She graduated first in her class at MMI Prep with a 98.2 average and never received any grade lower than an A. Valedictorian of her class, Lee was also a member of the National Honor Society and a National Merit Scholarship Finalist. She won the Daughters of the American Revolution “Good Citizen” Award and was listed among Who’s Who of High School Students and Distinguished High School Students in 1974-75.

In her first year at MMI Prep, Lee played the No. 5 position on the golf squad when there was no women’s team; she moved up to the No. 4 spot the following year. She was medalist and runner-up in the 1973 Women’s Alabama Golf Association State Junior Girls Tournament. An award named in her memory was established by the Women’s Alabama Golf Association and is given to a female chosen each year at the State Junior Golf Tournament. Lee was runner-up in the Vestavia Girls Golf Tournament in 1973 and winner of the Marion Institute Ladies Championship in 1973, 1974, and 1976.

Lee also distinguished herself as an outstanding student. She scored a perfect 36 on the math portion of the ACT and was offered scholarships by several colleges and universities, but chose to be a math major at Judson, where her family had strong historical ties. She was recognized at the 1976 Honors Convocation for having the highest academic average in the sophomore class–a perfect 4.0.

At Judson, Whit was a high scorer and a starting guard on the basketball team, averaging better than 20 points per game and selected for the 1975 All-Star Team at the Alabama Women’s Intercollegiate State Basketball Tournament. She was a member of the Judson Field Hockey team that defeated both Vanderbilt and Sewanee and a member of the 1975 tennis team that lost first place to Auburn by one point in the Alabama Women’s Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament. She was also a member of the volleyball team, A-Board, and the Blazer Club.

George Crawford remembers Mary Whitfield “Whit” Lee as the youngest daughter of his neighbors in Hamburg, Ala., and a gifted athlete and student. “Whit was gifted in so many areas,” Crawford said. “She deserves to be remembered. She was an inspiration to others.” Crawford established the scholarship in her memory to ensure that others remember Lee, too. In addition to a memorial plaque in Lee’s honor in Riddle Gymnasium on the Judson campus, the College also honors Lee’s memory with the Mary Whitfield Lee Award, given to a deserving Judson student-athlete each spring.

Individuals wishing to honor the memory of Mary Whitfield Lee by contributing to the scholarship endowment may send gifts to the Mary Whitfield Lee Scholarship Endowment Fund at Judson College. For more information, contact the Judson College Office of Institutional Advancement at 334-683-5109.

Photo: Katie Speer, recipient of the Mary Whitfield Lee Scholarship.
Article by: Mary Amelia Taylor and Jordan Ross