Two Choir Members Earn First HBCU Choral Scholarships at Their High School


Two recent high school graduates head to Tennessee State University have made history with HBCU scholarships. Learn more in the staff history of DeSoto County News.

Photo: Horn Lake graduates Jayden Pointer and Katelyn Gatewood, who signed up for choral scholarships at HBCU Tennessee State University (Bob Bakken/DeSoto County News)

We’re only a week away from the start of the 2022-23 school year, but there are apparently scholarships left to distribute to the class of 2022. Just ask Horn Lake grads Jayden Pointer and Katelyn Gatewood.

Katelyn Gatewood signs her offer as her brother Jamareus Freeman looks on. (Bob Bakken/DeSoto County News)

Pointer and Gatewood are choir students of Holly Beck at Horn Lake High School. They were interested in continuing their musical education but had still not committed to a school. Beck went to work to explore scholarship opportunities for the couple.

The search would lead to a connection with Dr. Angelica Dunsavage, head of the choral program at Tennessee State University, who is entering her second year at the Nashville, Tennessee HBCU (historically black college or university).

When Beck asked Dunsavage about the purse money, the answer was “yes” and, due to the late summer, a record Beck had for Pointer and Gatewood was second only to Nashville.

It was this recording that led Dunsavage to offer both Pointer and Gatewood a choral scholarship, which accomplished two things for the students: money to help pay for their education and the opportunity to attend an HBCU college, which they both wanted to do.

Jemeca Pointer smiles as her daughter Jayden Pointer signs her scholarship offer to Tennessee State University. (Bob Bakken/DeSoto County News)

“She has several students from Memphis, but this is her first group coming from DeSoto County,” Beck said.

It also means that Beck’s program at Horn Lake has now received scholarships for HBCU choral programs for the first time in school history.

A “signature” event was held Monday morning at Horn Lake High to celebrate the scholarships.

Pointer said she was excited about the scholarship because she thought high school would be the end of her music career and to be able to do it at a school she wanted to go to.

“I weighed my options but knew I wanted to attend an HBCU,” Pointer said. “It’s a win-win and that makes it very exciting.”

Gatewood said she had been singing since sixth grade, she said, and was also looking forward to college life.

“They didn’t have to (offer the scholarship), so I’m grateful,” Gatewood said. “My mom wanted me to go to an HBCU.”

Pointer said she will study nursing at the state of Tennessee, while Gatewood will pursue a health science degree with plans to become a physical therapist.


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