South African poet, Amelia B. Pegram, to be honored at JCTC graduation

South African poet, author, performer and teacher Amelia Blossom Pegram will be honored May 13 by Jefferson Community & Technical College, which will present her with the “Jefferson Award for Community Service” during the college’s annual commencement ceremony.

Born in Capetown and active in the anti-apartheid movement, Pegram’s firsthand knowledge influences much of her writing.  However, through her essays and poetry, she also takes readers through a kaleidoscope of experiences that have shaped her life.

“Ms. Pegram’s work is a powerful chronicle of pain, suffering, persistence and triumph,” said Tony Newberry, president, Jefferson Community & Technical College. “Her tireless efforts deserve recognition for their ability to teach and move people to action. It was important to us, in this time following the death of Nelson Mandela, that we paused to remember.”

The ceremony will be held at 6:30 pm. in Hall 2C of the Kentucky International Convention Center. It is free and open to the public.

The Jefferson Award for Community Service is presented to an individual who has served the community in significant ways that advanced quality of life, cultural and social understanding and/or educational attainment.

Pegram studied at the University of Cape Town, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, the University of Leeds and the University of Louisville. She has internationally published poems, short stories, critical essays, book reviews, and theater criticism. She is author of several books, including Our Sun Will Rise: poems from South Africa, Echoes Across a Thousand Hills, and Beneath the Boabab.

Her work has been translated into several languages. Her dramatic works include "You've Struck A Rock" performed at the Kentucky Center for the Arts, and a collaboration on the widely performed "And the Dance Goes On." She has performed professionally in film, radio and stage. 

Since relocating to Kentucky from South Africa in 1972, she has continued teaching, studying, and performing, adding musical and/or dance accompaniment to her spoken-word performances.  Currently she is an adjunct instructor for Jefferson Community & Technical College.

Record Associate’s Degrees

About 500 students are expected to participate in the ceremony, where the college anticipates awarding a record 1,201 associate’s degrees, as well as 131 diplomas and 3,194 certificates to a total of 1,738 graduates.  Many students earn more than one credential.