A Portrait of Courage

October 30, 2018

Public Information Officer


The Texas Business Hall of Fame Experience at St. Philip's College for 2018 The Whataburger Scholar has been similar to that of other Hall of Fame scholars. Hard work and success while occasionally overcoming events that bring their college together in support.

For 2018 Scholar Deborah Kemp, that means gaining new clients in an entrepreneurial journey that has had a positive spotlight cast upon it after earning a $15,000 scholarship that allows her to focus upon growing her business. It also means networking with other current and alumni scholars in the supportive company of the Texas business community. And preparing for further recognition as a practicing member of the San Antonio entrepreneurship community who is eight days away from attending two banquets with billionaires in a single day.

Kemp’s good fortune was announced over the summer. She attends the foundation’s scholarship luncheon and its 36th annual induction dinner on the same day Nov. 1 in the Marriott Marquis Houston, all in her capacity as the college's fifth recipient of The Whataburger Scholarship.

In between there were highlights.

She gained new clients and she joined Texas Business Hall of Famers during a networking reception featuring the Portraits of Courage traveling exhibit of works presented by Zachry Group Sept. 6 in The Witte Museum at 3801 Broadway St.

Kemp also summoned courage during a period of bereavement as her father passed and she had to temporarily discontinue her studies, but she returned to campus this week.

Kemp arrived to her Hall of Fame status with an active 10-year history of small cosmetology business startups. She is both the college’s first actual student of business entrepreneurship and its first student of African-American ethnicity to become a recipient of The Whataburger Scholarship endowed through the Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation by Tom Dobson, owner of Whataburger.

She has experienced a bevy of victories and adversities on her journey, and emerged “SPC Strong.”

“I opened my first business during the financial collapse a few years ago, and I will never forget that time,” said Kemp. “I was really worried. I was a student and at the end of receiving my cosmetology license. That was something. That was very, very frightening, but I endured,” Kemp said in reflection before addressing bereavement in her life leading up to her event in Houston.

“My father had passed on the first day of class on Aug. 27 and I've been dealing with that,” said Kemp.

As a student and an entrepreneur, Kemp’s adept balancing of both bereavement and business during her once-in-a-career networking opportunity was a true portrait of courage. She was supported during the networking event by her spouse, along with both the president and the director of institutional advancement and grants development for the nation's largest Historically Black Colleges and Universities member institution---San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame member St. Philip’s College President Dr. Adena Williams Loston, and director of institutional advancement and grants development Dr. Sharon Crockett-Ray. Guests Kemp met or heard from at The Witte event included the Air Education and Training Command commander Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast.

“My husband attended the museum event with me to support. He is a small business owner in the community and he owns World Wide Paint and Body Automotive on W.W. White Road. I was really afraid and didn't know how quickly things were going to happen when my father passed. I had prepared myself to attend the museum networking event, but I was not sure because of the circumstances. Nevertheless I planned to attend, and I attended,” Kemp said. 

“This networking event gave me a preview of what my near future holds. Of course, it was such an honor to have receive an invitation to participate in a dynamic setting of art and history created by one of our former presidents of United States of America, George W. Bush,” said Kemp. “The paintings captivated lives of soldiers who had gone through various sacrifices; mentally, physically, spiritually. Each painting expressed the loss or gain of sacrificial courage. There were also very inspiring words of courage shared by Zachry Group General Kwast,” said Kemp.

After enrolling at East Central High School and receiving her GED through San Antonio’s Northeast Independent School District in 2006, Kemp sought additional, college-level education from time to time while she ran a small business. She arrived at St. Philip’s College in 2017. 

“I was always the type to put a little money aside while working odd jobs. I opened my own salon for about three-and-a-half years. I had also given birth to my child. And then I had a complete belly-up. I’m still learning where I went wrong financially. I'm in the business and entrepreneurship program at St. Philip’s College to see how I can enhance skills that already exist so that I can empower others in a business within the Promise Zone of San Antonio that is a community where I can help. So I work in many different settings. At this point for instance, if there’s someone who needs me to come to their residence, I visit, or they can visit me. My recent work with my clients is something I am very proud of,” Kemp said.

Find Kemp's name at the Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation online posting 2018 Scholarship Recipients.

For details on The Whataburger Scholarship program at St. Philip’s College, contact Gloria P. Hernandez, college scholarship coordinator, at 210-486-2498, ghernandez@alamo.edu. (Image by Julysa Sosa courtesy SPC)

CAPTION: In addition to an image of a custom hairstyle for a client, an image of the Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation experience at St. Philip's College for 2018 Whataburger Scholar Deborah Kemp (at right wearing the Hall of Fame scholar’s medallion) and her spouse (at left) during a foundation networking event for scholars Sept. 6 in The Witte Museum with such guests as St. Philip's College President Dr. Adena Williams Loston are a reminder that Kemp will attend the foundation’s scholarship luncheon and its 36th annual induction dinner on the same day Nov. 1 in the Marriott Marquis Houston. (Witte images courtesy alexandersportraits.com | Hairstyle images courtesy Deborah Kemp)