Kierra Thompson & the Conroy Center’s Jonathan Haupt

The nonprofit Pat Conroy Literary Center is honored to announce that Beaufort High School senior Kierra Thompson has been selected as the second annual recipient of the Center’s Future Educator Scholarship, a $5,000 award.

Thompson will begin her studies toward her music education degree at the University of North Carolina Greensboro this fall. A member of the Beaufort Symphony Orchestra and the Beaufort Youth Orchestra, Thompson is also a member, at Beaufort High School, of the Sea Island South Marching Band, National Honor Society, and DAYLO: Diversity Awareness Youth Organization. She has performed in both the South Carolina Music Educators Association’s Regional and All-State Orchestras as well as in the University of South Carolina Honor Band Clinic, the UNC Greensboro Southeast Honors String Festival, and the UNC Greensboro Summer Music Camp. Thompson has previously been honored with the Arion Music Award, the College Board’s National African American Recognition Award, and Academic Letters for Instrumental Music and School Performance. She has also garnered invitations to the Brevard Summer Music Camp, the Berklee Summer Music Camp, and the National Honors Youth Orchestra Clinic at Carnegie Hall.

A third-generation educator, after completing her bachelor’s degree, Thompson plans teaching music at the high school or middle school level while continuing to perform. A master’s degree in music education may be in her future aspirations as well.

“Kierra is an exceptional and charismatic student, already actively engaged in teaching and inspiring other students and instructors,” said Jonathan Haupt, the Conroy Center’s executive director. “In her scholarship interview, she took command of the room as we are certain she will take charge of her future classrooms, and she instructed and fascinated us with every single facet of her passions for music, education, and creativity which she shared with us. Kierra is exactly the kind of exemplary student and empowering educator this scholarship was created to support. It’s an absolute honor to help her on her journey into higher education.”

A group of experienced educators and mentors served as the Conroy Center’s scholarship selection committee. They were unanimous and enthusiastic in Thompson’s selection as the 2024 scholarship awardee. “Kierra is the embodiment of everything the Conroy Center represents,” praised one of the scholarship committee members, Celeste Prince-Brown, a Beaufort County School District teacher-mentor who was also a Beaufort High School student of Pat Conroy’s.

Established to encourage and support Beaufort County high school seniors with a declared intent to pursue a career in education, the Pat Conroy Literary Center Future Educator Scholarship honors the teaching legacy of the late Pat Conroy (1945 – 2016), acclaimed bestselling author of The Water Is Wide, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides, and more. The scholarship is primarily funded through the generosity of former educators. The scholarship’s inaugural recipient, Darby Kinsey, a graduate of Battery Creek High School and the Technical College of the Lowcountry, is completing her education degree at Charleston Southern University.

To learn more about the nonprofit Pat Conroy Literary Center, please visit