Mae Cora Stewart Peterson grew up on the campus of South Carolina State University. Her father, Elliott Lee Stewart, helped build the university, graduated from SCSU, and served as a masonry instructor. Here he is standing beneath the arch he built. It once stood at the entrance to the college.
Mae Cora received a B.S. Degree in Education from SCSU in 1937, and received a M.A. in education from the University of Michigan in 1940. She has a broad range of work and community service experience. Some of her positions include working as Executive Director for the colored Fort Worth YWCA, teacher and Dean of Girls (subsequently re-named Vice Principal) in Fort Worth ISD.
Mrs. Peterson was initiated on the first pledge line of the Alpha Xi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in 1934. Her sister, Emma Stewart Dawkins Casselberry, also an SCSU graduate, was one of the organizers of the chapter. After 84 years, Mrs. Peterson is still an active Delta Dear in the Fort Worth Alumnae Chapter of DST.
Mrs. Peterson’s volunteer work with Senior Citizens Services of Tarrant County (now Sixty or Better) and its Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) was recognized by naming an award in her honor: The Mae Cora Peterson Healthy Aging Award, now in its sixth year. Her image graced the April 2017 cover of the University of North Texas Health Science Center magazine, Solutions, and she was interviewed in an article about healthy aging in the issue.
Mae Cora was featured on the 2017 South Carolina State University National Alumni Association Stellar Alumni Calendar. She has received the Sojourner Truth Award, the highest national award given by the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, has been recognized as a Phenomenal Woman in Education by Psi Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, has been named a Dr. Marion Brooks Living Legend in Education and in 2016 received the Founded on Faith Award as an educator by Tarrant Churches Together. Her oral history was recorded and is in bound format at the University of North Texas Library in Denton, TX. She is among the women who will be honored at the Fort Worth Public Library’s Women’s History Month Program on Saturday, March 24, 2018, under the national theme: Nevertheless She Persisted. In conjunction with the library’s Women’s History Month program, Mrs. Peterson can be seen on a billboard between Fort Worth and Arlington, Texas.