By Terri Ferguson Smith / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
M.L. Waters, a long-time supporter of Meridian Community College, has been honored by the MCC Foundation.
Waters was honored on Tuesday by MCC and fellow sponsors of the Foundation.
Kathy Brookshire, director of the MCC Foundation, said they host a thank you party each year for sponsors of the program, which provides tuition to students in Meridian and Lauderdale County.
"We thank them for their donations and their support of the tuition guaranty program."
Waters was named Philanthropist of the Year, Brookshire said.
"He's the most giving individual I think I've ever met in my life," Brookshire said. "He gives the college his time, he gives his resources. He loves the college and we love him right back."
The foundation is the vehicle by which donors contribute money to Meridian Community College.
"We sponsor a program called Tuition Guarantee where any student in Meridian or Lauderdale County can come to MCC without having to pay for tuition," Brookshire said.
Waters has served as the president and as the vice president of the Foundation.
"He helps us with decision-making on our finances and he's just one of those individuals you just can't say enough nice things about," she said.
Waters said he became involved with the Foundation about 20 years ago.
"I think the world of the education that MCC has given to the community," Waters said. "The best way to a better life is through education. Any time that we can improve our community through education and carry everybody forward, it gives us a better community and a better lifestyle. Ultimately, it will improve all of Lauderdale County and the surrounding areas."
Waters and his two brothers, David and Mike, own and operate Waters International Trucks which has locations in Meridian, Columbus, Kosciusko, Hattiesburg, and Natchez and employs about 200 people in the state, with 65 of those in Meridian.
"Each of us has a son that is in the business, which will actually be the fourth generation in the business," Waters said.
Waters' grandfather started the business in the 1930s in Columbus.
The MCC Foundation underwrites the cost of tuition for four semesters of study at MCC for any graduate of a Meridian or Lauderdale County High School or any person residing in Lauderdale County who is home-schooled.
By enrolling in the fall following their spring graduation, students retain the Tuition Guarantee for four consecutive semesters provided they earn a 2.0 GPA and maintain at least 12 hours each semester. Students must take the American College Test (ACT) and apply for Federal Financial Aid and Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant.