Meridian Star

Local News

October 19, 2010

MSU Meridian honors scholarship recipients and donors

JACKSON —     Myrial Brown's dream of becoming a licensed psychologist is becoming a reality despite her humble beginnings, while Joshua Marks is one step closer to owning his own business or franchise. And Gidget Griffin and Tammy Boyles Willoughby – both single mothers of three – are realizing their dreams to complete their educations to make better lives for their families.

    Brown, Marks, Griffin and Willoughby are achieving their goals as Riley Next Step Scholarship recipients. They were among 99 Mississippi State University–Meridian students recognized for their academic achievements during an afternoon reception Monday in the Charles Young exhibit Hall at MSU Riley Center.

    Sixty-five Riley Scholars from East Central Community College (ECCC), East Mississippi Community College (EMCC), Jones County Junior College (JCJC) and Meridian Community College (MCC) received full tuition for four semesters at Mississippi State University-Meridian.

In addition to the Riley Scholars, endowed scholarship recipients and general scholarship recipients were recognized by Dr. Jack Tucci, dean of MSU Meridian and Dr. Mark Keenum, president of Mississippi State University in Starkville.

      Riley Next Step Scholarship are made possible through the Riley Foundation as well as other generous benefactors.

    Brown, who grew up in the slums of the inner city and, as a result, did not have much faith in herself, views the scholarship she received as not only a financial blessing, but also one of reassurance.

    "I am reassured that someone, other than me, believes in my abilities," said Brown,     Brown expressed her appreciation to the Riley Next Step Scholarship and benefactors Bud and Sue Thompson.

    "Ten years from now when I am Dr. Myrial Shilandre' Brown and working in private practice, I will remember The Thompsons and know that because they once believed in me, I am now able to help others who need someone to believe in them," she said.

    The designation as a Riley Scholar has even motivated Brown to pursue a master's degree once she graduates from MSU-Meridian.

    "I will, with everything I have, represent this award as honorably and nobly as I possible can," she said, "and will work diligently in order to maintain the grades necessary for excellence."

    Marks, whose Riley Next Step Scholarship was made possible through benefactors Manny and Melanie Mitchell, is pursuing a degree in business administration at MSU while working full time at Chick-Fil-A. He and his wife also clean an area office building part-time to help with finances.

    "It means so much to me to have a scholarship like this and be able to further my education," Marks said. "I could never had made it without someone helping me out."

    Griffin thought her chances of finishing her elementary education degree were over when she lost her job while a student at East Mississippi Community College.    "I love working with children," said Griffin, who volunteers at a local Boys and Girls Club. "My dream was to become a teacher, but without a job, I found it harder and harder to continue my education."

    That all changed when she learned that she was a Riley Next Step Scholarship recipient thanks to the generosity of Bob and Kathy Luke and the Riley Foundation. While visiting MSU-Meridian one day, Griffin learned about the scholarship and thought, "God is looking after me."

    Considering it both an honor and blessing, Griffin, whose children are ages 16, 13 and 8, said she is thankful to the Luke's for easing her financial burden and helping fulfill her dream.

    "I thank you with all my heart," she said. "May God continue to bless you as you have blessed others."

    Willoughby, who works full-time and attends class at MSU-Meridian, is a recipient of The Riley Next Step Scholarship and donor, First State Bank. Her educational journey began years ago, when she graduated from high school and enrolled in a small Christian college in Southwestern Missouri to purse a bachelor's degree in elementary education.

    Twenty years later, Willoughby found herself back in her hometown of Waynesboro, recovering from a broken marriage. Her attempts to secure a teaching license in Mississippi were denied. Her elementary education degree was not from a state-accredited school, so she would have to start over.

    In 2008, Willoughby began taking classes at Meridian Community College; this fall, she transferred to MSU-Meridian to pursue a degree in psychology.

    "I am so inspired by my classes and instructors here at MSU-Meridian," she said. "I know that I am receiving a quality education and I am in an academic environment that will continue to motivate me to reach higher."

    Willoughby's oldest son is beginning his studies at University of Nebraska and her younger son is a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Her daughter, who is 11, has expressed interest in attending Cornell University.

    "I believe my experiences are motivational for my children," she said. "They see that good comes to those who apply themselves and strive wholeheartedly to equip themselves to invest in the lives of others."

    Also honored were:

    • Riley Scholars – Scholarship Donor (Bank of America): Mary Alli French of Lake (ECCC)major – business administration and Jennifer Theresa Shannon of Forest (ECCC); major – business administration; Scholarship Donor (Mr. and Mrs. Bob Luke):  Laura Elizabeth Farrow of Philadelphia (ECCC) major – undeclared; Candace Wade Graham of Pulaski (ECCC) major – elementary education; Gidget Diane Griffin of DeKalb(EMCC) major – elementary education; Brittany Ashton Harden of Meridian (MCC) major – social work; Leanna Paige Holsen of Union(ECCC) major – secondary education; Matthew Lyle Johnson of DeKalb (EMCC) major – secondary education; Kristen Paige Jones of Newton (ECCC) major – elementary education; Sandi Lea Kelly of Quitman (MCC) major – elementary education; Megan Christian Kidd of Enterprise (MCC) major – secondary education; Michaela Lasha Lee of Preston (ECCC) major – social work; Scholarship Donor (Mr. and Mrs. Bob Deen): Kathy R. Wooten of Scooba (MCC) major – elementary education; Scholarship Donor (Mr. and Mrs. Bud Thompson): Brittany Shanae Bohannon of Collinsville (MCC)  major – secondary education; Jessica Paige Bonner of Enterprise (MCC)major – elementary education; Myrial Shilandre’ Brown of Newton (ECCC) major – psychology; William Joseph Cunningham of Union (ECCC) major- social work;  Donald Ramon Edwards of Meridian (MCC)  major – interdisciplinary studies;  Kelly Demar George of Philadelphia (ECCC) major – social work; Tara Rose Gilmer of Walnut Grove (ECCC) major – elementary education; Lindsay Ann James of Bay Springs(JCJC) major – business administration; Elizabeth S. Woods of Meridian (MCC) major – general liberal arts; Melody Ann Vaughn of Porterville (MCC) major – undeclared; Scholarship Donor (Colonel and Mrs. Richard Armstrong): Hailey Julaine Fulton of Philadelphia (EMCC) major – history; Scholarship Donor (Dr. and Mrs. Paul Allen): Tomeka Latwyone Thedford of Toomsuba (MCC) major – business adminstration; Jacob Wyatt Williams of Meridian (MCC) major – business administration;

Scholarship Donor (Career Women of Meridian): Tora Lekea Hearn of DeKalb (ECCC) major – interdisciplinary studies; Scholarship Donor (First State Bank): Tammy Faye Willoughby of Waynesboro (MCC) major – psychology;

    • Kahlmus Family Scholarships – (M.F. Kahlmus Annual Scholarship):   Lowell D. Wallace of Meridian (MCC) major – social work; (Elizabeth Carter Kahlmus Annual Scholarship): Rose Eason Brown of Ellisville (JCJC) major – interdisciplinary studies; Scholarship Donor (La-Z-Boy South Foundation Scholarship): Brittni Rebecca Harris of Decatur (ECCC) major – secondary education; Scholarship Donor (Mr. and Mrs. Manny Mitchell): Estella Lynn Hare of Marion (MCC) major – business administration; Gregory Stephen Maranto of Meridian (MCC) major – business administration; Joshua Andrew Marks of Meridian  (MCC) major – business administration;  Somer Adrian Moore of Collinsville (MCC) major – business administration; Trisha Jo Rainer of Toomsuba (MCC) major – business administration; Scholarship Donor (Mr. Maurice Kahlmus): Emily Jo Crenshaw of Union (MCC) major – social work; Scholarship Donor (Meridian Coca Cola Bottling Company):  Anna Kathleen Edwards of Meridian (MCC) major – elementary education; Hannah Allen Ulmer of Collinsville, major – business administration; Scholarship Donor (Mississippi Power):  Frank Dixon of Philadelphia (ECCC) major – business administration; Adella Rainer Gilbert of Decatur (ECCC) major – business administration; Timothy W. Jewell of Macon(EMCC) major – business administration; David Grant McDaniel of Meridian (MCC) major - business administration; Willie Kevin Vaughn of Philadelphia (ECCC) major – business administration; Scholarship Donor (Mr. and Mrs. Joel Clements):  Sheri Alison Blackledge of Waynesboro (JCJC) major – business administration; Scholarship Donor (Mr. Hardy P. Graham):   Kristi Lynn Wade of Forest (ECCC) major – elementary education; Lauren Christina Walker of Meridian (MCC) major – elementary education; Kanisha Shalois Warnsley of Newton (ECCC) major – social work; Hannah Carol Watkins of Union (ECCC) major – secondary education; Anna Victoria Williams of Newton (ECCC) major – elementary education;

    • Regions Bank Scholarships – (Regions Bank, B.J. Carter Jr. Business Scholarship): Heath William Carroll of Vicksburg (MCC) major – business administration; (Regions Bank Board of Directors’ Merit Scholarship): Melanie Chambers of Meridian (MCC) major – social work; Scholarship Donor (The Hall Foundation): Anna Marie Powell of Philadelphia (ECCC) major – elementary education; Stephanie Lorraine Robinson of Newton (ECCC) major – elementary education; Laura Mamie Shannon of Union (ECCC) major – elementary education; Christopher Mark Sudduth of Macon (EMCC) major – secondary education; Amber Christine Tess of Collinsville (MCC) major – elementary education; Scholarship Donor (Van Zyverden, Inc.): Chelsea Michelle Linton of Meridian (MCC) major – elementary education; Tiffany LeeAnn Lowery of Walnut Grove (ECCC) major – psychology; John Michael Mathis of Meridian (MCC) major – pyschology; Chasity Ann McAdams of Kosciusko (ECCC) major – elementary education; Dominique Latesch McKee of Newton (ECCC) major – psychology; Hali Renea Morgan of Meridian (MCC) major – elementary education; Tracy K. Naylor of DeKalb (EMCC) major – social work; Rachel Lynn Oatman of Saucier (ECCC) major – social work; Amy R. Plaisance of Union (ECCC) major – elementary education

    A number of local businesses and individuals, through the creation of endowments, established yearly scholarships to assist MSU Meridian students with their education.

    • Endowed scholarships: (G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Scholarship): Kasey Jade Mosley of Shubuta (history) and Patsy C. Harper of Meridian (elementary education); (Edwin C. Brown Memorial Scholarship): Kimberly J. Bassett of Sebastopol (business administration) and Kimberly F. Wooten of Philadelphia (business administration); (Lockheed Martin Endowed Scholarship): Deidra L. Dickerson of Collinsville (business administration).

    Thirty-four students received general scholarships through funds established by MSU Meridian. Each scholarship award totaled $1,600.

    General scholarships: Kimberly Jean Bassett of Forest (business administration);  Mary Noelle Carlin of Quitman (communication); Destiny Leigh Cherry of Marion (psychology); Chadwick W. Clark of Philadelphia (elementary education); Kayla Nicole Davis of Waynesboro (elementary education); Tommy Gene Deason of Carthage (interdisciplinary studies);  Deidra Lynn Dickerson of Collinsville (business administration); Brandi Kay Duke of Union (elementary education); Danielle Elaine Dunkerson of Meridian (psychology); Alex James Fairchild of Quitman (history); Jessica Lynn Galloway of Union (elementary education); Tiffany Nicole Greene of Shubuta (psychology); Amanda L. Grimes of Buckatunna (elementary education); Jasmine Leigh Harris of Lauderdale (secondary education); Jessica Danielle Johnson of Meridian (elementary education); Jennifer Lynn Lee of Chunky (elementary education); Mary Catherine Lindsay of Meridian (business administration); Kimberly Ann Marinovich of Biloxi (elementary education); Jessica Leeann McAndrews of Laurel (elementary education); Brittany Nicole Monistere of Brandon (elementary education); Kristina J. Patrick of Meridian (interdisciplinary studies; Joshua Wade Pierce of Union (secondary education); Nikki Renee Reeves of Quitman (elementary education); Heather Denae Reinhardt of Philadelphia (social work); Amber Lynn Slusher of Meridian (secondary education); Lauren Elizabeth Smith of Arlington, Texas (elementary education); Becky Iris Spears of Philadelphia (elementary education); Latoria Chontia Thompson of Shubuta (social work); Rachel Farron Thompson of Philadelphia (social work); Mallory Jade Thompson-Young of Louisville (elementary education); Megan Danielle Tucker of Meridian (elementary education); Chelsea Nicole Wade of Meridian (business administration); Amanda Dayle Williamson of Philadelphia (elementary education); Kimberly Fitzhugh Wooten of Philadelphia (business administration).


Text Only
Local News
Helium debate
Twitter Updates
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide