OXFORD, Miss. – Brittany Jones of Moss Point is the recipient of the inaugural Gregory and Mary Alice Wood Ole Miss First Scholarship Award at the University of Mississippi. She is to be recognized May 11 at her high school’s awards day activities.

David Wood, who grew up in Moss Point, established the scholarship to honor his parents, Eugene Gregory Wood and Mary Alice Avera Wood. The scholarship is reserved for graduates of Moss Point High School, where Wood graduated in 1968.

"I wanted to honor my mom and dad, their 71 years of married life together, and their 90-plus years spent in Moss Point," Wood said. "I wanted to carry on their legacy of helping people who seek to make a difference in the lives of others."

A devout Presbyterian who owned and operated Wood’s Department Store, the elder Wood was once named Jackson County’s Outstanding Citizen of the Year. The couple raised five children, all of whom attended college.

"I wanted to maintain a connection to my hometown," Wood said. "Hopefully this will enable young men and women to seek excellence, so they in turn can assist others."

Designed to assist deserving men and women from Moss Point High School, the academic scholarship gives first preference to minority students. Recipients must be full-time freshmen, and selection is based on merit or need.

"The Gregory and Mary Alice Wood Scholarship is a wonderful example of Ole Miss alumni stepping forward to assist the university with our goal of providing a scholarship for every deserving student," said Deborah Vaughn, UM executive director of university advancement.

The award is part of the Ole Miss First Scholars Program, which provides recipients with $4,500 per year for four years of study. The scholar must maintain at least a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average as a full-time student, in addition to meeting other requirements, including participation in a mentoring program.

"We want to maintain a connection to Ole Miss at the student level," Wood said. "This scholarship will help us do that by supporting and encouraging motivated and bright young scholars attending our great university."

Both Wood and his wife, Elizabeth, are Ole Miss alumni. He graduated in 1972 with a business degree, and she graduated the following year in elementary education. The couple has lived in Nashville since 1974.

For more information about giving programs at the University of Mississippi, visit

http://www.umf.olemiss.edu/intermed/annual/home/givinglevels. To learn more about Ole Miss First Scholarships, see http://www.omfirst.olemiss.edu/scholars.

by Tobie Baker