OXFORD, Miss. – Placing importance on the value of a good education, Jake and Julie Farrell decided to donate $25,000 to establish a scholarship in the Ole Miss First Scholars program at the University of Mississippi. by Rebecca Lauck Cleary

"The education I received at Ole Miss and the friends I made there were incredible," said Julie Farrell of Germantown, Tenn. "We had the financial capabilities to help someone else with their education, so we decided to do it."

Farrell, who earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration at UM, said it is difficult to put into words how much Ole Miss means to her. "Part of the person you become is the person you develop into during college," she said.

Though her husband, Jake, chairman and CEO of Trust One Bank, is an Arkansas native and University of Arkansas graduate, Farrell said she has converted him to being a Rebel, and she hopes their daughter decides to attend Ole Miss. "Our daughter is a first-grader, and she’s growing up coming to Oxford," Farrell said.

The Ole Miss First Scholarship program is unique in that each donor participates in a mentoring arrangement with the scholarship recipient, who receives funds for four years of study. The scholar must maintain at least a 3.0 grade-point average as a full-time student, in addition to meeting other requirements.

Chancellor Robert Khayat began the Ole Miss First initiative as a bold new way to address the university’s most critical need – scholarships. It is structured to provide new scholarships and to replace some of the state funds allocated to scholarships, fee waivers and graduate stipends – revenue that can be redirected to other academic needs, such as faculty salaries and classroom enhancements.

"The Farrells depict the strength of the Ole Miss Family; they never forget their familial taproot, which is represented by this wonderful scholarship," said Ellen Rolfes, major gifts officer in University Advancement and director of the Ole Miss First Scholars program.

The inaugural scholarship recipient is Beth McCallop of Grenada, who plans to enter Ole Miss this fall. Julie Farrell’s sister Lisa Merriman, a counselor at Grenada Elementary School, has known McCallop since she was in the third grade and recommended her for the scholarship.

"I’m excited that we’re able to help her with her college education; I’ve met her once and I hope to get to know her better," Farrell said.

For more information about Ole Miss First and other giving opportunities at UM, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/giving/omwc/giving.htm

For more stories from the University of Mississippi, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/newsdesk.