Karrye Pippin, salutatorian last year at Baldwyn High School, is among a record number of freshmen this fall at the University of Mississippi. And although her first few days on the Oxford campus were somewhat nerve-racking, Pippin said she knows she can count on her mentor, Ole Miss alumnus Larry Johnson of Jackson, to help her through her ups and downs.
Pippin is the first recipient of the $25,000 Larry Johnson Ole Miss First Scholarship, which provides full tuition for four years. Ole Miss First donors also agree to act as mentors to the student recipients.
"I haven’t met him in person yet, but we’ve e-mailed a lot over the summer," Pippin said. "I’m excited that someone as successful as Mr. Johnson will be my mentor and friend during my time at Ole Miss. I’ve wanted to meet him and I’m looking forward to the day we meet face to face."
Among 15 freshmen receiving Ole Miss First Scholarships, Pippin said that being on campus is a big change for her because she came from a small town.
"I’m still a little nervous, but I made friends during my first week here," said Pippin, a psychology major. "I have a great roommate, and I’m thinking about joining the gospel choir and a dance team. I’m not sure what I’ll do, but I think I’m going to love it here."
Johnson and his brother, Robert H. Johnson of Germantown, Tenn., established the scholarship in memory of their parents, E.L. "Swede" and Alleene Epting Johnson. It is designated for Baldwyn High School students who demonstrate outstanding leadership qualities.
"Our parents were long-term residents of Baldwyn, and my brother and I both graduated from Baldwyn High," said Johnson, a 1956 graduate of the school and owner of Landmark Companies in Jackson. "The scholarship is a way for us to honor our parents who helped us see the importance of making a difference in the lives of young people."
Debbie Vaughn, executive director of University Development, said that the mentoring component of the Ole Miss First Scholarships makes them unique.
"Ole Miss is proud of its role in helping students realize their leadership potential," Vaughn said. "We are grateful to Larry for his generosity and commitment to Ole Miss First, through which the University of Mississippi endeavors to provide scholarships for every deserving student."
Johnson, a longtime supporter of Ole Miss, said he intends to provide a full-tuition scholarship for a Baldwyn High graduate each year.
Besides his Ole Miss First commitment, Johnson recently gave $25,000 to the Chancellor’s Trust Fund and has given gifts to the schools of Law and Business Administraton.
A 1960 Ole Miss graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business, Johnson also received a law degree at UM in 1962. Robert Johnson, a 1961 graduate of Baldwyn High School, attended Delta State University and earned a bachelor’s degree from Memphis State University.
Pippin is the second of three children of Roderick and Odessa Pippin. Her high school honors included membership in the National Honor Society, vice president of the Student Council, secretary of Future Business Leaders of America and secretary of the Beta Club.
A standout in basketball and softball, Pippin was named a Mississippi All-Star Player and was listed among the Top 50 honorable mentions in both The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson) and Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo).
Ole Miss First scholarships are awarded on the basis of merit and/or financial need. Throughout the tenure of the award, a recipient must maintain at least a 3.0 grade-point average and be registered as a full-time student.