Largely due to one man’s commitment nearly three decades ago, 92 scholars from around the state were among the University of Mississippi’s more than 2,100 candidates for graduation at spring commencement.
The students completed their undergraduate education as recipients of Luckyday Scholarships. UM Provost Carolyn Staton said accomplishing the task may not have been possible for some of these scholars had it not been for the foresight and generosity of the late Frank Day, who graduated from UM in 1953. In 1978, Day established the Luckyday Foundation to help young Mississippians achieve their educational goals.
Barbara Day, widow of Frank Day, attended a recent reception at UM for the graduating class of Luckyday Scholars and Luckyday Foundation board members.
"We are so proud of our 2007 Luckyday graduates," said Barbara Day. "They have been successful both in their academic and personal achievements during their college years, and we wish them well. We hope they will spread the word about Luckyday Scholarships to other worthy students as they go forward in their careers."
The Jackson-based Luckyday Foundation has provided annual scholarships to UM freshmen since 2001. Over the last six years, the foundation has awarded more than $10.5 million to nearly 1,000 students.
As the largest need-based scholarship program offered at UM, the Luckyday Opportunity Scholarship program awards up to $28,000 per eligible student for four years of undergraduate study. The program aims to bridge the gap between individual student needs and assistance from other scholarships and grants. The Luckyday Foundation funds several other UM scholarships in varying amounts, including Luckyday Merit Scholarships for National Merit Finalists, as well as loan/scholarship programs for students majoring in education, communicative disorders and social work.
The scholarship opportunity made the mother of Luckyday scholar Hunter Howell especially happy. Marijean Howell of Oxford said her son, candidate for a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, probably would have moved away and attended either Rice University or Georgia Tech University had it not been for the Luckyday Scholarship.
"The scholarship draws students to Ole Miss who may not have otherwise chosen to come here," Howell said. "We’re definitely thankful for the Luckyday Foundation."
Luckyday Scholar Reshika Coleman of Preston, candidate for a bachelor’s degree in nursing, said, "I ultimately believe that behind every success is ambition, behind every ambition is effort and behind every effort is someone who is willing to try. The Luckyday Foundation was that someone willing to try, resulting in my success."
Day received his bachelor’s degree in business from Ole Miss, then completed the graduate school of banking at Louisiana State University. He served as chairman of the board and CEO of Trustmark National Bank before his death in 1999.
The 2007 class of Luckyday Scholars at UM (listed by hometowns) includes Lorna Frazier of Arcola; Phillip Snyder of Banner; Benjamin Benvenutti of Bay St. Louis; Johnny Riley of Belzoni; Heath Rice and Alexis Lognion of Biloxi; James Harrison, Tara Carter, John Rippy and George Henry of Brandon; Angel Richardson and Jessica Wilson of Cleveland; Kayla Fondren and Robert Chapman of Clinton; Michael McShea of Columbia; Summer Borgognoni and Karen Garrett of Columbus; Sally Putt of Corinth; Kemisha Trantham of Courtland; Laura Jackson of Hazlehurst; and Atricia White of Hernando.
Other UM class of 2007 Luckyday Scholars are Marquita Streeter, Brittany Pegues, Lawrence Muruako, Angela Mock, Justin Dawkins, Kimberly Clayborn and Cortessia Badie of Holly Springs; Lauren Tyner of Indianola; Sara Hudson of Iuka; Jacquelyn Surrell, Brittney Pinkham, Duriel McKinsey, Rozerrio Camel, Joseph Odom, Steven Nix, Allison Hogan, Scott Blackburn, Jessica Ayers, Jimmy Cajoleas and Catherine Carter of Jackson; Lajoi McAdory of Leland; Terrell Boler and Patrick Boler of Liberty; Jennifer Johnson of Long Beach; Chun Xie of Louisville; Carly Phillips and Dusty Dickerson of Lucedale; Amanda Lauman, Elan Walker, Hayley Smith, Derek Huang and Marty Hitt of Madison; Alexander Taylor of Meridian; Alisha Jones and Brandon Lennep of Moss Point; Brandi Ashmore Loy and Amanda Nowlin of Myrtle; Kristen Ater of Natchez; Mache Robertson of New Albany; and Alexander Quesenberry and Samuel Jacobs of Olive Branch.
Rounding out the list of UM class of 2007 Luckyday Scholars are Ciara Walker, John Reep, Ryan Yates, Lacey Shaver and Hunter Howell of Oxford; Carl Hill of Pascagoula; Kallie Rolison of Petal; Dena Miller of Pontotoc; Breanne Parker of Poplarville; McCaslin Dodgen of Port Gibson; Shaquilla Gates of Prairie; Reshika Coleman of Preston; Jeremy Wells of Raleigh; Sylvia Hall of Ridgeland; Whitney Farrell of Ripley; Vanessa Gibbs of Seminary; Brandon Boyd of Senatobia; Dejarnette Trice of Shannon; Lateshia Harris, Allison England and Carmen Calmes of Starkville; Udochi Onwubiko of Stringer; Melissa McKenzie of Summit; Rosland Roach of Sumner; Mary Rooney of Tupelo; Meltory Richards and Crystal Henry of Vaiden; Dustin Markle of Vicksburg; Kara Ward and Sara Ward of Water Valley; Thomas Hampton of West Point; and Frances Hairston of Yazoo City.
For information about the Luckyday Opportunity Scholarship program and other financial opportunities at UM, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/financial_aid