Jane Carter Thomas of Greenwood is providing her children the opportunity to mentor some of the University of Mississippi’s most involved students.
Thomas has established two Ole Miss First scholarship endowments named for her children, A. Carter Thomas and W. Preston Thomas Jr.
Thomas was motivated by the uniqueness of the Ole Miss First Scholars program, which is designed not only as a scholarship initiative, but also as a mentorship program. She saw an opportunity to encourage philanthropy in her children.
“This will be a great experience for them,” Jane said. “I know they will receive as much as they give. Through this they will learn and grow.”
Giving back is something the Thomas family has always felt strongly about, and, with mother, father, son and daughter all attending Ole Miss, the university has always been a recipient of their generosity. In 2005, Jane established the W.P. "Bill" Thomas Scholarship Endowment in memory of her husband, a lynchpin of the Mississippi Delta’s farming, business and civic communities. Jane also endowed an Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy scholarship in memory of UM student Graham Carson of Marks.
“Jane Thomas and her family are wonderful members of the Ole Miss community,” said University of Mississippi Chancellor Robert Khayat. “The establishment of these scholarships for deserving Ole Miss students shows how much they value giving to others and how much they love Ole Miss. We are grateful for their continued support.”
The A. Carter Thomas scholarship will be awarded to full-time entering freshmen who exhibit strong school involvement, school spirit and community service.
“Volunteer work and reaching out to the community, as well as excelling academically, are important to me,” said Carter, who will graduate from Ole Miss this year with degrees in family and consumer sciences and in business administration with an emphasis in marketing. “I feel strongly about mentoring a student who shares those values.”
During her time at Ole Miss, Carter has received several academic honors and has served as the president of Gamma Beta Phi honor society and as an officer of her sorority, Delta Delta Delta. Her community volunteer involvement is extensive – ranging from work with the Oxford Food Shelter, Community Canned Food Drive, MANNA (Episcopal Feeding Ministry), St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Habitat for Humanity among many others. She has also served as a page in the Mississippi State House of Representatives and was named Greenville’s Queen of Cotton in 2006.
The W. Preston Thomas Jr. scholarship is designed for a UM students who grew up in or near Greenwood, an area Preston loves and calls home. Recipients will be full-time freshmen from Mississippi with first preference to residents of Coahoma, Leflore, Quitman, Holmes, Sunflower, Grenada or Tallahatchie counties.
“These are students I know I’ll be able to relate to and am excited about mentoring,” Preston said. “I’m looking forward to helping someone from where I grew up. Scholarships are so important and I’m honored that this one is in my name.”
Preston graduated from Ole Miss in 2005 with a degree in business administration. He currently lives and works in Memphis, Tenn., in commercial real estate. His community volunteer involvement includes work with Leap Frog, a youth mentoring and tutoring program, Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross and “More Than a Meal,” a program through Idlewild Presbyterian Church in Memphis.
While at Ole Miss, he was on the Chancellor’s Honor Roll and National Dean’s List. He was a member of the business organization Alpha Lambda Delta, the national honor fraternity Phi Sigma Phi and served as vice president of his fraternity, Phi Delta Theta.