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Northwest Mississippi Community College officials and Northwest Foundation Board members with University of Mississippi officials

(OXFORD, Miss.) – The 2+2 Endowed Scholarship awarded to students who attend the DeSoto Center campus for all four years – two years with Northwest Mississippi Community College and two years with the University of Mississippi – has surpassed the $1 million level.

The fund-raising milestone was announced at a recent Northwest Foundation Board of Directors meeting by Northwest President Gary Lee Spears and Associate Vice President for Development Sybil Canon in announcing. Putting the fund for DeSoto County residents over the million-dollar mark was a $112,000 gift to the scholarship initiative from the estate of Elinor Herrington, the mother of Mike Herrington of Olive Branch, current member and former president of the board.

UM Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat was an invited guest at the board meeting and congratulated the group on the fund-raising partnership’s success. He also offered words of encouragement and guidance, as the board continues its efforts.

“This type of scholarship is unique, outstanding and trail-blazing, to combine the fund-raising efforts of a four-year (university) and a community college,” said Khayat. 

The brainchild of Canon; Gloria Kellum, former UM vice chancellor emerita for university relations; and Bonnie Buntin, UM-DeSoto Center dean, the scholarship endowment now totals $1.1 million. Among donors to the endowment are the Maddox Foundation; the cities of Southaven, Olive Branch and Hernando; BancorpSouth; DeSoto County banks First Tennessee, Merchants and Farmers, First Security, Community, BankPlus, Trustmark, Sycamore and Renasant; Kreunen Development Company; Shannon Lumber Company; FedEx; DeSoto Economic Development Council; and numerous individuals committed to the idea of making a four-year degree available to DeSoto County residents in their own community.

“I am grateful to all of the members of the Northwest family who have made this scholarship what it is today,” said Spears. “So much hard work and dedication from our administration and friends of the college came together to make all of this possible.”

While Dr. Robert and Shirley Seymour and their daughter, Holly Renee Seymour, of Hernando, headed up a steering committee that began the solicitation process for this scholarship endowment, Herrington and his wife, Debra, spearheaded what would become the annual 2+2 Scholarship Golf Tournament at Cherokee Valley in Olive Branch.

Golf tournament steering committee member Marty Haraway approached Aubrey Patterson, president and CEO of BancorpSouth, to be the $10,000 title sponsor for the tournament, and BancorpSouth has honored that commitment for seven years. The successful tournaments have contributed approximately $200,000 to this scholarship initiative.

“With the proceeds from the golf tournaments and the most recent contribution from Elinor’s estate, the Herringtons have been directly responsible for almost one third of this initiative,” said Canon.

Three Northwest freshmen and three Ole Miss juniors received the 2+2 Endowed Scholarship this year: from Northwest, psychology major Magen Jendras of Lake Cormorant, elementary education major LeAnne Steelman of Olive Branch and business administration major Brooke Gustafson of Hernando; and from Ole Miss, criminal justice major Joshua Sharpe of Ashland, social work major Lindsey Robbins of Lake Cormorant and elementary education major Whitney Bernardini of Southaven.

Named 2+2 endowments were awarded to seven Northwest students: the Maddox Foundation DeSoto Center Scholarship, sophomore nursing majors Steven Cuzzilla of Southaven and Sheri Summerford of Olive Branch; for the Kathryn Anne Kreunen Scholarship, freshman education major Wes Kennedy of Southaven; for the City of Southaven Scholarship, freshman nursing major Kayla Gross of Southaven; for the City of Hernando Scholarship, freshman psychology major Elizabeth Wright of Hernando; for the City of Olive Branch Scholarship, freshman graphic design technology major Taylor McGhee of Olive Branch; and for the Albert Broadway Scholarship, freshman business administration major Kaitlyn Fisher of Southaven.

Sarah Sapp/Northwest


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