When the fall semester is underway each year at the University of Mississippi, there are vivid reminders of the life of Joey Embry of Bruce: the football program he loved and now students who have received assistance from the scholarship created in his memory.
Established in August 2000, the Joey Embry Memorial Scholarship has now been expanded in order for students from both Calhoun and Yalobusha counties to be eligible. An Ole Miss student and an offensive lineman on the Rebel football squad, Embry lost his life in a 1998 tragic drowning.
"Losing a child is the most horrible thing in the world," said his mother, Gwen Embry, with his father, Bill Embry, agreeing. "Joey is gone, but these scholarships are a little something good that we can do in his memory."
When the scholarship was first established, the Embry family lived in Calhoun County. They moved to Yalobusha County several years ago and now have amended the scholarship to include this geographical area. Their other son, Brad Embry, is head football coach at Water Valley High School.
Six students have been awarded the scholarship, including the newest recipient, Kyle Jones of Water Valley, the son of Greg Jones of Water Valley and Kim Jones of Dallas. An Ole Miss freshman and a Mississippi School for Math and Science (MSMS) graduate, Kyle Jones is majoring in biology with plans of becoming an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
"I am extremely honored to receive the Joey Embry Memorial Scholarship," Jones said. "I have the highest regard for any person or organization that provides financial support for someone to receive a better education. I am indebted to the Embry family and others who contributed to this scholarship fund."
Jones graduated from MSMS with a 4.0 grade-point average, and during his junior and senior years in high school, he also earned 22 hours of college credit. He had a perfect score on the state biology test, and during his freshman and sophomore years in high school, Jones was recognized with awards for the highest average in French I and II, Algebra II, Biology I, geometry, accelerated English II, American novel and short stories, and U.S. history. He was active in an array of organizations, including the Beta Club, Mu Alpha Theta, Quiz Bowl and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
The scholarship recipient has been involved as a community service volunteer through Interfaith Compassion Ministries, which provides food for the needy, as well as church-sponsored mission trips.
Gwen Embry said she and her husband know what their late son would think of the scholarship.
"Joey would probably say, 'I'm glad someone is getting help through this scholarship but you didn't have to put my name on it – don't give me any of the glory,'" the mother said about her six-foot-six-inch son who excelled in football, baseball and weightlifting as well as nurturing friendships.
"Joey never wanted the limelight to be on him. With the sports he played, Joey always wanted the limelight to be on the whole team. He kept up with old and new friends, was active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and wanted people in general to do the right thing. This loss has been more difficult for me because Joey was such a young person, but knowing this scholarship is in place helps. The recipients seem to appreciate the assistance." Embry said, noting that the family keeps all cards and letters received from scholarship holders.
Each year two Embry Scholarships will be awarded to one student each from Calhoun and Yalobusha counties. Those interested in applying for the scholarship should talk with their respective high school guidance counselors.
Individuals and organizations can contribute to the Joey Embry Memorial Scholarship Fund through the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655; phone 800-340-9542; www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.