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Byars receives 2013 award created in football player's memory
Douglass Sullivan-Gonazalez, dean of the Honors College, visits with student Rachel Byars, the recipient of the 2013 Joey Embry Memorial Scholarship.

Rachel Byars, a freshman from Bruce, Miss., has been named the new recipient of the Joey Embry Memorial Scholarship at the University of Mississippi. 

Joey Embry, like Rachel Byars, attended both Bruce High School and Ole Miss. Embry was active during his time at Ole Miss including being a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and holding the position of offensive lineman for the Ole Miss Rebel football team. Embry tragically lost his life in a 1998 drowning, but his legacy lives on. 

His family and friends make this possible. "After his death, people were asking us what they could do and where they could contribute in his memory," said his parents Bill and Gwen Embry. "Ole Miss was contacted and the staff told us how to set up a fund."

The scholarship is intended for UM students from Calhoun and Yalobusha counties. "The scholarship doesn't necessarily have to go to a straight-A student, but the recipient does have to be someone who needs and desires an education," said the Embrys.

Byars undoubtedly has this desire.  The Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College scholar is double-majoring in English and Chinese.

"I love languages. I love the way they bend and act and connect people," Byars explains when discussing her course of study. 

Ole Miss' language offerings, including the Chinese Language Flagship Program, are one of the many factors that pulled Byars to Ole Miss. The program is one of only nine in the nation and attracts students to the Oxford campus from all over the United States.

The daughter of Joey and Tammy Byars, Rachel Byars volunteered and was active in academic clubs throughout high school. 

"Though I attended a small high school, I found extracurricular life there to be exceptionally interesting," she said. The student took part in the Technology Student Association, Quiz Bowl team and the high school newspaper staff. 

"The awarding of this scholarship means more to me than I can detail," Byars said. "The thought that the individuals responsible for this scholarship have enough belief in me and my capabilities that they would reward my endeavors with monetary gain is incredible. I cannot thank those awarding me enough for their contribution of both finances and faith."

Individuals and organizations can contribute to the Joey Embry Memorial Scholarship Fund by sending a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655; or online For more information, please call the UM Foundation at 800-340-9542 or 662-915-5944.

Meg Cummins


Online gifts for the 2024 calendar year should be made no later than noon on December 31, 2024.  Checks by mail will need to be postmarked by December 31 to be counted in the 2024 calendar year.