Nearly 10 years after University of Mississippi pharmacy student Amie Ewing was killed in a tragic accident, a memorial scholarship is honoring her legacy by supporting students.
The Amie Ewing Memorial Scholarship Endowment awards $1,000 per academic year to pharmacy students exhibiting traits she exemplified while enrolled in UM's School of Pharmacy.
"Amie was a remarkable young lady who would have been an excellent pharmacist," said Marvin Wilson, associate dean emeritus of academic and student affairs. "The characteristics I remember most were her smile, compassion, intellect, drive to excel, competitiveness, belief that she could overcome any obstacle and resilience when confronted with challenges."
Ewing died in September 2004, after being struck by a car on Highway 6 in Oxford, following a night game at Vaught-Hemingway stadium.
Established in 2005, the scholarship is predominantly funded by pharmacy license plate sales in Mississippi. Ewing's classmate, Beau Cox was a driving force behind creation of both the tags and the scholarship. He said he came up with the idea after noticing a nursing license plate and wondering why pharmacy didn't have one as well.
"I found out that the tag would have to be placed in a bill and passed by the legislature, so I called Rep. Bobby Howell (Kilmichael, Miss.) and asked him if he would help me with the process," Cox said. "I learned that the specialty tag would cost $31 extra, with $24 left over for fundraising. It hit me that we could set up a scholarship to be funded by tag sales in Amie's memory."
Wilson provided guidance to Cox, who then worked with Dean Emeritus Barbara Wells, Associate Provost Noel Wilkin, and classmates Su Bunniran of Washington, D.C., Todd Dear of Jackson, Miss., and Kyle Null of Oxford to get the project off the ground.
"That spring of 2005, we were able to award the inaugural scholarship to Olivia Strain (Madison, Miss.)," Cox said. "The award was presented by Amie's parents, Donnie and Rita Ewing, and it was one of the most memorable things I have ever been a part of in my life."
Strain remains thankful for the scholarship.
"While in pharmacy school, I was determined not only to be the best student I could be but also a great friend to others and be involved in many extracurricular activities, such as sports and being (pharmacy's) student body president," Strain said. "Being well-rounded then continues to help me now as a full-time pharmacy manager, wife and mother of two. I feel blessed to have been considered to possess any of the many wonderful qualities that Amie herself also had."
Echoing Strain's sentiments, Matt Hill, the scholarship's 2009 recipient, said that the scholarship "removed worry when it came to expensive books."
Bunniran said she is comforted by the impact Ewing still has on the pharmacy school.
"Amie was not only a roommate to me in college, she was the sister I never had," Bunniran said. "Her fun-loving attitude combined with her independence and drive to be the best in everything she did was an irresistible combination that always brought out the best in me. She was the consummate scholar-athlete, excelling in pharmacy school while proudly representing the university on the volleyball team.
"Reflecting on this 10-year anniversary of her passing, what I remember most vividly was her almost infectious joy, how she was able to bring together any group of people. It is with thoughts of happiness at the time we were all able to spend with her that we should take in the reminders of her memory that are sprinkled throughout all the communities in which she was so involved and continue to bring people together."
Since the scholarship was created, 859 pharmacy license plates have been sold, with 295 currently registered.
"We have been able to meet and exceed the endowment threshold of $50,000 so that it is a self-sustaining scholarship," Cox said. "As a result, we have been able give $7,500 in scholarship money."
David D. Allen, dean of the pharmacy, encourages support of the scholarship through car tag purchases.
"I am proud to have the pharmacy license plate in honor of our great profession and in memory of an extraordinary student pharmacist," Allen said. "While I didn't know Amie, I've heard so much about what a tremendous individual she was. Her memory and legacy live through these license plates, and it is my sincere hope that many more will be purchased."
Cox said purchasing the tag is a simple act that will impact the lives of pharmacy students and honor Ewing's memory.
"My hope for the license plate is that more pharmacists will purchase the tag to show their support of our great profession and, by doing so, increase the amount of scholarship money we can then give to a deserving student each year," he said. "The larger the scholarship, the more it will be sought after, and the more Amie will be remembered."
Pharmacists in Mississippi can go to their county tax collector's office at any time of the year to purchase the tag.
Monetary donations, which are tax-deductible, may also be made to the scholarship. Checks with the fund noted in the memo line can be mailed to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655; or online at www.umfoundation.com/makeagift. For more information, contact Raina McClure, pharmacy's development director, at 662-915-6967 or firstname.lastname@example.org.