A scholarship endowment paying tribute to the lives of three University of Mississippi students has grown to $322,000 and three new recipients of the scholarship have been named.
Continuing gifts from the Kappa Alpha fraternity have expanded the Charles Walker Kelly, Samuel Clayton Kelly and Bryant Mason Wilbanks Memorial Scholarship Endowment that honors the lives of lifelong friends tragically killed in a 2011 car accident. Kappa Alpha fraternity recently contributed $55,000 to the endowment.
All natives of Madison, Mississippi, the friends graduated together from Madison Central High School, attended Broadmoor Baptist Church, enrolled at the University of Mississippi and pledged the same fraternity. Now their legacies are kept alive by fellow fraternity brothers who receive scholarship awards. This year’s recipients are Matt Earwood, Joseph Rebentisch and Chandler Telfer.
“It's been five years since their passing,” said Sam Kelly, Sr., the father of Sam Clayton Kelly. “This is a great way for the fraternity to remember them as being part of that organization and to reflect on their lives and how much they loved Ole Miss. Life is short, and you've got to cherish those moments.”
Donors, alumni advisors of the Alpha Upsilon Chapter of Kappa Alpha Order and UM’s Scholarship Committee work together to select recipients. The award is based on a number of criteria, including financial need, leadership and academic performance.
Earwood, of Tupelo, Mississippi, a junior in UM’s Patterson School of Accountancy, said he feels humbled to be selected for the scholarship.
“This is a great way to honor the lives of three outstanding guys,” he said. “When the award was being presented this year, I really enjoyed my first time getting to hear from the families and some close friends. The scholarship is a daily reminder to me that life is precious.”
Rebentisch, also of Tupelo, a senior accountancy major completing an internship in Dallas, expressed similar sentiments.
“I hope that in the coming years I can return this gift ten times over to KA,” he said. “Although I never knew them, the legacy they left endures. During my freshman year, I was able to see the radical impact their lives had upon older KAs. In turn, they impressed upon us how in this season of life, a steadfast fraternal community is imperative in the cultivation of our faiths. To share in this sentiment is a privilege, and I’m honored to be a part of the same brotherhood as Walker, Sam Clayton and Mason.”
Telfer, a sophomore accounting major from Nashville, Tennessee, agreed: “This scholarship is a great opportunity to remember the lives of three brothers. I can’t help but think of how much opportunity these guys had. It makes me reflect on my own opportunities that I have before me. It reminds me of how quickly it can all be taken away and to continue to engage in the world around me, because nothing is guaranteed.”
The endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the Kelly, Kelly and Wilbanks Scholarship noted to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, Miss. 38655; contact Sandra Guest, vice president of the foundation, at 662-915-5208 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.
By Carter Hach