Bettie Pierce often told her daughter Susan that when you are given a gift, you should return the kindness, and the spirit of the gift.
Alumna Susan Pierce of Mandeville, Louisiana, is following that advice by creating the Bettie C. Pierce Memorial Scholarship Endowment at the University of Mississippi. The new scholarship memorializes her mother and pays forward the gift of scholarship she received as an Ole Miss student.
“When you stand in front of the Lyceum and look down the line, you see that it is a path to the future. I want to support Ole Miss students preparing to be our future,” Pierce said.
The scholarship will assist entering freshman from Newton County, Mississippi, and has guidelines similar to the scholarship Pierce received as a student from the Otho R. and Emily K. Smith family.
“It really meant so much to me that someone thought enough about education to support me in such a way,” said Pierce, who believes in public education to strengthen the state’s economy and the academic foundation students receive at Newton High School.
“Hopefully, more of the young people from Newton County will have the opportunity to continue their education at Ole Miss through scholarships like this one, and when they graduate that there will be jobs for them in Mississippi,” she said.
UM Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Noel Wilkin said gifts like Pierce’s greatly benefit the university and state.
“We are extremely grateful to Susan for her continued support of the University of Mississippi and especially for her longtime support of the Patterson School of Accountancy,” Wilkin said. “Her dedication to giving back to her hometown community will ensure future Ole Miss students have the financial support needed to achieve their educational goals.”
Pierce, the daughter of a dairy farmer from Newton County, Mississippi, learned the value of service to others from both her father, Bonnie, and mother, Bettie, at an early age. The family routinely offered extra food from their Newton County-area garden to others in the community. Offering a helping hand to others was taught from an early age as was kindness.
“My mother was very kind and always talked to strangers. She often said that even though she did not know them or their daily struggles, it never hurt to be kind,” recalled Pierce.
Her mother had planned on attending nursing school; however, she was unable to so– increasing her resolve in later years for her children to have the opportunity to pursue higher education. Thanks to her determination, Pierce was awarded the Smith Scholarship, which provided $500 a year – an amount that covered tuition and books.
In 1979, Pierce graduated with a degree in business administration, being part of the last class to study accountancy in the Ole Miss School of Business Administration before the university established a separate school for accountancy.
Pierce credits Carl Nabors – the former chair of the accounting department and later acting dean of the School of Business Administration – for her first job at Arthur Andersen in New Orleans, Louisiana. For the past 20 years she’s been with Entergy Corporation and now serves as a Senior Tax Advisor.
To support the Bettie C. Pierce Memorial Scholarship Endowment, individuals and organizations can mail a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the endowment’s name in the memo line, to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or visit https://give.olemiss.edu.
For more information, contact Denson Hollis, executive director of development, at 662-915-5092 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Mary Stanton Knight