Alyssa and Jesse Revis know how scholarships can transform lives. Financial awards gave each of them the academic opportunities that led to their successful engineering careers.
Alyssa Smith Revis graduated with a degree from the University of Mississippi School of Engineering in 2013. Now, just six years later, she and husband Jesse have established the Revis Chemical Engineering Scholarship Endowment.
The Revises know many of the rewards in their lives today grew from the generosity of others. The Houston, Texas, residents learned this lesson early and are now eager to share their knowledge and financial resources to help other students.
“Alyssa and I have been very blessed in our journey together,” Jesse Revis said. “By setting up this endowment, we want to pay that forward and give other people similar opportunities we’ve been given.”
Having a new scholarship established that can help future engineering students for years to come is always welcomed by the Department of Chemical Engineering, but members of the department are especially pleased that this generous endowment was created by someone representing the youngest generation of alumni.
“A gift of this size is very unusual for a recent grad of our department,” said John O’Haver, director of the Center for Mathematics and Science Education and professor of chemical engineering. “Our recent alums do have a track record for giving – just not of this magnitude.”
O’Haver was instrumental in helping Alyssa Revis navigate one of the unexpected and potentially career-ending financial turns she encountered as an Ole Miss student.
An avid and accomplished soccer player growing up in Florida, Revis enrolled at Ole Miss on a soccer scholarship. Her high school’s dual-enrollment program enabled her to transfer 45 hours of course credit as a freshman, placing her in some of UM’s more advanced and demanding chemical engineering classes by her second academic year.
“To focus on academics, I was faced with making the extremely difficult decision of giving up soccer which I had been playing my whole life and was part of what defined me. This would mean losing my athletics scholarship,” she said. “That would have made it questionable as to whether I could continue to stay in the chemical engineering program.”
She met with O’Haver to discuss her options.
“Alyssa was the kind of student every professor wants,” he recalled. “She was engaged with the coursework, highly intelligent, confident and personable, as well as a great team player who pushed everyone to do their best.”
Fortunately, the Department of Chemical Engineering and the School of Engineering were able to provide Revis with the financial assistance she lost by stepping away from soccer.
“That took a lot of the burden off me in making what became the right decision: to focus on my chemical engineering studies,” Revis said. “I always greatly appreciated Dr. O’Haver, the dean and all the engineering donors who gave financial resources to make those scholarships available.
“My appreciation for that generosity stayed with me and I knew at some point I wanted to give back to Ole Miss,” she continued. “Jesse and I feel like we’re fortunate if we can help young people follow their academic dreams or career paths by overcoming the roadblocks that come to those of us who may not have the financial means to do so.”
The couple also provided a one-time scholarship to Jesse Revis’ alma mater, Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, where he played basketball and earned a degree in mechanical engineering.
They both work at ExxonMobil where Jesse is a project engineer and Alyssa is a global asphalt technical advisor.
Alyssa’s position with ExxonMobil takes her around the world while also allowing her to return to the Ole Miss campus where she and co-worker Hunter Howell, another UM engineering alum, meet with engineering students to discuss career opportunities with their employer.
The Revises noted their appreciation of ExxonMobil for encouraging philanthropy by providing a generous match of employee donations.
O’Haver said the endowment created by Alyssa and Jesse Revis will have an enormous impact on the lives of future chemical engineering students, some of whom might experience unexpected changes in their financial situation.
“This scholarship is huge because it gives our department more options to help our students financially,” he said. “When we recruit students, we tell them, ‘Welcome to the Ole Miss chemical engineering family,’ and we mean it. We try to take care of our family.”
For more information or to make a gift to the UM School of Engineering, contact Greg Carter, development director, at 662-915-3087 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the school’s giving page at http://give.olemiss.edu.
By Jonathan Scott