A scholarship endowment paying tribute to the lives of three University of Mississippi students has grown to more than $468,000, and three new recipients of the scholarship say they feel honored to represent the men for whom the scholarship is 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 remembers the lives of lifelong friends tragically killed in a 2011 car accident.
All natives of Madison, Mississippi, the friends graduated together from Madison Central High School, attended Broadmoor Baptist Church, enrolled in Ole Miss and pledged the same fraternity. Now their legacies are kept alive by fellow KA brothers who receive the annual scholarship awards. This year’s recipients are Andrew Cofield of Memphis, Tennessee, Peyton Greenwood of Flowood, Mississippi, and Westbrooks Ross of Madison, Mississippi.
“One of the biggest fears of a parent who has lost a child is that the child will be forgotten,” said Ken Wilbanks, the father of Mason Wilbanks. “Thanks to the generosity and support of KA and the Ole Miss community, our sons’ legacies will continue on the Ole Miss campus long after we are gone.
“It is truly humbling and such an honor to be able to present these three scholarships annually to active KA members in memory of Mason, Sam Clayton and Walker. I know our boys are smiling knowing they are continuing to help those in the fraternity they loved so much at the university they loved so dearly.”
Alumni advisors of the KA’s Alpha Upsilon Chapter 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.
“I am extremely grateful and honored to have been awarded the Kelly Kelly Wilbanks Scholarship,” said Cofield, a sophomore public policy leadership major. “As a KA, it means a lot to me to continue these guys’ legacies and make their names known on our campus. They made a lasting impact on KA, and I am excited that we can honor them, even 10 years later.”
Greenwood, a sophomore civil engineering major, expressed gratitude for the award.
“I feel extremely honored to be chosen for such a prestigious scholarship and cannot wait to be able to represent the young men the scholarship honors,” he said. “With this scholarship, I’m excited to be able to give back to KA because it’s already given so much to me. Also, I want to thank the scholarship committee for choosing me and am so grateful that they found me worthy of receiving it.”
Ross, a sophomore biology major, said the scholarship is particularly meaningful because he grew up with Mason Wilbanks’ brother Peyton and has known the donors many years.
“These families mean a lot to KA, and being able to receive a scholarship from them and on their sons’ behalf is truly an honor. That these three great families continue to want to give back to KA shows their compassion for KA as well as for the University of Mississippi,” he said. “I feel really honored to be able to receive this scholarship.”
Chapter advisor Trey Horne of Oxford, Mississippi, has been instrumental in growing the endowment.
“Mason, Sam Clayton and Walker were strong men of character who loved God and their families. Through this scholarship endowment, their legacies will live on by providing three men of Kappa Alpha Order scholarships each year,” he said.
“As new classes enter Ole Miss, this endowment will remind these men that the lives Mason, Sam Clayton and Walker lived are worthy to be followed.”
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 Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655; contact Charlotte Parks, vice chancellor for development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-915-3120; or visit https://give.olemiss.edu.
By Bill Dabney