University of Mississippi alumna Beth Powell Storey, along with her husband Barry Storey, both of Augusta, Georgia, hope a scholarship they established will honor her parents and inspire others to give back to Ole Miss.
With a recent $250,000 gift, the Storeys established the Sarah and James Powell Ole Miss Women’s Council (OMWC) Scholarship Endowment. The scholarship honors in perpetuity Beth Storey’s late father, James Powell, a longtime production control manager for Rockwell International in Grenada, Mississippi, and her mother, Sarah Powell, a homemaker.
Beth Storey and her siblings — Ole Miss alumni Sharon Powell Boler, Belinda Powell Levy and James H. Powell III — were raised in Duck Hill, Mississippi.
“My parents worked hard. We were raised in a very loving home, but we did not enjoy the luxury of having lots of money. All four of us were able to attend Ole Miss. It just seemed appropriate to honor my parents in a meaningful way for the many sacrifices they made for us along the way,” she said. “My husband Barry and I feel very strongly about supporting our respective alma maters and hope our gift will encourage other families to do the same. There are so many opportunities to support Ole Miss through giving of one’s talents, time or monetary resources.”
The endowment is designated for full-time entering first-year students from Mississippi, seeking a degree in the School of Education. Recipients will be chosen based on demonstrated academic ability, service, leadership potential, financial need and other criteria set forth by the OMWC. In addition to students’ academic pursuits, they will be expected to participate in leadership development and a mentoring program sponsored by the council.
“I’m excited that this gift will provide an opportunity for young people to realize their dreams of attending college,” said Beth Storey, who graduated from Ole Miss in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in education. “It is my hope that the recipients will have a passion for education and a love of learning they can instill in others.”
The youngest of the four Powell children, Beth Storey received financial assistance to help continue her education after high school.
“Without the combination of my parents’ support and the E. H. Sumner grant, I would not have been able to attend college,” she said. “Ole Miss was one of the best experiences of my life, at an age when we begin to prepare ourselves for the real world. I’m very grateful for the opportunities that college afforded me and the friendships that I made.”
A Delta Gamma, Beth Storey credits her sorority for supporting a campaign for her to become homecoming queen her senior year, a memorable experience. After graduation, she became a flight attendant and was based in Atlanta, Georgia. There, she met her then-future husband, Barry Storey, and began teaching special needs children in the public school system in Atlanta; she continued to teach in public schools for seven years after a move to Chattanooga, Tennessee. The couple now resides in Barry Storey’s hometown of Augusta, where they have lived for the past 26 years.
Barry Storey is principal of BLS Holdings Group, LLC. The couple has two grown children, Shelby Storey Blackburn and Barry L.“Lang” Storey, Jr.
OMWC chair Mary Susan Clinton said she appreciates Beth Storey’s desire to help students achieve their higher education goals.
“As members of the Ole Miss Women’s Council, it’s our great responsibility and privilege to see our outstanding young men and women excel in college and ultimately in life,” Clinton said. “We believe the Sarah and James Powell Endowment will play a central role in helping us encourage and mentor our students.
“We hope that, one day, these students will all be able to credit their Ole Miss education for positioning them so that they are able to give back as Beth has chosen to do.”
The OMWC is an innovative program that provides scholarships and counsel for students destined to be leaders. Helmed by an accomplished cadre of female leaders and philanthropists, the OMWC provides scholarships for tuition and books for young men and women as well as guidance and training in leadership skills, career development and personal growth throughout the students’ tenure at the university.
Scholars are guided by career mentors and sitting members of the OMWC and participate in leadership training, community service projects, cultural enrichment activities and alumni networking.
“What the Women’s Council is offering is so valuable,” Beth Storey said. “My parents instilled in us the importance of working and contributing, so I worked all four years of college. I would have loved to have had a mentor to offer advice and encouragement while trying to balance classes, work, and of course, a social life!”
The Sarah and James Powell Ole Miss Women’s Council Scholarship Endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the endowment name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., University, Miss. 38655; or visit www.umfoundation.com/makeagift. For more information on the OMWC, click here.
By Bill Dabney