ELLISVILLE, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from Jones County Junior College.
Donations from Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association's more than 36,000 customers using 48,000 power meters will help 36 Jones County Junior College students with scholarships through the power association's "Round Up for Education Scholar's Program."
In all, the education careers of 217 community college students from throughout the PRVEPA's 12-county service area will get a $935 financial boost this fall, thanks to the generous spirit and support of the Association's member-consumers.
JCJC engineering major from Columbia, Scott Prats, plans on attending Mississippi State University. He said he and his family are very appreciative of PRVEPA's scholarship program because the Prats family currently has two students in college.
"This scholarship has been a blessing for my family. Many people say the South has one thing other regions don't, and that is pure hospitality. It is a relief to know that people in this world are generous enough to help others financially without ever knowing them. I can't thank all of the people enough that are affiliated with the Pearl River Valley Association," said Prats.
This is the fourth year for the Round Up for Education scholar's program, which is funded by members who round their bills up to the nearest dollar each month. Scholarships are available to members who do the round up, as well as for their spouses or dependent children who are enrolled as freshmen this fall.
"Throughout our history, Pearl River Valley Electric has not only been providing electric service to rural areas, but we are also working to improve the quality of life of our members and the communities where they live," said General Manager Randy Wallace. "We believe that education is vital to improving the future for all of us in south Mississippi, and the Round Up program was designed to encourage more young people to further their education. As we are now able to see, the accumulation of what would normally be spare change for an individual has added up significantly. These funds will help create long-term educational opportunities as well as economic benefits, which is good for everyone in the communities we serve."
With more than 90 percent of the PRVEPA members continuing to round up their bills, more than $840,000 has been collected and deposited in an account overseen by the Greater Pine Belt Community Foundation since November 2012.
At least ten percent of each year's funds are set aside in an endowed fund for future use. The remaining money is divided equally between the eligible applicants.
This year, the scholarships are worth $935 per student (the maximum award per the program's guidelines is $1000) and over the program's four years, more than 780 students in total have received PRVEPA scholarships.
"The residents in the PRVEPA area should be commended for their forward thinking. Adding a small penny's worth to the scholarship program will yield an immeasurable amount of help to a student reach their dreams. We are thankful for PRVEPA and the PineBelt Community Foundation," said JCJC President, Dr. Jesse Smith.
Scholarship recipients this year include 115 students attending Pearl River Community College, 49 at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, and 36 at Jones County Junior College. An additional 17 students are attending six other state community colleges. Overall, students from 21 different high schools and home school programs applied for the PRVEPA scholarship this year.
PRVEPA's Manager of Member Services, Kurt Brautigam, explained, "Helping community college students enhances the program's impact because of the large numbers of potential college students living on our lines. Community colleges are an ideal place to begin higher education for many of our members and their children, and we think the scholarships will have a greater impact for those students."
The Round Up for Education Scholarship program is the largest scholarship program managed by The PineBelt Community Foundation according to Theresa Erickson, Executive Director of the Foundation. She shared, "We often see how small contributions from large numbers of people can grow into significant amounts that benefit many individuals, and when people continue their education it not only benefits the individual, but it also benefits their family and ultimately their community."
JCJC freshman from Sumrall, Victoria Williford is one such student with aspirations of helping school children. She is majoring in psychology and elementary education with the hope of becoming a school counselor. Williford shares the same gratitude as Prat mentioned, for the generosity of those willing to pay a little extra to help college students.
"Without this scholarship, my tuition would be drastically higher. Even with my other scholarships, not everything is covered. This scholarship offers me the opportunity to have much of my remaining fees covered. Now, my family and I are not concerned with the financial strain of paying those dues, and we no longer worry as to where we are going to get the money to satisfy them. My family and I are overflowing with gratitude for this opportunity. We can be at peace knowing that generous people have given a little extra to benefit my college experience and education. This scholarship is not a waste; it is a gracious gift that I have had the chance of receiving. I want to extend my thanks to all of the hard working people who have paid for me to further my knowledge, so that I can help people further theirs."
Seeing the benefits of this scholarship program, Wallace hopes even more PRVEPA members will join in the effort. "Now that our members are able to see the effects this program can have—helping nearly 800 students begin their college careers—we hope to have even more participants next year," said Wallace. "We are thrilled with the results this year and know that what our members are doing by participating in the program will have positive impacts for years to come."
Round Up for Education funds collected after August 1 goes toward next year's scholarships. Applications for 2017 scholarships will be available beginning this month.
PRVEPA/JCJC Scholarship Recipients
Katherine "Katie" Elyse Adams, Purvis-Oak Grove HS
Kirsten L. Anderson, Hattiesburg-FCAHS
Morgan Lee Aultman, Sumrall-Sumrall HS
Jared J.Boe, Purvis-Purvis HS
Bradley Boykin, Perkinston-Stone HS
Brandi Nicole Burge, Hattiesburg-Oak Grove HS
Ashton Cree Cawthon, Hattiesburg-Sumrall HS
Kristopher Adam Chambliss, Sumrall-Lamar Christian HS
Aaron B. Cochran, Wiggins-Stone HS
Tammron Brooke Costilow, Hattiesburg-FCAHS
Cameron Michael Costilow, Hattiesburg-FCAHS
Tiffany Dawn Davis, Hattiesburg-Oak Grove HS
Dawson 'Brady' Farlow, Purvis-Purvis HS
De'Shondrick Foxworth, Columbia-East Marion HS
Hanna Freeman, Sumrall-Sumrall HS
Glenn Scott Hartfield, Purvis-Purvis HS
Nancy Hartfield, Purvis-Purvis HS
Jarvis Alton Joseph, Hattiesburg-Oak Grove HS
Zachary Ryan Lee, Hattiesburg-Oak Grove HS
Conner McMahon, Sumrall,-Oak Grove HS
Taylor Lynn Nicholson, Columbia-Columbia Academy
Andrew Nobles, Hattiesburg-Oak Grove HS
Daniel 'Ryley' Patterson, Sumrall-Sumrall HS
Lesley Morgan Polk, Columbia-West Marion HS
Scott Allen Prats, Columbia-Columbia HS
Gaylon Jadon Ray, Hattiesburg-Oak Grove HS
Jarrod Shuck, Sumrall-Sumrall HS
Cody Sims, Purvis-Purvis HS
Michael 'Conner' Smith, Purvis-Oak Grove HS
Parker Sparks, Hattiesburg-Oak Grove HS
Kaitlin Taylor, Hattiesburg-Oak Grove HS
Jonathan Byron Taylor, Wiggins-Stone HS
Henry Clay Taylor, Wiggins-Stone HS
Nicolas A. Vines, Hattiesburg-Oak Grove HS
Alex Ward, Purvis-Oak Grove
Victoria Williford - Sumrall- Lamar Christian