After dedicating over 40 years to education as a teacher, Southern Miss alumna Barbara Guernsey Smith’s desire to help students in need led her to leave a legacy at Southern Miss. Her planned gift of $1 million was added to the Dr. James and Barbara Byrd Guernsey Elementary Education Endowment, a scholarship created to support students majoring in elementary education.
“There will never be adequate words to express my appreciation for the generosity bestowed upon me as a beneficiary of this endowment. My life has truly been changed,” said recent scholarship recipient Shannon Wallace.
When Wallace’s journey to pursue a degree began 20 years ago, she never dreamed she would be this close to graduating today. There were countless times she believed a diploma was unattainable, yet, a small voice reminded her of her God-given calling to teach. In July 2012, Wallace re-entered the classroom as a teacher’s assistant, an opportunity that rekindled the fire to have a classroom of her own.
Although her desire to teach was fierce, she questioned how she could possibly go back to college later in life. Where would she find the time or money? As a single mother with four teenage children and no financial backing to support the cost of classes or books, she began to let her worries extinguish her passion once again.
In March 2016, Wallace decided it was now or never. Through the online Teacher Assistant Program at Southern Miss, Wallace was able to keep her job while chasing her lifelong dream.
With financial limitations standing as the last barrier between Wallace and her education, she was surprised and delighted when she was awarded the Dr. James and Barbara Byrd Guernsey Elementary Education Endowment.
“In less than a year, I will finally achieve my lifelong dream,” said Wallace. “That little girl who always asked for the extra workbooks at the end of the school year so she could play school during the summer will have a classroom of her own!”
Wallace is one of 10 students who benefited from the Dr. James and Barbara Byrd Guernsey Elementary Education Endowment in the 2016-2017 academic year alone, demonstrating the ability one person has to impact numerous Southern Miss students in perpetuity.
To learn more about how you can help Southern Miss students achieve their dreams, contact Daniel Barton at 601.266.6428 or email@example.com.