Oftentimes, it's not what a person gains from his time on this earth that matters, but rather what he leaves behind. During Dr. Lynn Hagan's time as a student at The University of Southern Mississippi in the '90s, Ms. Oseola McCarty's unexpected act of charity made global news. McCarty's generosity continues to inspire Lynn's philanthropic vision today.
Recently, she and her husband, Don, documented two bequests through a charitable remainder unitrust totaling $1.1 million. The Hagans' planned gifts will benefit two existing funds they established more than a decade ago through the USM Foundation — the Lynn Purnell Hagan Social Work Support Endowment and the Lynn Purnell Hagan Social Work Scholarship Endowment.
Residing in Texas at the time, Lynn's path to USM was fortuitous. During a camping trip at Paul B. Johnson State Park, located just south of Hattiesburg, the couple followed a billboard to Southern Miss. The beauty of the campus, along with graduate program offerings in human performance and recreation (now kinesiology) and social work, sold the couple on the Hub City. Lynn finished master's degrees in 1994 and 1996, respectively. After graduation, she launched a successful career as a licensed clinical social worker, providing mental health services across the United States and around the world.
Having received assistantships and grants to offset the cost of graduate school, Lynn knows the importance of financial assistance. "We are exceptionally thankful for the Hagans' gifts and continued support of Southern Miss," said Stace Mercier, executive director of the USM Foundation. "Understanding firsthand the impact financial support can have, their giving exemplifies a commitment to and confidence in Golden Eagles for generations to come."
The Hagans hope to leave the world a better place through their work and philanthropy. Beyond scholarships and programmatic support for the School of Social Work, the couple has this advice to share with current students in the program: "Something life has taught us that we hope to impart on the next generation is to look at all the opportunities out there and understand your plan might not end up the way you'd hoped," said Don. "Those moments often lead to a better life than you ever thought possible."
To read the Hagans' full story, visit usmfoundation.com/stories.