Scholarships a boon for Natchez family

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 12, 2001

Bringing up youngsters to be scholarship winners was not the goal, Randa Jex said as she acknowledged happily the benefits the family now reaps from generous university awards.

With one son, Zach, 20, entering his third year at the University of Mississippi, another son, Kellen, 18, entering the same university as a freshman next week, and a daughter, Anna Kate, 17, a senior at Trinity Episcopal School, Jex knows something about education expenses.

&uot;We had money put away in their savings accounts,&uot; she said. &uot;But still it is a very expensive thing to send even one of them to college, especially after sending them all these years to a private school.&uot;

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So scholarships and grants awarded for high academic standards and community service involvement were welcome at the Jex household, she said.

At this time of increased expense for eduction, a further complication arose in the family when Jex found she had cancer and began extensive treatments that not only took her away for extended periods but also stretched the budget further.

&uot;I had excellent insurance,&uot; she said. &uot;But there are always extra costs that you have to pay yourself. And I’m still in maintenance chemotherapy.&uot;

Jex, an administrative assistant at AmSouth Bank in Natchez, was delighted when the first son learned that because of his high ACT scores he qualified for what amounted to an almost completely funded college education at Ole Miss.

She was doubly encouraged when son Kellen also qualified for the scholarships and state grants that pay for a large percentage of his tuition and other expenses.

&uot;We still have to come up with a good bit of money,&uot; Jex said. &uot;There’s no question the scholarships are wonderful.&uot;

The family learned some lessons from Zach’s applications, she said. &uot;The main advice I can give parents whose kids are seniors is that they should get their paperwork done as soon as possible,&uot; she said. With Kellen, the family finished the paperwork by the first of December last year.

The timely completion led to scholarship offers not only from Ole Miss but also from the University of Alabama and Louisiana State University.

As for rearing scholarship winners, Jex said her three children were brought up to know the importance of education and to expect to go to college. And, more important, they learned to be good citizens.

&uot;They are such shining lights. People want them. Kellen has about a two-page resume of his community service activities like Habitat for Humanity and clown ministries at the nursing homes, and that’s impressive,&uot; she said. &uot;I’ve tried to raise them to be independent, caring people. &uot;And they are not big spenders. They are pretty careful. And they have always had what they needed.&uot;