NHS students receive memorial scholarship

Published 12:54 am Thursday, April 17, 2008

NATCHEZ — When Victoria Williams and Danny Ray Thompson recently learned they were scholarship recipients they were both a bit perplexed.

“I was shocked,” Williams said. “I didn’t really know what to think.”

And there was no way Williams or Thompson could have known what to think because neither of them applied for the scholarships.

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Both students, seniors at Natchez High School, won $1,500 from the David Lee Willey Memorial Scholarship Fund.

But neither student had ever heard of the fund, their guidance counselor Iris Myles had also not heard of the scholarship until she got a letter from Susan Willey.

“That doesn’t happen very often,” Myles said of getting scholarship funding without any previous knowledge. “It’s rare.”

The scholarship fund that many at NHS are only now learning about was developed as a way to memorialize the life David Lee Willey.

Willey said in 1988 her son, confused and depressed over what to do with his life, committed suicide.

Willey said before the family even had a funeral they developed a scholarship fund.

“We want help give students the opportunity our son did not have,” she said.

Myles said when she spoke to Willey, Willey said the funds should go to students with desire and potential.

So, Williams and Thompson, just a few weeks ago learned they were the recipients of the scholarship.

And when the two teens found out they had been selected as scholarship recipients they became part of a very rare group.

Since 1988 only one scholarship has been given out.

Thompson and Williams are just the second and third students to receive the scholarship.

Myles said she is confident the two students will put the scholarship to good use.

“They are both great students,” she said.

Williams said she plans to attend Copiah-Lincoln Community College, and then a four-year university, to study culinary arts and art.

Thompson said he plans to attend Mississippi State University to study psychology.

Thompson said he would eventually like to earn his doctorate in psychology.

But for Willey the goal of the scholarship is already realized.

“We wanted them to have the financial assets to help fulfill their dreams,” she said. “We just hope it helps.”