January 2021

The Cecil & Sissie Culpepper Pay-It-Forward Endowed Scholarship Established at MDCC

“I had gotten a scholarship while at Moorhead and I didn’t think about it then like I do now … I feel compelled to want to give back and do the same and pay it forward.”

Ryan culpepper

After spending a lifetime of teaching and serving others, the lives of Sissie and Cecil Culpepper will fully be memorialized through a scholarship in their honor. Their children, Beth Culpepper Keating and Ryan Culpepper worked with the school to create the initial scholarship that will have its first recipient this coming fall. Cecil taught Western Civilization and History there for 37 years and even led the department. The former Vietnam Army helicopter pilot, city alderman and church volunteer spent his life helping and teaching others.
“We’d been planning on doing this for a while,” Beth said. “It’s for both but primarily for daddy due to his ties at MDCC. They were both involved with the college for many years.”
Both of the Culpepper kids attended MDCC and understand the importance of the school, the education offered and the true value of both.
“It’s got a special place in our hearts and we thought let’s do what little bit we can to help somebody else get a good start,” she said. “They thought the opportunities provided by MDCC were important. The school is an integral part of that community that was so important to them and to us for so many years. We want to provide an opportunity for somebody deserving but in need of some financial help, to advance their education.”
The eligibility requirements for the scholarship include an ACT score of 21 or above, a resident of Sunflower, Leflore, Humphreys or Harrison Counties and demonstrated community service or active civic and charitable engagement.
“We are looking for someone who is also going to pay it forward or is already paying it forward through their volunteering,” she said. “Preference will also be given to Veterans and or spouses of active military.”
She noted that “both of our parents were active in the community and daddy was an alderman for the town of Inverness for years. They thought giving back was important and they’d like to see somebody who would take the opportunity and pay it forward, hence the name.”
Both noted that, like their father, Sissie worked a full-time job, but still found time to be a Girl Scout leader, an active Sierra Club member and a dedicated choir member of First Baptist in Inverness.
“She was a Math major at MSU and a computer geek before it was cool but
her favorite thing was singing in the ladies’ group, Sweet Assurance, at church with (the late) Sandy Bell, Teresa Aycock Cauley and Linda Prater,” Beth said.
In establishing the scholarship, both siblings understand the significance of any and all educational financial aid.
“I had gotten a scholarship while at Moorhead and I didn’t think about it then like I do now,” Ryan said. “I realize how helpful it can be especially if you’re squeezing the pennies. I remember we were going somewhere with my parents and we stopped by a school with a couple of backpacks. I asked what it was for and they said they were helping out a local school with food and supplies. Apparently, they were doing that fairly regular. I feel compelled to want to give back and do the same and pay it forward.”
The fully endowed scholarship will have its first recipient this coming fall but the scholarship is open for anyone to contribute. If you’d like to learn how to endow a scholarship or contribute to an existing one, please contact Jim Aycock, MDCC Foundation and Alumni, at 662.246.6274.