An endowed scholarship recently established by Steve and Donna Saunders of Vicksburg will encourage Mississippi State University students to pursue teaching careers in special education.
The award is designated for a junior or senior special education major in the university's College of Education.
The inaugural recipient of the Lois Abel Saunders and William Clay Haney Endowed Scholarship is junior Lauren Elizabeth Liebkemann of Kiln. The daughter of Robert and Kerryn Liebkemann and a Pass Christian High School graduate, she will receive $1,000 for the 2014-15 academic year.
The Saunders have strong ties to special education through family members and created the MSU scholarship in their honor. In particular, they are paying tribute to Steve's mother and Donna's father, the endowment's namesakes.
A 1964 MSU master's degree graduate in elementary education who taught for more than 40 years in Greenwood and Leland, Lois Saunders helped establish some of the first special education programs in the Mississippi Delta. She currently resides in Duck Hill.
William Haney, who died in 2011, was a Daybook, North Carolina, native who spent 30 years in the U.S. Navy and retired as a lieutenant commander. After earning an education degree with an emphasis in learning disabilities from the University of Central Florida, he taught students with learning disabilities in Merritt Island, Florida.
"Steve and I are both very strong advocates of special education, and our driving force for establishing the scholarship is to honor our parents' endeavors and share a belief in the importance of educating individuals with disabilities," said Donna Saunders.
Steve Saunders is a 1981 MSU construction engineering technology graduate. He worked for 35 years with Entergy, where he met his wife, a special projects coordinator for the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station in Port Gibson until her 1999 retirement. The couple has been married 30 years.
Mississippi State scholarship endowments may be established with gifts of at least $25,000. The Saunders' gift for the scholarship will be matched with funds from Entergy, and the scholarship fund remains open for additional contributions.
For more on creating scholarships through the College of Education, contact Trish Cunetto, the college's development director, 662-325-6762 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Complete details on MSU are available at www.msstate.edu.