Pictured above: Dakota Murphree, recipient of the Sue J. Jones and Jean J. Degges Memorial Scholarship.
The Jones sisters, Sue and Jean, came to what was then Hinds Junior College in the 1930s. The sisters loved the college and felt like their education helped them to build their future. Their brother, Henry Jones, also a Hinds alumnus, recently began a scholarship in both of their names through the Hinds Community College Foundation. This year’s recipient of the Sue J. Jones and Jean J. Degges Memorial Scholarship is Dakota Murphree, a native of Vardaman, who wants to pursue a career in agriculture.
He will never get the chance to meet the sisters, who are both deceased. But he is benefiting from the generosity of their brother who wanted not only to honor his sisters but to give back to the college that had done so much for them. As state president of Future Farmers of America, Murphree received an internship that allowed him to live on the Raymond Campus to fulfill his responsibilities. He had not planned to attend Hinds. He, instead, had a music scholarship to another college.
But he spent a year at Hinds through his internship, made friends and grew to love the college. He decided to continue on and graduate with an associate degree before moving on to Mississippi State University for a major in agricultural economics. “My beginnings are humble, to say the least. I come from a family that couldn’t always make ends meet,” Murphree said. “I had to start working as a farmhand at 14 to take stress from my mother, who at the time was unemployed while caring for my premature baby sister.”
Couple that with a rocky relationship with his stepfather, and here is a young man who was in need of some help. “That time in my life is what drives my commitment to get a career that will let me give back to my family that worked so hard to get me to where I am today,” he said. “And my story is just one of many.”
Jackie Granberry, executive director of the Hinds Community College Foundation, sees many students like Dakota Murphree who need monetary help to afford college but also really need to know that someone cares about them and believes in them enough to extend a helping hand.
“Each student we can touch with a Foundation scholarship is another person’s future we can help to build. But we need people who believe in them to help fund their future,” she said. People with vision who contribute to the Foundation to help students are “contributing to the development of the next generation of leaders,” Murphree said.