The Mary S. Nelums (MSN) Foundation was founded and established by graduates from the premier class of 1995 in the name of Mary S. Nelums, a retired social work faculty. The foundation’s mission is to provide scholarships to master-level social work students enrolled at Jackson State University (JSU).
Dr. Nelums, President of the Foundation stated, “Social Work is a profession of service. In the words of Marian Wright Edelman, ‘service is the rent we pay for living.’ Thus, the foundation’s mission is to assist and develop a committed group of social workers who share this value…, and the students who receive this scholarship will be dedicated to working tireless toward resolving the serious and debilitating social problems that plague individuals, families and communities.”
On January 27, 2009, the Foundation awarded its first $1,000 scholarship to a JSU Master of Social Work student at its annual gala. Since that time, the foundation has held a gala each year and awarded over $13,000 in financial scholarships to master-level social work students. Board leaders were ecstatic to receive an anonymous donation, in support of the foundation’s mission, that will allow them to award a $1200 scholarship to a deserving MSW student for the Spring semester 2016. Nelums said, “The foundation is grateful to receive the anonymous donation that will now provide funds to a student in need.”
Dr. Shonda Lawrence, Interim Chair of Graduate Programs quoted, “It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.’ ― Mother Teresa. Dr. Nelums’ commitment to the School of Social Work is both inspiring and humbling. Her unwavering support over the years is truly a testament of her love for JSU and the School of Social Work. To know that a deserving student will be able to continue his/her education that may not have been able to without the MSN Foundation scholarship is indeed exciting.”
In addition to awarding over $13,000 to eight master-level social work students, other successes of the foundation include: facilitating opportunities for young males in middle school to “shadow” giants who are social workers, lawyers, and a judge; and providing school supplies, homework assistance, and confidential group discussion for seven 8th grade students enrolled at a local middle school.
In August 2015, the Foundation expanded its mission and activities to include the adoption of a Jackson Public School District’s 3rd grade class. Activities the foundation provides consist of financial and enrichment support that develop positive social, emotional, and critical thinking skills. The Foundation will follow and support these students until they complete college or choose a career path.
Dean Ricardo A. Brown, College of Public Service stated, “The School of Social Work has experienced record enrollment growth over the past several years, most notably in the MSW program. The recent loss of Ayers support for our program emphasizes the importance of the MSN Foundation in assisting us to continue the legacy of providing well-trained professionals in service to our community. Collectively, we thank this generous and anonymous donor for this gift.”
(Pictured L-R) Terrence Spann, MSN Board Member, Mac Epps, MSW Scholarship Recipient, and Dr. Mary Nelums, Foundation President.