Inaugural Bettye Smith Brown Memorial Scholarship awarded to two Warren Central graduates

Published 4:20 pm Thursday, August 11, 2022

The late Bettye Smith Brown counted no bigger jewels in her crown than the academic and professional success of her daughters, Adrienne Brown Mosley and Fayedra Brown-Dear — that’s why the two Vicksburg natives partnered with the NAACP Vicksburg Branch to award life-changing scholarships to two local students.

The inaugural Bettye Smith Brown Scholarship banquet was held on July 30 at the Vicksburg Business and Event Center on Washington Street, with friends and family members of Brown’s, her daughters and representatives from the NAACP Vicksburg Branch in attendance.

Scholarship awardees Teyanna Monroe and Olivia Osborne, both graduates of Warren Central High School, received scholarships worth $10,712.50 apiece.

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“They are both heading off to Mississippi schools. Teyanna is headed to the University of Southern Mississippi, where she is looking to study chemistry and biochemistry to focus on forensic science,” Mosley said. “Olivia will be studying chemistry with a concentration in pre-pharmacy at Mississippi State University.”

Moore and Osborne were selected through a point-based application process that included submission of an essay, financial need and transcript evaluation.

As NAACP representative Micayla Tatum described it, the selection process was quite intense.

“We looked at academics, in the traditional route, but we also looked at family need in terms of income, whether they were anticipating getting more financial aid from other sources,” Tatum said. “And we had five or six different raters. Everyone rated their own (list of applicants) individually, so we could decrease the amount of bias in the process, and then we averaged those scores.

“We tried to be very intentional, to not be biased and to make sure every applicant had an equitable chance at winning,” Tatum added.

Mosley said she and her sister wanted to establish the scholarship with the goal of eliminating financial obstacles for students in their hometown. Their mother worked hard her whole life to ensure her daughters did not have to struggle, and in the end Mosley and Brown-Dear became a corporate lawyer and a nurse, respectively.

Knowing the value of education, Mosley said the Bettye Smith Brown Memorial Scholarship committee wanted to make the greatest impact possible for the scholarship recipients.

“The reason for this scholarship is to try to remove that financial barrier. That might be the thing that hampers the pursuit (of higher education), and we want to remove that obstacle,” Mosley said. “I know in my own experience, sure, $5,000 are amazing. They go a long way. But I was looking to really alter the financial trajectory from a debt standpoint if we could.”

In addition to the award of two scholarships in their mother’s name, Mosley and Brown-Dear said the July 30 celebration also served as a memorial service.

“The owner of Vicksburg Business and Event Center, Dr. Deborah Stanfield, was just completely committed to the cause. Beyond actually letting us host the event at that location, she also gave a personal donation demonstrating her commitment to what we’re doing with this scholarship,” Mosley said. “It was an excellent event. It was a very happy memorial of sorts, and it was fantastic to meet (the awardees’) parents as well.”

Brown-Dear echoed her sister’s sentiments, saying she appreciated the number of high school classmates and friends of her mother who came out to support them.

“Her classmate spoke, and she was just phenomenal in reflecting on the beauty, the genuine love that my mom exuded for everyone; her smarts, her commitment to education,” Brown-Dear said. “Just to be surrounded by that fellowship of love from everyone who knew my mom. They knew my mom before we knew her, so they knew her better than we do.

“It was also great to communicate with the recipients’ families as well. Both families were awesome,” she added.

Both the sisters and Tatum said they have grand visions for the future of the Bettye Smith Brown Memorial Scholarship.

“For the future, I envision the scholarship just getting bigger and better. I would like to see more kids, and hopefully having more of an impact in Vicksburg,” Tatum said. “I see us continuing to be intentional in choosing recipients like we were this time, and making sure that we fill the need where we see the need and continue to grow as a scholarship.”