JSU alum’s $50,000 endowment will support eligible students studying special education

(JACKSON, Miss.) — Jackson State University alum Marcus A. Thompson has established a $50,000 scholarship endowment that will help pay for tuition, textbooks, supplies and other fees for eligible Mississippi natives who are studying special education. The principal amount will be eligible for matching funds through Title III.

Jackson State University alum Marcus Thompson, (center), is creating a fund to assist students wanting to teach those with special-needs. Thompson is flanked by family members and Gwen Caples, (far left), interim vice president of the division of institutional advancement, and Gee Johnson, (far right), chairwoman of the JSU Development Foundation. (Photo by Charles A. Smith/JSU)

The Thelma Thompson Endowed Scholarship is in memory of Marcus’ grandmother, who had a daughter with Down syndrome. Although that daughter was Marcus’ aunt, he said she was more like a sister. Also, the endowment pays homage to the late Dorothy McCoy, a teacher who had worked diligently with his special-needs aunt/sister.   

Marcus Thompson is a senior director of sales for a life science company of pharmaceutical and diagnostic devices in Gulfport, Mississippi. The 1990 alum and native of Collins, Mississippi, said, “As a first priority, the endowment will be used for anyone who has an interest in special education.” However, it also would be available for other qualified education majors.  

Gwen Caples, interim vice president for Institutional Advancement and External Affairs, said, “Jackson State University greatly appreciates the generosity of JSU alumnus Marcus Thompson. His newly established endowed scholarship will remove financial barriers for students majoring in special education and empower them to excel in the classroom, graduate from JSU and start a rewarding career in education.” 

As mentioned, special-education majors and Mississippi natives will get priority for the scholarship. The other qualifications are as follows:

  • Must be a sophomore, junior or senior
  • Must have a minimum 2.5 GPA
  • Must provide a letter of recommendation from a JSU faculty

In reflection, Thompson discussed his time as a JSU student when he was involved in the Army ROTC and the campus chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. “Jackson State prepared me for where I am today.” And, it’s why he showing his generosity by giving back. 

He said many of his colleagues may not have attended an HBCU, but they are more aware of them because of the tremendous respect the institutions have earned over many decades.  

Although the timing of his endowment had been arranged far in advance, Thompson commended JSU for the newfound energy that has engulfed the campus, city and state – whether it’s because of athletics or academics. So, he’s urging JSU to capitalize on the opportunity, and he’s challenging all his fellow alums to support the institution at any financial level. “No gift is too small, whether it’s $5, $10, $20 or $30.”