OXFORD, Miss. – Nearly 10 years after University of Mississippi pharmacy student Amie Ewing was killed in a tragic accident, a memorial scholarship is honoring her legacy by supporting students.
The Amie Ewing Memorial Scholarship Endowment awards $1,000 per academic year to pharmacy students exhibiting traits she exemplified while enrolled in UM’s School of Pharmacy.
“Amie was a remarkable young lady who would have been an excellent pharmacist,” said Marvin Wilson, the pharmacy school’s associate dean emeritus of academic and student affairs. “The characteristics I remember most were her smile, compassion, intellect, drive to excel, competitiveness, belief that she could overcome any obstacle and resilience when confronted with challenges.”
Ewing died in September 2004, after being struck by a car on Highway 6 in Oxford, following a night football game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Established in 2005, the scholarship is funded predominantly by pharmacy license plate sales in Mississippi. Ewing’s classmate, Beau Cox (PharmD 05) was a driving force behind creating both the tags and the scholarship. He said he came up with the idea after noticing a nursing license plate and wondering why pharmacy didn’t have one as well.
“I found out that the tag would have to be placed in a bill and passed by the Legislature, so I called Rep. Bobby Howell (of Kilmichael) and asked him if he would help me with the process,” Cox said. “I learned that the specialty tag would cost $31 extra, with $24 left over for fundraising. It hit me that we could set up a scholarship to be funded by tag sales in Amie’s memory.”
Wilson provided guidance to Cox, who then worked with Dean Emeritus Barbara Wells, Associate Provost Noel Wilkin and classmates Su Bunniran, of Washington, D.C. (PhD 10), Todd Dear of Jackson (PharmD 05) and Kyle Null of Oxford (PharmD 05) to get the project off the ground.
“That spring of 2005, we were able to award the inaugural scholarship to Olivia Strain (PharmD 07, of Madison),” Cox said. “The award was presented by Amie’s parents, Donnie and Rita Ewing, and it was one of the most memorable things I have ever been a part of in my life.”
Strain remains thankful for the scholarship.
“While in pharmacy school, I was determined not only to be the best student I could be but also a great friend to others and be involved in many extracurricular activities, such as sports and being (pharmacy’s) student body president,” Strain said. “Being well-rounded then continues to help me now as a full-time pharmacy manager, wife and mother of two. I feel blessed to have been considered to possess any of the many wonderful qualities that Amie herself also had.”
Echoing Strain’s sentiments, Matt Hill, the scholarship’s 2009 recipient, said that the scholarship “removed worry when it came to expensive books.”
Bunniran said she is comforted by the impact Ewing still has on the pharmacy school.
“Amie was not only a roommate to me in college; she was the sister I never had,” she said. “Her fun-loving attitude combined with her independence and drive to be the best in everything she did was an irresistible combination that always brought out the best in me. She was the consummate scholar-athlete, excelling in pharmacy school while proudly representing the university on the volleyball team.
“Reflecting on this 10-year anniversary of her passing, what I remember most vividly was her almost infectious joy, how she was able to bring together any group of people.”
Since the scholarship was created, 859 pharmacy license plates have been sold, with 295 currently registered.
“We have been able to meet and exceed the endowment threshold of $50,000 so that it is a self-sustaining scholarship,” Cox said. “As a result, we have been able to give $7,500 in scholarship money.”
David D. Allen, UM pharmacy dean, encourages support of the scholarship through car tag purchases.
“I am proud to have the pharmacy license plate in honor of our great profession and in memory of an extraordinary student pharmacist,” Allen said. “While I didn’t know Amie, I’ve heard so much about what a tremendous individual she was. Her memory and legacy live through these license plates, and it is my sincere hope that many more will be purchased.”
Purchasing the tag is a simple act that will influence the lives of pharmacy students and honor Ewing’s memory, Cox said.
“My hope for the license plate is that more pharmacists will purchase the tag to show their support of our great profession and, by doing so, increase the amount of scholarship money we can then give to a deserving student each year,” he said. “The larger the scholarship, the more it will be sought after and the more Amie will be remembered.”
Pharmacists in Mississippi can go to their county tax collector’s office to purchase the tag.
Monetary donations, which are tax-deductible, can also be made to the scholarship. Checks with the fund noted in the memo line should be mailed to the University of Mississippi Foundation, P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677; or online gifts can be made at http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift. For more information, contact Raina McClure, pharmacy’s development director, at 662-915-6967 or firstname.lastname@example.org.