Luckyday Program Attracts, Supports New UM Students

Scholarships enable deserving students to attend university and earn degrees

Members of the Luckyday Program journey to Camp Lake Stephens for a retreat and to take part in team building exercises on the challenge course. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services.

Members of the Luckyday Program journey to Camp Lake Stephens for a retreat and to take part in team-building exercises on the challenge course. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Earlier this year, Tyler Butler was a graduating high school senior in Madison, all set to enroll at an institution that wasn’t the University of Mississippi. He had applied, been accepted and was packing his bags for his intended future college.

Then Butler heard through his sister, who was already enrolled at Ole Miss, about the Luckyday Scholarship Program.

“I decided to apply for the program and visit the campus,” the incoming freshman psychology major said. “After I was accepted, I immediately declined my enrollment at the other university. And now I’m here.”

Since the program’s inception in 2000, the Luckyday Foundation of Jackson has awarded more than 2,000 students – all Mississippi residents with an ACT score of 20 or higher and high school GPA of 3.2 or higher – Luckyday Success Scholarships. The program provides $2,000 to $6,000 annually.

Butler and 79 other freshmen recently participated in the annual Luckyday Retreat. During the week, the students took campus tours and met with peer leaders, faculty and staff members.

“This year’s group is very attentive, which is a skill I’m sure will be key to their success in the classroom,” said Senora Miller Logan, assistant director of the Luckyday Success Program. “Several of them have already begun to demonstrate leadership abilities and are very personable.

“The combination of these soft skills, combined with their academic achievement, should help them attain and thrive in their future careers.”

Word of mouth continues to be the program’s best publicity.

“I was introduced to it by a church member who was already a Luckyday Scholar,” said Imani Hines, of Jackson, a senior exercise science/pre-nursing major and one of a dozen peer mentors for this year’s class. “Once I became a part of it, my experience has far exceeded all of the good things I was told about Luckyday.”

Students can continue to receive the support as long as they maintain minimum requirements, which include achievement of a minimum GPA, participation in Luckyday programming and living the first two years in the Luckyday Residential College, a living-learning community that includes a resident faculty fellow, dining hall, its own library and exercise facility.

Beyond the scholarship itself, Hines said she is most appreciative of the support she has had from Ole Miss faculty, staff and students.

“Being here feels like home and family,” she said. “I’ve developed relationships here that I’m sure will last a lifetime.”

The diversity of the university was a huge draw for Claire Matherne, an allied health-occupational therapy major from Flowood.

“Having the opportunity to meet so many different types of people from so many different places is wonderful,” she said. “The campus is huge, but being part of the Luckyday family has made it feel more like home.”

The Luckyday program also ensures that 25 Mississippi community college transfers are chosen each year for $12,000 in scholarship funds for their remaining two years of study, or up to $6,000 an academic year.

The academic success of the students and their achievements has increased consistently over the years. For example, of the 80 freshmen chosen for Luckyday Success Scholarships in fall 2017 – many of whom were the first in their families to attend college – 95 percent returned in fall 2018.

One key to the program’s success is the help provided adjusting to the transition from high school or community college to a comprehensive university. Luckyday Scholars benefit from three full-time staff members, who meet with recipients on a monthly basis, and from guidance provided by peer mentors.

Foundation board members come to campus twice a year for visits with students and make a point of meeting with them in small groups to get feedback on program components. For one home football game each fall, the students, program alumni and board members gather for a tailgate to keep building a network of support.

The foundation’s four-year agreement brings the total educational support for Ole Miss students to $55 million, as it fulfills the vision of the late banker Frank Rogers Day. The Aberdeen native created his foundation to provide educational opportunities for Mississippians.

For more information on the scholarships, visit