Stent Foundation Helps Students Realize Dreams

Jose Luis de la Vega Scholarship provides opportunities for promising UM students

Kaden Spellmann credits the Stent Family Foundation’s Jose Luis de la Vega Scholarship with allowing him to attend the University of Mississippi and pursue a degree in economics. The rising sophomore is among seven Ole Miss students supported by the scholarship given by Terry and Margaret Stent, of Stone Mountain, Georgia, in memory of their nephew, Jose. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation

OXFORD, Miss. – Concern about college costs is on the minds of both students and parents when deciding which university to attend. Thanks to generous support from the F.T. Stent Family Foundation, several University of Mississippi students can pursue their dreams with less worry about incurring debt.

Rising sophomores Kaden Spellmann, of Amarillo, Texas, and Jordan Rickwa, of Thompsons Station, Tennessee, both felt that Ole Miss was the place for them after campus visits. However, the cost of attendance was a factor they had to explore before deciding on a college home.

That’s why scholarship donors are so vital to students and to the university.

“I knew it would be difficult for my divorced parents to afford college for me and my five siblings,” said Spellmann, an economics major with minors in French and mathematics. “The generosity and love shown by the Stent family allow me to pursue my dreams.”

Rickwa, like Spellmann, is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and echoed former apprehension about financial matters related to higher education.

“I immediately fell in love with Ole Miss, but, unfortunately, a college degree happened to be more expensive than I had imagined,” said Rickwa, who hopes to become a general practitioner or pediatrician. “Ten years of school would have been difficult to pay for if the Stent family hadn’t stepped in.”

Terry and Margaret Stent established the Jose Luis de la Vega Scholarship Endowment in 1998 to memorialize their nephew, an Ole Miss student who died unexpectedly. The endowment gives scholarship assistance to full-time students selected on the basis of scholastic ability, leadership potential and/or financial need.

“Jose was a very friendly and outgoing young man who was finding his way into approaching adulthood, and his death was terribly sad for our family,” said Margaret Stent, of Stone Mountain, Georgia.

“We find it very gratifying that the scholarship in Jose’s name is helping students at Ole Miss to gain the education to do well in life and also to have the wonderful experience of living on the Oxford campus.”

Other de la Vega scholars include Jackson Manley Colburn, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama; John Mason Gillespie, of Vardaman; Brock Anderson Heurkamp, of Arkadelphia, Arkansas; Sariya Maryam Khan, of Oxford; Addison Eloit Roush, of Water Valley; and Jordan Olivia Watts, of Brandon.

“The Jose Luis de la Vega scholarship has impacted my studies because it gives me context and motivation,” said Spellmann, a Chancellor’s Honor Roll scholar. “Anytime I think that I can’t do something or can’t finish an essay, I remember that the generous donors have put their trust in me to do great things both at Ole Miss and after graduation.”

Rickwa credits the de la Vega scholarship with allowing him to gain experience in his time off between semesters to focus on internships and volunteer work.

“Because of the scholarship, I’m able to volunteer in clinics, travel overseas to underprivileged countries and work with children to improve my experiences in the medical field,” the biochemistry major and Provost Scholar said. “The F.T. Stent Foundation’s funding of the Jose Luis de la Vega Scholarship has opened many opportunities for me.”

Ole Miss holds a special place in the Stent family’s hearts, said Margaret Stent, who studied at the university before marrying Terry. The loyal Rebel fans have a niece and three nephews who graduated from UM, and they gather in the Grove in the fall as often as they can make it to Oxford.

The Stent family is proud of the impact realized from their nephew’s scholarship and the legacy of achievement it is creating.

“Receiving and reading the notes and letters from recipients of Jose’s scholarship is definitely a highlight for us,” Margaret Stent said. “We receive great pleasure in hearing about their hopes, dreams and accomplishments, and feel very fortunate that we can help make their time and efforts at Ole Miss steps toward a good future.

“We would like the recipients to know that if Jose had been able to complete his college education at Ole Miss, he would have been incredibly proud, as these recipients will be when they graduate. He absolutely loved his time there and would have been a proud Ole Miss supporter the rest of his life.”

To help support high-achieving students through scholarship and enrichment opportunities, consider making a gift to the Jose Luis de la Vega Scholarship by mailing a check, with the scholarship name noted in the memo line, to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or by giving online at

For more information about creating a named scholarship, contact Katie Morrison, director of corporate and foundation relations, at 662-915-2135 or