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Released August 25, 2005


HAttiesburg– Hattiesburg High School 2005 graduate Krystal Virgil has been named the 17th recipient of the Oseola McCarty Endowed Scholarship at The University of Southern Mississippi. In its 10th year of making dreams come true, the full-tuition four-year scholarship was an answer to the Virgil family’s prayer.

“I felt like someone had dropped a million dollars in my lap. It was a big blessing,” said Cynthia Virgil of Hattiesburg, a disabled single mother of two. “I couldn’t believe it. God is good all the time, and I give Him all the glory … He’s got a way that’s mighty sweet. I can’t thank Him enough for blessing my daughter with a gift as big as this. We’re just blessed and proud. God bless you, Miss McCarty.”

The first generation in her family to attend college, Krystal Virgil of Hattiesburg said one of the factors she pursued options closer to home was because of Southern Miss’ biological science program. She had been accepted to attend several universities, including Duke, but was faced with limited financial aid opportunities.

“Miss McCarty changed my life,” said Krystal, who finished fifth in her class. “I had no idea how I would make it financially. Miss McCarty worked hard without an education, and the fact that she would give back is noble, to say the least.”

Although Krystal has begun her freshman year at Southern Miss, she hopes to continue her medical studies in neurology, with an emphasis on research and development.

Oseola McCarty, the washerwoman who lived in Hattiesburg, donated her life savings for African-Americans to have an opportunity to get an education. Armed with a sixth-grade education, McCarty’s aspiration of being a nurse ended early when she dropped out of school to care for a sick aunt. Although she was very familiar with hard times, no one can deny McCarty’s sense of achievement through careful financial planning. At age 87, McCarty’s $150,000 gift to Southern Miss in 1995 projected her to international fame.

“I didn’t know Miss McCarty personally, but the world knew what she did for the university, and it was something wonderful, giving somebody’s child a chance. I never thought it would be my child,” said Virgil.

McCarty changed lives through her generosity and kind spirit. Herlegacy continues after a decade of providing scholarship opportunities for deserving students.

"Donors make possible our ability to provide scholarships to young men and women," said Tim Ryan, executive director of The USM Foundation. "Miss Oseola McCarty, one of the most famous benefactors of The University of Southern Mississippi, is remembered for the example she set for all of us. Her gift was much more than money. Her gift was a reaffirmation of the goodness of the human spirit."

Through McCarty’s generosity, creativity and vision for the future, she became an ambassador for goodwill and taught multitudes how to give. She had washed and ironed other people's clothes for three-quarters of a century before arthritis forced her into retirement at age 87. On Sept. 26, 1999, McCarty died of cancer at age 91.

“When I asked Krystal if a full scholarship would make a difference in her decision to select a school, she affirmed with a definite ‘yes,’” said Joan Stevens, assistant director of donor relations at The USM Foundation. “Based on academic achievements and other factors, it was my pleasure to present the Oseola McCarty scholarship opportunity to this deserving young woman.”

Sixteen students have advanced their education with the Oseola McCarty Endowed Scholarship. They are Stephanie Bullock, Carletta Barnes, Joseph Milton, Jessica Clemons, Tracy Wesley, Timothy Lockhart, Derrick Bond, Kenya Lee, Dacia Haralson, Tymika Curb, Rachel Gray, Rhonda Jordan, Tameekea Johnson, Jackie McCarty, Jessica Gandy and Latessa Minor. The university continues to receive requests for information about the gift and the woman who gave it.

McCarty once said, “When I leave this world, I can't carry nothing away from here. Whatever I have, it's going to be left right here for somebody. Some child can get their education, to help them along, because you can't do nothing now unless you get your education. I don't regret one single penny I gave to the college. The only thing I regret is that I didn't have that much more to give.”

To help continue McCarty’s legacy, donations are accepted to The USM Foundation, 118 College Drive #10026, Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001. For more information about the scholarship, please call (601) 266-5602.


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September 16, 2005 2:59 PM