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Released June 29, 2005

 

 

PERSONAL STRUGGLES MOTIVATE DONOR TO GIVE
SOUTHERN MISS SCHOLARSHIPS TO HOMETOWN GRADUATES

Hattiesburg- Unlike today's high school graduates, James V. "Robbie" Robinson Jr. has had to plow with a mule and pick cotton during his early school years. That's just a portion of Robinson's struggles that motivated him to help ease the tuition cost for five recent high school graduates to attend The University of Southern Mississippi with $2,000 scholarships this fall.

"Lots of people know what it means to want an education and not have the resources to make it happen," said Dr. W. Lee Pierce, dean of Southern Miss' College of Education and Psychology. "Robbie Robinson has gone a great step forward and done something about it. His generosity will benefit not only the direct scholarship recipients, but the counties from which they come, the state of Mississippi and the nation. He is a remarkable person, and one the College of Education and Psychology is proud to claim as a friend."

Robinson retired from the University of Charleston (S.C.), where he taught for 21 years. He also taught briefly at the University of Mississippi and Mississippi University for Women. Before a teaching career transpired in Robinson's life, there was always work involved in his educational process.

He was born in a log cabin near Taylorsville to sharecropper parents and was the first in his family to finish high school. Robinson said he wasn't a good student in the early grades, but it was later in grammar school he created a passion to learn.

In the summer of 1950, Robinson hitchhiked to Hattiesburg when he couldn't find a job after graduating salutatorian of Magee High School in 1949.

"There were no student loans then," said Robinson. "I was walking on Market Street by the old Milner Hotel. There was a woman inside cleaning vegetables. I told her I wanted a job so I could go to Southern. She gave me a job mopping the floor and serving as a busboy and cashier and said I could have a cheap room in the hotel."

Thus began Robinson's academic career at Southern Miss. He worked at the hotel for a couple of years and any jobs he could get on campus to pay his way through school.

"I helped clean the football stadium after football games, and I worked for Coach Lee Floyd," he said. "I didn't like PE, but he said I could get PE credit for washing basketball jerseys."

Robinson graduated in 1954 from Mississippi Southern College, now The University of Southern Mississippi, with a Bachelor of Arts in history. He joined the U.S. Air Force and served in Korea, Japan and other posts, being discharged 90 days early in the fall of 1957 to attend graduate school at Ole Miss. Again, he worked his way through school, this time with the help of the GI Bill. After he earned his master's, he received a scholarship and went on to obtain his doctorate in psychology at Ole Miss.

Although Robinson now lives in Hattiesburg, he still takes an active interest in his hometown of Magee. In an effort to continue educational developments of high school students in Simpson and Smith counties, scholarships are awarded to seniors who have a desire to pursue a degree in the College of Education and Psychology at Southern Miss.

"I've been in higher education," said Robinson. "I feel that with these scholarships, I'll always be in higher education."

Robinson said his own struggles motivated him to give the scholarships to help other financially challenged students. First recipients of the James V. Robinson Jr. Simpson/Smith County Scholarship Program include:

Zachary Holifield, son of Ronnie and Kaye Holifield of Taylorsville, is a graduate of Taylorsville High School.

Brooke Ann Robinson, daughter of Kenny and Lou Ann Robinson of Mize, is a graduate of Mize High School.

Kemiaya K. Jackson, daughter of Keith and Marion Jackson of Magee, and Anna W. Morris, daughter of Roma Morris of Magee, are both graduates of Magee High School.

Delwyn Fewell, daughter of Howard and Patricia Fewell, is a graduate of Mendenhall High School.

All recipients have enrolled in the College of Education and Psychology at The University of Southern Mississippi. To qualify for this scholarship, they had to graduate from a high school in Simpson or Smith County with a 2.5 grade point average or above and submit a written essay about their goals in the area of education or psychology.

Graduates in Southern Miss' College of Education and Psychology's academic programs hold leadership roles in educational institutions, businesses, industries, governmental organizations, medical facilities and social agencies. The college focuses on behavior, the teaching/learning process, educational technology and information transfer through degree-granting programs and service in children and family studies; curriculum, instruction and special education; educational leadership and research; library and information sciences; technology education; psychology; educational field experiences and education service center.

"Once I wouldn't have wanted it known that I was the son of a sharecropper," said Robinson. "Now I realize that if I can do it, anyone can."

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July 22, 2005 2:14 PM