Augusta C. White Scholarship Luncheon

Attending the annual Augusta C. White Scholarship Luncheon are Miss MVSU Arlencia Barnes, left, and Mr. MVSU John McCall III. Barnes, a scholarship recipient, spoke at the luncheon and thanked those attending for their support. The luncheon was held Thursday at the Historic Elks Building in downtown Greenwood. Each year, the event raises scholarship funds, which are awarded to deserving MVSU students.

Mississippi Valley State University student Arlencia Barnes says it’s truly a blessing to be the recipient of the Augusta C. White Scholarship.

The 21-year-old senior spoke at the annual Augusta C. White Scholarship Luncheon Thursday at the Historic Elks Building in downtown Greenwood.

“Everyone is not afforded the same opportunity,” Barnes said. “For them to give back to us, as a student it really touches my heart.”

The luncheon serves as a scholarship fundraiser. The event was launched in 2014 by former Valley first lady Deborah Bynum. Formerly known as the First Lady’s Scholarship Luncheon, the event is now named after Augusta C. White, the wife of the first MVSU president, James Herbert White. Each year, a deserving MVSU student is awarded the scholarship.

Courtney Greer and Karl Carter

Mississippi Valley State University music majors Courtney Greer, left, tenor saxophone, and Karl Carter, piano, perform at the annual Augusta C. White Scholarship Luncheon.

A Gentry High School graduate, Barnes is a double major, studying biology and chemistry. She’s a member of the Natural Science and Environmental Health Club and Women in Science and Technology. After graduating, Barnes plans to work for a year as a pharmacy technician and then attend medical school.

“I thank God for this blessing, this opportunity and people like you all who decided to give back to students like myself,” Barnes said during her speech.

Thursday was a big day for Barnes. After speaking at the scholarship luncheon, she and John McCall III were crowned Mr. and Miss MVSU at a coronation ceremony held Thursday evening.

The Augusta C. White Scholarship Luncheon’s keynote speaker was state Sen. Lydia Chassaniol, who talked about the legacy of the first MVSU first lady.

“Today it is my privilege to be here with you as we pay homage to the memory of Mrs. Augusta C. White,” said the Winona Republican, who represents District 14. “To me, she is a true example of the best of Southern womanhood and an important figure in the history of Mississippi Valley State University.”

Lydia Chassaniol

State Sen. Lydia Chassaniol gave the keynote address at the annual Augusta C. White Scholarship Luncheon.

Also known as “Mama White,” the first lady of Valley was beloved by students and their parents. In 1950, White left her home in Tennessee to relocate to the Mississippi Delta and help her husband build a collegiate institution.

“We have a rich heritage in the people who have come before us,” said Chassaniol. “So often we forget that much has been sacrificed so we — you and I — can be here today. Every one of us is standing on the shoulders of men and women who could have given up or given in, but they didn’t. They chose to stay and to fight and to make this place better for themselves and for their descendants.”

The luncheon is one of several events being held during Mississippi Valley State’s homecoming week.

Contact Ruthie Robison at 581-7235 or


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