Honoring a Love of Education
After four years of fundraising that included creating an annual children's fashion show and selling prepared food to the community, the McDowells were able to provide an endowed memorial scholarship "to honor the memory of our son Jerry who was a staunch advocate for an educated society."
Jerry David McDowell was born to Jerry and Maxine McDowell on Feb. 6, 1967, in Jackson, Miss. After graduating in 1985 from Charleston R-1 schools in Charleston, Mo., he entered Harvard University as an English major. Upon graduating, Jerry moved back to Charleston and worked as an English teacher and as an assistant alternative school director at Charleston Schools.
Jerry was a well-known leader in the Missouri Bootheel, often dedicating his time and talents to the Mississippi County community and to the entire southeast Missouri region. One of Jerry's greatest joys was his employment as a grant writer with the Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center in Charleston, one of the organizations that would later become a champion in his parents' quest to honor his memory with a scholarship.
Jerry's love of education was fostered by his family. The McDowells have a strong tie with Southeast Missouri State University; in 1972, Jerry Sr. received his master's degree in teaching and Maxine received her master's degree in education. The McDowells also have a daughter who attended Southeast in 1988.
"We decided to contribute to Southeast because the McDowell family is very proud of Southeast Missouri State University for the educational opportunities it provided for our family and others," said the McDowells.
The Jerry McDowell II Memorial Scholarship will make it possible for youth in the Bootheel region to continue their education, something Jerry was a firm believer in.
Because it is set up as an endowment, all contributions that have been made will be invested to provide income for scholarships for many years to come. The McDowell Scholarship is available to students from Mississippi, New Madrid and Scott counties in Missouri.
"It was important for us to provide a scholarship for youth in the Bootheel because we want to continually serve students with financial need," said the McDowells.
Because of Jerry Sr. and Maxine's indelible love of life and passion for education, Jerry's memory will never be extinguished.
To learn more about how you can make a difference to Southeast students through endowed scholarships, go to www.semofoundation.org or contact the Southeast Missouri University Foundation at 573.651.5935 or 888.812.3769.