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Students thank retiree for scholarships

Recipients of the David Swalm Endowed Scholarship came to areception Saturday to personally meet and thank their benefactorfor assisting them in their education.

Five upcoming college freshmen were awarded the scholarship toMississippi State University to pursue a major in a technicalfield. The scholarship will give the students $10,000 over the nextfour years.

Sabrina Armstrong, Heather Statham, Cynthia Tamasco, and LindseyHall, all of Brookhaven High School, and Scott Byrd of BrookhavenAcademy were chosen to recieve the scholarship. Three of the fivepersonally attended the reception to give their appreciation toDavid Swalm, a Brookhaven native whose $5 million gift to theuniversity provided the scholarships. Tamasco had already startedband practice at Mississippi State and was not able to attend thereception, and Byrd also was not available, but was represented byhis parents, Robin and Ron Byrd.

Swalm’s gift will continue to provide scholarships to a total of20 BHS students and 5 BA students over the next several years. Hesaid he gave the gift to help his hometown.

“They have a good education in Brookhaven, and I wanted to dosomething for my hometown. It seemed like a good thing to do,” hesaid.

Scholarship recipient Lindsey Hall, a biomedical engineeringmajor, said she was thrilled to recieve the scholarship. Eventhough she applied for it, she and the others at the high schooldid not know they had recieved the money until they were suprisedduring an awards day held before they graduated.

“I was really excited,” Hall said. “I was real surprised.”

Hall, who plans to use her major to attend physical therapyschool, said the award will help her receive her education.

“I really appreciate what Mr. Swalm is doing for us students atMSU,” she said.

Dr. Charles Lee, president of MSU, came to the reception to meetthe first scholarship recipients.

“I wanted to be a part of welcoming the first class of Swalmscholars,” Lee said. “I wanted to show these students and Mr. Swalmhow much we feel about their coming to MSU.”

Lee agreed that Swalm’s generosity was very valuable to studentspursuing their education.

“Given the cost of college today, it’s a great thing that hewould do this,” he said.

Swalm, who founded the Houston-based petrochemical manufacturingcompany Texas Olefins, has donated more than $20 million to MSUsince 1988. He is a 1950 BHS graduate and a 1955 MSU graduate witha degree in chemical engineering.

Also attending the reception were Lea Barrett, superintendent ofBrookhaven schools; Susan Chapman, principal of the high school;and Dr. Miller Hammill, headmaster of the academy.

The top five ranking seniors for both schools were also invitedto the reception to meet Swalm and ask questions of MSUofficials.