Gabrielle Alexandria Bulger of Magee, Miss. and Alexandria Taylor Gieger of Laurel, Miss. are the 2011 recipients of the Mary Loraine Peets Buffett Scholarship at The University of Southern Mississippi.
The scholarships, which are managed by the Southern Miss Alumni Association, are awarded to full-time female freshmen from the state of Mississippi demonstrating financial need with a minimum high school grade point average of 3.0. The $5,000 scholarship is for one academic year and may be renewed annually for up to four years provided that all requirements, including full-time status, enrollment in the College of Arts and Letters, and a 3.0 grade point average, are fulfilled.
Bulger, named to the Dean’s List, is a second-year recipient of the scholarship and a music education student who excelled academically her freshman year. She recently decided to define her pursuit of a music degree by choosing the field of music education, specifically to help children.
For Bulger’s mother, A’leece Kemp, the Peets Buffett Scholarship is a true blessing. “I really can’t express how much this helps her with her studies,” said Kemp. “She was crying when she got the letter. She truly loves music, and without this financial help, it would be hard for her to follow that dream.”
Not only has this scholarship helped Bulger financially, it has also gave her the freedom to play an instrument in a production of Sweeny Todd during the summer. “I never imagined that I would receive this scholarship once, but twice is simply a mind-blowing concept,” Bulger said. “Thanks to this scholarship I can take out a little less in student loans and am able to put a little time aside from work and do what I love to do -- perform with other great musicians and hopefully learn something that will help both me and my future students.”
Gieger, a third-year recipient of the scholarship, is a music education major and made the President’s List as a freshman and the Dean’s List as a sophomore. For Gieger, it is an unbelievable honor to be a recipient of this scholarship for a third time.
“It is truly remarkable the connection I feel to a lady that I never had the privilege of meeting,” said Gieger. “Simply reading about Ms. Buffett inspired me so much in my senior year of high school, so to be receiving her scholarship for the past three years is something I hold dear to my heart. This abundant generosity is not only a tribute to the life of such an amazing lady, Ms. Buffett, but it is also something that I intend to pay forward in my life. I am so very thankful for this generous contribution to my education, and I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to be a part of the Peets Buffett legacy.”
Born in Crystal Springs, Miss. in 1921, Mary Loraine Peets Buffett was known simply as “Peets” to her family and friends. The mother of two daughters, Laurie and Lucy, and a son who is one of Southern Miss' most prominent alumni, Jimmy Buffett, she is remembered for her infectious love of books, people and family.
A 1940 graduate of Gulf Park College for Women (now the Southern Miss Gulf Park Campus) in Long Beach, Peets’ enthusiasm for education never ceased. Following her retirement from employment in 1979, Peets fulfilled her lifelong dream of obtaining a university degree at the age of 64.
Originally designated specifically for women from the Gulf Coast who enrolled at the Gulf Park campus, recent changes to the scholarship endowment parameters now allow students statewide who enroll in either campus to be eligible.
For more information on all scholarship opportunities offered through the Southern Miss Alumni Association, visit www.SouthernMissAlumni.com or call 601.266.5013.