June 23, 2017  

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USM Foundation Announces Scholarship to Honor Fallen Police Officers

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Southern Miss nursing student Bailee Alexander, center, poses with the families of Hattiesburg Police Officers Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate after being named the first recipient of the Deen and Tate Memorial Scholarship. Also pictured in the center background are Chip N Fore Heroes organizers Terri Monken, left, and Jessica Maholm. (Photo by Kelly Dunn)

Humility and reverence are words that come to mind as University of Southern Mississippi student Bailee Alexander reflects on being selected as the inaugural recipient of the Deen and Tate Memorial Scholarship. The endowment is named in honor of Hattiesburg Police Officers Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate, who were killed in the line of duty on May 9 of this year.

The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation officially announced the establishment of the endowed scholarship during a special ceremony held Monday, Sept. 28 on the Hattiesburg campus. The scholarship will provide support to a Southern Miss student who is the child or grandchild of a police officer, firefighter or paramedic/EMT.

“I cannot put into words the feelings that overwhelmed me when I was told I had been chosen for this scholarship,” said Alexander, a Purvis native and senior in the College of Nursing. “It immediately brought tears to my eyes when I discovered why this scholarship was created and that I was given an opportunity to receive it. Unlike any scholarship I have ever been awarded, I felt a deeper, personal connection to this one.”

Her father, Jason Alexander is a 17-year veteran of law enforcement, having served with the Hattiesburg Police Department and currently employed as a lieutenant with the Lamar County Sheriff’s Department. Several other relatives have served as law enforcement officers, firefighters, and first responders.

“Every time I see my dad walk out the door for another day of service, I am reminded of the risks these men and women take on a daily basis,” said Alexander. “To be able to receive this scholarship in memory of Officer Deen and Officer Tate reminds me of our protection and freedom that is not given freely, but is fought for.”

The Deen and Tate Memorial Scholarship Endowment would not have been possible without significant contributions from four people in particular. Southern Miss Head Football Coach Todd Monken, his wife, Terri Monken, Paul Maholm and Jessica Maholm organized a benefit golf tournament and auction “Chip N Fore Heroes” that raised more than $40,000 to establish the endowment.

The benefit auction took place on June 28 with the golf outing at Canebrake Country Club held the following day. More than 200 golfers participated in the tournament. Hundreds of area volunteers assisted in the planning and delivery of the two-day event.

“I have the utmost respect for the men and women who wear the badge to serve and protect us,” said Terri Monken. “We wanted to do something to honor our fallen heroes, and this was the path we decided to take. We began working on both events within days of the May 9 tragedy. Although we truly had the honor of organizing and hosting the events, those who attended were just as touched.”

Terri Monken said her family drew inspiration from the outpouring of support shown to the families of Deen and Tate, who were shot fatally during a traffic stop near downtown Hattiesburg.

“My son, Travis, and I made signs to hold during the four processionals, and I took him out of school to attend the three daytime processionals, as I believe this was history – one I hope we never have to witness again,” she said. “The Hattiesburg community was strong, compassionate and unwavering. It is indeed an honor to start a scholarship of this kind at Southern Miss.”

Upon completion of her bachelor’s degree, Alexander plans to practice nursing at a local hospital – preferably in a critical care unit. She hopes ultimately to obtain a doctorate in either nursing practice or medicine.

While acknowledging that the scholarship will provide much-needed financial support, Alexander further recognizes the powerful significance attached to an award she never imagined receiving.

“I am so honored and humbled to represent such a prestigious group of men and women who have served, or are currently serving, to protect our community, our state and our nation,” she said. “As I receive this memorial scholarship, I pray that the honor and humility I feel is reflected by the respect I have for Officer Benjamin Deen and Officer Liquori Tate, as well as all other officers and first responders.”

Alexander is the daughter of father and stepmother: Jason Alexander and Amy Alexander; and mother and stepfather: Sammie Bolton and Billy Bolton.

To learn more about the Deen and Tate Memorial Scholarship Endowment and other endowments managed by the USM Foundation, call 601.266.5210 or visit: www.usmfoundation.com