TUPELO, MS – Chandler Coggins of Tupelo, a freshman at Mississippi State University, has been awarded the first Corporal Jacob Wooley Memorial Scholarship.
Established by his family in March after Jacob was killed at Quantico Marine Corps Headquarters while assisting a fellow Marine who was being attacked, the scholarship is administered by the John Stallworth Foundation. “The scholarship is a legacy to Jacob,” explained his mother, Linda Wooley of Corinth. “The student selected each year will exemplify what he valued most in life-family, faith, helping the less fortunate, education, sports, physical competitiveness and serving his country in the Marine Corps.”
Wooley graduated from Alcorn Central High School, where he excelled in football, basketball and his favorite sport, baseball. He also enjoyed deer hunting and fishing.
“Jacob became a Christian as a young boy, and he surrendered to the call to preach at age 15,” his mother said. “Jacob loved life and helping others, and he loved this country. He wanted to be a part of the military since childhood. He once told me that if he died while serving his country, what better way to go?”
Wooley had planned to enroll at Mississippi State to finish his education after his discharge from the Marine Corps. He completed two years at Northeast Mississippi Community College before enlisting in the Marine Corps.
Coggins graduated from Tupelo High School, where she was an honor roll student and co-captain of the volleyball team. She was a member of the National Honor Society, Anchor Club, Habitat for Humanity and several other school organizations. The selection committee was impressed with her dedicated service to groups like Salvation Army; Parkgate Pregnancy Clinic; Big Brothers, Big Sisters; Operation Christmas Child; mission trips; canned food drives and other efforts.
“My grandfather was a very proud Marine who served in Vietnam, and I have a special place in my heart for men and women who serve our country,” Coggins said. “My brother is in the military and is a member of the ROTC at Mississippi State University.” She is majoring in biological sciences with plans to attend dental school.
“I am very thankful and honored to bless someone with the scholarship to Jacob’s choice of school,” his mother said. “Jacob would be so proud to be helping young people follow their dreams of attending MSU. When presenting the first scholarship, I could feel him smiling and happy that we were keeping his dream alive.”
The John Stallworth Foundation was created in 1980, by John Stallworth, a member of the Pro-Football Hall of Fame and former Pittsburg Steelers Wide Receiver, as a means to give back to the community by providing merit-based scholarships to deserving students attending his alma mater, Alabama A&M University. In 2013, the Foundation began granting additional scholarships to students attending other universities in the state of Alabama.
“Jacob was a special young man with many unique talents, and this scholarship allows us to honor him and keep his memory alive,” said Freeda McDowell, executive director of the John Stallworth Foundation and also Wooley’s cousin. “Being able to administer the scholarship is extremely gratifying because so many people have shared with us how Jacob helped them through difficult situations, from his Marine Corps brothers to other areas of his life. My hope is that people will be touched by his story and be inspired to help others, without hesitation, just as Jacob would have!”
Since its inception, the John Stallworth Foundation has granted 135 awards to academically gifted, deserving students from diverse economic circumstances, enabling them to realize their dream of obtaining a college education. To learn more about the scholarship or the Foundation, or to make a donation, visit www.johnstallworth.com or call Freeda McDowell at (256) 536-8050.