Davis awards nine NCHS seniors with scholarships

Davis awards nine NCHS seniors with scholarships


Entrepreneur and philanthropist Dan Davis returned to his alma mater Thursday to present scholarships of up to $25,000 each to nine Neshoba Central High School seniors.

Davis announced his $1 million scholarship endowment for Neshoba Central graduates during the 2022 commencement. Six seniors were awarded scholarships that year followed by nine the next year.

This year’s recipients were:

• Anna Shae Gayle Stovall, daughter of Shanna and Earnest Stovall. 

• Courtney Pelfrey, daughter of Kim Gentry.

• Sharlee Brenna Coghlan, daughter of Amanda and Wade Coghan.

• Madelyn Rigdon, daughter of Melanie Eubanks and Anthony Rigdon.

• Ian Madison, son of Cydney Belk.

• Nadia White, daughter of Douglas and Roslyn White.

• Mari Krista Thrash, daughter of Sandi Anthony and  Bruce Thrash.

• Nacole Brantley, daughter of Barry Brantley.

• Dy’Janae McBeath, daughter of Dyshea McBeath.

Davis was joined by three members of his foundation board, Jimmie Joyner, Debbie Burt Myers and Gloria Hadley, in presenting the scholarships.

Addressing the class of 2024, Davis reflected on his graduation from Neshoba Central 52 years ago, telling seniors of the struggles the county faced with integration at the time.

He said it made his heart warm to be present and witness the diversity among the seniors receiving various achievement awards and scholarships.

Davis spoke of his childhood, telling students that his parents were not wealthy when he was growing up.

“That’s a nice way of putting it,” he said. “I had one pair of pants growing up. That was sort of challenging but I have been very fortunate. I have been very, very blessed and fortunate to be able to survive despite the struggles.”

While some of the seniors may face struggles as well, Davis said every single failure he had led him here today.

“This morning, I am supposed to be in Atlanta, Ga., announcing that the FDA has granted us an EUA [Emergency Use Authorization] for a special product,” Davis said. “Yesterday was the biggest day in our company’s history. This is how important being here today with you is to me.”

When he announced his endowment in 2022, Davis spoke about how life is not fair at times. He addressed that once again.

“I can assure you there are people here thinking that life is not fair,” he said. “I know. I’ve been there. When life is not fair over the years, I want you to think about that old guy standing in front of you today who said life is not fair.  I want you to turn that around and look at the opportunities that will come your way.”

Davis told seniors that every time he failed in life, it turned out to work for his benefit.

“It’s funny how God has these little ideas in his mind as you sit there and think about how you are going to make this happen or how are you going to make this work,” he said.

He encouraged students to embrace opportunities and make a difference in the lives of others.

Davis said the scholarships were his way to make a “difference in the lives of many people here today.”

He presented each recipient with a specially crafted 18-karat gold pen with rubies and garnet as a token of his commitment to their future endeavors.

 “I hope you always keep it as a memento of what I’ve done to, hopefully, change your lives,” he said.

Davis thanked all the seniors who applied for the scholarships, through personal essays about their lives.

 “I can’t tell you what it meant to me,” he said. “Your essays had such an outpouring of honesty, integrity and love.”

Davis graduated from Neshoba Central in 1972. Growing up in the House community, he attended what was then East Central Junior College and went on to graduate from the University of Mississippi. 

He has worked for four U. S. presidents and on 239 political campaigns around the world. He has represented 13 of the top 15 casino CEOs in the world. He is head of multiple companies spread across the United States and China.

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