Mississippi College

LifeShare Foundation Gift Assists MC International Students

October 15, 2007

Wayne Parker's heart was truly touched, along with hundreds of others in attendance at a memorial service for Mississippi College graduate student Lina Song.

Last month's emotional tribute to Song's life and the outpouring of prayers for her family and friends prompted Parker, president and chairman of the board of the Jackson-based LifeShare Foundation, to reach out to the Christian university. It sparked foundation leaders to recently make an $80,000 donation to MC.

A 27-year-old graduate student from China, Song died from injuries she sustained after being struck by a car while walking along U.S. 80 in Clinton late one September evening. A friend to many in the MC community, Song was working on a master's in health services administration. At the service in a packed Provine Chapel, university leaders announced the creation of the Lina Song Memorial Scholarship to help international graduates students pay for their MC studies.

Song's life transcended death at the memorial service and she "helped all there to see and hear more clearly the things that matter most," said Parker, an MC trustee. "The love and compassion and pain for this tragic moment overflowed and all barriers of age, cultures and faiths disappeared as young and old cried together. This was a Holy moment from me as I knew the presence of God was among us all."

The generous gift from the LifeShare Foundation will assist with the Lina Song Memorial Scholarship with $50,000 earmarked to serve emergency and educational needs of international students. MC is home to 330 international students from 24 nations, including 150 from China. The first scholarships will be awarded during the spring semester beginning in January. The remaining $30,000 will be used to enhance the sound equipment at historic Provine Chapel, MC's oldest building dating back to 1860.

Created in 2000, LifeShare is a private foundation and its mission is "much about feeling the pain and suffering of children and students and their families and thus responding timely to their needs," Parker said.

Some of its projects include the construction and furnishing of The LifeShare House at the Mississippi Schools for the Blind and Deaf in Jackson. It's an eight-bedroom-stay facility for families of students and overnight visitors. The building also hosts workshops and events related to the schools. LifeShare Foundation also provides major funding of the University of Southern Mississippi's deaf/blind project. Among other things, the foundation created a LifeShare a Community Ministry to offer hope to Mississippi families and children in poverty.

The new donation to MC can be used by international students, for a variety of needs, such as expenses that might arise from a student's illness or injury that could not be covered by the student's insurance, said Ron Howard, MC vice president for academic affairs. It may also be used for travel and housing in cases of an emergency for international students at Mississippi College. He will be part of an MC team administering the funds.

"The generous gift from LifeShare is a fine tribute to Ms. Lina Song who loved Mississippi College and was in turn loved by all of us who knew her,'' Howard said. The scholarship fund, he said, "underscores MC's commitment to serving our marvelous international students who so wonderfully enrich and advance the cultural and learning environment on our campus."

Jim Brackenridge, executive director of international programs at MC, said Lina Song placed a high regard on higher education. And it's fitting that a portion of the funds will assist international students with their education, he noted. "This scholarship will create a lasting legacy to a fine young woman."

For additional details about the gift, contact Ron Howard, vice president for academic affairs, at 925-3202 or howard@mc.edu

PHOTO: Wayne Parker

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