Dr. Tom Burnham, director of the Principal Corps based at the University of Mississippi, and his wife Terri Burnham created and endowed a new scholarship at Hinds Community College as Dr. Burnham was recognized as 2015 Alumnus of the Year on Oct. 15.
The scholarship is the Tom Burnham Jr. and Cassondra “Sondra” Burnham Vanderford Emerging Leaders Scholarship.
Tom Burnham, a native of Puckett in Rankin County, and his wife, a nationally certified leadership and coaching specialist for the National Institute of School Leadership, designated the scholarship to first be offered to an emerging leader who is a graduate of Puckett High School attending Hinds. If no Puckett High graduate is awarded the scholarship, it is next to be offered to an emerging leader who is a Brandon High graduate.
Tom Burnham graduated from Hinds in 1967. He went on to receive degrees at Mississippi College and Delta State University. His daughter Sondra and son-in-law Craig are both Hinds graduates. His daughter is assistant principal at Brandon High School. Son Tom Jr. was killed in 1985.
Being named Alumnus of the Year “is an honor I never expected to receive,” said Burnham, who served two stints as state superintendent of education in 1992-1997 and 2010-2012. “Hinds is a very special place. Most of us have our own memories of the events and people that made a difference in our lives. Like all organizations, the people at Hinds ARE the difference.
“Hinds was the entry point for a great and wonderful career for me, a career filled with opportunities to make a difference in the lives of many children and the joy of working with so many outstanding people,” he said. “The recognition comes from an institution that embraces and exemplifies the wonderful values of helping individuals that might not find opportunities and encouragement elsewhere.”
In announcing the Tom Burnham Jr. and Cassondra “Sondra” Burnham Vanderford Emerging Leaders Scholarship, Terri Burnham noted that both of them have dedicated their lives to “making a difference with children.”
“Most recently Tom and I have devoted our lives to helping develop young leaders across the state,” she said. “The scholarship is intended to honor the memory of Tom Jr. and to honor Cassondra, who has developed into an outstanding young leader in the field of education as well.”
She said that they decided to create the scholarship “because of our love for Hinds Community College and the difference this institution has made.”
Puckett High School Principal Robert Crain, who attended the recognition ceremony, is also a Puckett native.
“Growing up in Puckett I had heard all about the accomplishments of Dr. Tommy Burnham. Knowing his background makes this scholarship all the more rewarding,” Crain said. “This scholarship will assure us that a Puckett High School graduate will have the opportunity to further their education.”
For information on applying for Hinds Community College Foundation scholarships, see http://www.hindscc.edu/offices/advancement-student-success/foundation/Foundation-Scholarships/index#gsc.tab=0
The deadline is March 1, 2016.