Although the closure of the Mississippi Baptist Hospital/Gilfoy School of Nursing in 1971 marked the end of an era, its 1,407 graduates received the skills and knowledge to provide the best of care for their patients.
The majority of the practicing nurses who graduated from the Gilfoy School of Nursing felt that its memories and legacy were still very much alive. Before its closure, the school had a long association with Hinds Community College, which taught the academic studies to provide the foundation for the three-year course of study.
For many years, the Gilfoy School of Nursing continued to have an active Alumni Association, which was established in the early 1930s. One of the objectives of the Alumni Association was to provide scholarships for nursing students. The scholarship program began in 2000 with Hinds Community College as one of the recipients. Monies raised by the alumni and gifts to the Alumni Association began the trust accounts that were established for such a purpose.
In August 2016, the Mississippi Baptist Hospital/Gilfoy School of Nursing Alumni Association, which had in the past served in the distribution of the scholarship awards, was permanently closed. With these funds now at Hinds Community College, the wishes of the graduates to maintain the legacy of the school will be honored.
One of these graduates is Leola Cowart, a 1948 graduate of the Mississippi Baptist Hospital / Gilfoy School of Nursing. In March 2012, she established the Dennis D. and Leola K. Cowart Scholarship at Hinds Community College at the request of her husband, who died on Feb. 24, 2012.
With the closure of the Alumni Association, she has now established the Dennis D. and Leola K. Cowart Endowed Scholarship/ Mississippi Baptist Hospital and Gilfoy School of Nursing Alumni Association Scholarship at Hinds.
Dennis D. Cowart attended Hinds Junior College from 1949 to 1950. Leola Cowart also attended Hinds as a part-time student after she completed nursing school. The Cowarts lived on campus in a small cottage when their daughter was born.
After completing nursing school in 1948, Leola Cowart worked for the Mississippi Department of Public Health for 13 months. She was then employed by Foster General Military Hospital, which later became Veterans Administration Hospital. She retired 36 years later. She also served as a nurse volunteer for the American Red Cross for more than 50 years.
The Cowart family includes Dr. Mary Ann Cowart Wilkerson and husband Joe of Meridian; grandson, Dr. Ben Wilkerson, and his wife Kelly of Covington, La., and granddaughter, Dr. Shelley Wilkerson Ellis, and her husband Todd of Meridian.
Scholarships are awarded on the basis of a student’s desire for achievement, involvement in extracurricular activities, financial need, grades and letters of recommendation.
For more information about establishing a scholarship at Hinds Community College, contact Jackie Granberry, 601.857.3630, firstname.lastname@example.org.New Hinds CC nursing scholarship honors Gilfoy School of Nursing.