The  College of Southern Maryland (CSM) Foundation recognizes Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month this March by announcing the establishment of the Janet Faye (Russell) Purcell ’97 Memorial Scholarship Endowment to aid students receiving assistance from CSM’s Disability Support Services (DSS). The endowment, established by Robert Purcell in loving memory his wife, is made possible by a $121,692 donation that will provide scholarships annually.

CSM’s DSS staff assists about 400 students each semester. Janet Faye (Russell) Purcell is a CSM alumna and her memorial scholarship endowment is one of three memorial scholarships now available at CSM that specifically supports students with developmental disabilities.

Purcell was born in 1959 with Cerebral Palsy and became the poster child for the March of Dimes in Southern Maryland when she was 10 years old. Influenced by her grandfather at a young age to invest in the stock market, her husband shared that Janet invested wisely. She went on to have a successful 26-year career with the Department of the Navy, retiring in 2007 as a computer programmer analyst and quality assurance lead for the Tactical Aircrew Combat Training System, where she tested and verified all of the program options on this IBM pc-based system.

Robert and Janet Faye (Russell) Purcell

“Unfortunately, she died in July 2016 and was unable to reap the benefits,” of her investments according to her family. “Janet requested that her stock shares go to charity after her death. She was an inspiration to all her peers and associates. Janet’s smile was infectious to all that knew her in this life. She was deeply loved, admired and cherished.

The Janet Faye (Russell) Purcell ’97 Memorial Scholarship Endowment will provide financial assistance for tuition, fees, books, and other related supplies to CSM students with disabilities. To be eligible for assistance, the student(s) must possess a high school diploma or its equivalent; be a resident of Southern Maryland (preference for St. Mary’s County residents), and be receiving accommodations for a disability that is properly documented with CSM’s Disability Support Services. Applicants are also required to submit an essay describing any hardships or obstacles they have faced and how the scholarship will help them achieve their goals. For more information about this scholarship, please visit https://csmd.academicworks.com/donors/robert-purcell.

Kevin Sean Phillips

Th  Kevin Sean Phillips Memorial Scholarship – established last fall to honor beloved CSM employee Kevin Phillips by his wife Regina Phillips – also financially assists CSM students with disabilities.  Phillips was a Maintenance Mechanic at CSM at the time of his death, Aug. 10, 2020.

AnnaGrace Berry

“When trying to decide where to begin my post-High School education, CSM rose to the top of the list due to the comprehensive nursing program and became my school of choice,” said Owings resident AnnaGrace Berry, one of the inaugural recipients of the Kevin Sean Phillips Memorial Scholarship. “Growing up, I was in and out of the hospital quite a bit and the nurses always made the biggest impact, as advocates and caregivers. I want to be a nurse to help patients the same way nurses helped me. I am honored and grateful for the recognition and the scholarship.”

The other inaugural recipient of Phillips’ scholarship is CSM student Tristen Edward Joseph Brown, of Waldorf, who is autistic. Tristen also received the Shani-Jinaki Whipple Endowed Scholarship for the Physically Challenged.

“My mother is disabled and cannot work,” Brown shared. “She receives very little disability and cannot contribute to my college education. Without this scholarship I would not be able to afford [college] which would hinder my education.”

Brown is studying Forensic Science. “I have always been fascinated with Forensics, even in middle school I thought it was an interesting science,” he said. “That’s not the only reason why I want to take this career path. I want my work to mean something to others and to show them how to find their calling. I want to inspire others to work hard toward their career and dreams. In 10 years, I would like to be able to take care of my mother and show her the same love and support she has always given to me. In I5 years, I want my work to help inspire other college students to find their calling and drive.”

The Kevin Sean Phillips Memorial Scholarship provides financial assistance for tuition, fees, books, and other related supplies to CSM students with disabilities. To be eligible for assistance, the student(s) must possess a high school diploma or its equivalent; possess and maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA; and be receiving accommodations for a disability that is properly documented with Disability Support Services at CSM. For more information about this scholarship, please visit  https://csmd.academicworks.com/donors/friends-and-family-of-kevin-phillips.

Shani-Jinaki Whipple

Earl and Elena Whipple established the Shani-Jinaki Whipple Endowed Scholarship for the Physically Challenged in memory of their daughter who overcame many obstacles to achieve personal and academic excellence in every aspect of her life.

“Shani-Jinaki lived her life with grace, kindness, and warmth that was offered to all who knew her,” her parents shared when establishing the endowed scholarship fund in their daughter’s name in 2010. “She presented her immediate and extended family with many lessons in strength, courage, and selfless determination throughout her God-centered life. She is lovingly remembered by all who were influenced by her passion for learning, her drive to explore and creative mind.”

The Shani-Jinaki Whipple Endowed Scholarship provides financial assistance for tuition, fees, books, and other related supplies to CSM students with disabilities. To be eligible for assistance, the student(s) must possess a high school diploma or its equivalent; possess and maintain a minimum a 3.0 GPA. The recipient must also demonstrate a commitment toward community service and demonstrate financial need. For more information about this scholarship, please visit https://csmd.academicworks.com/donors/earl-and-elena-whipple.

On Tuesday, March 9, the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners proclaimed March Development Disabilities Month as it does annually in support of the national campaign to celebrate the many contributions people with developmental disabilities make to society.

“In 1987, President Ronald Reagan first proclaimed March Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month to provide the encouragement and opportunities necessary for people with developmental disabilities to reach their potential,” stated the Calvert County proclamation. “Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month is a time to … recognize the efforts made to achieve a culture of meaningful and full inclusion of individuals with developmental disabilities in all facets of community life. Through awareness and outreach to identify barriers and develop solutions, the idea of true inclusion and integration can become a reality and highlight the principle that everyone benefits when people with and without disabilities live, learn, and earn together in the community.”

For information on how to donate to these scholarships, please visit foundation.csmd.edu/giving.


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