Melissa Cole, Pensacola State College Foundation
Educators play a special role in shaping our community. Our teachers nurture the potential of inquiring minds and prepare students to take on an ever-changing world. Often, those with a passion for education give everything they have in order to uplift others.
Theresa Gail May, a lifelong educator, was a shining example of the power of determination and education. As a young woman growing up, Theresa was socially outgoing and musically gifted. During her time as a high schooler in Jay, Florida, she was part of the band, played piano, and loved to sing. During her senior year, she was advised to pursue a vocational degree as her peers didn’t believe she had the academic merit to succeed in a degree-driven career.
Determined to overcome the narrative written for her, Theresa Gail May charted a path to higher education. She first attended Pensacola Junior College in 1966 before transferring to the University of West Florida to receive a bachelor’s degree in education. After receiving her first degree, she continued on to receive her doctorate from a Mississippi university before returning to teach in Santa Rosa County.
In Santa Rosa, Dr. May taught in Munson before moving on to teach in Milton High School where she would eventually be promoted to assistant superintendent. Early in her career, Theresa Gail May was diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer. Having no children, yet loving her students as if they were her own, Dr. May wanted to ensure that she could continue providing for students financially after she had passed.
Through the help of an attorney, she was able to establish the Theresa Gail May Scholarship Foundation, ensuring its management to four original trustees: Albert Williams, E.W. Hopkins, J.R. Jones, and Ricky Smith. At the age of thirty-eight, Dr. Theresa Gail May passed away.
The Theresa Gail May Scholarship Foundation, established in 1998, supports the education of Santa Rosa County students in K-12 programs, students enrolled at Pensacola State College, and the University of West Florida. The Theresa Gail May Scholarship held at PSC has supported students with over $710, 680 in financial awards since 2005.
Reese Buchanan Arthur, a recipient of the Theresa Gail May Scholarship, expressed gratitude to the current trustees through a heartfelt thank you letter shared during an annual update earlier this fall. “Your earnest investment in my future will always be remembered. I promise to work hard so that I can someday give back to others.”
Another student, Jasmine Roberts, informed the trustees through her thank you letter that she wished to pursue the same passion that Dr. May had in education. “I’ve always dreamed of becoming a teacher because I love working with children,” she stated. “With your generous support, I’ll be able to accomplish my dreams.”
Herb Cannon, Chairman for the Theresa Gail May Scholarship Foundation, is proud to be a part of Dr. May’s legacy and love for others. “It is indeed an honor for us to help so many teachers and students reach their dreams with scholarships, historical field trips, and other educational endeavors.”
Ricky Smith, original trustee and cousin to Theresa Gail May, remembers her fondly. “Her students loved her because she was fun,” he recalled. “She gave everything she had to establish this foundation and was an example that showed how college could be a reality for anybody. I think she’d be really proud.”
For more information or to support Pensacola State College scholarships and endowments visit our website at https://foundation.pensacolastate.edu/opportunities-to-support-psc/scholarships/ or contact Director of Foundation Scholarships, Mikenzie Francis-Opperman, at (850) 484 – 1788 or email@example.com
To apply for scholarships at Pensacola State College, please visit https://financialaid.pensacolastate.edu/scholarships/