The University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana is pleased to announce the establishment of the Mary Nell and McDowell Turner Endowed Scholarship. Created in memory of Mary Nell and McDowell Turner, the endowment will provide scholarships to students pursuing a certificate or degree from UAHT.

According to a press release, the scholarship was originally created as an annual scholarship by Mary Nell Turner following the death of her husband. “She loved spending time at the college and even enrolled in courses,” said her daughter Ellen Turner. “She made the top grade in her Arkansas History class in her late 80’s! My mother enjoyed volunteering at the college, especially with her friend Nancy Bailey.”

The endowed scholarship was created by Ellen Turner, Joseph Purvis, and their children. Ellen Turner, who graduated from Hope High School (HHS) in 1968, is the daughter of Mary Nell and McDowell Turner. Joseph Purvis, who graduated from HHS in 1964, was married to the late Susan Turner Purvis (HHS 1966), who was also the daughter of Mary Nell and McDowell Turner.

“Mother was born in 1919; the year women won the right to vote. Her father did not believe that women should go to college, so she borrowed money from her aunts and uncle to attend Henderson State Teacher’s College, now Henderson State University. My father also graduated from Henderson State Teacher’s College. He coached football for a short time and then began working at the United States Post Office. He was a rural mail carrier on the Spring Hill route and loved his work. Both Susan and I knew from a very young age that we would go to college!”

“I was fortunate to have parents who placed a high value on education; both were truly lifelong learners. My mother taught journalism at Hope High School until her retirement. Both mom and dad were avid readers, and our home was filled with newspapers and books. Mother and her students published award-winning yearbooks year after year, and she inspired my sister and me to follow in her footsteps as educators. She was an amazingly healthy, vibrant individual who was still going strong at age 96. At the age of 92, she proofread and edited her grandson Benjamin Purvis’ dissertation for his Ph.D. in history from the University of Mississippi.”

“We are thrilled to be able to endow this scholarship. I teach at Northwest Arkansas Community College and understand the significance of these scholarships to our students. My mother, my dad and my sister would be totally supportive of our decision.”

For more information about this scholarship and other scholarships available to the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana, call (870)777-5722 or visit

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