Leland R. Speed Scholarship for JROTC Top Cadets Announces 2022 Recipients

A group stands together in the gym at Murrah High School during an awards ceremony. Two of the students hold up enlarged checks with their names on them for $5,000.
From left to right: Jane Alexander, President & CEO of the Community Foundation for Mississippi; Cadet Elizabeth Hawkins; William VanDevender; Cadet Brandon Brown; Stuart Speed; Warren Speed; Ashby Foote, Ward 1 Jackson City Council Member.

The Leland R. Speed Scholarship for JROTC Top Cadets is proud to announce the 2022 recipients, Cadet Elizabeth Hawkins and Cadet Brandon Brown, both of Murrah High School. The two were honored at Murrah High School’s Senior Showcase and Award Ceremony on May 19.

The Leland R. Speed Scholarship for JROTC Top Cadets is awarded each year for the Jackson Public Schools JROTC Overall Top Cadet and the Murrah High School JROTC Top Cadet.

Established by William VanDevender, a graduate of Murrah High School, the scholarship and fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi honors of the late Leland R. Speed, a Jackson leader who served his state and country.

“Our family was inspired to award a college scholarship in Leland Speed’s name because of his passion for continuing the education of high school students in Mississippi. He felt that the JROTC program produced the best and brightest candidates because of their scholastics, character, and leadership qualities,” said VanDevender.

“Leland was a mentor, close friend, and neighbor of mine for over 25 years. He was the best example of the quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi ‘preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words’ of anyone that I have known. While he could be serious and intellectual, his sense of humor and his clever way of making a point made him so likable and a good friend.”

Each cadet will receive a $5,000 Leland R. Speed Scholarship for JROTC Top Cadets, which will be payable to his or her community college, college or university. Hawkins plans to continue her education this fall at Millsaps College and Brown plans to attend Mississippi State University.

Participating in this year’s presentation were Community Foundation for Mississippi President & CEO Jane Alexander; William VanDevender, primary donor of the scholarships; Warren and Stuart Speed, sons of Leland Speed; and Ashby Foote, Jackson city council member who facilitates support for JPS JROTC.