This past July 24 marked the 10-year anniversary of a plane crash that claimed the lives of Brent and Tina Stonecipher and their 11-year-old daughter, Nikki.
The family had taken off from the Ada airport for a return flight to their home in Cushing. The crash was the result of one of the plane’s two engines stalling at a low altitude, not allowing Brent, a trained and professional pilot, to take corrective action.
Soon after the tragedy, a scholarship fund in Nikki’s name was created within the East Central University Foundation, Inc. The initial gift came from the law firm of Riggs, Abney, Neal, Turpen, Orbison & Lewis. Annual fundraisers have generated in excess of $600,000 for the fund.
Kyle Bailey, a freshman from Tupelo, will enter his first year at East Central University as the most recent recipient of the Nikki Stonecipher Memorial Scholarship – the only full-ride scholarship offered through the Foundation. Kyle will join existing recipients Julie Arietta (Haworth), Taylor German (Cushing), Chat Henry (Tupelo), Blake Long (Ada), Haylee Fowler (Tupelo) and Anna Wood (Latta) on campus.
Bailey was named valedictorian of his senior class at Tupelo High School and holds a 4.0 grade point average in concurrent classes he has taken at ECU.
In addition, Shirley Stonecipher, the mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother of the family, established the Brent & Tina Memorial Scholarship this past spring which will go to four additional recipients: Chisum Henry, Hannah Norfleet and Amber Couey (all of Tupelo) and Trevor Reed (Belton, Tex.).
Over the last decade, the Nikki Stonecipher Memorial Scholarship has churned out an impressive list of ECU graduates, including the inaugural recipient Briana (Tully) Bailey, who serves as a project coordinator for CLEET; Ariana Rice, a police officer for the City of Ada; Felicia Gilliam, an obstetric registered nurse; and Chesna Henry, who is pursuing an advanced physical therapy degree at Harding University in Searcy, Ark.