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Stepping Up

Scholarship fund honors student, legislator - and secures the future


Mykea Rainey dreamed big, declaring at an early age that she wanted to be a doctor. Among those encouraging Mykea in that aspiration was her godmother, the late Lois DeBerry, another big dreamer who served more than 40 years in the Tennessee state legislature.

“Mykea was always a wonderful student, so bright and full of promise,” says Charles Traughber, DeBerry’s husband. “Lois liked to take her places and expose her to new things. We thought of her like a daughter.”

Mykea died suddenly soon after her eighteenth birthday. Her untimely death prompted her godparents to establish a scholarship fund at the Community Foundation to honor Mykea’s love of learning.

“Lois and I worked with the Community Foundation in choosing the selection criteria and setting up the fund,” Traughber says. “We had confidence in their expertise. We believed we could count on the Foundation to choose deserving recipients who would be devoted to learning, as Mykea was.”

The 2017 recipient certainly exemplifies that idea. Reginae Butler is completing her freshman year at Clark Atlanta University where she is a Dean’s Scholar. She is a mass media arts major who not only made As in every class last semester, but has also become involved in student life as a Campus Ambassador, Student Government Association participant, and Freshmen Class Council member.

The Mykea Andrea Rainey Memorial Scholarship has enabled her to focus on learning with less financial stress. “It gave me the opportunity to focus on my work and not on how I was going to be able to pay for education,” she says. “I am excited about my future. I can't say thank you enough.”

 “Many people remember Lois as a legislator,” Traughber says, “but her first career was teaching. She was passionate about education and believed it was essential to getting anywhere in life. Much of her work as a public servant was dedicated to issues important to youth. So, she would be proud to know that the scholarship is benefiting students who are serious about their studies and working to be all they can be.” 

Excerpted from the 2018 Community Foundation Annual Report