Abbigayle Cooper awarded first Missy Mooney Holston Memorial Scholarship at PRCC

June 13, 2023

Long-time area educator Mrs. Melissa (Missy) Mooney Holston is now honored with a new scholarship at Pearl River Community College. Abbigayle Cooper, a Pearl River Central (PRC) High School 2023 graduate, has been selected as the first Missy Mooney Holston Memorial Scholarship recipient. 

Man and two women stand together.
Left to right: Doug Mooney, Jordyn Mitchell Holston, and Abbigayle Cooper.

The scholarship is awarded to an education major graduating from Pearl River Central High School who demonstrates financial need. The $1200 scholarship is split between the fall and spring semesters and can be used towards tuition and books. The student must maintain a 2.0 GPA to receive the spring component. 

“We are so thankful for the opportunity that the Mooney and Holston families have provided for our students at PRCC,” said Delana Harris, Executive Director of Development Foundation/Alumni Association. “This scholarship will ensure that the next generation of educators have access to higher education.” 

From an early age, Holston was vocal in her decision to become a teacher. Her parents, Doug and Barbara Mooney, have vivid memories of her and her sisters playing school.  

“At 6 years old, she said ‘Daddy, I’m going to be a schoolteacher when I grow up,’” said Mooney. “She stuck to it all the way through college, returning to teach where she had grown up. It was where she wanted to be. All three of our daughters became teachers.” 

After college, Holston returned to PRC teaching elementary grades. Eventually, she moved into administration serving as an assistant principal, a principal, and Assistant Superintendent. Holston served on the PRCC Board of Trustees during her last role at PRC. 

Shortly after her retirement, Holston was diagnosed with cancer, a battle that claimed her life on September 13, 2021. While ill, she asked family members to honor her memory by creating and funding a scholarship at PRCC.  

The scholarship was established in Mrs. Holston’s memory by her husband, Brent Holston, and father, Mr. Doug Mooney. Donations in lieu of flowers by family and friends totaled several thousand dollars. Additional donations have since allowed the scholarship to be endowed at $30,000. 

“Words cannot express my gratitude, appreciation, and honor to be selected as the first recipient of the Missy Mooney Holston Scholarship,” said Cooper. “The scholarship means more than just money to me. It means someone viewed my potential as worthy enough to honor Mrs. Holston.” 

Cooper is excited to begin her full-time educational journey at The River in the fall. Her senior year of high school was spent as a dual-enrolled student on the Poplarville Campus while remaining active on the cheerleading team at PRC.  

Between her two sisters attending PRCC and her mother’s past employment at the school, selecting The River as a launching pad was easy. Cooper plans to follow the education pathway agreement with William Carey to earn an elementary education degree.  

“I love working with little ones that need extra attention, whether caused by a medical need or misunderstood personalities,” said Cooper.  

How to Start a Scholarship Fund 

Anyone interested in starting a scholarship fund can start the process through an online form at  The scholarship can be named and have specific criteria for the eligibility of students for the award. Fully funding a scholarship requires a minimum of $10,000 that can be delivered over time or in a lump sum.  

Questions about the process can be directed to Executive Director of Development Foundation/Alumni Association Delana Harris at

For the latest news on Pearl River Community College, visit and follow us on Twitter (@PRCC_Wildcats), Instagram (PRCCWILDCATS), Facebook (@PRCCMKTG), and TikTok (@prcc_wildcats).

Article by Laura O’Neill. Photo provided by Pearl River Central staff.

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