Pierce family helping forge future automotive workers while honoring a father’s legacy

Published 3:34 pm Friday, June 17, 2022

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Pearl River Community College students in the Automotive program will have one more option for support while pursuing their education after the recent formation of the Max R. Pierce Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship has been established by Alton and Julie Pierce in memory of Alton’s father, Max, who was involved in the Hattiesburg automotive industry for nearly 50 years. 

“I am happy to honor my father’s memory in the automotive industry by creating the Max R. Pierce Automotive Vo-tech Scholarship Fund at Pearl River Community College,” said Alton Pierce. “My father always said that ‘The Greatest need in AMERICA is Education.’  

“By creating this scholarship, the Alton Pierce family hopes to continue to support this need.” 

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The scholarship will pay for the two full years of tuition for the completion of the Automotive Mechanics Technology Program. The scholarship recipient can be from any surrounding county. 

“Scholarships like this one play a vital role in the success of our students,” said Executive Director of Development Foundation/Alumni Association Delana Harris. “Not only do they allow us to recruit the best students in the area, but they also allow us to retain the students and see them through that degree or credential.” 

Through the scholarship, the Pierce family is creating a legacy while supporting students. The family contributed $10,000 to establish the scholarship. Donations made in lieu of flowers after Max’s passing have added an additional $3,800 to the fund. In addition, they have asked Toyota Community to match their donation and donations made in their father’s name.  

The main goal of the scholarship is to partner with high school vo-tech centers in our area to help students who are interested in working in the automotive services arena. The students can then continue their studies at PRCC in the Automotive Mechanics Technology program working towards a technical certificate or an Associate of Applied Science degree. 

Dean of Career and Technical Education – Poplarville/Hancock Dr. Amy Townsend said, “The program equips students with all they need to pass the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Certification Exam. We are continually hearing from local employers seeking technicians with this credential.” 

“Our service department is always looking for eager individuals looking to begin their career in the automotive industry,” said Alton Pierce. “Toyota of Hattiesburg enjoys hosting different high schools and demonstrating the jobs available in the car industry.”  

The Pierce family has multiple ties to PRCC. Alton attended classes at The River and Julie was an English and Reading Instructor at the Forrest County Campus. Additionally, Alton’s mother Barbara Harwell Pierce was in the first Cosmetology class at PRCC.  

Max Pierce founded Toyota of Hattiesburg in 1975. Ownership has now passed onto Alton. 

Anyone interested in starting a scholarship fund can start the process through an online form at prcc.edu/alumni/scholarship.  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 dharris@prcc.edu. 

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