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Leo W. Seal, Jr. Scholarship winners exemplify academic excellence and leadership

Rudi Wetzel
May 31, 2017

Commitment to our communities means commitment to the remarkable young people who are tomorrow’s entrepreneurs, innovators, and leaders. This year, six dependents of Hancock and Whitney Bank associates will receive extra funds for pursuing their education through the Hancock Whitney Associate Assistance Fund’s Leo W. Seal, Jr., Scholarships.

2017 Leo W. Seal Scholarship Winners

The $10,000 grants, $2,500 annually for up to four years, help associates’ dependents attend the colleges or university of their choice.

John Hairston, Hancock and Whitney Bank President and CEO, says the scholarship program is in keeping with our corporate mission. “We recognize the importance of higher education in today's economy and want to do our part to help our associates’ children pursue their educational passions. This scholarship is a reflection of our dedication to helping people achieve their goals and dreams.”


Meet the 2017 Scholarship Recipients 

Nicholas Berling

Nicholas Berling, son of Institutional Banking Manager Sophia Berling, graduated with honors from Booker T. Washington High School in Pensacola Florida. The Rho Kappa and National Honor Society student served on student government and as captain of the football and lacrosse team. Nicholas also volunteers with the Epilepsy Foundation, and plans to attend Mississippi State University to study Engineering.


Hailey Bernard

Daughter of Senior Financial Services Associate Patricia Barnett, Hailey Bernard graduated with honors from Picayune Memorial High School in Picayune, Mississippi. She plans to attend Pearl River Community College then Mississippi State University to study Elementary Education. The Student Council representative and competitive Beta Club member volunteers for the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, and Picayune Main Street Association.


Victoria Buras

A graduate of Fontainebleau High School in Mandeville, Louisiana, Victoria Buras is the daughter of Mortgage Loan Officer Michael Buras. She plans to attend Southeastern Louisiana University to study graphic design. The Key Club and photography club member mentors freshmen students on campus and serves as a worship team member of The POM Church.


Elisa Cerone

Elisa Cerone, daughter of Senior Teller Kim Trochessett, is a 2015 graduate of St. Martin High School in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. She currently attends Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College where she is pursuing an associate’s degree in surgical technology. The Coats for Kids volunteer plans to continue her education studying Allied Health.


Austin Lee

Austin Lee is a graduate of McKenzie High School in McKenzie, Alabama, and is planning to study welding at Reid State Technical College in Evergreen, Alabama. The son of Multi Service Banker Jennifer Lee, he participated in Beta Club, Mu Alpha Theta, and Science Club. The L.V. Stabler Memorial Hospital volunteer and National Honor Society student was a member of the basketball team where he earned the Highest GPA award.


Kaycee Richard

Daughter of Commercial Portfolio Manager Patricia Richard, Kaycee Richard currently attends Panola College in Carthage, Texas. The Dean’s list student is studying General Agriculture with plans to move into the equine field. The former 4-H and Future Farmers of America secretary serves as a youth mentor and is a member of the Cowboys Professional Rodeo Association and Panola College rodeo team.


About the Leo W. Seal, Jr., Scholarship  

The late Leo W. Seal, Jr., a former president and CEO, served the company 60-plus years. He gave a substantial and, at the time, anonymous donation to establish scholarships through the Gulf Coast Community Foundation (GCCF), the agency that administers the scholarship fund. Hancock and Whitney Bank awarded the first scholarships in 2011. This year, the company decided to celebrate Seal’s generosity and legacy of commitment to his native region by naming the scholarships in his honor. Seal was a lifelong champion and benefactor for countless economic and educational opportunities across the entire Gulf Coast corridor.