September 30, 2023

JACKSON, Miss., Oct. 21, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Good Morning America Co-Anchor Michael Strahan traveled to Jackson State University to celebrate Homecoming with the Tigers during a live broadcast of the show. During the broadcast, the University was surprised by the announcement that Mars is donating $100,000 in support of the JSU Emergency Gap Fund.

Jackson State University Chief Communications Officer Alonda Thomas and Director of Public Relations Rachel James-Terry accept a $100,000 check from Mars in support of the JSU Gap Emergency Fund. (JSU Communications / William H. Kelly)
Jackson State University Chief Communications Officer Alonda Thomas and Director of Public Relations Rachel James-Terry accept a $100,000 check from Mars in support of the JSU Gap Emergency Fund. (JSU Communications / William H. Kelly)

“America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities like JSU are vital resources in educating an increasingly diverse workforce, and the business community can step up to support diversity in higher education,” said Anton Vincent, President of Mars Wrigley, North America. “I am extremely proud to call Jackson home, where my parents, Dr. George and Pearl Vincent, taught as JSU professors for 25 years. It is a privilege and an honor to give back to the legacy of JSU through the iconic Mars Snickers brand.”

The Jackson State University Gap Emergency Fund was created to help students who face a financial gap after all their financial aid and scholarships have been applied toward tuition. The program also provides financial support to students for emergency expenses, such as unexpected illnesses, accidents, and economic hardships.

Director of Public Relations Rachel James-Terry and Chief Communications Officer Alonda Thomas accepted the check on behalf of the University.

“There are a lot of students that have financial needs when it comes to paying for college. A little bit of money can help ensure that they can stay in school, and that’s what this money will go towards. Thank you to Mars and Snickers for this generous gift,” said Thomas.

Coach Deion Sanders, appearing with student-athletes Travis Hunter and Shedeur Sanders, discussed his mission to train student-athletes and guide boys into becoming men.

“Oftentimes these young men come in with all types of histories, and a lot of them are un-fathered, and we’ve got to build them and mold them and shape them, so they’re men,” said Sanders. “So you may send me a boy, but through the trials and tribulations and the teachings, we’re going to send you back a man.”

During the show, the Sonic Boom of the South, the Prancing J-Settes, the JSU Cheerleaders, and students helped Strahan kick off the morning on a spirited note. Senior student Marvin Meda was prepared to talk about his experiences serving as the first Latino head drum major for the marching band when the subject flipped to him specifically.

“Marvin is an outstanding student. He has been met with many challenges, but he has met those challenges head-on in stride, and the future is very bright for that young man,” said JSU Director of Bands Roderick Little, Ph.D.

Good Morning America surprised Meda by bringing his mother, Blanca Nieves Meda; brother Kevin Garcia Meda; and former high school band director Carlton Williams to town from Dallas, Texas, for the occasion.

“Seeing how Marvin was passionate about the band – not just his section, but the whole band, that’s what put our eyes on him as being leadership material,” said Williams. “We’re just so proud of him.”

About Jackson State University

Jackson State University, founded in 1877, is a historically black, high-research activity university located in Jackson, the capital city of Mississippi. Jackson State’s nurturing academic environment challenges individuals to change lives through teaching, research, and service. Officially designated as Mississippi’s Urban University, Jackson State continues to enhance the state, nation, and world through comprehensive economic development, healthcare, technological and educational initiatives. The only public university in the Jackson metropolitan area, Jackson State is located near downtown, with five satellite locations. For more information, visit

SOURCE Jackson State University

CONTACT: Alonda Thomas,

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