Local freshman among 6 named new MSU Distinguished Scholars

Contact: Sammy McDavid

STARKVILLE, Miss.--Six recent high school graduates from the Magnolia, Bayou, Bluegrass, and Peach states are receiving Mississippi State's most prestigious scholarships.

The 2009-10 class of the university's Distinguished Scholars includes Shelby C. Balius of Cumming, Ga.; Bailey A. Hansen of Jackson; Ryan B. Hoke of Louisville, Ky.; Tommy L. Kirkpatrick of Louisville [Miss.]; Kelsey E. LeSaicherre of Ponchatoula, La.; and Lindsay S.L. Linhares of Starkville.

Their awards provide nearly $60,000 for the freshman-senior years of study.

"These scholarships are the very highest honors for incoming students and we congratulate the young men and women for their outstanding high school achievements," said President Mark Keenum. "Mississippi State proudly welcomes them to the Bulldog family."

MSU fall semester classes begin Aug. 17.

Specifically, the academic awards provide:

--$34,000 over four years, or $8,500 per year;

--Complimentary double-occupancy campus residence hall accommodations, currently valued at up to $20,000 over four years;

--A one-time, $1,500 educational enrichment scholarship for study abroad, internships or other qualified educational pursuits during a semester of choice after the freshman year; and

--An undergraduate research fellowship award, valued at $4,000 over two summers or $2,000 per summer.

The new scholars join 34 others selected in previous years for the special recognition program.

Some facts about this year's MSU Distinguished Scholars class:

Shelby Balius, the daughter of Brian and Lisa Balius, is a Forsyth Central High School graduate who earlier was selected for a scholarship given by the Atlanta-area chapter of the MSU Alumni Association. She was a member of the school's honor roll and National Honor Society chapter. She garnered numerous academic awards over the four years and, as a junior, was a participant in the Georgia Governor's Honors Program. She plans to major in pre-business.

Bailey Hansen, the son of Nick and Beth Hansen [39211], is this year's Jackson Academy salutatorian, as well as a National Merit Scholar and JA Hall of Fame member. As a senior, he received a U.S. Air Force Mathematics and Science Award, and was runner-up for the Clarion-Ledger All Star Seniors and a semi-finalist in the U.S. Department of Education's Presidential Scholarship Program. He plans to major in biomedical engineering.

Ryan Hoke, the son of Ken and Linda Hoke [40299], is a Dupont Manual Magnet High School graduate who also is receiving the James E. Casey Scholarship and the Kentucky House of Representatives' Academic Achievement Award. During high school, he received a variety of scholastic honors while also pursuing a personal interest in meteorology, including operation of a weather Web site for the Louisville area. He plans to major in broadcast meteorology.

Tommy Kirkpatrick, the son of Lee and Paula Kirkpatrick, is the valedictorian and STAR Student of Grace Christian School. He also is receiving a Mississippi Farm Bureau Scholarship. He was a member of the student council and Beta Club chapter. A four-year member of the basketball team, he was selected as a senior to receive a Wendy's High School Heisman Award. He plans to major in electrical engineering.

Kelsey LeSaicherre, the daughter of Ralf and Elizabeth LeSaicherre, is a St. Joseph's Academy graduate who also is receiving the Society of Women Engineers/Baton Rouge Chapter Scholarship for having the highest grade-point average in science and technology. She was a member of the Beta Club and National Honor Society chapters, among other academic recognitions. She served as a student teacher for SJA's computer orientation program and, as a senior, worked at MSU in the laboratory of the Swalm School of Chemical Engineering as part of the Quest summer engineering program. She plans to major in chemical engineering.

Lindsay Linhares, the daughter of Jerry and Susan Linhares, was a Starkville High School "Senior of Distinction" who also is receiving a Kiwanis Club Scholarship. She was a four-year inclusion on the SHS Honor Roll and President's Educational Excellence Award roster. A multiple participant in the annual PTA State Reflections Writing Competition, she took first-place honors in her senior year. She plans to major in communication/journalism.

For more information about Mississippi State University, see //www.msstate.edu/.