STARKVILLE, Miss.--Seven academically accomplished and service-oriented freshmen from Mississippi and Alabama make up the latest class of Mississippi State University Distinguished Scholars.
Enrolling for the fall semester in the Shackouls Honors College, the new members of the land-grant institution's most prestigious student scholarship group will have all tuition, fees, books, and room and board covered for four years of undergraduate study. Their awards are worth approximately $50,000 each.
The new scholars include:
--Jamie Aron of Flowood is the daughter of Dr. James Aron and Sandra Gilmer and a Jackson Preparatory School graduate. At Prep, her accomplishments included the Student Council Service and Danforth awards. She was also nominated for the National English Merit Award.
--Annaleigh Coleman of Corinth is the daughter of Dennis Coleman and Robbie Coleman. At Kossuth High School, she served as president of the freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior classes and was vice president of the National Honor Society chapter. She also received the geometry award and was named to the all-division team for fast-pitch softball and basketball.
--Rachel Gaines of Coldwater is the daughter of Drs. Roger and Mary Gaines. She was home schooled and achieved a Congressional Award Gold Medal. She took first place in the 2009 Mississippi 4-H Forestry Judging contest and also won the 2009 Mississippi Forestry Association Youth Achievement Award, Mississippi Association of Conservation Districts essay contest and was named a 2012 National 4-H Congress Delegate.
--George Hilliard of Hernando is the son of George and Jill Hilliard and a Hernando High School graduate. He was a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist, two-time Academic All-Star and member of the HHS National Honor Society chapter. He also received multiple highest-grade-point-average awards.
--Keri Jones of Forest is the daughter of Alonzo Jones and JoAnn Frazier. An All-A Honor Roll member at Morton High School, she received the Algebra I and Accelerated English I subject awards, and was a participant in the 2011 Rural Medical Scholars and 2012 Scott County Junior Miss programs.
--Eric Stallcup of Huntsville, Ala., is the son of Phillip and Felecia Stallcup. At Covenant Christian Academy, he received both superior solo and ensemble performance awards, finished second in CCA's science fair and received the Silver Service and Gold Service awards at the National Student Leadership Conference.
--Sally White of Thomasville, Ala., is the daughter of Michael and Debra White and a Thomasville High School graduate. Her honors included the Congressional Award Gold Medal and Young Leaders in Service Gold Award, along with the highest grade-point-average awards and superior medals. She also was a member of the Thespian Honor Society, Capstone Leadership Academy and Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society.
Each scholar is being assigned a mentor who is a recognized researcher and teacher in the student's field of study. Additionally, the new members will join more than two dozen scholars selected in previous years for a series of monthly meetings led by guest speakers from the worlds of business, government and academia.
Mentor for the MSU Distinguished Scholars program Thomas Anderson, associate professor of English, said this year's new class of distinguished scholars is another special one.
"These are some of the best and brightest students," Anderson said. "Our sense is that these students can go anywhere and do anything."
The scholars traditionally participate in a fall retreat to build unity and a spring retreat that involves visits to national cultural and historical sites. Following the sophomore or junior years, each scholar is expected to plan a summer research project, work internship or overseas experience.
Scholars are encouraged to take active leadership roles in campus life, whether working closely with faculty on research projects, serving as leaders of student organizations, or volunteering in various service projects.
For more information about MSU Distinguished Scholars program or Shackouls Honors College, visit www.honors.msstate.edu or telephone 662-325-2522.