Five incoming freshmen at Mississippi State are the university's first selections for the recently established Toyota-Haley Barbour Scholarships.
Each is receiving more than $32,000 over four years--or $8,000 per year--to cover the current cost of tuition.
To qualify for the awards, graduating high school seniors must be DeSoto County/Northeast Mississippi residents, have a minimum 3.0 grade-point average and have expressed plans to pursue a degree in mathematics, physics, or industrial or mechanical engineering.
The inaugural group includes (by hometown):
CALEDONIA--Matthew T. Murphy, a Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science graduate who plans to major in mechanical engineering. He was a 2013 participant in Boys State.
CORINTH--Jose' M. Contreras, the son of Jason and Emily McGrath who plans to major in mechanical engineering; and Elizabeth N. Whitehurst, the daughter of Beth Whitehurst who plans to major in mechanical engineering. Both are Corinth High School Hall of Fame selections.
GUNTOWN--William A. "Drew" Holiman, a Saltillo High School graduate and the son of Jonathan and Trisha Holiman, who plans to major in physics.
OLIVE BRANCH--Madelyn L. Davis, a Lewisburg High School graduate and the daughter of Timothy and Trudy Davis, who plans to major in mechanical engineering. She was selected to represent her school at the national Hugh O'Brian Young Leadership Council.
Established by Toyota Manufacturing Mississippi, the competitive scholarship program bearing the Yazoo City native's name is designed to enable recipients to give back to area communities that serve and are served by the Blue Springs-based automobile manufacturing facility.
While he was governor from 2004-12, Barbour helped lead efforts to attract the major manufacturing facility to Mississippi. In addition to two terms as the state's chief executive, he is a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and former White House political affairs director.
The scholarship program also required the 54 initial qualifiers to share, in one page or less, ideas on how they would use their college education to give back to their community. Of 26 submitting essays, 18 were selected for on-campus interviews in March.
Scholars are expected to write a letter of appreciation to Toyota, maintain a 3.5 overall GPA in their respective majors and attend an annual spring reception.
For more on the scholarships, contact MSU's Office of Admissions and Scholarships at www.admissions.msstate.edu.
See www.msstate.edu to learn more about MSU.