Engineering student at MSU receives prestigious public policy, international affairs fellowship

Khalil Markham (Photo by Beth Wynn)

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A promising computer engineering student in Mississippi State University’s Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College has been selected for a prestigious fellowship at one of the country’s top 10 professional public policy and planning schools.

This June, senior Khalil N. Markham of Biloxi will make his first trip to the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” to participate in the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ Junior Summer Institute in Public Policy and International Affairs. The rigorous, seven-week academic and experiential learning program is designed to equip undergraduate students with the knowledge and skills to thrive in graduate programs and public service careers.

MSU’s third PPIA Fellow in four years, Markham is receiving a $1,000 stipend, meal stipend, housing accommodations and round-trip airfare. As part of the fellowship experience, he will engage in discussions with other emerging leaders from around the country who are driven to make a difference through service to their communities.

“My dad retired from the Air Force after 21 years of service, and growing up as a military kid made me want to find my own way to serve,” Markham said. “I want to give back to not only help my generation, but also provide more opportunities for future generations.”

Markham, who transferred last fall to MSU from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, said he is passionate about finding ways to combine his interests in computer engineering and technology to help increase biodiversity and alleviate poverty. He is confident that the PPIA program will help him “grow out of my shell and find my own passion for civic engagement that connects those interests, but from a different perspective.”

“I’m interested in the natural engineering world, so I’ve been reading about how the environment is constantly changing,” he said. “The more I educate myself, the more I discover. I love seeing how things are connected.”

Markham said MSU Professor of English Tommy Anderson inspired him to push beyond intellectual boundaries and helped him become more confident in his writing skills during the PPIA application process. Anderson also serves as the honors college’s prestigious external scholarships director and College of Arts and Sciences’ interim assistant dean for undergraduate affairs.

“I enjoy learning from people from all walks of life, and Dr. Anderson is one of them,” Markham said. “He gave me feedback and was willing to help me grow, but I had to meet him halfway. He challenged my mind and taught me to never be satisfied. It’s good to be grateful, happy and enjoy your success, but you need to keep going. It’s about the journey, not the end result.”

Along with being a lifelong learner, Markham is driven to “be the seed of change for someone else.”

“I want to be a sponge and soak in knowledge, but I want to let it out and share with people, too. Everything you do is for the people behind you,” he said. “I want to make doors of opportunities visible and open for others, but encourage each person to walk through or step over the threshold on their own.”

Chris Snyder, honors college dean and MSU professor of history, praised Markham for taking the initiative to make connections with Anderson and others on campus who have provided valuable support throughout his MSU experience.

“Khalil’s enthusiasm and ambition were obvious from our first meeting. As a transfer student, he recognized how important it is to establish relationships with faculty, staff and peer leaders in the honors college,” Snyder said. “In doing so, he has discovered opportunities like the PPIA Fellowship Program and mentors like Dr. Anderson to help him tell his story well in the application process.”

For more on MSU’s Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College, visit; the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering,

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018 - 2:23 pm