Southern Company creates MSU minority scholarship program, excellence fund

Contact: Walt Harrington

William O. “Billy” Ball Sr. (Photo submitted)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Southern Company, one of the leading energy companies in the United States, will help minority students pursue their dreams of a college education in an engineering discipline in the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University. The company’s generous gift supports an undergraduate scholarship program and an excellence fund for scholarship advisers.

William O. “Billy” Ball Sr., Southern Company executive vice president and chief transmission officer, looks forward to the selection of the first scholars.

“Southern Company hopes to provide support and guidance through this scholarship program. We believe solid advising and understanding how coursework has practical application in the real world through co-op and internships motivates recipients as they work to complete their degrees and find full-time employment, perhaps with the Southern Company team or with another company upon graduation as they become part of a much-needed diverse workforce,” said Ball, a 1987 MSU graduate with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

Future recipients of the Southern Company scholarship must be rising sophomores enrolled in the Bagley College with preference given to majors in the fields of chemical, civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering or computer sciences. Applicants must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA and hold membership in one of three MSU organizations—the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, or the Society of Women in Engineering. Each selected recipient will receive $4,000 per academic year.  

Beyond scholarship support, the Southern Company Fund for Excellence will assist faculty and staff who serve as chapter advisers for one of the three selected engineering organizations. These advisers will assist in the scholarship application process, mentor recipients and provide an annual program assessment of each student.

“We at Southern Company recognize that engaged advisers are key to the long-term success of these organizations, and we want to salute these advisers through a stipend for their motivations in helping companies like ours recruit future employees,” Ball said.

Within the Bagley College, Angela Verdell utilizes an open-door policy as adviser for the National Society of Black Engineers, and she looks forward to expanding her tutelage to recipients of the scholarship.

“STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) role models are not always present in the lives of students that flow through our organization,” said Verdell, who serves the Bagley College as director of diversity programs and student development. “With the help of this stipend, I can provide invaluable encouragement and guidance to assist the students targeted by this scholarship program in achieving success.”

Southern Company is nationally recognized as a leading provider of clean, safe, affordable energy. The corporation includes electric operating companies in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida as well as natural gas distribution companies in Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and Illinois.

For more information on supporting scholarships in the Bagley College, contact Paul Zimmerman, the college’s assistant director of development, 662-325-0009 or

For more on Southern Company, visit

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