Nine freshmen receive MSU’s prestigious Presidential Scholarship

MSU President Mark E. Keenum and the university's newest Presidential Scholars smile while standing on the front steps of Lee Hall.
MSU President Mark E. Keenum (center) recently visited with the university’s newest Presidential Scholars. Pictured on the front steps of Lee Hall, they include (front row, l-r) Lindsay Culpepper of Pelham, Alabama; Guillermo Hoffmann Meyer of Starkville; Kyla Homewood of Gulf Breeze, Florida; John Fox of Brandon; (back row, l-r) Laura Grace King of Monroeville, Alabama; Courtney Cochran of Tupelo; (Keenum); Ann Olivia Radicioni of Clinton; Emma Van Epps of Memphis, Tennessee; and David Heson of Guntown. (Photo by Beth Wynn)

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State’s Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College is announcing its newest Presidential Endowed Scholarship recipients.

Nine freshmen representing Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Tennessee are being recognized with the university’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships, which over four years cover the current cost of university tuition, fees, books, and room and board, as well as research and study-abroad expenses.

To qualify, applicants must have a minimum 30 ACT/1330 SAT score, as well as have graduated with a minimum core or overall 3.75 high school GPA (based on a 4.0 scale). Recipients are expected to maintain an overall 3.4 GPA while in their respective academic majors.

Presidential Scholars have opportunities to interact with members of the land-grant institution’s extensive research faculty and be part of the honors college’s summer-study program at Oxford University in England, among other enhanced learning experiences.

Studio portrait of Don Shaffer
Donald M. Shaffer Jr. (Photo by Megan Bean)

MSU Presidential Scholars Mentor Donald M. Shaffer Jr. said while the pandemic has presented challenges for this academic year, faculty and staff in the honors college and across the university remain committed to “doing our very best to facilitate student success.”

“Our Presidential Scholars program has already shown itself to be equal to the task of adapting to the conditions of this global pandemic. Many of our scholars last summer were able to pursue research and internships, all of which had to be done remotely due to travel and social restrictions,” Shaffer explained.

“These newest scholars will no doubt adapt to the current landscape as they seek out research opportunities and internships this year. As their mentor, I am eager to help them meet these challenges,” added the associate professor of English and director of the African American Studies program.

Over the years, a number of scholars have received additional recognitions as national Goldwater, Marshall, Mitchell, Rhodes, Truman and Udall scholars, and many have been selected for a variety of professional internships. Students receive mentorship from the honors college’s Office of Prestigious External Scholarships.

This year’s Presidential Scholars class includes (by hometown):

BRANDON—John M. Fox, an undeclared major and homeschool graduate receiving a Morgan Keegan Presidential Endowed Scholarship.

CLINTON—Ann Olivia Radicioni, a political science major and Clinton High School graduate receiving a G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Presidential Endowed Scholarship.

GULF BREEZE, Florida—Kyla T. Homewood, an economics major and Pensacola High School graduate receiving a Louis Hurst Presidential Endowed Scholarship.

GUNTOWN—David C. Heson, a physics major and Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science graduate receiving a Hassell Franklin Presidential Endowed Scholarship.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee—Emma J. Van Epps, a mechanical engineering major and Saint Benedict at Auburndale graduate receiving a Luke and Ruth Davis Presidential Endowed Scholarship.

MONROEVILLE, Alabama—Laura Grace King, a secondary education major and Monroe County High School graduate receiving a Bobby and Barbara Martin Presidential Endowed Scholarship.

PELHAM, Alabama—Lindsay G. Culpepper, a wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture major and Evangelical Classical Christian graduate receiving a Steve and Melody Golding Presidential Endowed Scholarship.

STARKVILLE—Guillermo L. Hoffmann Meyer, a computer science major and Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science graduate receiving a John and Georgia Ann McPherson Presidential Endowed Scholarship.

TUPELO—Courtney N. Cochran, a chemical engineering major and Tupelo Christian Preparatory School graduate receiving a Mickey and Babs Holliman Presidential Endowed Scholarship.

Learn more about the Shackouls Honors College and its Office of Prestigious External Scholarships at

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