Gabrielle Heckler (Student)

Gabrielle Heckler, pictured in front of Lee Hall holding a cowbell.

Valedictorian of Harrison Central’s 2017 class, Gabrielle Heckler always worked hard academically to achieve her highest potential. That hard work paid off last year with great scholarship offers from MSU and other universities, but her decision to move to Starkville was not finalized until she began to make some personal connections with members of the Bulldog family. Those connections actually initiated with chance conversations her mother had with customers while working as a waitress. MSU alumni were happy to send encouraging words and practical help to a prospective Bulldog making her final college decision.

“That’s what made me decide to come – everybody at State is a family,” Heckler said.

With her freshman year now complete and a welcome opportunity to spend the summer at home in Gulfport, Heckler said she thrived in her first year on campus, and she’s thankful for MSU’s home-away-from-home family culture. She also is grateful for the constant support and encouragement of MSU alumni who continue to invest in current students.

When she arrived on campus last fall, the first day or two were a bit stressful – complete with locking her keys in her car an hour after her mother left town.

“It was a rough couple of days, but once classes start, you feel in place. On the first day of classes, I asked for directions several times, and everyone was welcoming, kind and willing to help,” she said.

The positive experience also reassured her mom back home. “It makes her feel better that Mississippi State is like a family community. We all look out for each other,” Heckler said.

The chemical engineering major took her studies seriously from day one, utilizing MSU’s supplemental instruction program offered through The Learning Center, as well as seeking out her professors during their office hours.

She also engaged in campus activities and was selected as a member of Freshman Edge, a Student Association program that involves service and leadership development projects. Heckler said it was a great way to meet others and make new friends, as well as foster a passion to serve through tutoring, visiting the elderly and supporting events like the MLK Jr. Day of Service, among others.

While she doesn’t yet know exactly what sort of career she wants, she’s confident that a math- and science-based field will provide her with good options. Heckler is certain that while at MSU, she’s going to continue to be fully committed to her academic regimen, but she’s also going to fully enjoy other benefits that college life has to offer.

“I was pretty much at every baseball and football game all year,” she said. “And I also really enjoyed basketball.”