Presidential Scholarships continue to attract nation’s best students

Students who are Presidential Scholars at Mississippi State University are well-known for their academic skills, creativity and desire to excel in their studies. These young adults are among the nationally elite students who come to MSU for the opportunity to further their goals as students in the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College.

Eleven students from Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Kansas and Tennessee are new selections for the university’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships. These freshmen join 25 other students selected in previous years to become part of the program that is part of the highest level of academic achievement at Mississippi State. Incoming freshmen receiving Presidential Scholarships may keep them for as long as eight semesters.

The 2014-15 Presidential Scholars class includes seven in-state recipients. They are Robert W. “Bobby” Buntyn of Gulfport, a junior biological sciences/pre-medicine major and community college transfer student receiving an Ottilie Schillig Presidential Scholarship; Nicholas Cobb of Madison, a freshman business administration major receiving a Lila and Hunter Henry Presidential Scholarship; Robert W. Frey of Jackson, a sophomore history major receiving a G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Presidential Scholarship; Meredith A. Hilliard of Hernando, a freshman English major receiving a John and Renée Grisham Presidential Scholarship; Nia A. Sims of Clinton, a freshman biochemistry/pre-medicine major receiving a Mickey and Babs Holliman Presidential Scholarship; Emily E. Turner of Starkville, a freshman architecture major receiving a Luke and Ruth Davis Presidential Scholarship; and Teddy P. “Trey” Wallace, a freshman computer engineering major receiving a Charles and Pat Lee Presidential Endowed Scholarship.

Joining them are four out-of-state recipients: Charles B. Boyd of Madison, Alabama, a freshman software engineering major receiving an Ottilie Schillig Presidential Scholarship; Laura A. Herring of Panama City Beach, Florida, a sophomore business economics/international business major receiving a Hassell Franklin Presidential Scholarship; Mary A. Smith of Collierville, Tennessee, a sophomore microbiology major receiving a Luke and Ruth Davis Presidential Scholarship; and Elizabeth M. “Betty” Thomas of Lenexa, Kansas, a sophomore business economics/international business major receiving a Hassell Franklin Presidential Scholarship.

Each new Presidential Scholar is receiving $40,000 over four years—or $10,000 per year—to cover the current cost of university tuition and fees, books, room and board, and research and study-abroad expenses. To qualify, the scholars must have a minimum 30 ACT/1330 SAT score, as well have graduated with a minimum core or overall 3.75 high school grade-point average (based on a 4.0 scale). Each Presidential Scholar is expected to maintain an overall 3.4 GPA while in his or her respective major at Mississippi State.

Selected from more than 600 qualified applicants, the new Presidential Scholars join more than 25 already participating in the program. These scholars have opportunities to interact with members of the research faculty and take part in the college’s Summer Study at Oxford Program, along with other enhanced learning opportunities.

“The new Presidential Scholars represent some of the strongest, most promising students in the nation,” said Tommy Anderson, Presidential Scholar program mentor. “They come already conducting meaningful research and with impressive records of leadership and community engagement.”

Anderson, also an associate professor of English, now is in his third year with the program. He also directs the university’s Office of Prestigious External Scholarships.

“In addition to being academic leaders and participating fully in university life, Presidential Scholars are expected to seek out external scholarship opportunities for intellectual and personal growth,” he said.

He also said the 11 new scholars have the potential to serve as agents of change in their respective disciplines. Over the years, a number of scholars additionally have been honored with national Truman, Udall, Mitchell and Goldwater scholarships, as well as professional internships.

Donors may continue to establish endowments for Presidential Scholarships. A minimum of $250,000 will endow a Presidential Scholarship. For more on establishing scholarships, contact Jack McCarty, executive director of development for the MSU Foundation, at 662-325-9580 or email

By Sasha Steinberg
Photo caption: MSU President Mark E. Keenum, center, welcomes the newest class of Presidential Scholars, including (First row, L-R) Nia Sims, Meredith Hilliard, Betty Thomas, Emily Turner; (Second row) Charles Boyd, Laura Herring, Nicholas Cobb, Mary Smith; (Third row) Robert Frey, Bobby Buntyn, and Trey Wallace. Photo by: Russ Houston