Challenge drives contributions for Compass Scholarships

A growing scholarship program at Mississippi State University keeps dedicated, high performing students moving toward their academic pursuits. Known as Compass, the program is getting an annual boost through an ongoing challenge with matching dollars as part of the university’s Infinite Impact campaign.

In recent years, Compass Scholarships have been assisting more students at Mississippi State because a challenge from university leadership is helping build momentum. Contributors can change the lives of these students who are excelling across the board and prepare them for successful and impactful futures through the scholarship program.

Mississippi State annually seeks at least $500,000 for Compass Scholarships to assist students university wide. Once the minimum goal of $500,000 is reached through private gifts, the university offers a Compass Scholars Challenge, providing an additional $500,000 to be awarded.

“We are proud to extend this special challenge to all alumni, friends and corporations who can contribute to the much-needed Compass Scholarships and help us place quality students on the best-laid path toward graduation,” MSU President Mark E. Keenum said. “By satisfying the challenge, the Compass program’s impact is extended for twice as many aspiring students.”

As students embark on their journeys toward successful futures, investments in the Compass Scholarship Program work to combat financial obstacles, and in turn, allow recipients to fully engage in the world-class learning environment fostered at Mississippi State. Such support expands opportunity and transforms an education into a positive, life-changing experience.

Compass Scholarships are awarded to incoming students from any academic area and are instrumental in attracting some of the brightest scholars to campus. The scholarships are awarded on a yearly basis, and recipients are required to meet certain academic criteria to retain their awards, which vary in amount depending on a student’s overall financial assistance.

Many recipients are enrolled at Mississippi State because of generous gifts for Compass Scholarships from alumni and friends. In the current academic year, more than 370 students are receiving the scholarships.

Since the program’s inception in 2013, nearly 1,700 students have received Compass Scholarships, and these students represent all eight academic colleges at Mississippi State. Popular majors for recipients include biological sciences, business administration, civil engineering, educational psychology, elementary education, kinesiology, mechanical engineering and pre-accounting.

For Miss MSU 2017 Molly May, the Compass Scholarship has helped with maintaining a focus on education and success.

“My time at Mississippi State University has been blessed beyond compare, and I owe a lot of it to the Compass Scholarship Program,” said May, a senior communication major from Houston. “I cannot express my gratitude enough to the Compass Scholarship Program for the contribution that is not only helping ease my financial burden, but also making possible my great MSU experience.”

With the help of the Compass Scholarship, May was able to attend Mississippi State after undergoing a successful double mastectomy in 2014. Now cancer free and enjoying her time at MSU, May says, “To the donors…I will never be able to thank them enough.”

Along with May, many other hardworking students at Mississippi State benefit from scholarships that fund their immediate tuition needs, including fellow Compass recipient David Failla.

Failla received the Compass Scholarship for the 2015-16 academic year. The senior mechanical engineering major from Picayune said his decision to attend Mississippi State was greatly influenced by the opportunity that the Compass Scholarship presented.

“The Compass Scholarship is what really made my college experience possible, and I’m so grateful for that,” Failla said.

By helping to reduce his financial burden, the Compass Scholarship has enabled Failla to devote more time to studies and extracurricular opportunities. In addition to maintaining a 4.0 GPA, he is an active member of the MSU chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, as well as the Human Powered Vehicle Challenge team. He also serves as a student worker for the MSU Extension Center for Technology Outreach.

“We hope alumni and friends will continue to support us in our goal to optimize our efforts and double the funding for Compass Scholarships through the Compass Scholars Challenge,” said Ally Walker, MSU’s associate director of annual giving. “Renewing gifts to Compass each year impacts students’ lives as they continue their educational journey and make satisfactory progress toward a degree, and we are grateful for each and every contribution on their behalf.”

Alumni and friends can help Mississippi State provide students with Compass Scholarships. Gifts can be made online through the MSU Foundation at or by contacting Walker at 662.325.5977 or

Let’s Make a Match!

Once the Compass Scholarship goal of $500,000 is reached yearly, MSU will match the amount, doubling the impact of donor gifts. Make your gift now at