Sanders scholarship impacts brother, sister at MSU

For siblings Isaac and Emma Jumper, a special scholarship has greatly impacted their education at Mississippi State University. In return for the generous investment, they are preparing for careers that will better humanity.

The Sanders Family Endowed Scholarship helped both Isaac and Emma with their university education. The scholarship, established by Cleveland couple Mike and Nan Sanders, assists undergraduate students enrolled in any major as they pursue an undergraduate degree at Mississippi State.

The Sanderses created the scholarship endowment through Jimmy Sanders Inc., one of the leading farm supply distribution businesses in the mid-South. Mike Sanders, a 1964 physical education graduate, is now the retired president and CEO of the company founded by his late father in the Mississippi Delta. The scholarship initially assisted children of the company’s employees, but it now also benefits other students. The couple takes great pride in supporting academics and athletics at the university.

The Jumpers' connection with Mississippi State began when Isaac toured the university as part of his high school experience. Although he considered several schools, he decided on MSU, in part, because of the excellent reputation of the university and the welcoming environment.

“After I enrolled, the first person who reached out to me was Mr. Sanders,” Isaac said. “He called and congratulated me on my decision and the scholarship, saying, ‘You’ll always be a Bulldog—no matter what else happens in your life—you’ll always have that accomplishment and that connection.’”

Now a third-year veterinary student, Isaac graduated from MSU in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and concentration in pre-veterinary medicine, with a minor in animal and dairy sciences. Along with his studies, he has served as president of both the American Association of Bovine Practitioners and the Collegiate Cattlemen’s Association. This summer, he will participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Smith-Kilborne Foreign Animal Disease Program in New York.

“Isaac is science minded and I am business minded, but we complement each other very well in our ambition to help people through everything we achieve. Within our goals is definitely support of agriculture to feed our planet.” ~Emma Jumper

Although Emma is two years younger, she followed her brother’s path and decided MSU was the best place for her. Her academic achievements enable her to echo Isaac’s footsteps as part of the university’s prestigious Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College.
The Jumpers grew up in Paragould, Arkansas, on a registered Angus cattle farm known as Rock Creek Ranch. They appreciate their agricultural roots, which were cultivated by their parents, Tommy and Pam Jumper. The brother-sister pair shares in the ownership of the family business and entertains great plans for the future.

Although the siblings are similar, Emma said it’s their differences that make them a strong team.

"Isaac is science minded and I am business minded, but we complement each other very well in our ambition to help people through everything we achieve. Within our goals is definitely support of agriculture to feed our planet," she said.

For Emma, a love of agriculture coupled with business shines through in her endeavors. She will graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in finance and a minor in economics. Earlier this year, she was selected as the top retail student in the nation and received a $25,000 Next Generation Scholarship from the National Retail Federation Foundation, the world’s largest retail trade association. Her application on the trends in food retail and her passion for the subject captivated the judges.

“I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I trust myself to recognize opportunities as they emerge,” Emma said. “More than anything, I see my selection as the NRF winner as a success for Mississippi State and a testament to the beneficial mission and progressiveness of our university.”

This summer, Emma competed in the Miss Mississippi pageant as Miss Belle of the Bayou. In preparation, she visited schools talking about her platform, “The Solution to Feeding the World STEMS from Agriculture.”

“The Sanders family and company have been very good to us, and Isaac and I want to promote agriculture and the state of Mississippi,” Emma said. “We are proud to represent the Sanders legacy and the Sanders name in all we accomplish because of the generous scholarship.”

Through the generosity of Nan and Mike Sanders, an additional endowment will bring opportunities to attract more elite students to Mississippi State. A new Presidential Endowed Scholarship funded by the couple will provide a four-year education for high-caliber future recipients who will be members of the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College.

The Mike and Nan Sanders Presidential Endowed Scholarship will challenge outstanding students to excel academically and distinguish themselves through their studies and campus leadership roles.

“We are proud to support scholarships at Mississippi State because an investment in students can encourage and help them become caring and knowledgeable future leaders,” said Mike, who was the university’s national alumnus in 2014. “It is the educational paths of these students, like Isaac and Emma, that will ultimately make them successful and enable them to bring their incredible talents to areas that will better our world.”

By Amy Cagle | Photos by Russ Houston