Students at this Mississippi high school will get scholarships to university

Published 8:56 pm Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Students at The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science (MSMS) have been provided a unique pathway to fulfill their college dreams through a tuition scholarship partnership between the school and The University of Southern Mississippi (USM).

Officials from both schools announced the agreement during a ceremony held Wednesday, March 6 at the MSMS campus in Columbus.

The announcement included presentation of tuition scholarship certificates to all 106 seniors at MSMS. Students who graduate in May will receive an eight-semester award for full tuition to USM, with the requirement that they enroll for the fall 2024 semester.

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“Having this new partnership with The University of Southern Mississippi is incredibly significant for us,” said MSMS Interim Director Ginger Tedder. “We deeply appreciate USM’s full-tuition scholarship offer for the Class of 2024. This will not only provide valuable financial support for our students but also help to address the brain drain in Mississippi by encouraging our talented students to stay in the state for higher education.”

Tedder continued, “Several of our sister STEM schools have established partnerships that provide full-tuition scholarships from their in-state institutions of higher learning. Our partnership with USM thrills us because it brings that same opportunity to MSMS graduates.”

USM President Dr. Joseph S. Paul lauded the transformative partnership as an investment sure to reap invaluable rewards.

“We know that MSMS graduates are not only high ability but have also been well prepared for college by an elite faculty,” said Paul. “They have learned how to manage residential learning. They are ready for college, and when they leave Southern Miss, they will be ready for life. We consider this a strategic investment in Mississippi’s best and brightest.”

The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science is Mississippi’s only public, residential high school specifically designed to meet the needs of the state’s most academically gifted and talented 11th and 12th grade students. With an emphasis in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education, the school offers innovative learning experiences, leadership development opportunities, and holistic residential life programs geared toward high achievement students.

Dr. Kristi Motter, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, emphasized the value USM places on MSMS graduates who are thoroughly prepared to undertake the rigors of college life.

“We have a long-standing relationship with MSMS and know that students who enroll at Southern Miss after graduating from MSMS are ready to tackle the world,” said Motter. “They are ready to learn, ready to engage, and ready for their next journey. We want them to enroll to make Southern Miss better because they were here.”

Application to MSMS is open to any sophomore student who resides in Mississippi. The applicant’s interest in mathematics, science, engineering, and technology is considered as well as past academic performance, standardized test scores, extracurricular interests, and accomplishments.

To ensure that procedures for selection are fair and equitable, the State Board of Education established a process that uses three committees. These review committees are made up of educators and non-educators from across the state, representing all four of Mississippi’s congressional districts. MSMS admits academically qualified students without regard to race, creed, color, sex, or national and ethnic origin.

Tedder stresses that the new partnership heightens the potential for increased enrollment at MSMS, while also highlighting USM’s commitment to nurturing the next generation of state leaders.

“As a state school with students from across Mississippi, this will boost awareness of the exceptional educational experience we offer,” she said. “USM’s investment in some of Mississippi’s best students is really an investment in Mississippi. Looking ahead, as more parents and students from across Mississippi recognize that MSMS not only provides excellent preparation for college but also offers a pathway to debt-free post-secondary education, we anticipate a surge in interest. Overall, we believe this partnership will have a positive and lasting impact on our school’s enrollment.”

USM Provost Dr. Lance Nail views the new partnership as a win-win situation for both schools with notable benefits tied to burgeoning STEM-related career paths. USM is home to the renowned Center for Stem Education (established in 1964) with its ecosystem of initiatives for students in K-12 through graduate school.

“I am very excited about our partnership with The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science. This agreement furthers a symbiotic relationship that brings together students who excel in STEM-related studies and the University that leads the state in STEM education,” said Nail.