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All Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science Seniors Awarded USM Scholarships

The University of Southern Mississippi awarded all 106 seniors at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science full scholarships during a ceremony on March 6, 2024. Photo courtesy of The University of Southern Mississippi

Graduating seniors at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science learned recently that at least one university in the state is guaranteeing them a fully paid higher education.

The University of Southern Mississippi presented tuition scholarship certificates to 106 Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science students during a March 6 ceremony on the MSMS campus.

“We know that MSMS graduates are not only high-ability but have also been well prepared for college by an elite faculty,” USM President Joe Paul said in a university press release. “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.”

Each of those seniors received an individual certificate and acknowledgment of their academic accomplishments along with the guarantee of a tuition award valued at $38,000 over eight semesters. The graduates must enroll for the fall 2024 semester to be eligible for the award.

“Having this new partnership with The University of Southern Mississippi is incredibly significant for us,” MSMS Interim Director Ginger Tedder said in the release. “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.”

The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science is the state’s publicly funded residential high school for academically gifted 11th and 12th-grade students. The school emphasizes a science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum that USM Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Vice President Dr. Kristie Motter said aligns with the university’s growth goals. USM is home to the Center for STEM Education, which offers graduate degree programs in STEM fields.

USM officials said they identified an increased need for STEM graduates to supply workforce demand in early spring. After research, data evaluation and stakeholder discussions, they decided that MSMS would be the right school for an initial partnership.

“At Southern Miss, we are trying to identify students who have the desire for a higher education and would make Southern Miss better,” Motter told the Mississippi Free Press on April 5. “Our focus in STEM education led us to the MSMS college graduates and their success and we are looking to increase that partnership.”

“Those are great students at MSMS,” Motter continued. “They are high quality (and) high academic merit so what they have to offer and what we have to offer looks like a good opportunity for both of us. We’re investing in the students and we want the students to invest in us.”

Motter said the reaction from the students was astonishing. The university saw an increase in applications in the days following the announcement.

“I mean, they were thrilled to death,” Motter said. “And we received some emotional things from students who are trying to find the gap dollars to fund their education.”

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