On Sept. 23, The University of Southern Mississippi’s Dean of Students announced the 2017 class of Kennard Scholars.
The Kennard Scholarship Program named after Clyde Kennard, who was a noted individual for attempting to integrate the university in the 1950s, is a platform that offers a variety of resources to aid students the ability to pay for college.
The program was developed at Southern Miss in 2014 as a pilot program, starting with only 10 students. The trial program was an experiment to examine the retention rates of students at our university and how to exemplify them.
Dean of Students Eddie Holloway said there are four pillars of college success.
“Admission, retention, progress and graduation are the components that I strongly believe add to the benefits of students completing college,” Holloway said.
Holloway said that by creating a parallel between class lessons and assignments, building study skills and give a greater purpose to achievement, will help students connect the dots to building highly productive lives.
“I hope that this program and others of this sort enhances graduation within four years and adds a greater enlightenment in the value and benefit of higher education,” he said.
The retention initiative grew rapidly within the past three years, encouraging 162 students to apply for the scholarship this semester. Based on grade point averages, staff recommendations and leadership involvement, a committee of five selected 42 students as the Kennard Scholars of 2017.
“Not only are you awarded a monetary scholarship, but you also receive a personal mentor, life skills training and opportunities to participate in active learning experiences,” said upcoming graduate and Kennard recipient Vincent McMurtery.
McMurtey said he has a twin brother and every dollar given to their household toward education is appreciated.
“I have been struggling financially lately paying for medical bills and balancing other finances in life,” McMurtey said. “And, as you probably know, paying for school isn’t easy. I am so grateful for this award and happy to represent the university as a leader and scholar of this program.”
The program targets first generation students, students from underrepresented communities and students who demonstrate financial need.
The program offers a variety of resources for those committed to academic excellence and leadership. These resources include a mentor program made of partnerships between the scholars and university faculty and staff, a series of workshops entitled Scholars Training and Education Programs (STEPs), active learning trips, academic enrichment and civic engagement.
Kennard Scholars Assistant Director Johnell Goins said she supports the programs goals.
“Making any investment in students is always important,” Goins said. “Having the ability to assist in such student development and witness the return on the investment is gratifying. The return is always so rewarding.”
The program has added an additional resource this year called the Lenard’s Kids Scholars. The Kennard Scholars of Southern Miss will be giving back to classrooms and Hattiesburg public schools with the objective to bridge the gap between grade school and college.
As a retention initiative, the Kennard Scholarship Program and Dean of Students motivates more students to get involved and mimic these efforts campus-wide.