Special to The Star
The Meridian Star
Of the 117 degrees conferred during Mississippi State University-Meridian's 2012 spring commencement exercises, 31 graduates were Riley Scholars.
Riley Scholars represent the Riley Next Step Scholarship Program, which recognizes students who have excelled at the community-college or junior-college level and want to pursue higher education opportunities at MSU-Meridian. Recipients receive full tuition to MSU-Meridian for two years – four semesters, fall and spring.
The Riley Next Step Scholarship Program formed in 2010 through a partnership between Mississippi State University and The Riley Foundation, one of the largest foundations in Mississippi whose mission is to improve the quality of life for the people of Meridian and Lauderdale County. The scholarships are made possible through grants from The Riley Foundation and other generous benefactors.
Riley Scholar Melanie Chambers is one of five students recognized as a 2011-12 Outstanding Graduate. Chambers, who is pursuing a degree in social work after working 17 years in the accounting department of a local business, said she is grateful to be a Riley Next Step Scholarship recipient.
“Quite simply, it made a long-term dream of mine come true,” Chambers said.
Fellow Riley Scholar Kevin Vaughn was also recognized as an Outstanding Graduate. Vaughn, a pastor and father of four, transferred to MSU-Meridian in fall 2010 to pursue a bachelor of business administration degree with a concentration in marketing. He was one of the first recipients of the Riley Next Step Scholarship.
“Thanks to The Riley Foundation and Mississippi Power (Company), the scholarship paid for my undergraduate degree so I can use the money I had saved for my education to pay for graduate school,” Vaughn said.
Riley Scholar Paige Satcher, another Outstanding Graduate honoree, graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 grade point average. Satcher has started her career in education career as a teacher at Quitman Upper Elementary.
“It was fabulous getting this scholarship – it was definitely a weight off my shoulders knowing I didn’t have to worry about tuition or fees or anything,” Satcher said.
Awards for the Riley Next Step Scholarship Program are made on a competitive basis following a review of all credentials by the scholarship committee. The 2012 Riley Scholars graduates are: Sheri Alison Blackledge; Melanie Moulds Chambers; Emily Jo Crenshaw; William Joseph Cunningham; Donald Ramon Edwards; Laura Elizabeth Farrow; Mary Alli French; Kelly Demar George; Adella Rainer Gilbert; Brittany Ashton Harden; Tora Lekea Hearn; Tara Rose Ingram; Lindsay Ann James; Kristen Paige Jones; Sandi Lea Kelly; Megan Christian Kidd; Tiffany Lee Ann Lowry; Dominique L. McKee; Hali Renea Hamrick Morgan; Tracy K. Naylor; Amy Rucker Plaisance; Trisha Jo Rainer; Jessica Paige Satcher; Jennifer Theresa Shannon; Tomeka Latwyone Thedford; Willie Kevin Vaughn; Kristi Bell Wade; Lauren Christina Walker; Lowell D. Wallace; Hannah Carol Watkins; and Anna Victoria Williams.
For more information, contact Mississippi State University-Meridian at (601) 484-0134 or The Riley Foundation at (601) 481-1430.