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163 students honored as Miss. Scholars

High school seniors from all over the county were honored fortheir academic achievements Monday night at Easthaven BaptistChurch.

The Mississippi Scholars Awards Banquet showcased 163 seniorswho are graduating after taking the more rigorous MississippiScholars curriculum. The curriculum is designed to better preparestudents for college and the real world.

Educator and Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of CommercePresident Rob McCreary congratulated the group on theirachievements and dedication to excellence.

“Thank you, Mississippi Scholars, for trying to build a betterBrookhaven and Lincoln County,” he said. “Sometimes when you’resitting there in classes, you have to think, ‘What am I doing thisfor?’ But we’re grateful, because you’re not just helping yourself,you’re building our future.”

Thirty-four students received $37,000 in scholarships Mondaynight.

Mississippi Scholars officials were particularly excited thatthe amount of scholarship money given out has more than doubledsince last year. For the 2007 year, $16,500 in scholarships wasawarded.

“No other program in the state offers scholarships like this,”McCreary said. “Our program here in Brookhaven and Lincoln Countyhas set the bar for all the others in the state.”

Mississippi School of the Arts senior Devion Andrez Coleman wasawarded a $500 scholarship to a college of his choice. He said hehopes to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Hollywood,but his second choice is the University of Southern Mississippi, alittle closer to home.

Coleman said the choice to be a Mississippi Scholar wasn’t ahard one.

“Because it gave me a chance to explore different things Iwouldn’t have taken if not for Mississippi Scholars,” he said.

Brookhaven High School senior Emily Brumfield was given a $1,000scholarship to Southwest Mississippi Community College. She saidwhile she isn’t sure what she will choose as a career, she plans toattend the University of Mississippi or USM after communitycollege.

Brumfield said Mississippi Scholars was a natural option for heras well.

“It’s good for your transcript,” she said. “The classes requiredwere ones I was interested in taking anyway. There was one classthat gave me trouble, but I’m glad I stuck with it.”

University of Mississippi Assistant Dean of Admissions MaxMiller said Brookhaven is the flagship for Mississippi Scholarsprograms throughout the state, and that higher educators are takingnotice.

“I’ve never seen such opportunities offered to a communitythrough an organization of volunteers,” he said. “This truly is amodel for other communities to work and build a program of theirown like this.”

Miller said Ole Miss, like Mississippi State, Copiah-LincolnCommunity College and Southwest Mississippi Community College, isproud to offer scholarships to motivated students from Brookhavenand Lincoln County.

“I’m grateful for the great opportunity we have to offerassistance, however modest, to these excellent students,” he said.”I’ve invited them all to come see me when they come to theuniversity. We’re looking at one of the best freshman classes inyears, and I’m certain these students will be in the middle of theactivity.”

Mississippi State University Admissions Counselor Jimmy Kightagreed.

“The Mississippi Scholars program in Brookhaven-Lincoln Countyis an indescribable experience,” he said. “I expected around 40-50people, but there were hundreds in attendance. That is a complimentto everyone who has worked so diligently to build this fromrelatively non-existent three years ago to the benchmark in thestate.”

In addition to the scholarship money awarded to the students,Brookhaven High School Principal Susan Chapman was given an awardof special recognition for her monetary donations as well as herdedication to the program.