MSU leader stresses education

Published 6:43 pm Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On a dreary Tuesday, maroon and white shined brightly throughthe drops of rain, cowbells were proudly displayed and the word”State” across gold M’s sat perfectly on lapels.

Bulldog pride was in full display as Mississippi StateUniversity’s 19th President, Dr. Mark Keenum, made several stopsaround Brookhaven to stress the importance of an advancededucation.

“I had no clue what I was going to do with my life,” Keenum tolda group of seniors in the library at Brookhaven High School.

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Keenum continued to tell the students that he began his academiccareer at Northeast Mississippi Community College, where he playedfootball and met his wife.

However, he said he grew up cheering for the Bulldogs.

“It was a seamless transition for me, from the first exam atNortheast to the last exam at Mississippi State.”

Keenum informed the students of his long journey to obtaininghis doctorate degree from MSU and shared some life experiences toencourage the students. He spoke about turning down a job offer asa policy adviser for U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, but later taking theposition.

He mentioned that through the position he was able to advancehis career and have many long-lasting experiences, including livingin D.C., traveling across the U.S. and meeting the president.

“I would have never had those opportunities had I stuck to myoriginal plan based on fear,” said Keenum. “There’s not anythingyou can’t overcome if you just apply yourself.”

Aside from urging the seniors to take risks, Keenum stressed theimportance of an advanced college degree.

“I wanted to have a successful life,” said Keenum. “I knew justhaving an associate’s degree wouldn’t be enough.”

Keenum continued to inform the students that it is currently arough economy and it is very competitive when seeking employment.However, he told them that their life experiences and earningpotential would be limited without a degree.

“I want you to be able to have the kind of life that you dreamof,” said Keenum, “It’s your generation that’s going to be leadingthis state.”

At his next stop, a luncheon sponsored by the Kiwanis and LionsClub at Rusty’s Family Restaurant, the MSU president stressed theimportance of an education to better the state.

“The future depends on the ability to have an education,” saidKeenum.

Keenum mentioned that some of the challenges that the stateneeds to overcome are high poverty rates, high obesity rates andhigh heart disease rates.

In addition to lunch and a BHS visit, Keenum passed throughBrookhaven Academy and the Mississippi School of the Arts. Keenum’stour of the MSA campus included the Johnson Institute, LamptonAuditorium, Y-Hut and the Student Life Center.

Keenum’s message about continuing education to students wouldcontinue along the Gulf Coast before heading back toStarkville.