Students get a taste of university life

Published 9:19 am Thursday, September 22, 2016

MSU President Mark E. Keenum speaking to visiting Brookhaven honor students.  (photo by Beth Wynn / © Mississippi State University)

MSU President Mark E. Keenum speaking to visiting Brookhaven honor students.
(photo by Beth Wynn / © Mississippi State University)

It was an eye-opening experience for many of the students — some from Brookhaven High School and others from Brookhaven Academy — who toured Mississippi State University Wednesday.

About 80 juniors and seniors from BHS and BA woke up early to meet at the Walmart parking lot at 6:30 a.m. BHS counselor Tracy Risher was one of 11 chaperones to escort the students to the Bulldogs’ campus on a shuttle provided by the Lincoln County chapter of the MSU Alumni Association. There, they toured engineering departments, ate at the university cafeteria and met with MSU students.

In what Risher described as the highlight of the trip, MSU linebacker Leo Lewis stopped to talk with the group. Several former students of Brookhaven Academy and Brookhaven High School also introduced themselves.

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“It was an eye opening experience for our students,” Risher said.

The Lincoln County Alumni Association organized the event to educate students about the Swalm scholarship, named after Brookhaven native Dave Swalm who graduated from MSU with a major in chemical engineering in 1955.

The scholarship will award $20,000 to students over four years, or $2,500 per semester. To be eligible, students must have at least a 3.0 GPA, be entering as freshmen for at least 12 hours and must be pursuing a technical degree. Financial need will also be a consideration. Students who change to a non-technical major, fall below the required grade point average or enroll for less than 12 hour can lose their scholarship.

There are 20 scholarships available to BHS and five available for BA, but Snider said they can be transferred over if one school does no use all of their scholarships.

“Knowledge is power, and obviously we want students to become educated,” alumni association member Jason Snider said.

MSU President Mark Keenum spoke to the students about the scholarship, and they also toured the Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering on campus. It was an experience that Risher said left several students wanting to come back.

“It’s very exciting to see them dedicate their full day to this,” Snider said. “Hopefully we’ll see some future bulldogs in the making.”

Snider said alumni and friends are encouraged to join the Lincoln County chapter, and should email him at or call at 601-695-8123.