In 2014, the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education announced funding to launch the First in the World program. Proposals were submitted by 459 higher education institutions across the United States. Delta State University was one of only 24 institutions selected and the only institution in Mississippi to receive funding. The university received a four-year, $1.6 million grant to implement Okra Scholars.
Okra Scholars are an exceptional group of students who are motivated and committed to completing their college degree. The program was established to assist freshmen with turning their dream of attaining a college education into reality. The inaugural group of 56 students were recently honored for their selection.
“Okra Scholars works to increase the retention, engagement, on-time graduation and employability of DSU students by incorporating innovative learning strategies into four-year personalized learning pathways,” said Matthew Harris, program associate. “We focus on the entire student life cycle by creating a personal path that builds upon a foundation of services.”
At each stage of the cycle, students engage in specific activities that accentuate college development, including, but not limited to: tutorial services, a collaborative learning lab, learning community classes, study skills workshops, professional development courses, internships and part-time employment opportunities.
Students eligible to participate in Okra Scholars are freshmen who meet one of the following eligibility requirements: ACT score of 17-21, resident of the Mississippi Delta, a first-generation college student or Pell-Grant eligible.
Each academic year, a new group of freshmen will join the program utilizing returning Okra Scholars as peer mentors. The scholars commit to completing their degree and are assigned a faculty mentor to help guide them throughout their time as a student.
Faculty mentors support holistic development throughout the student life cycle — from the first year up to graduation — while creating constructive learning environments that coincide with each of the three project components of academic success, career development and cultural competency.
Beginning at Delta State’s Summer 2015 Freshmen Orientation, program officials will recruit a new group of scholars for the 2015-2016 academic year. Interested incoming freshmen are encouraged to apply for participation no later than Aug. 1, 2015. Students selected for participation will attend an orientation at the beginning of the fall semester.
This year’s recipients are:
|Lake Village, AR- Caleh Trexler
Springdale, AR- Taylor WyattBelzoni, MS- Talauntra Bullock
Brandon, MS- Austin Hartz
Bruce, MS- Linesha Miller
Duncan, MS- Eurekia Beasley
Canton, MS- Lynn ArmonCleveland, MS- Tia Brown, Diamond Jackson, Michael Long, David Mullen, Gregory Peacock, Terry Winston
Clarksdale, MS- Ashley Keller, Kimberly Molina, Bryson Stubbs
Columbus, MS- Carlius Bankhead, Brenesha Smith
Como, MS- Ladarius Gates
Courtland, MS- Sabrina Beard
Duncan, MS- Eurekia Beasley
Dundee, MS- Tristan Ainsworth
Eupora, MS- Chance Cooper
Greenville, MS-Ladarrien Evans, Keuna
Hodges, Rickeita Marsalis, Quaneisha Murray
Grenada, MS- Ahmad Lewis
Hattiesburg, MS- Akira Griffin
Hernando, MS-Benjamin Buckhalter, Brittany McClendon
Horn Lake, MS- Amanda Lutz, Madison Wahlstrom
Houston, MS- Paige Griffin
Hollandale, MS- Kenya Lindsey, Maggie Turner
Indianola, MS- Tyeshia Price
Lambert, MS- Chaketha Gilliam
Metcalfe, MS- Denzell Breedlove, Tiffany Ezekiel
Nesbit, MS- Annie Casey
Olive Branch, MS- Skylar Kuehn
Oxford, MS- Harrison Hopper
Pope, MS- Dana Rico
Prentiss, MS- Tykia Barber
Rosedale, MS- Quenita Drummer
Rolling Fork, MS- La’Quita Minor
Sardis, MS- Jordan Pullen
Southaven, MS- Jacob Ludlam, Matthew Talbert
Tupelo, MS-Aarion Edwards
Tutwiler, MS- Imani Scott
Water Valley, MS- Catherine Tollison
Garden City, NY- TeNeal Colbert
Bartlett, TN- Lane Hylander
Somerville, TN- Anjelica Rivers
Memphis, TN- Sydnee Williams
Okra Scholars is a division of the Delta State University Student Success Center and is located in the H.L. Nowell Student Union. For more information, contact Matthew Harris at email@example.com or 662-846-4501.