Delta State’s group of Okra Scholars students received a special visit Wednesday from U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi.
Thompson was on campus for the Delta State University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series to speak about the 2016 national elections.
Congressman Thompson spoke to students and mentors about how various cultures view politics.
Dr. Jon Westfall, coordinator of Okra Scholars, said it was a great opportunity for the students to interact with a U.S. congressman.
“One of the key areas that Okra Scholars focuses on is culture, and it is vital to understand how our government works to understand how it shapes our cultural viewpoints,” said Westfall. “With the election on everyone’s mind, it is vital our students have access to our leaders, to better understand our country.”
“It is the duty of all citizens and guests of the United States to know how our government operates, and while textbooks and news channels may provide some of this, there is no substitution for hearing it from the source,” he added. “There are only 535 members of Congress — and we cannot miss opportunities to hear their views, as we’re the ones empowering them to act on our behalf.”
Westfall said Okra Scholars embraces a holistic approach to student preparedness, and while academic preparation and career readiness are often stressed, it is culture that will influence the lives of Delta State students far more than grades or job titles.
To learn more about Okra Scholars, visit https://www.deltastate.edu/student-success-center/okra-scholars/.
About Okra Scholars: 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. Delta State University was one of only 24 institutions selected and the only institution in Mississippi to receive funding. DSU received a four-year, $1.6 million grant to implement Okra Scholars. By incorporating innovative learning strategies into four-year personalized learning pathways, Okra Scholars works to increase the retention, engagement, on-time graduation and employability of DSU students.