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DSU Senior Keshawn Jennings Wins Prestigious Swayze Medallion

2023 Swayze Scholar, Keshawn Jennings

CLEVELAND, Miss.— The Mississippi Young Banker’s Association has named Keshawn Jennings, a senior finance major in the College of Business and Aviation at Delta State University from Marietta, Georgia, as the 2023 Swayze Scholar. The award is presented annually to an outstanding college senior studying banking and finance at state-supported universities in Mississippi.  

All 5 finalists for the Swayze Award. (L to R) CJ Fisher from Mississippi State, Emma Warren from Southern Miss, Keshawn Jennings from Delta State, Jalen Sparkman from Mississippi state, and Drew McGowan from Mississippi State

The award comes with a $5,000 scholarship and is meant to reflect the high academic standards and character of Orrin H. Swayze, a widely respected Mississippi banker who was a senior officer for Trustmark (then known as First National Bank of Jackson) for many years. In addition to the cash award, each Swayze Scholar also receives a medallion featuring an engraving of Swayze to wear at graduation ceremonies. Applicants must be nominated by their banking professor. 

MBA Program Coordinator Lisa Cooley said, “We are so proud of him. Keshawn is just a fantastic person and is so deserving of this award.” 

While attending the convention, Jennings played golf with executives from BNA Bank in New Albany. (L to R) Tyler Basil, Keshawn Jennings, Witt Spencer, and Drew Dodds.

Five scholarship finalists from Mississippi universities were invited to the Mississippi Young Banker’s Convention in Point Clear, Ala., in March this year. The other finalists received a $1,500 scholarship. 

This is the first time that a DSU student has won the Swayze Medallion. Dr. Zina Taran, Associate Professor of Marketing accompanied Jennings to the convention. She said, “This is a very prestigious award for finance majors. Such people are highly recognized throughout their careers. These are the best of the best. Keshawn impressed everybody with his personality and genuineness. It is difficult to imagine a stronger candidate – captain of the football team, a strong GPA, conscientious, motivated – and a good, caring man.” 

Jennings said, “It was a beautiful event, and it was a surreal moment to be the only DSU student nominated and the first DSU student to win the award. I want to thank the Mississippi Banking Association council members, the operators and the staff at the convention, and all the bankers that were there.” 

Keshawn Jennings and Christian Hartley with Cadence Bank in Pascagoula

“It has been an honor and a privilege to coach Keshawn these last couple of years,” said Coach Jon Fletcher, Assistant Head Coach for the Statesmen and Jennings’ position coach. “He has been an integral part of our football team and a great ambassador for our university. I am thankful that people outside DSU get to see how special a man like Keshawn is after winning this prestigious award. He truly has made our university proud, and there is no one more deserving of this award than Keshawn Jennings.” 

Jennings came to Delta State as a freshman to play football. During his time at DSU, he was named to the Dean’s List from 2020-2022, was selected as team captain in 2022 and garnered honors for All-Gulf South Conference Second Team in 2021 and All-GSC First Team in 2022. A four-year starter, he also works on campus in the Student Success Center assisting students who need academic support. He also worked as a cashier at Kroger for four years and is an active volunteer on campus and in the community. 

2023 Swayze Scholar Keshawn Jennings and DSU professor Dr. Zina Taran

Cooley said, “The DSU Family came together to help Keshawn prepare for this award. He utilized Career Services to help create a resume. He worked with Dr. Taran, Barbara Washington and Christy Riddle to prepare for his interview. Tricia Killebrew helped by writing a recommendation letter, and Coach Todd Cooley helped by writing a recommendation letter and working with Keshawn on soft skills and etiquette training for his trip. We also had community members who helped Keshawn with picking out a professional wardrobe for the conference. It was great to see how many people stepped up to help. It also really speaks to how loved Keshawn is both on campus and in the community.” 

For more information about the Mississippi Young Banker’s Association, visit their website at