Raquel Brown had plans to become a doctor. Tori Jenkins thought a career in psychology was in her future. And Cardae Hudnall was interested in meteorology.
These three individuals found their way to Mississippi State University-Meridian and they, along with 57 others, were recognized as recipients of the Riley Next Step Scholarship at a scholarship reception held Tuesday, October 11 at 2:00 pm at MSU-Meridian Kahlmus auditorium.
The Riley Next Step Scholarship was established in the fall of 2010 to recognize outstanding community college transfers from East Central Community College, East Mississippi Community College, Meridian Community College and Jones County Junior College.
Initiated by the Riley Foundation and other generous benefactors, Riley Scholars receive two years, or 4 semesters, tuition and fees at MSU-Meridian. Since its inception, 125 individuals have received the scholarship.
Teaching comes natural to Kemper County native
When Raquel Brown graduated from Kemper County High School she wanted to become a doctor, specifically, an OB/GYN.
“Everyone always told me they hoped I would go into education because I tutored several of my cousins, and when I was through helping them, they would do better in school. But I said no, I wanted to work with babies, so I went to Jackson State University for a year as a biology/pre-med major.”
But Brown soon found herself overwhelmed by the workload and felt the campus wasn’t a good fit for her.
“I just wasn’t comfortable at JSU – I felt like a number,” she said. “I also started noticing every time I was around relatives that had young children, I would try to get them to look at pictures and sound out words. And so I thought – maybe I really should be a teacher.”
Brown then enrolled at East Mississippi Community College and while she was there she heard about the Riley Next Step Scholarship.
“I already knew I wanted to transfer to MSU-Meridian,” she said. “My cousin was an elementary education major there and she told me the professors were wonderful and very helpful and it was close to home. And then I received the Riley Next Step Scholarship, which was very helpful to me since my mom is a single parent, and now I won’t have to take out student loans to finish my education.”
Although she is just in her first semester at MSU-Meridian, Brown feels she is finally studying what comes natural to her and is excited about having her own classroom one day soon.
A passion for helping others
A 2009 graduate of Sylva Bay Academy, Tori Jenkins knew she wanted to go to Mississippi State and to help others. But it wasn’t until her last semester at Jones County Junior College that she found out from her advisor, about Mississippi State University in Meridian.
“I was so excited, because after I graduated JCJC, I got married,” noted Jenkins, “and I really didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t want to live in Starkville and commuting back and forth from Stringer was out of the question. Then I got a letter in the mail about the Riley Next Step Scholarship at MSU-Meridian and I told my husband I felt this was a sign from God. I could still go to Mississippi State but a commute to Meridian wouldn’t be too bad and the scholarship would pay for my tuition and fees.”
Jenkins originally planned to pursue a degree in psychology, but after researching all the degrees offered at MSU-Meridian, she chose instead to go into social work.
“I thought this would be a great way for me to help a lot of different people, especially children, and maybe even have a part in changing someone’s life. I was blessed to have two wonderful, loving, and supportive parents growing up but I know that’s not the case with a lot of children. And since I really like them (children) and they seem to relate well to me – I thought this field would enable me to give something back.”
Getting an education is key to success
Cardae Hudnall is passionate about staying in school and getting an education. And he wants to share that message with as many young people that will listen.
Hudnall always had an interest in meteorology and although he could have gone to a four year university, he chose to attend Meridian Community College and then planned to transfer to Mississippi State in Starkville.
But when he decided to change his major – Hudnall looked closer to home to finish his education.
“When I was at MCC I spoke with Mrs. Derrick from MSU-Meridian, and she shared all the degrees offered here,” he said.
“I’m a computer person and I saw where this campus had a B.B.A degree in information systems,” added Hudnall, “so I did some research and found it (information systems) was in the top five careers for job placement. A few weeks later I learned about the Riley Next Step Scholarship and I thought this is definitely where I want to go to school.”
Hudnall, who lives with his widowed mother near Bailey, is actively involved on campus as a work study student and as a senator in the student association. But what he really wants to do is to be a positive role model for kids.
“I would like to go back to my high school and tell students to stay away from negativity, stay focused, and stay in school, because in the end, no one can take away your education.”
2011 Riley Next Step Scholarship Recipients
Frances LeAnn Adams of Collinsville (MCC)- Marketing; Emory Sue Barksdale of Stonewall (JCJC) – Elementary Education; Catherine Keller Blackwell of Meridian (MCC) – Psychology; Elizabeth Ann Brewer of Ellisville (JCJC) – Psychology; Raquel Natoya Brown of Preston (EMCC) – Elementary Education; Kiswana Dashaye Burnside of Lake (ECCC) – Healthcare Administration; Courtney Elizabeth Castleberry of Meridian (EMCC) – Elementary Education; Ethan Gregory Chancellor of Petal (JCJC) – Communication; Amber Lynn Coggin of Decatur (EMCC) – Elementary Education; Kristina Gail Crabtree of Philadelphia (ECCC) – undeclared; Jeri Lynn Crosby of Forest (ECCC) – Secondary Education; Davina Lee Culpepper of Meridian (MCC) – Accounting; Kelly Fay Dansby of Philadelphia (ECCC) – Secondary Education; Summer Foster of Meridian (MCC) – English; Jaime Nicole Franklin of Philadelphia (ECCC) – Social Work; Kristin Nicole Fulton of Preston (ECCC) – Elementary Education; Sherri Elaine Galbraith of Meridian (MCC) – Elementary Education; Jamie Grace of Meridian (MCC) – Information Systems; Ted E. Guyse of Conehatta (MCC) – Psychology; Carolyn Elizabeth Hamilton of Meridian (MCC) – Elementary Education; Holley Anne Harris of Meridian (MCC) – Psychology; Brittany Katherine Harrison of Pulaski (ECCC) – Elementary Education; Lee Franklin Hicks of Collinsville (MCC) – Accounting; Kimberly Kametric Hill of Meridian (MCC) – Elementary Education; George Anthony Hogan of Meridian (MCC) – Management; Cardae Lamont Hudnall of Bailey (MCC) – Information Systems; Tori B. Jenkins of Stringer (JCJC) – Social Work; Jenna McEachin Johnson of Meridian (MCC) – undeclared; Meredith Dawn Jones of Louisville (ECCC) – Elementary Education; Sarah Juanita Jones of State Line (JCJC) – Psychology; Chassidy Sharlyn Kelly of Conehatta (ECCC) – Psychology; Jessica Layne King of Stringer (JCJC)- Elementary Education; Tiffany Lynn King of Stringer (JCJC) Elementary Education; Jacob Cody Laird of Soso (JCJC) – Secondary Education; Courtney Paige Lanier of Decatur (ECCC) – Elementary Education; Matthew Edward Leasure of Collinsville (MCC) – Secondary Education; Kristina Nicole Lewis of Rose Hill (ECCC) – History; Wallace Justin Lucky of Bailey (MCC) – Management; Kayla Danielle McCormick of Stringer (JCJC) – Elementary Education; Sidney Jo McDonald of DeKalb (EMCC) – Elementary Education; Clinton Lloyd McMullan of Enterprise (MCC) – Information Systems; Christi Lynn McRaven of DeKalb (MCC) – Elementary Education; Alexander Scott Moore of Philadelphia (ECCC) – Management; Katie Beech Moss of Laurel (JCJC) – Management; Tiffany Lyn Moss of Stringer (JCJC) – Elementary Education; Kristin Allie Pilgrim of Philadelphia (ECCC) – Elementary Education; Jennifer Elizabeth Pope of Forest (ECCC) – Elementary Education; Kelly Diane Reed of Collinsville (MCC) – Elementary Education; Jason Ray Roberts of Louin (ECCC) – Secondary Education; Alicia Nicole Rodriquez of Meridian (MCC) Social Work; Anthony Hawkins Seal of Collinsville (EMCC) – Elementary Education; Dawn Virginia Secrist of Meridian (MCC) – Elementary Education; Meribeth Smith of Laurel (JCJC) – Secondary Education; Roy Samuel Taylor of Heidelberg (JCJC) – Psychology; Rhonda Louann Thomas of Quitman (MCC) – Elementary Education; Austin Clay Vaughn of Philadelphia (EMCC) – Accounting; Danny Earl Ware of Lake (MCC) – Healthcare Administration; Kanisha Shalois Warnsley of Newton (ECCC) – Social Work; Deana Carol Weems of Laurel (JCJC) - Psychology; and Jessica Ann Wilson of Collinsville (MCC) – Elementary Education.
Samantha Jo Fitzhugh of Lena (Hinds CC) – Accounting. She received the G.V. Sonny Montgomery Scholarship.
Last Updated: 10/17/11