New MSU-Meridian grant helps student mothers, garners new student support resources

Contact: Lisa SollieTwo women and man with large check

MERIDIAN, Miss.—Mississippi State University-Meridian is launching “Stand by You,” a new program developed for mothers with young children who are earning an undergraduate or graduate degree. Support comes from a grant by the Jackson-based nonprofit group Women’s Foundation of Mississippi

Dedicated to funding programs that improve the lives of girls and women statewide, the group made the $30,000 two-year grant award to MSU-Meridian recently at the organization’s Women of Vision 2018 event in Jackson.  

“We’re very grateful for the support of the Women’s Foundation and excited that through this grant we can expand our student support services in Meridian to be more in line with the opportunities available to students on our main campus in Starkville,” said Jeff Leffler, assistant professor and director of graduate studies and the grant’s principal investigator.

A portion of the funding will be used to develop of a Student Success Center on MSU-Meridian’s College Park Campus.

“The center will be a place where all students can go and connect to resources like the Writing Center at the Starkville Campus,” Leffler said.

Students also can attend workshops and seminars to help them prepare for professional licensure exams like PRAXIS core or other required tests like the ACT, Graduate Record Exam , or even the Graduate Management Admission Test.

One component of the Stand by You program will focus on the development and education of young children of MSU-Meridian student mothers.

“Developmental play groups will be formed for children 3-5 years old,” said Ksenia Zhbanova, assistant professor of elementary education and the grant’s co-investigator. “These play groups will meet while the childrens’ mothers are attending class and will focus on educational activities that provide skills the children need to enter kindergarten or elementary school.”

The grant’s first year is for planning and development, and the implementation phase, including the opening of the Student Success Center, is scheduled for 2020.

MSU-Meridian is among 11 higher education and nonprofit programs awarded a combined $285,000 in grant funds by the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi. Since 2012, the foundation has given $2.2 million in total grants.

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