MSU-Meridian education student receives recognition as Outstanding Graduate

Contact:  Lisa Sollie

Rachel Laird of Meehan is MSU-Meridian’s 2019 Outstanding Graduate Student in the Division of Education. (Photo by Lisa Sollie)  MERIDIAN, Miss.—Rachel Laird, recognized in 2017 as a Stephen D. Lee Scholar for completing her undergraduate degree at Mississippi State with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, again will be honored for attaining the same achievement as a graduate student.

The Meehan resident will be recognized at MSU-Meridian’s May 2 commencement ceremony as the Division of Education’s Outstanding Graduate Student.

A Riley Scholar and member of Phi Theta Kappa during her undergraduate days at MSU-Meridian, Laird also was named the division’s Outstanding Undergraduate Student two years ago.

Surprised to receive the recognition once again, Laird said she felt many of her classmates were more deserving of the award.

“While I’m truly honored, I can’t help but think of others who deserve this far more than I do—friends of mine who have completed this degree while working full-time in a classroom or taking care of their families. They amaze me,” she said.

A student at East Central Community College when she first realized her love for literature could lead to a career, Laird said that feeling only intensified as she studied secondary education with an English concentration at MSU-Meridian.

“Although I didn’t really have any idea what I wanted to do when I started at ECCC, once my path was set, there was no looking back or second guessing myself,” she said.

That single-minded purpose spurred Laird on to continue her studies at MSU-Meridian and pursue a Master of Arts in Teaching Community College Education degree, which will give her the opportunity to teach on a high-school, college level or both through dual credit programs.

While in graduate school, Laird worked four days a week as a private tutor for a teenage boy with special needs.

“As an undergrad, I learned a lot of different ways to engage students,” she said. “Working with this student has not only given me an extra dose of how to adapt instruction for individual learners, but of patience and flexibility as well. To tell you the truth, I’ve loved this job, and I’ll miss working with him every day, but I’m ready to pursue my next step.”

Laird hopes to secure employment at a community college or area high school.

Looking back over the past six years of college, she knows she is prepared and ready for her own classroom.

“I’m a very down-to-earth, pragmatic person, and what I learned in my graduate classes was very practical. I could see how I could apply and use it down the road,” Laird said.

“What I’m most looking forward to though is the opportunity to show students—especially those who don’t like to read—how English is practical and relevant to their everyday lives,” she added.

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