MSU-Meridian student recognized with Spirit of State Award

Contact:  Lisa SollieAlan Bracken, a psychology major at MSU-Meridian, is one of 15 Mississippi State students recently honored with the Spirit of State Award. (photo by Lisa Sollie)

MERIDIAN, Miss.—Alan Bracken, a senior psychology major at MSU-Meridian is one of 15 Mississippi State students recently honored with the Spirit of State Award, the university’s premier student recognition for exceptional personal contributions to campus life.

“We congratulate our 2020 Spirit of State recipients on all of their many accomplishments and thank them for their service to Mississippi State,” MSU Vice President for Student Affairs Regina Hyatt said in a Spirit of State recognition video on Facebook.(

The university typically honors Spirit of State recipients during a springtime campus ceremony but decided to host an online recognition program due to the COVID-19 pandemic. MSU mailed each honoree a commemorative certificate and watch and encouraged the students to take selfies with their mementos – a way to share their Bulldog spirit at a time when it is needed most.

For 15 years, the annual Spirit of State Awards program, organized by the university’s Division of Student Affairs, formally has honored those who have made a positive impact on peers and the broader campus community through organizational involvement, service to the institution and personal actions promoting school spirit and tradition.

Those selected have been nominated either by faculty and staff members or fellow students. A minimum 2.25 grade point average and good academic and disciplinary standing within the university are among the eligibility criteria.

“Alan is always willing to volunteer to help with events, both on and off campus as a member of the Maroon Elite, a student ambassador organization on the Meridian campus,” said Kristi Dearing, coordinator of academic advising at MSU-Meridian. “I know I can always count on him to not only be there – but to be early.”

Bracken, of Meridian, also served as vice president of the campus Psychology Club, worked part-time at Meridian Community College and lifeguarded during the summer months. He also received two local scholarships, the Meridian Campus Endowment and Kahlmus Loyalty Scholarship, which enabled him to pay for his college education and graduate debt-free.

“Perhaps what stands out to me the most about Alan is his commitment in all he does,” Dearing said. “Whether it is training for a triathlon, talking to students to inform them about campus events, arriving early to run a wheelchair lift for graduation or serving lunch to representatives at a career fair, he is always more than happy to help and with a smile on his face. And he never misses an opportunity to talk about his experience at Mississippi State.”

In March, Bracken was scheduled to take the entrance exam for law school, but testing sites are temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think I’m going to have to rethink my choices for the future,” he said. “Although I still have ambitions for law school, I’m considering applying to the counselor education program, with a concentration in school counseling here at MSU-Meridian. I believe there will be more of a need for school counselors due to this crisis, and men are already in short supply within the field.”

In addition to Bracken, other Spirit of State Award recipients include (by hometown):

BILOXI—Shandrea D. Stallworth, a plant and soil sciences/weed science doctoral student.

BYRAM—Justice A. Rule, a senior psychology major.

CHICAGO, Illinois—Keiaireyona A. Brown, a senior political science and philosophy double-major.

FRANKLIN, Tennessee—Rachel L. Dumke, a senior kinesiology/clinical exercise physiology major.

GAUTIER—Taylor M. Reeves, a senior business administration major.

JACKSON—Robyn Elizabeth Hadden, a senior biochemistry/science and foreign language/Spanish double-major.

KOSCIUSKO—Mayukh K. Datta, a senior chemical engineering major.

MERIDIAN—Alan Bracken, a senior psychology major.

MOBILE, Alabama—Emily L. Maxime, a senior educational psychology major.

NIGERIA—Obinna D. Muoh, a senior chemical engineering major.

OCEAN SPRINGS—Eric Darnell Lucas Jr., a senior biological engineering/biomedical engineering major.

RICHMOND, Virginia—Emily B. Case, a senior political science/pre-law major.

RIDGELAND—Jacob S. “Jake” Manning, a senior biomedical engineering and software engineering double-major.

STARKVILLE—David N. Cuevas, a senior biomedical engineering and biochemistry/bioinformatics double-major; and Ben K. Mackin, a senior sociology major.

For more on MSU’s Division of Student Affairs, visit

For more about MSU-Meridian, visit

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