MSU-Meridian announces incoming class of new Master of Physician Assistant Studies program

Contact: Lisa Sollie Group shot of students in the opera house

MERIDIAN, Miss.—Thirty-one students comprising the third cohort of Mississippi State University’s new Master of Physician Assistant Studies program reported last week for orientation at MSU-Meridian’s Riley Campus. These students are among over 250 applicants and 90 finalists who vied for limited slots in the state’s only publicly funded PA program.

PAs are nationally certified and state-licensed medical professionals who practice medicine on healthcare teams with physicians and other providers. They perform a broad range of diagnostic, therapeutic, preventative and health maintenance services. The U.S. Department of Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the physician assistant field will grow 28% between 2021 and 2031, with approximately 40,000 jobs added during this time. MSU currently enrolls 74 students in its three cohorts.

In addition to 17 Mississippi natives, the class includes students from eight other states across the country. These include:

BRAXTON—Dean Dickinson

BRUSLY, Louisiana—Alaina Landry

CLINTON—Karimah Strawder

DENVER, Colorado—Taylor Simer

DONALDSONVILLE, Louisiana—Jasmine Collins

EDWARDS—Jerrica Dixon

FRIENDSWOOD, Texas—Amy Zlebis

GRAY, Louisiana—Jenna Pitre

GULFPORT—Bria Herriott

HATTIESBURG—Marley Crosby; Katie Mary; Win Moore; and Tanner Slay

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama—Alyse McBrayer

JACKSON—Kenya Proctor

KILN—Karringten Perkins

LAFEYETTE, Louisiana—Montgomery John

LAUDERDALE—Jessica Terry

LOS ANGELES, California—Corina Raffish

MCCORDSVILLE, Indiana—Mason Barton

NEW ALBANY—Michael Crotts

ORMOND BEACH, Florida—Cameron Goss

PHILADELPHIA—Matthew Kittrell

PICAYUNE—Ann Taggard

ST LOUIS, Missouri—Amanda Airaghi

STOCKBRIDGE, Georgia—Adam Brown

SUNSHINE, Louisiana—Cathryn Morris


TUPELO—Jilanna Simmons

WHITE OAK, Texas—Jessica Patak

The inaugural class, which began the program in January 2021, finishes their clinical rotations this semester and graduates from the program in May. The second cohort, which began studies in January 2022, receives white coats in March, then begins clinical rotations and graduates in May 2024.

For more on MSU-Meridian’s PA program, visit or email

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the Mississippi State University Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Mississippi State University.

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students. Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class. The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at

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