MSU-Meridian recognizes outstanding graduates for spring semester

Contact: Lisa SollieFour students 3 females and 1 male in commencement regalia

MERIDIAN, Miss.—Five graduates at Mississippi State University-Meridian are being recognized as outstanding students for the 2023 spring semester. They are among 204 students receiving diplomas Thursday [May 11] at 10 a.m. at the MSU Riley Center. The class of 2023 also will recognize nine honor students, eight Riley Scholars and one Stephen D. Lee Scholar, as well as graduate the university’s first 19 Physician Assistant Studies students.

The Outstanding students include:

Zoë Null of Collinsville, Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the Division of Arts and Sciences and recipient of the Dennis J. Mitchell Award of Excellence. Although social work wasn’t Null’s initial career choice; it is the perfect fit for the 23-year-old newlywed whose passion is to lend a helping hand. During her field placement at the Center for Pregnancy Choices in Meridian this past semester, Null had multiple opportunities to provide care and assistance to women and their families solidifying she was destined to do this work. After passing licensure, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work this fall.

Tara Shelton of Meridian, Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the Division of Business. Shelton spent six years keeping the books for her high school baseball team before she assumed the same role at Meridian Community College. She never expected her love of tracking numbers to segway into a career in accounting—until she met an advisor from MSU-Meridian at a PTK transfer fair. That encounter led Shelton to the local campus where she was able to continue two additional years as bookkeeper for MCC’s baseball program, remain active in her family’s activities and her local church. She also was a work-study student for the Division of Business. After graduation Shelton wants to stay local and work in managerial accounting while she pursues an MBA degree.

Kyle Fuller, a native of Meridian, Outstanding Graduate Student for the Division of Business. An MBA major, Fuller moved to Mobile, Alabama, this past summer and is employed at Consolidated Electric Distributors, one of the country’s largest electrical distributors. He earned his undergraduate degree in business from Mississippi State in spring 2020, during the height of the pandemic. Not content to stop his educational journey, Fuller believes earning an MBA will set him apart from the competition and propel him toward future growth and success.  

Jade Willis of Bogue Chitto, Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the Division of Education. Despite losing several family members the past few years, Willis, an elementary education major, has been determined to rise above her circumstances—and credits the supportive faculty at MSU-Meridian, particularly her faculty advisor, for pushing her to complete her degree. She will return to Bogue Chitto Elementary School this fall as a third-grade teacher, fulfilling her lifelong dream of inspiring boys and girls on the Choctaw Indian Reservation, just like past teachers inspired her.

Edward Routh of Choctaw, Outstanding Graduate Student for the Division of Education.  For more than 20 years, Routh, an assistant football coach at Choctaw Central High School, used his influence on the young men he coached to encourage them to go to college and better themselves. In 2018 he took his own advice and finished his associate degree before going on to earn an undergraduate degree at MSU-Meridian. Now the 53-year-old veteran has completed a Master of Arts in Teaching Secondary degree. Routh also has been promoted to head football coach and this fall will be a physical education teacher at his alma mater as well.

Thursday’s commencement ceremony may be viewed on MSTV or at It also will be shown on the MSU-Meridian Facebook page.

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