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Ole Miss’ freshman class of Stamps Scholars is nation’s third-largest

By Katie Morrison

University of Mississippi

This fall, 36 partner schools across the country collectively welcomed the 11th class of Stamps scholars to their campuses. Selected from more than 400,000 applications, the new first-year class comprises 209 scholars with diverse academic interests including biology and neuroscience, public policy, mathematics, biochemistry, computer science, linguistics and anthropology, and international studies.

For 2016-17, 12 incoming University of Mississippi freshmen were selected as Stamps scholars, making Ole Miss one of only four universities to award more than 10 Stamps scholarships to incoming students.

Identified for their strong intellect, leadership and service, UM’s 12 recipients are James Asbill of Madison, Sally Boswell of Ocean Springs, Ben Bradford of Panama City Beach, Florida, Anna Daniels of Madison, Eveanne Eason of Eads, Tennessee, Tom Fowlkes of Memphis, Tennessee, Summer Jefferson of Cumming, Georgia, Nathan Methvin of Starkville, Robert Grady Pickering of Laurel, Nikki Sullivan of Indian Springs, Alabama, Michaela Watson of Birkdale, Queensland, Australia, and Heath Wooten of Corinth.

Stamps scholars are chosen for their strong leadership potential, academic merit and exceptional character. The Stamps Family Charitable Foundation supports promising students who are eager to make their contributions to the world and possess the work ethic to make their dreams a reality.

“At its core, the Stamps program is about finding students with enormous potential to use their intellectual talent to make a difference in the world, and giving them every tool and opportunity to see that through,” said Douglass Sullivan-González, dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. “We help them develop as citizen scholars, to challenge one another and pursue their full potential.”

The 12 freshmen join 11 sophomore, junior and senior Stamps scholars at Ole Miss. The university will also celebrate its first graduating class of Stamps scholars in May 2017, making it quite a notable year for the program.

“We are tremendously proud of our Stamps Scholars and the level of excellence they contribute to our campus,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “They are truly talented, gifted students who will have a great impact on lives and communities, here in our state and around the world.

“We treasure our partnership with the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation and are grateful for their ongoing support of efforts to strengthen our overall academic environment.”

Stamps Scholars are encouraged to organize an excursion that will expand their experience as individuals and bring them together as a group.

Eight of the freshmen – Asbill, Boswell, Bradford, Daniels, Eason, Pickering, Fowlkes and Methvin –spent a week before the fall semester rafting, hiking and camping in the Grand Canyon. The trip challenged the students and helped them bond as friends and allies.

“I learned more about myself, my peers, and our place in the world,” Daniels said. “In the Grand Canyon, I consistently surprised myself, learning to say yes, agreeing to try things that terrified me. Further, I developed a bond with my fellow scholars as we discovered how unbelievably different, yet profoundly similar, we all are.”

Fowlkes agreed: “I left Memphis for a seven-day rafting trip down the Grand Canyon not knowing a soul who’d be with me. By the end of the trip, I had seven real, deep friendships that I could walk into college with. The views of the canyon, the quiet stillness of the nights sleeping under the stars and the rushing rapids were all secondary to the formation of the friendships.”

The remaining four freshmen will travel to Australia in December.

“I cannot wait to grow closer to my fellow Stamps Scholars on this long and exciting journey,” Jefferson said. “We plan to learn about the native wildlife by visiting the Great Barrier Reef and a koala sanctuary, as well as the history of Australia and the Aboriginal Australians by visiting museums together.”

The 12 students include five National Merit finalists and one semifinalist. The cohort boasts an average 3.95 GPA and 34 ACT, including one top ACT score of 36, and all were very active in their high schools and communities.

“We’re very excited about this new class of Stamps scholars,” said Roe Stamps, founder and chairman of the Stamps Foundation. “A hearty congratulations to our partner schools for selecting and attracting such a wonderful group of students.”