April 18, 2019  

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Kennard Scholars Program Opens Doors to Opportunity

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The Kennard Scholars Program at The University of Southern Mississippi is designed for students committed to academic excellence, leadership development, and citizenship. The program gives particular attention to students from underrepresented and diverse communities. 

The Kennard Scholars Program honors Clyde Kennard, who attempted to integrate Southern Miss in the 1950s. The program offers a variety of resources to aid students in their ability to pay for college, personal and academic development and pursuit of a degree. Services include the Supplemental Instruction, a Mentor Program, Academic Readiness Workshops and the Enrichment for Excellence Series. Together, these programs are available to help students develop the skills necessary to succeed.

The program is a distinctive honors opportunity that provides a comprehensive plan to ensure student success for an “at success population. Its participants are diverse in gender, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status and are selected on the basis of need, scholarship, and leadership potential. Preference is given to first generation college students and students demonstrating financial need.

For participating students, the program enhances the college experience by providing preparatory resources to meet life’s challenges and address retention barriers to ensure graduation through life transforming experiences in the academic community; participation in community and civic engagement; enriching academic achievement and readiness for graduation, graduate school enrollment, and professional career pursuits; and enhancing appreciation of the arts.

The program provides academic support through a weekly four-hour tutoring requirement; supplemental Instruction for weak academic areas; monthly academic skills workshops on topics pertaining to personal development and career choices; and individual academic advisement. It also addresses integration barriers through a mentor program with University faculty and staff members; monthly cultural enrichment outings such as operas, symphonies, and plays; and an $800 scholarship for participating students 

This year the Kennard Scholars program enjoyed many successes. Of the 2014-15 cohort:

*90% of its students were retained

*Each student's cumulative GPA increased at least two-tenths of a point

* Two scholars have already graduated; one has been accepted into graduate school and the other has secured a professional career

The introduction of the inaugural cohort took place in January at “Meet the Scholars Night.”  Each scholar presented their parents with a future frame symbolizing their commitment to graduate from the University. The scholars also attended the annual Spring Fiesta in New Orleans, La. in March as a cultural enrichment experience where they learned about the French and Spanish influences of New Orleans.

The 2014-15 scholars' cohort includes: 

*Brelanna Chambers of Columbus Miss.

*Ariel Knight of Terry, Miss.

*Anna Francis of Jackson, Miss.

*Rhonda Schexnayder of New Orleans La.

*Rachel Young of Natchez, Miss.

*Lonnie Craig of Hattiesburg

*Jay Venson of Mobile, Ala.

*LaDarrius Milton of Greenville, Miss.

*Justin Keys of Hattiesburg

*Hubert White of Hattiesburg

Those serving as this year’s Kennard Scholar mentors were Dr. Sharon Catledge; Dr. Marcus Coleman; Valencia Walls; Tangee Carter; Sonya Varnell; Rickesha Clark, Mathew Cooley, Andre Heath, and Reginald Taylor. The program will increase from 10 scholars to 20 to create more opportunities for students.

For more information about the Kennard Scholars Program, contact the Southern Miss Dean of Students Office at 601.266.6028.