February 15, 2019  

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Southern Miss Student Captures Mississippi Young Bankers Award

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Senior Zachary Irons, center, has been awarded the 2017 Orrin W. Swayze Scholarship. Pictured with Irons are Assistant Professor of Finance Dr. Steven Stelk, left, and Dr. Wayne Kelly, Chair of the Department of Finance, Real Estate and Business Law at USM. (submitted photo)

Senior banking and finance major Zachary Irons has extended an impressive streak for The University of Southern Mississippi by capturing the prestigious 2017 Orrin W. Swayze Scholarship.

Irons was presented the award by the Mississippi Young Bankers section of the Mississippi Bankers Association during the MYB's annual conference held earlier this month at Marriott’s Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Ala. This marks the third straight year that a Southern Miss student has claimed the prize. Bradley Floore captured the honor last year and Tanner Shaw took home the coveted scholarship in 2015.

“I think a Southern Miss student winning three years in a row speaks volumes about the quality education students receive from our University,” said Irons, a Brandon, Miss., native. “The USM Finance Department works hard to put its students in a position for success, and I am so appreciative of professors like Dr. (Wayne) Kelly, who go above and beyond for their students.”

The $5,000 scholarship is presented annually to the top Magnolia State university major in banking and finance who best represents the tradition of banking excellence exemplified by Swayze, a senior officer for Trustmark until his retirement in 1967.

Since 1979, the MYB annually has recognized five finalists for the Swayze Scholarship. Two of the five finalists this year are Southern Miss students, with the other being Picasso Nelson Jr. All five finalists receive awards of $1,500 each as MYB Scholars with the Swayze Scholar receiving a total of $5,000. All finalists must be interviewed by the organization's scholarship committee and participate in sessions during the four-day conference.

“Zach’s a great student – quiet, hardworking, unassuming and my impression is that he’s hit his stride at just about the perfect time in terms of setting a career trajectory for himself,” said Kelly, chair of the Department of Finance. “He’s a fine ambassador for USM. We’re proud of him, and proud to have had two of the five finalists this year.”

Irons has actively served in numerous leadership roles during his time at Southern Miss, including student government, Luckyday Leadership Team, and serving as a representative of the Student Advisory Council for the College of Business. He is also co-founder of the newly formed USM Investment Club where he helped navigate a demanding administrative maze. For the organization, he has laid a foundation and taken the initial steps to seek financial support and target the club for regional and national competitions.

Irons’ short-term goals include graduating in May before spending his summer months working as a river guide in Oregon. “After that I plan to come back to Mississippi to begin my career in finance,” he said. “Ultimately, I would like to work in wealth management and assets.”

He is the son of Nick and Carol Irons of Brandon, Miss.