May 23, 2019  

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Southern Miss Students Earn Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Grants

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University of Southern Mississippi students Christiana Whitley and Lakelyn Taylor have been awarded prestigious study abroad grants from the international honor society Phi Kappa Phi that will take them to France and Italy, respectively.

Each year Phi Kappa Phi awards 50 study abroad grants worth $1,000 each to students with GPA’s of 3.75 or higher. Undergraduate students in all fields and all classifications are eligible. Students are required to write a personal statement explaining why they want to study abroad and how their experience will support the Phi Kappa Phi motto: “Let the love of learning rule humanity.”

Whitley, a senior from Hattiesburg, Miss., is currently using her PKP grant as a student at Ecole Supérieure du Commerce Extérieur International Business School in Paris. Studying just two blocks away from the Eiffel Tower, Whitley says the opportunity is helping to enhance her pursuit of a degree in International Studies (with a minor in French).

“I hope to gain a network of friends and potential colleagues, as I plan to find a career that allows me to travel as much as possible,” said Whitley, who owns a 3.97 GPA. “It doesn’t feel like networking when my friends and I take a walk on the Champ de Mars or grab a bit to eat at a café, but that’s exactly what it is. I’m building friendships that could last for a very long time.”

Taylor, a junior from Long Beach, Miss., is pursuing a double major at Southern Miss in Communication Studies and Spanish. She will spend two weeks in Italy next month studying “Christianity and Law in Rome.” Her primary goal is to gain greater insight into the relationship between religion and politics, especially from a historical perspective.

“I believe it is critical to have cultural/global awareness in our society today which is becoming more interconnected as the years pass,” said Taylor, who owns a 3.88 GPA. “Studying abroad is a great catalyst to cultural thinking and global tolerance that a person can build upon if they choose.”

Robyn Curtis, director of Nationally Competitive Awards at Southern Miss, notes that both students built impressive resumés of academic achievement and leadership well-suited to Honors Scholars.

“They are our eighth and ninth study abroad grant recipients in recent years,” said Curtis. “Phi Kappa Phi has singled out USM for our consistent record of success with their nationally competitive awards. We are proud to see Christiana and Lakelyn continue the winning tradition.”

Whitley is the daughter of Sharon Whitley Stahler of Hattiesburg, Miss., and Rhett Whitley of Birmingham, Ala. Taylor is the daughter of Gary and Angela Taylor of Long Beach, Miss.

For information about national scholarship and awards at Southern Miss, contact the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards at 601.266.4533 or visit: