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Stennis Scholars

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Emily Tingle (on far left of the picture above) is a freshman Stennis Scholar from Warren Central High School in Vicksburg, Mississippi. She has served as President of the Rho Kappa Social Studies Honor Society, and as Quiz Bowl Team Captain. Committed to improving public education in Mississippi, she campaigned for Initiative 42, among other political activities. Emily is the founder of "37 Books," a foundation that promotes literacy among our state's foster children by raising money and providing books to children's homes and centers. She also serves as a Board Member of Excel 5 of Warren County, promoting child literacy and nutrition, and is this year's Miss Warren County and a Miss Mississippi Pageant contestant. At MSU she is involved in the Stennis-Montgomery Association, College Democrats, and Freshman Class Council. She is a member of Shackouls Honors College and serves on the Honors Recruitment Council. Emily is also a member of Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity. Emily plans to attend law school and practice family law, and to then seek elective office. Her goal is to improve and revise the foster care system in Mississippi.

Marisa Laudadio (second from the left) is an incoming freshman Stennis Scholar from Walnut, Mississippi. Her considerable leadership experience includes service as Mississippi 4-H State Council Secretary and as a member of the National 4-H Conference Youth Leadership Team. She was named Magnolia Girls State Overall Outstanding Citizen in 2015 and is receiving the Congressional Gold Medal representing the First District this year. Marisa served as a Legislative Page for Lieutenant Governor Reeves and for the Mississippi State Senate, attended the Generation Joshua Leadership Summit, and has worked in political campaigns in four states. She has also served as Senate Minority Leader in the iGovern East mock legislative camp held in Washington, D.C. Marisa aspires to raise funds for a non-profit advocacy organization that would train the next generation of our nation’s leaders.

Anthony Laudadio (in the middle) is a senior Stennis Scholar from Walnut, Mississippi. He has been very active in politics since coming to MSU, having helped rebuild the university’s chapter of College Republicans and having served first as secretary and currently as executive director. He is also a part of Generation Joshua youth advocacy group’s leadership corps and has served with numerous statewide and local campaigns, including Rick Scott for governor, and Rita Parks for state senator. He interned for Governor Phil Bryant in Jackson in summer 2014 and traveled to Washington, D.C., with the Stennis Montgomery Association in spring 2015. In addition to his political activities, he is a member of the Shackouls Honors College, and serves on the Honors Council. He is engaged with the Student Association, having served on the elections committee and the communications committee. He most recently spent a summer studying abroad in Rome. After graduation, Anthony plans to pursue a Master's degree in public policy and to pursue a full-time career in public service through both political and non-profit work.

Allyra Williams (second from the right) is our Bill Collins Scholar. She is a senior who has a Pre-Law concentration. The daughter of a career Army father, Allyra has lived in over six states including Hawaii. In high school, she traveled to the state Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia and partook in mock trials. This allowed her to see how bills are passed through the Senate and House of Representatives. She is President of Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, and works in the Bulldog calling center through the MSU Foundation at the Hunter Henry Center. Allyra is also a member of Alumni Delegates, The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, The Pre-Law Society, and The Student Veteran Association. She plans to attend law school and become a practicing attorney. Allyra enjoys spending time with fellow Alumni Delegates, tutoring young children at Henderson-Ward Stewart Elementary, and doing community service.

Sarah Love Frey (on the far right of the above picture) is an incoming freshman Stennis Scholar from Jackson Preparatory School in Jackson, Mississippi. Her considerable community service work includes tutoring and volunteering for the Neighborhood Christian Center and relief work in Peru, and has been recognized with two Presidential Community Service Awards. Graduating with a Classical Heritage degree, Sarah Love has received national recognition in exams in Latin and Greek, and has excelled at Junior Classical League Convention. She has been a volunteer in a circuit court campaign and for Greg Harper’s Academy Day. Interested in gene-modified crops, Sarah Love aspires to become a lobbyist for agricultural legislation that will increase the quality and quantity of the world’s food supply.

Our student scholars are so active professionally that many were not able to be present at the college award ceremony where the group picture was taken. Their bios follow:

Sean McCarthy is one of our new Haley Barbour Scholars. A native of Sioux City, Iowa, Sean is a Student Association Senator and serves on the Student Affairs Committee. He is also an MSU tour guide with Maroon VIP, competes on the MSU Speech and Debate team, and is a member of the Stennis-Montgomery Association, and the MSU College Democrats. Sean interned with the Human Rights Campaign in the Spring of 2016 and that summer interned with U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin. He is double majoring in political science and communication, and plans to serve as a press secretary for a Congress member or report on political news in the private sector.

Kennedy Moehrs is another of our new Haley Barbour Scholars. A native of Waterloo, Illinois, Kennedy is an acting Cabinet member of the Student Association and Co-Director of Diversity and Outreach. She has served as President and founder of the revitalized MSU College Democrats, and has been active in the Oktibbeha County Federation for Democratic Women and the county Democratic Executive Board. Kennedy visited Washington D.C. in the Spring 2016 with the Stennis-Montgomery Association (SMA), that summer interned in Washington D.C. with the National Cotton Council of America, and currently serves as President of SMA. She is double majoring in political science and foreign language, and hopes to eventually become governor of Illinois.

Kathleen Kiernan is our new Tip Allen Scholar. A native of Woodstock, Georgia, Kathleen serves on the Student Association Cabinet as co-director for Community and Governmental Relations. She is active in the Mississippi Model Security Council and in the Stennis-Montgomery Association (SMA). In the Spring 2016 Kathleen traveled to Washington D.C. with the SMA, and that summer interned in the district office for U.S. Congressman Barry Loudermilk from Georgia. She is majoring in political science and minoring in French, and is interested in graduate school to study health policy or international development policy, as she hopes to work for an NGO or a non-profit.

Charles Allen Barbour is a 2nd semester freshman John C. Stennis Scholar from Jackson Preparatory School. He was elected Attorney General at Boys State, served as a U.S. Senate page, and served as Senior Captain of his high school's Debate Team. Allen is also an Eagle Scout, attended Youth Legislature, and campaigned for Senate Thad Cochran's re-election. He is currently serving as Executive Director for the state Students for Rubio Presidential Campaign. He plans to attend law school after graduation.

Holly Travis is a senior Stennis Scholar and graduate of Starkville High School. She is currently double majoring in Political Science and Criminology with minors in both Spanish and Pre-law. Holly is a member of the Shackouls Honors College and a Presidential Scholar (formerly known as Distinguished Scholar). As a freshman she was a member of Freshman Forum, the Mississippi State Pom Squad and a counselor for MSU's inaugural New Maroon Camp. Holly is currently a Roadrunner, a member of Student Association's Cabinet serving as Co-Director of Freshman Forum, and serving on New Maroon Camp's executive staff as Co-Counselor Trainer. In addition to these involvements, she is a member of Chi Omega sorority and a mentor/tutor at Brickfire Project. In the summer Holly studied in Cusco, Peru where she also worked in an orphanage for victims of human trafficking. After graduation Holly plans to attend law school and pursue a career as a criminal defense attorney.

Melissa Weitzel is a junior John C. Stennis Scholar and a Haley Barbour Scholar. A resident of Gulfport, she is a graduate of St. Patrick Catholic High School in Biloxi. Actively involved in organizations throughout high school, Melissa was President of her school's chapter of National Honor Society and Vice-President of Spanish Honor Society. Melissa's most notable involvement during high school was with Mississippi Youth and Government. Within that organization, she held numerous positions such as Speaker Pro tempore and Committee Chair, and attained awards such as the Most Outstanding Legislator. Through Mississippi Youth and Government, Melissa was elected as the Youth Governor of the State of Mississippi, which allowed her to attend YMCA's Youth Governors Conference in Washington, D.C. While attending Mississippi State, Melissa has earned a third place award at the Martin Luther King Jr Orator Competition, is treasurer of the Stennis-Montgomery Association, and is on the President's list. She is also the Chancellor and founding member of the budding Mississippi Speculative Debate Society and a student in the Shackouls Honors College. Over the summer she attended Mississippi N.E.W. Leadership conference, was a counselor at Mississippi State's W.E. Lead, and a district intern for Congressman Steven Palazzo. Her plans for the future include working for an international human rights organization with a focus on ending war crimes.

Cole Wood is a senior John C. Stennis Scholar from Starkville Academy. Cole served as Pledge Class Vice President and as Chapter Annotator for Sigma Chi Fraternity. As a member of the MSU Student Association Cabinet, he serves as Assistant Elections Commissioner. In high school and junior high, Cole served in student government each year, as a student council representative three times, as Student Council Vice President and then President, and as Class President on four occasions. The Vice Mayor of the Starkville Mayor's Youth Council for two years, Cole has also been a member of the Oktibbeha County Republican Party and has paged for the Mississippi House of Representatives. An Eagle Scout, he has been a mentor for many younger scouts. Cole plans to attend law school and aspires to one day run for Congress.

Andrew Yates is a junior John C. Stennis Scholar. He is a graduate of Grace Christian School in Louisville. While in high school, Andrew was elected Student Body President in his senior year, and served as Student Council Vice President the previous year and as Student Council Representative the two preceding years. He has participated in numerous leadership programs, such as the Hugh O'Brian Leadership Conference, the EMEPA Youth Leadership Conference, and the Boy Scouts. A member of Winston County Teenage Republicans, Andrew has campaigned for Governor Phil Bryant, former governor Haley Barbour, and Congressman Gregg Harper. He also has athletic talents, lettering and serving as team captain of his school's basketball team, and being manager of its baseball team for four years. Andrew plans to attend law school and to eventually work in the Republican party.

Caroline Collins

Caroline Collins (pictured above with Amy Tuck) of Bay Saint Louis is our most recent Stennis alumnus. An inductee into the Society of Scholars, Caroline maintained a 4.0 GPA each semester. She was a member of Kappa Delta Sorority, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and MSU Involvement Ambassadors and is a former President of the Stennis-Montgomery Association and the Mississippi State Freshman Class. She served as Senator of the College of Arts and Sciences, Chairman of the Mississippi State College Republicans and Chairman of the Mississippi Federation of College Republicans. Additionally, Caroline served as a United States Senate Page for Senator Thad Cochran, an intern for US Congressman Steven Palazzo, and studied in Rome. After being selected to attend the AIPAC Policy Conference in D.C., Caroline was chosen for an expenses-paid trip to Israel where she learned about the intricacies of the U.S.-Israel alliance. In her last semester at MSU, Caroline became the first recipient of the Lt. Governor Amy Tuck Spirit of Service Award for her work in rebuilding the MSU chapter of College Republicans. Caroline is currently pursuing a law degree at Washington University School of Law in Saint Louis.

Stennis Scholars

Stennis Scholar alumni Whitney Holliday and Shelley New enjoyed a view of Washington, D.C., while attending the inauguration of President Obama as students as part of the Stennis-Montgomery Association's annual D.C. trip. They are shown in the photo to the right.

Stennis Scholars

Students in our department have the opportunity to meet prominent public officials, such as the governor and lieutenant governor. In the photo to the right, Stennis Scholar (now alumnus) and SA Vice President Lee Weiskopf met with 2-term Lieutenant Governor Amy Tuck, a graduate of our department.

Stennis Scholars

In the picture to the right, Barbour Scholars (now alumni) Jane Anna Harris and Tonya Thorton-Neaves pose with 2-term Governor Haley Barbour after a breakfast with him and the MSU President. Barbour offered the students invaluable advice about networking and job hunting in Washington, D.C. After graduation, Jane Anna served as the Staff Director for the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Tonya is a Research Fellow and Project Coordinator at the Social Science Research Center at MSU.

Stennis Scholars

One annual conference that some of our students attend is the Southern Women in Public Service program sponsored by the Stennis Center. In the photo to the right, Stennis Scholar (now alumnus) Tamikia Carr met with then-Vice President Al Gore's wife, Tipper.

Stennis Scholars

Our students also meet with numerous other public figures who visit our department. In the photo to the right, political science students (now alumni) Nikita Gandy, Ben Needham, and Ta'Shia Shannon (a Collins Scholar alumnus) are to the left of former Congressman Mike Espy. Espy was the first African-American from a rural district elected to Congress. Students Yashica Tate and Terrance James are to the right of Espy.

Our department's John C. Stennis Scholars are named in memory of MSU alumnus John C. Stennis, who served in the United States Senate from 1947 to 1988, rising to the powerful position of President Pro Tempore of the senate and fourth in line for the presidency. Senator Stennis also served as chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee and previously as chairman of the Armed Services Committee. He was so respected in the senate that Congress named a new nuclear-powered aircraft carrier after him, which was commissioned into service before the carrier honoring former president Harry Truman. Because John Stennis inspired Mississippians to be active in public affairs, we include our department's Bill Collins (the founding director of the Stennis Institute of Government) and Haley Barbour (our two-term governor and a formidable Stennis challenger in 1982) scholars on this webpage.

The Haley Barbour Scholars are named after a distinguished public servant and native of Yazoo City who rose to the position of Chair of the Republican National Committee. As RNC Chairman, Haley Barbour inaugurated an aggressive fundraising, public relations, and candidate assistance program that led the GOP in 1994 to majority control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years. Barbour was elected Governor in the 2003 state elections, when for the first time Republicans won half of Mississippi's statewide executive offices as well as historically high percentages of state house and state senate seats. When Barbour was re-elected governor four years later, he swept his party to control of every statewide elected office with one exception.

The Bill Collins Scholar is named after a distinguished educational leader, who was the first Director of the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University. A Bill Collins Speakership series was established in his honor in the MSU Library.

Contact Info

Department of Political Science
and Public Administration
Department Phone: 662.325.2711
Department Fax: 662.325.2716
Mailing Address: P. O. Box PC
Mississippi State University, MS 39762
Department Office: 105 Bowen Hall
Email address:polscipubadm@pspa.msstate.edu