Four Monroe County students are among this year’s Stephen D. Lee Scholars who graduated with Mississippi State University’s Class of 2021. Emily Pierce, Jake Kirkpatrick and Peyton Wall graduated together from Amory High School in 2017 while Makaela Dickerson graduated from Hamilton High School.
The student honor society for those maintaining a 4.0 grade point average is named for Stephen Dill Lee, who was an American politician who served as the first president of Mississippi State University from 1880 to 1899.
Dickerson graduated as valedictorian of her high school class and from Itawamba Community College with a 4.0 grade point average, having served as Phi Theta Kappa president. While at ICC, she participated in several other activities, including the honors program.
She transferred to MSU to major in communications/public relations, participating with the Public Relations Student Association, Shackoul’s Honors College, Habitat for Humanity and Sigma Kappa Delta. She graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA.
“I have always prioritized my education and I set a goal for myself at a young age to achieve all A’s in my educational career. When I received the Stephen D. Lee Scholar invitation, I saw my goal become a reality. I could not have achieved this honor without God, my family and my friends. With them and my own determination, I received a 4.0 GPA throughout my entire high school and college careers and I learned so much about my field and life in general,” she said.
Pierce graduated with a major in kinesiology to prepare her for graduate studies to become a physician’s assistant.
“A 4.0 GPA was something I never considered possible for myself,” she said. “Working hard gave me a sense of accomplishment, which became even more challenging studying with 300 others online during the COVID pandemic. It is an achievable thing.”
Jake Kirkpatrick is pursuing a career in chemical engineering, so he focused on his studies from day one.
“Most days were pretty long, but studying every day with two buddies who became my best friends helped me achieve my goal,” he said.
Kirkpatrick was a member of the Omega Chi Epsilon National Honor Society for chemical engineering while at Mississippi State.
He passed along some advice he received when charting his educational path.
“If anybody is contemplating community college versus the university, choose the smaller school to start out,” he said.
Wall changed his major early during his years at MSU.
“I started out studying biomedical engineering but came to the point in my sophomore year where I decided that this is not what I want to do, so I changed to pre-medical studies focusing on microbiology,” he said.
Wall played both French horn and mellophone with the Maroon Band during his years at Mississippi State and was also a member of the Wesley Foundation campus ministry.
He was accepted into medical school at the University of Mississippi Medical Center during his junior year and will begin graduate studies there in the fall.