Mississippi State University Presidential Scholars pose with fellow Mississippian Robin Roberts on the set of Good Morning America in New York City.

Each year, Mississippi State University’s Presidential Scholars travel to a unique destination during the university’s spring break holiday in which students are connected to political leaders of various sorts.

In 2016, Presidential Scholars traveled to Seattle where the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted the group to discuss the foundation’s work on global poverty, and the U.S. Navy hosted students on board the USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN-730), an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine, and the USS NIMITZ (CVN-68), a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The program gave the students the opportunity to think about how they might be involved in preparing for and providing public service leadership in their careers.

Scholars recently returned from the 2017 trip where they visited New York City from March 9 – 14. Students were treated to an on-set visit with fellow Mississippian Robin Roberts and Good Morning America, where they presented her with an honorary Mississippi State University Women’s Basketball jersey. Roberts waved the jersey on camera and celebrated the return of the Lady Dawgs to the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive year, where they are currently headed to the Sweet 16.

Students then enjoyed a tour of Columbia University and attended a panel, hosted by the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA,) in which scholars heard from public servants of varying sorts including Josh Swartsel, a second-year Columbia SIPA student concentrating in International Security Policy with a focus on East Asia. Swartsel is a former national champion of the John C. Stennis Student Congress at the National Speech & Debate Tournament. He went on to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point and served in the United States Army for eight years, including combat action in Iraq during operation Iraqi Freedom. Swartsel was joined on the panel by four of his fellow students who shared their experiences in pursuing graduate studies at Columbia.

Next, students visited the United Nations and met with a panel led by Stephen Jackson, Chief of Policy Planning and Guidance at the UN Department of Political Affairs. He was joined by Steven Sequeria and Turhan Saleh. All three panelists received graduate degrees from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. Students then enjoyed a full tour of the United Nations as the Commission on the Status of Women opened its sixty-first session which will run through March 24. 

Finally, the Stennis Center hosted a dinner for scholars featuring Michelle Gavin, who recently completed a five-year tour as the United States Ambassador to Botswana. Gavin shared insights from her public service leadership which was both informative and inspirational. 

Read more about the outstanding students of Mississippi State University’s Presidential Scholarship program and the Stennis Center’s Student Public Service Leaders Program.