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MEC’s M.B. Swayze Foundation Honors 320 STAR Students at Education Celebration

A Clinton High School student with a perfect 36 composite score on the American College Test (ACT), combined scores of 144, and an average of 103.03 has been named Mississippi’s TOP ALL-STAR Scholar for 2022.  Abigail S. Vargheese is the daughter of Venu and Betsy Vargheese of Clinton, MS. Vargheese will receive a $24,000 scholarship provided by the Kelly Gene Cook, Sr. Charitable Foundation, Inc. She is undecided on where she will attend college but plans to study Biology and Biochemistry.  Each STAR Student is asked to designate a STAR Teacher – the teacher who has made the greatest contribution to the student’s scholastic achievement.  Vargheese designated Joshaunda L. Purvis as her STAR Teacher of Byram, MS.  She has been teaching for 16 years and this is her first time being named STAR Teacher.

Shreenithi Lakshminarayanan, a Germantown High School STAR Student, has been named 1st runner-up and will receive a $20,000 Scholarship from the Kelly Gene Cook, Sr. Charitable Foundation, Inc.  Her parents are Lakshminarayanan Vaidyananthan and Sripriya Sairam of Madison, MS.  Shreenithi designated Kelly M. Hicks of Madison as her STAR Teacher. She has been teaching for 11 year and this is her second time being named STAR Teacher.

Madeline G. Pitre, a Biloxi High School STAR student, has been named 2nd runner-up and will receive a $16,000 Scholarship from the Kelly Gene Cook, Sr. Charitable Foundation, Inc.  Her parents are David and Laurie Pitre.  Pitre designated Michael Burkett of Carriere as her STAR Teacher.  He has been teaching for 25 years.  He has been named STAR Teacher four times.

Each STAR Teacher of the top three ALL-STAR Scholars received a $1,000 award. One-time scholarship awards of $1,000 are provided to the remaining top 17 ALL-STAR Scholars.  The remaining 17 All-Star Teachers received a $500 award.  The Kelly Gene Cook Sr. Charitable Foundation, Inc. provided $88,500 in scholarships and awards to STAR Students and STAR Teachers.

The theme for the 2022 Education Event was “Journey to the Stars.”  This year, the MEC’s M. B. Swayze Foundation recognized 320 STAR Students across the state. Each STAR Student received a medallion, lapel pin, and certificate in recognition of their academic achievement.

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Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation, Maddox Foundation Support MEC’s STAR Program

Please click below for more information regarding the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation and Maddox Foundation's support for MEC's Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) Program award recipients from across the state.

The Mississippi Economic Council and its M.B. Swayze Foundation sponsor the Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) Program in an effort to encourage scholastic achievement among the state's high school students. The STAR Program has two specific purposes:

  1. Emphasize scholastic excellence and encourage greater scholastic effort among Mississippi students.
  2. Recognition of the teaching profession.

Kelly Gene Cook, Sr. STAR Scholarships:

The top 20 STAR Students will be called ALL-STAR Scholastic Scholars, following the same steps as those used at the local level. Each ALL-STAR Scholar will receive a Kelly Gene Cook, Sr. STAR Scholarship provided by the Kelly Gene Cook, Sr. Charitable Foundation, Inc. Mr. Cooke was a native of Attala County and was active in worldwide pipeline construction.

The STAR Student or STAR Teacher must be a U.S. Citizen to receive the Kelly Gene Cook, Sr. Foundation Scholarship.

  • The honoree (both student and teacher) must be a U.S. Citizen or a U.S. Lawful permanent resident to receive any STAR scholarships or be selected as a STAR Student or STAR Teacher.
  • The honoree must also be a Mississippi resident to be nominated as a STAR Student.

The STAR scholarship will be:

  • To the state's top ALL-STAR Scholar, a $24,000 Kelly Gene Cook, Sr. STAR Scholarship.
  • To the first runner-up, a $20,000 Kelly Gene Cook, Sr. STAR Scholarship.
  • To the second runner-up, a $16,000 Kelly Gene Cook, Sr. STAR Scholarship.

The above scholarships are awarded in equal payments over four years and are contingent upon student performance. One-time scholarship awards of $1,000 are provided to the remaining 17 ALL-STAR Scholars. Teachers of the top three ALL-STAR Scholars will each receive a $1,000 award. The remaining 17 ALL-STAR Teachers will each receive a $500 award.

 

* - STAR Students and STAR Teachers must be United States citizens to receive scholarships.

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