Daniel Roberts, a 2014 University of Mississippi graduate, has established an Ole Miss First Scholarship in hopes of planting seeds that will thrive and help students enjoy an exceptional college experience. He becomes one of the youngest alumni ever to establish an Ole Miss First scholarship.
Ole Miss First provides scholarships to students demonstrating outstanding scholastic achievement and leadership. During their four undergraduate years, scholars meet with mentors to receive the guidance and encouragement they need to take chances, explore opportunities and make a difference.
“Mentorship played a huge role in my life from high school to college to even now. I want to make sure a young person has the same opportunity,” said Roberts of Washington, D.C., a Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College alumnus. “I believe giving back is much more than donating money — it’s about planting seeds that live on longer than you.
“I hope this scholarship unlocks the next level of success for the young person who receives it,” he continued. “I want this to give them the tools to tackle college courses, land internships and eventually obtain their dream job while also inspiring them to one day reach back and change the life of a future student.”
Ole Miss First scholars have been recognized in many ways for their UM achievements. Examples include the following: ASB officer, Hall of Fame, Ole Miss Ambassador, Orientation Leader, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Rhodes Scholar, Taylor Medalist, Truman Scholar, Class Favorite, Homecoming Maid, Freshmen Council, Omicron Delta Kappa and Columns Society.
“We are thrilled to welcome Daniel to the Ole Miss First family as a scholarship donor,” said Rosie McDavid, the program’s manager. “His love for the university and his passion for enhancing educational opportunities for deserving students is contagious.
“As a college student, Daniel pursued every opportunity that was offered to him, and now as a successful professional, he wants to pay those opportunities forward. His gift and story will impact our students in profound ways. We are so grateful for Daniel’s gift to Ole Miss First!”
Roberts credits his parents for influencing the value he places on giving back.
“I saw my mom and dad give tremendous amounts when I was a kid, whether time, money or volunteering. They poured into our church, community, family, and friends — and I realized early how it truly changed people’s lives for the better.”
Scholarships and more influenced Roberts’ decision to choose Ole Miss as his college home.
“I applied to over 20 colleges and received nearly $1 million in scholarship offers, but Ole Miss offered something special: Southern values, academic excellence and exceptional opportunities through the Honors College, Lott Institute and internship program,” said the public policy leadership major.
The university granted him scholarships that covered all four undergrad years, supported his internship with First Lady Michelle Obama, and enabled him to study abroad in Ecuador, Germany and South Africa.
“These experiences gave me a global perspective that laid the foundation for my career,” he said. “I was just as busy outside of class as I was inside. I served as president pro tempore of the ASB Senate where I authored one of the biggest pieces of legislation in Ole Miss history, creating the smoke-free campus that is still in effect today.”
Roberts said he found joy in making an impact campuswide, serving as campaign manager for the first African American woman elected ASB president, joining Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and being active in the Black Student Union, Columns Society and Chancellor’s Leadership Class.
“Ole Miss taught me the art of using both personality and wit to get the job done,” Robert said. “It’s not about being the smartest person in the room; it’s about making genuine connections with other talented people to reach a common goal.”
Since graduation, he has worked in policy roles at the White House and Congress and in communications positions at Facebook, Lyft and Viacom International. Now, he’s head of communications for BrightDrop, a commercial EV and logistics startup by General Motors.
The Ole Miss Alumni Association selected Roberts as a 2022 “40 Under 40” award recipient, and he was inducted into the 2014 Ole Miss Student Hall of Fame. Recently, he was invited to join the Honors College Leadership Council and the Lott Institute’s Alumni Advisory Board.
“I feel energized each day knowing that the gifts I am blessed with are helping others,” he said. “I love the analogy of planting seeds because, throughout life, we all accumulate tiny seeds. It’s our choice to hoard them for ourselves or plant them so others can also enjoy the beautiful trees, flowers and harvests they produce. Knowing that I’m leaving something meaningful truly fulfills me.”
To make a gift to the Daniel C. Roberts Ole Miss First Scholarship, click here. Alumni and friends can also mail checks to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the fund’s name noted in the check’s memo line, to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655.
For more information on creating scholarships, contact Brady Bramlett, director of development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-915-3081.
By Tina H. Hahn/UM Development