Twenty-one Stamps Scholars from the University of Mississippi were in Atlanta recently for the fourth biennial Stamps Scholars National Convention, where they learned from one another and from some of the country’s most renowned leaders about facing challenges that affect society.
Sponsored by the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation, the 2017 Stamps Scholars National Convention, dubbed SSNC17, was on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology.
The convention benefits the Stamps Scholars Program, a prestigious merit scholarship program that helps exceptional students become leaders throughout society. Launched in 2006 by Georgia native Roe Stamps and his wife, Penny, the program has grown to include 42 partner schools throughout the country.
"Whenever I speak with our Stamps Scholars, they talk about the value of getting together with driven and talented peers and learning from them," Roe Stamps said. "Seeing what these amazing young leaders are doing, and realizing what they will achieve later in life, is inspiring."
Some 730 scholars from across the country attended SSNC17 and had opportunities to hear and talk with leaders including Elisa Villanueva-Beard, the CEO of Teach for America, and G. Wayne Clough, former Georgia Tech president and secretary emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution.
The convention also provides a platform for scholars to learn from one another through discussion of some of the great challenges facing the world. This year’s topics included “Mental Health in the 21st Century,” “Living in an Energy Crisis” and “The Future of Human Space Exploration.”
The event also featured a service challenge, “Consulting for Social Good.” The goal of the service challenge is to apply scholars’ knowledge to real-life obstacles often present in nonprofit organizations.
“SSNC17 did not disappoint,” said Douglass Sullivan-González, dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, who attended the conference with the UM students. “Our Stamps Scholars engaged with scholars from across the nation to address difficult challenges and questions together. From guest speakers to active problem-solving, our scholars joined others in common causes.”
The experience was rewarding for both upper- and underclassmen.
Dylan Ritter, a senior biochemistry major from Somerset, New Jersey, appreciates the motivation that he derives from the convention.
“I went and met people doing science and research that blew me away — and they’re just kids going through undergrad with happiness and heartbreak and all the parts of a full college experience that I have,” Ritter said. “It really helps me realize that I am lucky to be in the company of such bright minds, but I am also fortunate because I can relate to them and learn how to do better with what I have.”
Sophomore Brendan Ryan, a Chinese and math double major from Diamondhead, Mississippi, appreciates the community Stamps provides, both locally at Ole Miss and nationally.
“On this campus, I feel comfortable walking up to any of my fellow Stamps Scholars and striking up a conversation because I feel close to them,” Ryan said. “Most importantly, I am getting a better understanding of what being a Stamps Scholar means to my identity.
“I left the conference with a sense of national community; I felt a definite sense of camaraderie.”
The convention’s diversity and collective purpose made an impression on Sally Boswell, an Ocean Springs, Mississippi, freshman majoring in international studies.
“My biggest takeaway was how open-minded and determined all of the students were,” Boswell said. “Everyone listened to each other and diligently worked to solve the tasks with which we were presented.
“I had never been around so many high-achieving people from such a large range of places before, and it showed me that even though our nation and world have much division and chaos, there are scholars working hard in their disciplines to make the world a better place. I left SSNC17 with a very optimistic feeling.”
Stamps Scholarships — the top scholarships offered at Ole Miss — are generous multiyear awards that include enrichment funding for study abroad, internship or research opportunities. The Stamps Foundation and its partners provide scholarship support to 930 scholars, with the projected goal of helping educate 5,000 scholars in total. Some 455 Stamps Scholar alumni around the world continue to benefit from various professional and social networking opportunities.
To learn more about the Stamps Foundation, visit http://www.stampsfoundation.org/.
Individuals and organizations interested in supporting academic scholarships at the University of Mississippi can contact Katie Morrison, director of corporate and foundation relations, at 662-915-2135 or email [email protected] Gifts also can be made by mailing a check to the UM Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655 with the purpose noted in the memo line, or by visiting https://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift/.
By Katie Morrison