Delta Scholars

The 2023 Delta Scholars Summer Institute will be held June 19-June 30 at Mississippi State University and the Delta region.

Application Deadline: February 15th



The Delta Scholars Program is a two-part academic and community engagement program for talented and socially conscious college students interested in moving Mississippi and the Delta region towards a brighter, more just tomorrow. Delta Scholars are selected for their academic achievements and commitment to public service to participate in a twelve-day Summer Institute in Mississippi followed by a five-day trip to Boston and Harvard and Brandeis Universities in the fall. Both experiences form a cohort of young leaders thinking critically about systemic injustices in the Mississippi Delta, with each Scholar developing a project that will produce positive social change in their communities. This is a nationally competitive program aimed at sophomores and above, from Mississippi or simply committed to social issues there. Open to all majors, there will be special research opportunities for students interested in public health.

Eligibility: Students who are currently enrolled full-time in a two-or four-year college or university are encouraged to apply. Preference will be given to sophomores (rising juniors) who are from or attending school in the Mississippi Delta Region (which includes AL, AR, IL, KY, LA, MO, MS, and TN).

Applicants must submit the following:

  • Application form (download here)
  • A statement of interest in the Delta Scholars Program, including personal connections with issues in the Delta region (max 1000 words)
  • One letter of recommendation from a faculty member
  • Unofficial copies of college transcripts

All materials can be emailed to  attn: Dr. Kecia Johnson or mailed to:

Delta Scholars Program
Shackouls Honors College
P.O. Box #EH
Mississippi State, MS 39762

For more information contact Dr. Kecia Johnson at

Delta Scholars Summer Institute*

The Summer Institute is a twelve-day immersion program during which students will work to identify an issue of inequality or injustice that they are interested in and develop a proposal for a project that will promote dialogue and change around that issue in their own communities or the state of Mississippi broadly.

Students will spend a portion of the program at the Shackouls Honors College at Mississippi State University where they will engage with faculty and guest lecturers from a range of disciplines to learn about issues currently challenging the people and the economy of Mississippi, including food insecurity, public health, education, and more. Substantive lessons designed to teach students about the workings and impact of different systems in the Delta will be intermixed with skills-based workshops designed to give students the planning, research, and advocacy skills necessary to begin developing their independent projects.

During the summer conference, students will take an Innovation Tour of the Delta, where they’ll have the chance to meet and learn from researchers, non-profit organizations, and community members who have worked to tackle difficult issues in their community through bold new approaches and community-led efforts. During their time in Clarksdale, students will attend the Delta Regional Forum, where they will hear from a wide variety of presenters about current research and work impacting the Delta region. At the end of the program, students will have the opportunity to present their own project proposals.

Boston Week**

Following the Summer Institute, the Delta Scholars will reconnect in the fall for five days in Boston visiting Harvard and Brandeis Universities. This trip provides an opportunity for students to share updates on their projects, receive continuing feedback, reflect on lessons learned from the program, and discuss how those lessons might be applied to solving other problems in or outside of Mississippi. The Scholars also engage with Harvard and Brandeis students and faculty working on Delta issues, including Harvard Law students in the Mississippi Delta Project. The goal of this intellectual exchange is to provide both sides with fresh perspectives, promote dialogue that can push their work forward, and foster networks of young leaders that might collaborate in the future.



The Delta Scholars program is a collaborative effort between the Shackouls Honors College at Mississippi State University, Mississippi State University's Southern Rural Development Center, University of Mississippi's Center for Population Studies, the Delta Directions Consortium, the Harvard School of Public Health, the Harvard Law School, the Phillips Brooks House Center for Public Service and Engaged Scholarship at Harvard College, and Brandeis University.

**The program will begin on the morning of June 20 and end on the evening of July 1. Program participants should tentatively plan to travel to Mississippi State University’s campus on Sunday, June 19 and depart from the conference on July 2. Lodging will be provided during these dates.

**Dates for Boston Week are set during the Summer Institute based on participant availability and fall scheduling.