The 2024 Delta Scholars Summer Institute will be held June 16-28, 2024. Scholars will spend time across the Multi-State Delta Region and at Mississippi State University.

2024 Applications Closed

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 Multi-State Delta region towards a brighter, more just tomorrow. Delta Scholars is led through the Mississippi State University Shackouls Honors College, with additional partners including the Southern Rural Development Center, Harvard University, University of Mississippi Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, and Brandeis University.

Delta Scholars are selected for their academic achievements and commitment to public service to participate in a twelve-day intensive Summer Institute in the Multi-State Delta Region and engaged in scholarly sessions at Mississippi State University. By the close of the summer session, scholars will have identified an issue of inequality, injustice, or further asset development and proposed a project that will promote dialogue and change around that issue in an identified partner community or more broadly. A project connecting with issues in the Mississippi or broader multi-state Delta Region is encouraged, but not required.

Scholars successfully completing the summer intensive are invited to present at the five-day fall Boston Conference in the Boston, Massachusetts region in partnership with our partner institutions.

Both experiences form a cohort of young leaders thinking critically about systemic injustices to cultivate change. This is a nationally competitive program aimed at sophomores and above, with a connection to Mississippi and committed to social issues. Open to all majors, DS mentors engage in research focused on a wide array of scholarship, including public health and wellness, food policy, criminology, and demography.


Delta Scholars Leadership Team

Dr. Kecia Johnson


Kecia Johnson, Ph.D.

Kecia R. Johnson is an Associate Professor of Sociology. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology at North Carolina State University. Her research focuses on issues related to the collateral consequences of incarceration, prisoner reentry, women’s imprisonment and racial disparities and crime. Since her arrival to Mississippi State University (MSU), Dr. Johnson has worked with an interdisciplinary research team that examines food insecurity across the state. These researchers are also interested in working with communities to address issues pertaining to food insecurity and food access. As a result of this work, Dr. Johnson has developed an interest in how food insecurity affects formerly incarcerated individuals and their families. Currently, Dr. Johnson has expanded her research to examine the impact of parental incarceration on the mental health of their children.  Her research has appeared in publications such as the American Journal of Sociology, Youth & Society, Journal of Quantitative Criminology, and Social Science & Medicine.  Dr. Johnson teaches courses on deviant behavior, race and crime, gender and crime, policing and criminological theory.

Since 2018, Dr. Johnson has served as a faculty mentor and program coordinator for the Delta Scholars Program, which is housed at the MSU Shackouls Honor College. This is an academic and community engagement program for students that are socially conscious and interested in learning about the Mississippi Delta. During their tour of the MS Delta, students learn about the challenges faced by Delta residents. However, they also meet and interact with community members to learn about the resiliency of these residents and the positive aspects of living in the Delta.

As a faculty mentor, Dr. Johnson has supported students as they developed their projects that produce positive social change in their communities and for several students this mentoring relationship continues for months or even years after they participated in the program. In 2023, Dr. Johnson was named the Director of the Delta Scholars program.

Mrs. Eleanor Green

Assistant Director

Eleanor M. Green, M.Ed.

Mrs. Greens educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in education. She started college at Richland Community College in Decatur, Illinois, transferred and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Mississippi State University and a Master of Education in History from Delta State University.

Prior to teaching in the university context, Green spent 20 years engaged in applied community efforts. As a practitioner, she had many roles in various kinds of informal education venues from school gardens with K-12 students, to public health settings, to community cooking courses and beyond. Her teaching is informed by experiences in these arenas, connecting these to the students and bringing concepts to life in an accessible way. At the grassroots level, Green has worked with many community organizations, including small farmer organizations, community health organizations, and schools.

She is originally from Starkville, Mississippi, however she spent her formative years in the Midwest. After living in the Mississippi Delta for ten years while working at Delta State University she and her family moved to Oxford and The University of Mississippi in 2011, and in July 2021 returned to Starkville.

She is a full-time farmer and serves the university part time as Assistant Director of the Delta Scholars Program, housed in the Shackouls Honors College at Mississippi State University. From Fall 2020-Spring 2023, she served as adjunct faculty member at a regional branch campus of the University of Mississippi. Courses taught included the Sociology of Food, Sociology of Peace and Justice, and Community Development.

Along with her husband, John, Director of the Southern Rural Development Center and Professor, she co-owns Green Garden at Twin Gum, a budding eight-acre market garden and bed and breakfast growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, and making value-added products.

The have also raised two adult children; their son teaches Physics at The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science and their daughter recently began a Ph.D. program in Population Health at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Applications Open: December 1st

Application Deadline: February 26th

Delta Scholars Summer Institute 2024: June 16 - June 28, 2024

Boston Week 2024: In the fall, date will be set by application deadline


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