Delta Scholars

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 ten-day Summer Institute in Mississippi followed by a five-day trip to Boston and Harvard University 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.

Delta Scholars Summer Institute

The Summer Institute is a ten-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 the first 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 and have the opportunity to present their own project proposals.

Harvard Week

Following the Summer Institute, the Delta Scholars will reconnect in the fall for five days at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. 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 students and faculty working on Mississippi 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.

For more information, please contact Dr. Becky Smith at