Pearl River student awarded prestigious Jack Kent Cook Scholarship

Savannah Barnes

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Pearl River Community College student Savannah Barnes is being recognized for her excellence in the classroom as the recipient of the prestigious Jack Kent Cook Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

Through this community college transfer scholarship, the JKC Foundation supports high-achieving community college students as they transfer to some of the top four-year institutions in the country to complete their bachelor’s degrees.

The Foundation provides up to $40,000 per year to scholarship recipients for up to three years, making it among the largest private scholarships for community college transfer students in the country.

Fifty scholars were selected this year to receive the award nationwide. The scholarships help them cover the cost of educational expenses such as tuition, living expenses, books and required fees as they complete their bachelor’s degree. Additionally, Cooke Scholars are eligible to apply for up to $75,000 of funding toward graduate school.

When asked what receiving the scholarship meant to her, Barnes simply replied, “A good future. I'm feeling the best I could ever feel.” 

Barnes was born and raised in Petal, where she attended Petal High School. Before she attended Pearl River Community College, she was a part of the Petal Marching Band, Yearbook Club and Advanced Placement classes. Barnes currently attends the Forrest County Campus where she is the Vice President of the William Lewis Honors Institute, Vice President of her Phi Theta Kappa chapter and the Regional Webmaster for the MS/LA Region of PTK. She is also a member of the History and Humanities Club and the Travel Club. 

Barnes plans to transfer to the University of Mississippi to pursue a Bachelor of Multi-Disciplinary Studies. Her focus will be on the Korean language, TESOL, creative writing and history. 

“Savannah Barnes is an exceptional student who is having an exceptional year,” PRCC Dean of Honors Institute and PTK advisor Dr. Terri Ruckel said. “I’m absolutely thrilled when great students receive recognition and funding for their outstanding leadership and scholarship. 

“Savannah definitely lives up to the Wildcat Way of pride, respect, class and character.”

“Producing a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar or SemiFinalist means the college has supported two years of work in the life of an individual student, work that could only happen in a culture of administrative, staff, and faculty collaboration toward the goal of 'changing lives,'” PTK advisor Dr. Ryan Ruckel said. “Without the administrative and whole-college support for Honors and PTK, without dedicated PTK advisors who gave their time to shepherd these students through the rigorous application process and recommend them – Dr. Terri Ruckel, Robin Nix, Lisa Wall, and the other PTK advisors on all campuses, we would not see these results.

“Savannah’s award is Pearl River’s accomplishment, too.”

Barnes is appreciative to her Wildcat Family for the support she has recieved along her educational journey. 

“My professors, chapter advisors, and friends I have made at the Forrest County Center have encouraged me over these two years,” Barnes said. “With their help, I gained confidence in my abilities as a student. If it weren't for the combined efforts of the instructors and my peers, then I wouldn't have pushed myself to try for such a prestigious scholarship.”

Barnes encourages all future Wildcats to make the most of their time at The River. 

“Take advantage of your time at PRCC. There are so many opportunities, and all you have to do is look for them,” Barnes said. “It's essential to be an active student because the benefits are unlimited. Organizations, study groups, and the people around you can help boost your confidence and help you along your journey.”

PRCC was not originally part of Barnes educational journey. She initially planned to go straight to a university after high school graduation; however, she switched gears at the last minute and found herself at The River. 

“I can say now that it was the best decision I have made as a student,” Barnes said. “My incredible instructors and the people I have met at PRCC helped my confidence in my academic abilities and furthered my determination to reach my goals. It was the efforts of those around me that led me to pursue and ultimately receive this fantastic scholarship. 

“I cannot thank them enough.”

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Pearl River Community College offers equal education and employment opportunities. The College does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, veteran status, or disability. For inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies or to request accommodations, special assistance, or alternate format publication please contact Tonia M. Seal, Director of Admissions and Records/ ADA/Civil Rights Coordinator at P.O. Box 5559, Poplarville, MS 39470 or 601-403-1060 or Maghan James, Assistant Vice President of Student Services/Title IX Coordinator at P.O. Box 5805, Poplarville, MS 39470 or 601-403-1132.

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