HATTIESBURG – Pearl River Community College sophomore Evan Thornton of Collins has been awarded the Dowell Leadership Scholarship, a $1,500 grant administered through Phi Theta Kappa’s Leaders of Promise program.
Thornton, 19, is a student at the Forrest County Center. His major is English.
“The significance of this award is it is given to only one Mississippian scholar each year,” said Dr. Terri Ruckel, PRCC English instructor and PTK advisor. “Evan’s growth over the past year and a half is nothing short of remarkable.
“He stepped into the main leadership position with our (PTK) group and does an excellent job of providing direction and motivation for his peers.”
The Dowell Leadership Scholarship is a regional award given to the Phi Theta Kappa member enrolled at a Mississippi two-year college who has applied for the Coca Cola Leaders of Promise scholarship and who has received the top score in the state. Only one scholar each year receives the scholarship which is intended to provide financial resources to help defray expenses while enrolled in the two-year college in order that the student have more time to develop leadership potential through participation in Phi Theta Kappa and other campus programs.
“This scholarship is worth so much more than money,” said Thornton. “It's the affirmation that I'm doing something right. This scholarship to me, is God's gift to keep me from drowning beneath the sea of my own stress.
“When I'm amidst my own activities, it can be hard to see whether or not I'm doing anything right, and this great honor that was given to me helps me pull my head out of the water, giving me a chance to breathe, and help me take my education even further than before.”
Thornton serves as president of PRCC’s Beta Tau Gamma chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, vice president of the Honors Institute, a member of Sigma Kappa Delta and Mu Alpha Theta, and holds a position of webmaster for the Mississippi-Louisiana region of Phi Theta Kappa.
Said Dr. Ruckel, “Evan is certainly making the time to develop his leadership potential. He has taken a very active approach in leading our Honors in Action project on homelessness as well as in directing the college project on the Forrest County Center – a health fair coming up next month.
Thornton’s older brother and sister attended PRCC. A homeschool student, he dual enrolled at PRCC and found the experience to his liking.
“I was in Greg Underwood’s English Comp class and he was so open, friendly, and all of my fears that I would be crushed beneath the weight of a ‘real’ school dissolved as he guided me through that class,” said Thornton.
As to his future, Thornton plans to stick with English. “I want to continue to publish my novels, hopefully being picked up by a larger publisher along the way,” he said.
“I want to see my band through to success, and eventually open my own production company where I can put out my own musical, and literary material under my own name, as well as produce other talented artists.”