OXFORD, Miss. – Kendall McDonald , a public policy leadership major at the University of Mississippi who has worked on campus environmental issues while maintaining a 3.96 grade point average, recently was awarded a prestigious Udall Scholarship honorable mention.
McDonald, of Diamondhead, is a junior enrolled in the university’s Sally McDonell Barksdale Honors College and works as an intern in the Office of Campus Sustainability. She has helped operate the UM football game day recycling program, which involved establishing a new partnership with an international recycling company. She also oversaw the production of UM’s Green Week, including the construction of an 8-foot cube of waste educational exhibit.
She studies environmental issues, including participating in an experimental class about the lower Mississippi River. A member of Delta Gamma sorority, she is also active in campus environmental campaigns and “green” student groups.
“Being named an honorable mention to the Udall scholarship, which signifies the top 20 percent of applicants nationally, is very encouraging to me,” McDonald said. “It affirms that I am on the right path in pursuing environmental advocacy and it also places me within the larger network of Udall scholars and honorable mentions. I am so grateful for the support this network provides, and for the opportunity and assistance provided by the Office of National Scholarship Advisement.”
McDonald is the daughter of James Steven McDonald, of Lexington, Kentucky, and Shellye McDonald, of Diamondhead. She is the university’s third student to be recognized by the Udall Foundation. Taylor Cook was named a Udall Scholar in 2012 and Alecia Waite was named a Udall Scholar in 2008.
This year, the Udall Foundation’s 14-member independent review committee picked 50 students from 47 colleges out of more 489 candidates nominated to make up the 2014 scholars class. The foundation, which was established by Congress in 1992, makes its selections based on the students’ commitment to careers in the environment, American Indian health care or tribal public policy, leadership potential, academic achievement and record of public service. Scholars received up to $5,000 for tuition, room and board or other educational expenses. The committee also awarded 50 honorable mentions and those students receive access to the Udall Alumni Network.
McDonald’s application for the Udall Scholarship was supported by UM faculty members and employees, who wrote letters endorsing McDonald’s achievements.
Anne McCauley, UM assistant director of the Office of Sustainability, said McDonald is deserving of the recognition.
“Kendall McDonald is a talented individual who I have truly enjoyed working with and getting to know,” McCauley said. “Though she is intelligent, creative and a natural leader, she is humble and service-oriented. I trust her to represent the Office of Sustainability when she meets with student groups as well as staff members on campus. She has proven herself as capable as a professional colleague, which is exactly how I regard her.”
Joseph “Jody” Holland, UM assistant professor of public policy, said that as one of his students, McDonald completed an extensive research project that examined the barriers and opportunities for building recycling plants in Mississippi. But McDonald is also a well-rounded student who does more than just focus on work in the classroom, Holland said.
“She exemplifies a well-rounded student, who participates in multiple areas of service work on campus and in the community,” he said. “While being a full-time student, Kendall has volunteered for nine service projects over the years at Ole Miss and around the community. Her efforts are constantly focused around environmental policy and contemporary policies issues. As a student worker, she has work closely with the Office of Sustainability in many capacities. Even with that, she still maintains her academic performance as a top scholar.”
David Rutherford, UM associate professor of public policy and geography and executive director of the Mississippi Geographic Alliance, said McDonald is “an outstanding student but is also committed to work that improves the planet’s environment at local to global scales.”
“One of my classes in which Kendall enrolled is titled ‘Global Environmental Issues,’ and she demonstrated a strong desire to understand these issues and earned an A for the course,” Rutherford said. “Her performance in the course not only demonstrated high-level skills in reading, understanding and writing but also showed her insightful thinking about contemporary issues and her discerning identification of action steps needed to develop solutions.”