Students Awarded Croft Scholarships to Pursue International Studies

Grants help recipients further their global education

The UM Croft Institute for International Studies has awarded prestigious Croft Scholarships to nine freshmen and Rose Bui Memorial Scholarships for Academic Excellence to two sophomores. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Eleven Croft Institute for International Studies students earned distinguished scholarships this fall that will assist them in their global studies at the University of Mississippi.

This year’s Croft Scholarship recipients are Logan Baggett, Landon Bradley, Paola Leon, Abigail Metcalf, Peyton Miller, Wake Monroe, Hayden Pierce, Harrison Stewart and Maggie Thomas. The students are all freshmen at the Croft Institute.

Rising Croft Institute sophomores Faith Deering and Kendall Wheelock earned Rose Bui Memorial Scholarships for Academic Excellence.

The students were awarded prestigious scholarships that pay $8,000 a year, and the funds can be combined with other scholarships. The scholars retain the funds as long as they stay in the international studies major and maintain a 3.4 grade-point average both in the major and overall.

“We are excited about this year’s cohort of Croft Scholars,” said Oliver Dinius, Croft executive director. “This is an academically impressive group with diverse interests and backgrounds, but all with high aspirations for making an impact on our society.

“Throughout their studies, they will all study a foreign language with the expectation to reach a high level of proficiency, an essential part of the Croft Institute’s mission to educate global citizens.”

Croft students choose their international studies major path by selecting a regional concentration from East Asia, Europe, Latin America or the Middle East, and a related foreign language before starting their first semester in the program. Students later select a thematic concentration from among global economics and business, global health, international governance and politics, or social and cultural identity.

Some 200 high-achieving applicants, with an average ACT score of 29.2, applied for admission to the Croft Institute this fall, and 73 students were admitted. Of those, 27 students were invited to interview for a Croft Scholarship.

These students answered follow-up questions about their application essays and questions about current affairs, their intellectual interests and their motivations for pursuing a bachelor’s degree in international studies.

“We selected these nine scholars after a careful review of their application to the institute and an in-person interview in February that allowed us to sense their excitement about and commitment to international studies,” Dinius said.

Logan Baggett

A native of Petal and graduate of Petal High School, Baggett is concentrating on Latin America and Spanish.

“I’ve always been fascinated with foreign policy and international relations … as I’ve always been interested in joining the foreign service or doing immigration law,” he said. “Croft is the perfect undergraduate experience to facilitate my goals.”

Landon Bradley

Bradley is a native of Bay Springs and a graduate of Stringer High School who knew he wanted to be a member of the Croft Institute after learning more about the program between his junior and senior years of high school.

“Croft offers precisely the kind of program I had imagined for myself and allows the flexibility to become successful in any field I choose while also becoming fluent in a foreign language and preparing to work abroad,” said Bradley, who is concentrating on Latin America and Spanish.

Faith Deering

A native of Somerset, New Jersey, Deering is concentrating on East Asia and Korean.

“I am so happy that all of my hard work, long hours of studying, time management, organization and dedication paid off last year, and I have even more motivation to continue doing well academically at the University of Mississippi for the next three years until I graduate,” said Deering, who graduated from Apex Friendship High School in North Carolina.

“The Croft Institute’s global focus aligns with my love of learning Korean, studying South Korean culture and immersing myself in diverse global communities.”

Paola Leon

A Corinth native who graduated from Corinth High School, Leon is concentrating on East Asia and Korean while already being fluent in Spanish and English.

“I have always had dreams of becoming trilingual and being able to immerse myself in other cultures through studying abroad and, in the end, perhaps making a career out of this interest,” she said. “These dreams are what pushed me to apply to Croft.

“I truly want to become a better global citizen who is aware of and educated about issues around the world. I strongly believe that as a Croft Scholar, I can achieve those dreams I have and much more!”

Abigail Metcalf

A Jackson native and graduate of Jackson Preparatory School, Metcalf is concentrating on the Middle East and Arabic.

“I had many late nights in high school – studying for tests, preparing for classes, writing college essays,” she said. “Receiving the Croft Scholarship means that my work didn’t go unnoticed.

“Now, in college, it’s a standard for me to live up to and an incentive to continue working hard at Ole Miss and beyond. The perspectives I will gain from this program will help me in whatever career I pursue in the future.”

Peyton Miller

Miller, a graduate of Indian Springs School from Birmingham, Alabama, is concentrating on Latin America and Spanish.

“I was attracted to the Croft Institute by the close ties between professors and students as well as by the focus on study abroad,” she said. “I am thrilled to meet the Croft study abroad requirement because total cultural immersion is such an impactful way to learn about the world.”

Wake Monroe

Monroe is a Jackson native who graduated from St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. He is concentrating on Latin America and Spanish.

“It is an honor to not only be a part of the Croft Institute but also to have received the Croft Scholarship,” he said. “The Croft Institute’s interdisciplinary approach to understanding different cultures is what attracted me. Croft uses a multifaceted approach where you are able to analyze other countries through their language, politics, history, economy and more.

“The professors here are incredibly passionate, and I have already made great friends from the close-knit community that is Croft.”

Hayden Pierce

Concentrating on Latin America and Spanish, Pierce is from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, and graduated from Mt. Juliet High School.

“Receiving a Croft Scholarship means a lot to me,” he said. “It took a financial burden off of me and my family, and it further excited me to be a ‘Croftie.’ The scholarship allowed me to get adjusted and succeed academically during this first semester of mine without having to get a job right off the bat.

“I was attracted to the Croft Institute because of the way the program set its students up for success.”

Harrison Stewart

From Collierville, Tennessee, Stewart is a graduate of Collierville High School who is concentrating on Europe and Spanish. Having taken foreign language classes through high school, the opportunity to further immerse himself in language studies and study abroad attracted him to Croft.

“I am really grateful and humbled to be selected out of a group of such outstanding students, and it was definitely a major factor in my decision to attend the university,” he said. “It has been really rewarding to connect with the other scholars since I have been on campus, and I look forward to doing so throughout the next four years.”

Maggie Thomas

A native of Lilburn, Georgia, who graduated from Brookwood High School, Thomas is concentrating on Latin America and Spanish.

“Receiving a Croft Scholarship was an amazing surprise and honor, and it has given me the incredible opportunity and responsibility to succeed as a student in the Croft Institute,” she said. “I was drawn to the Croft Institute because of the wonderful community and the benefits of a small, challenging program.

“When I visited for the first time, I immediately knew Croft was the place for me, and receiving the Croft Scholarship made it possible for me to call Croft and Ole Miss my home.”

Kendall Wheelock

A native of Austin, Texas, who graduated from Veritas Academy, Wheelock is concentrating on Europe and Spanish.

“Receiving a Croft Scholarship after freshman year meant that all my hard work is coming to fruition,” Wheelock said. “Freshman year was hard and starting a new language was harder than I expected, but all my effort and determination were noticed and celebrated.

“This was so encouraging and made me even more excited for the next three years at the Croft Institute and all the growth and support I would have from the students and faculty.”