Current Scholarship Winners

Ms. Skylar Alexander

Skylar is currently a junior at the University of Mississippi majoring in Biology with a double minor in Chemistry and Health & Society. She is philanthropy chair for her sorority Chi-Omega and deeply engaged with , I will be deeply engaged with philanthropies Make-A-Wish and Blair E Batson. She is a Camp Ozark counselor and volunteers at Urgent Care of Oxford.

Can you please describe the role of the National Guard in our society and how that role could best be communicated to the population that is not in the military?

In the United States, the National Guard has countless roles. I typically like to consider them as citizen soldiers. Their job in a broad sense is to respond to humanitarian disasters & domestic threats & emergencies. So how do we break this barrier & effectively communicate the National Guard’s role to society & progressively develop their trust with citizens? The National Guard can provide words of affirmation to the community by becoming more involved in schools & communicate with students that they provide safety & security for the public when called upon. The National Guard sacrifices their time & protection as a gift to society. They take time away from their families & careers in order to protect & serve us. The National Guard’s consistent presence in the community can increase familiarity & trust with what they do & can accomplish. I truly believe that moments, memories, & doing things with others creates & further develops relationships & understanding of one another.

Ms. Olivia Palmer

Olivia is an Elementary Education major at the University of Southern Mississippi with a concentration in Mathematics. She was salutatorian of her high school class and earned an ACT Eminent Scholarship. Since 2017 she has been an entrepreneur operating Custom Art by Olivia Palmer. Olivia is a volunteer with Make-A-Wish Foundation and maintains a consistent place on the USM President’s List.

How can we best relay the role of the Mississippi National Guard to the general population?

In my opinion, one of the more crucial aspects of explaining the role the Guard has on our society is the versatility each member has the ability to express. Because many positions in the National Guard allow for civilian careers to coexist, the Guard has a huge impact on the young men and women of our nation. Through the expression of flexibility the National Guard displays, young people are given the opportunity to see that serving our nation does not have to be all-consuming in either one’s career or his or her personal life. The duality of home and abroad service the Guard provides allows for both quintessential military duty to be served, as our nation is defended in war zones, and in a less familiar form of military defense, as our communities are assisted locally with humanitarian disasters. This supplies great assurance within individuals’ goals that one can realistically serve the nation, hold other career goals, and have an extensive personal life. In my family, sacrifices were both obviously present and frequently heavy. However, the downside to our sacrifices were easily overshadowed by the pride I felt for my father’s occupation. Immediately being able to pick my dad out of a crowd of parents by his uniform has always made me beam with pride as I knew he (rightfully) appeared honorable among the rest. I can only hope my future children will one day be able to have the same experience with their parents.

Captain David McRae

David is a graduate of Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He is employed as a Senior Quality Engineer while also maintaining his active service as a member of the Mississippi National Guard and volunteering as a youth organizer at his church. An Active Life Member of NGAMS, David has previously served on the board of directors and many committees.

How do you think the National Guard is viewed in society?

Since 2008 our society has started to shift its view of National Guard Soldiers’ importance. Through the increased operation pace of many units across the state each year, our community is beginning to understand our vital role in the National Defense. I still believe there is more to be done in this effort across all facets of our community and business society. The different pace took a significant toll on each Soldier’s family and their employment. Each of these issues revolves around our society not understanding the National Defense hinges on our National Guard Soldiers’ support. My personal goal is to change our community daily with every person I meet. I try to educate leaders on how critical a Soldiers time away from work is to the stability of our society. Throughout my 19-year career, I have been a massive advocate for the importance of the National Guard. I will continue to stress that a soldier’s training time needs to be viewed in high regard at the civilian and industrial levels. The Soldier’s training time is one whole leg of our National Defense stool. Without this one leg, there is no way to support our Nation.

Mr. Matt Roberson

Matt graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics at Mississippi State. As an undergraduate he earned the Applewhite Engineering Scholarship Award after being valedictorian for Copiah Academy. He is a research engineer for Advanced Composites Institute at Mississippi State University while serving on the Interfraternity Council and as a child mentor at Project Brickfire.

Why is the National Guard such an important part of our military?

Each member of the National Guard, both part time and full time, offer the greatest sacrifice that any American citizen can offer. To be able to work as a normal civilian on a day-to-day basis and still be on the front line in the state of emergency is what it means to be an American. To me, joining the National Guard, and the military in general, is the ultimate sacrifice that one can make. They risk their lives with the sole purpose of protecting this country. We have experienced this firsthand with the recent pandemic. When everyone had no idea what to do, the national guards Soldiers and Airmen were out in the public eye giving out tests. This was the same case when the vaccine was developed. When you needed to receive a vaccine, the first doses administered were by the National Guard. I think that the general population loops the National Guard in with the rest of the military, even though their role can be very different. The National Guard is under the control of the Governor 95% of the time and serves a State mission. When a hurricane ravages a town, who is the first to show up? When there are riots or civil unrest, who protects the citizens? If there were terrorist attacks in your home state, who would you look to protect you? Your neighbors and coworkers in the National Guard will be the ones to fill those roles should an emergency unfold.