Phil Hardin Foundation Provides Grant for New Summer Internship Program

Millsaps College has received a $122,000 grant from the Phil Hardin Foundation to establish a summer internship program in Meridian.

The program, which will get under way this summer, will provide paid internships at numerous organizations in Meridian plus housing for 10 Millsaps students.

Ryan Colvin, director of the Millsaps Center for Career Education, said the program will provide students the opportunity to obtain skills that will prepare them for meaningful work after graduation and give them a connection to Meridian, all while getting paid.

“Students who need income over the summer are often forced to choose between an internship that will advance their career goals and a summer job that may not progress or complement their desired career outcomes, but they won’t have to make that choice with this new internship program,” he said.

Each Millsaps student selected as an intern will receive $5,000, plus paid-for housing, for an eight- to 10-week internship.

The Mississippi Arts & Entertainment Experience (The MAX), the Meridian Museum of Art, East Mississippi Business Development Corp., Rush Health Systems, the Meridian Freedom Project, the Meridian Council for the Arts, The Montgomery Institute, and the Community Development Department of the city of Meridian have agreed to accept interns.

The summer internship program will benefit not only Millsaps students but also Meridian and, hopefully, the state of Mississippi, said Kenneth Townsend, director of the Institute for Civic and Professional Engagement at Millsaps.

“News reports in recent months have confirmed that Mississippi is losing its millennial population at a faster rate than any state in the nation,” he said. “Many young people are leaving the state, including communities such as Meridian, not because they want to leave but because they feel forced out because they are unable to find suitable and meaningful work opportunities after they graduate from college.”

“If Mississippi is to slow, and eventually reverse, the so-called brain drain of our millennial population, we must be creative, intentional, and tireless in cultivating student populations that can thrive amidst adversity, and we must establish programs and pipelines that connect our state’s young people with opportunities beyond college.

“We’re excited about this program from multiple perspectives,” said Lloyd Gray, executive director of the Phil Hardin Foundation, which is based in Meridian and funds educational initiatives statewide. “We know Millsaps will provide exceptional students as interns, and several of the organizations they will work for are our local grantees as well. By the same token, we know these organizations will provide a high-quality work experience for the students.

“It’s our hope that after an immersive experience in the history, culture, and current opportunities in Meridian, some of the students may consider locating in Meridian at some point after graduation.”

The initial Hardin grant funds the internships for the summers of 2019 and 2020. Anna Watson, director of the Meridian Freedom Project, an academic and leadership program for sixth through twelfth graders, has provided assistance with considerations such as where interns will live and opportunities for them to socialize.

Housing will be provided at Meridian Community College and periodic programming will allow students to get to know each other and the local community as well as the cultural organizations.

For more information, contact Ryan Colvin, director of the Millsaps Center for Career Education, at 601.974.1346 or

Photo credit: Mississippi Arts Commission

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