MSU president pays personal visit to Gulfport High

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - "Good morning Admirals!" the guest shouted to the class.

"Good morning," the students responded.

He is the top dog at Mississippi State University. On Wednesday, he came to Gulfport High School with a message for the juniors and seniors.

"There are going to be so many jobs, thousands of jobs created over the next five to six years that don't even exist today. You've got to get your college degree," Dr. Mark Keenum told the students.

The MSU president shared his personal journey of growing up in rural Mississippi and then serving as the Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"I talk about opportunities. The doors that were open for me as I obtained more education in my life, I wound up doing things that I never would have ever imagined or dreamed that I could do when I was a high school student," said Keenum.

"What major did you pursue in college?" a student asked Keenum.

"Mine was Economics," he answered.

Keenum also took the opportunity to showcase his campus.

"I know you're not all going to Starkville. You're going to miss out," he joked.

"I take the opportunity to talk about Mississippi State. But I urge students to take the time to visit as many college campuses as they can. Learn more about opportunities that are out there. Learn about scholarship opportunities," Keenum said.

His visit opened many students' eyes to other options as they prepare to leave high school behind.  Eric Johnson is a junior at Gulfport High.  He was considering going to Ole Miss and majoring in pre-law.

"It's awesome, because this is actually like my first time actually talking to somebody from a college. I've actually been looking on the computer," said Johnson.

After a face-to-face meeting with Keenum, Johnson is thinking about changing his mind about his college choice.

"It really was a big help, because I'm thinking I might go to Mississippi State," said Johnson.

"We'd love to have you in Starkville in our campus," Keenum said. "But if you choose to go somewhere else, that's OK too. Get your education wherever you decide to go."

Last year, Dr. Keenum also spoke to students at Biloxi High and St. Patrick Catholic High School.

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