By Chris Kieffer
Tyler White’s love of cars led him down a path toward a prestigious national scholarship.
The Mississippi State University sophomore was among 100 recipients in the nation to receive the $25,000 annual scholarship given to college students pursuing careers in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as information technology and other fields related to the automotive industry.
“I was really stoked because there were not many people getting it,” said White, a native of Jumpertown. “I never dreamed I would have been one of the ones chosen to get it … We were excited because we knew how much it would help.”
The scholarship is renewable for four years plus one additional year for those entering a qualified, five-year engineering program. It focuses scholarship awards to students who excel in the classroom and give back to their communities.
The 2013 graduate of Booneville High School is studying mechanical engineering. He plans to go into the automotive industry, so his mother suggested he research whether automakers offered scholarship programs. During his freshman year, he received a $2,000 award from Buick but had to re-apply for it this year.
The program was different, however, with a larger award to be given to fewer students. White did not think he had much of a chance to win the funds and nearly did not apply.
“I was hesitant because I saw there were only 100 recipients, but I said, ‘Let’s give it a shot, why not,’” he said.
The son of James and Angie White has loved cars since age 2. The passion began by seeing the antique cars of his father, grandfather and great uncle and traveling to shows with them.
“When I fell in love with the older cars, I started to see how they were made and how they were engineered, and I liked to see how you could take them apart and put them back together,” he said.
White also plays fiddle in the bluegrass band Breaking Grass, which released its third album, “Just As Strong,” earlier this month. It is the group’s first album with its new record label, “Mountain Fever Records.”
“On the weekend, it is nice to get to relax and go out and see different places and play music and see different people,” he said, noting it can provide a good release from his studies. “Some of the people we meet on the road are mechanical or industrial engineers, and they will give me tips.”