Mississippi State University honors new Rhodes Scholar

Judy and Bobby Shackouls congratulate Rhodes Scholar Field Brown, center, at the conclusion of a recognition ceremony Tuesday at Mississippi State University. The Shackouls are the MSU honors college's benefactors and namesakes. (Megan Bean /MSU)

Judy and Bobby Shackouls congratulate Rhodes Scholar Field Brown, center, at the conclusion of a recognition ceremony Tuesday at Mississippi State University. The Shackouls are the MSU honors college’s benefactors and namesakes. (Megan Bean/MSU)

By Allison Matthews

Mississippi State University

STARKVILLE – Campus administrators, faculty, friends and family members gathered last week to honor Mississippi State University’s recently named Rhodes Scholar, Donald “Field” Brown.

University President Mark Keenum praised the Vicksburg senior as “one of the most outstanding college students in all of America, and I would say in all the world.”

Brown was selected late last year as one of 32 American students for what widely is considered the world’s most prestigious international fellowship. Following May graduation, he will enroll at the University of Oxford in England to pursue master’s degrees in English and American literature. He eventually plans to seek a doctoral degree at an American university.

The Vicksburg High School graduate is enrolled in MSU’s Shackouls Honors College, where he is completing a double-major in English and philosophy.

Keenum, an honors college faculty member, told the Tuesday gathering that he came to quickly recognize Brown as an exceptional student while teaching him in a leadership seminar course.

“Field will be in some good company, but he won’t take a back seat to anybody,” Keenum said.

Tommy Anderson, associate professor of English and director of the Office of Prestigious External Scholarships, told the audience about Brown’s determination to do all that he could to prepare for a future as an academic professor.

“He began to put his academic pursuits in the real-world context,” Anderson said, adding that Brown was undaunted by a Rhodes selection process that is very vigorous and typically draws applications from thousands of top students.

“Field is a young man who knows what grounds him even as he begins an exploration of the limitless and profound possibilities that lie in front of him,” Anderson said.

Brown, the son of Willie and Cynthia Brown, responded with typical humility. In thanking family and MSU faculty and administrators, he observed that the road to becoming a Rhodes Scholar requires “a community” of support and encouragement.