Mississippi has great universities. They do an incredible job of educating students. But the state hasn’t done a great job of keeping these students here after graduation. A few years ago, Congress published a study showing that Mississippi is one of the top five states with the worst consequences for brain drain, or the loss of talented young people.
My own story also involved leaving the state. I grew up in rural Mississippi and loved my childhood. However, after graduating from a Mississippi university, I left them. I worked on the east coast, studied in England and then got my law degree from Harvard in Massachusetts.
After that, I felt the urge to return home. My travels have helped me realize that Mississippi is a special place. My family is here. I wanted to raise my children here. And above all, I wanted to give something back to a state that had given me so much.
Some of my friends – and many other young people – take a different path. Once they leave, they’re gone forever. They go for many different reasons: the appeal of a new place, the chance to be in a big city with lots of things to do, great job prospects, etc.
For my part, I’ve traveled the state for the last three years explaining to young people why they should stay in Mississippi. You can stay and stay connected to your family and community. Mississippi has a lower cost of living than any other state, so your money will go further when you’re buying a home or planning a vacation. With some exceptions, you can stay away from the problems you often see in cities, such as: B. rampant crime or spending your life in a car for commuting.
And to give young accounting students another reason to stay, my office just launched a new program called Stay in the ‘Sip Fellowship. The idea is simple: we need talented new accountants to work in the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor. So if you’re in college and getting your accounting degree, my office will pay for up to three years of your university expenses. In return, you agree to work for me for at least two years.
Last year, the first six Stay in the Sip grantees began their summer internships in my office. At the end of the summer I sat down with each of them to talk about their time in the State Accounts Chamber. From transport ministries to education, these grantees conducted audits and interviews that will eventually feed into the single audit report, one of our largest audits.
This is critical work. It ensures that taxpayers’ money is spent legally. Our single audit work in previous years uncovered the largest public fraud scheme in the state’s history. If this sounds interesting to you, stop by the Office of the State Auditor and ask about our Stay in the ‘Sip Fellowship.
Each of our fellows has a different goal for their career. Faith wants to go to law school and become a prosecutor. Cooper is now in school for a master’s degree, which we pay for, but he’s able to attend classes and has hands-on experience in exactly what the classes teach.
The Stay-in-the-Sip Scholarship is a way to get your college paid and a guaranteed job after school. It’s also an opportunity to do exciting work that you wouldn’t get anywhere else. To learn more about the Stay in the Sip Fellowship, visit www.stayinthesip.com.
Shad White is 42nd State Examiner of Mississippi
This article was originally published in college newspapers.