Hopper, who is a member of Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, plans to graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in Southern studies. He learned of his selection last April, just moments before his induction to the Columns Society – a selective group of 12 male and 12 female UM students who are chosen to act as host to campus visitors.
Hopper plans to pursue a career in high school teaching after college and has applied to both the Teach for America and the Teach for New Orleans programs. Hopper said he wants to spend a few years in the classroom before working on a master’s degree in education, then pursuing a career in education policy or possibly education law. He would like to help with public education reform in Mississippi one day.
“I really just want every child in Mississippi to receive the opportunity to receive a quality education,” he said.
Although he speaks very fondly of the education he has received at UM, Hopper says the teachers who inspired him the most were those from high school. He cites Sue Love and Renee Fortner from Walnut High School as those who most inspired his ambitions to teach.
The Robert C. Khayat Scholarship was created in 2007 as a gift from the senior class. Alumna Ebony Nichols was the first to receive the award. A committee of more than 50 students and class officers voted unanimously to create the scholarship and raised more than $30,000 to establish it. Senior class officers in coordination with the Dean of Students Office select all recipients of the scholarship.
“(Matt) is just an outstanding person and it was an easy selection when it came down to it,” Thomas “Sparky” Reardon, Dean of Students and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, said. “His level of participation in extracurricular activities was very high; it was just an easy and good decision.”