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College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Two Croft Students Receive Prestigious IIPP Fellowship

Two students in the Croft Institute for International Studies at the University of Mississippi have received competitive fellowships from the Institute of International Public Policy.

Kyra McDonald of Madison and Deeaneaus Polk of Pascagoula, both rising juniors, are among 30 students chosen nationally as IIPP Fellows. They are to attend seminars on international policy for seven weeks this summer at Spelman College in Atlanta, where the institute is based. They also plan to attend seminars on international policy and visit New York and Washington, D.C.

IIPP is a 14-year-old organization funded by the U.S. Department of Education to “increase the representation of minorities in international affairs and global public policy in the government, private and non-profit sectors,” according to its Web site, http// It is administered by the United Negro College Fund Special Programs organization. Students apply as sophomores and receive specialized training in economics and international politics to break into the field of international affairs.

Polk said he feels the fellowship will help him land a spot in a top graduate school or law school after graduating from UM.

“The places they can get you into after undergrad is worth it alone,” he said. “It prepares you to go off and enter into an Ivy League education.”

McDonald also has plans to use the program to excel in both higher education and international policy.

“Generally in five years, I see myself on the last leg of my master’s degree and beginning a career with the U.S. government in the area of international affairs and Latin American studies,” she said. “I am nervous because I will be embarking on a new journey in my life, but that’s what makes it exciting.”

Both students said they were impressed with the Croft Institute, describing their professors as “incredibly dedicated” and supportive.

“What makes these kids such compelling candidates is that they are a little different than your typical Croft student,” said Kees Gispen, executive director of the Croft Institute. While most students in the Croft program come in as freshmen, both McDonald and Polk entered the program after already starting college.

“(McDonald) is such an excellent student. I taught her in International Studies 101 and 20, and she did so well, I wrote her a letter of recommendation for the program.”

He also noted that Polk, a transfer student from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, is an impressive candidate, too.

“We (Croft) are honored to have him and extremely pleased,” he said. “I think what we can do for him is help him become ready to go on to complete an impressive graduate program.”

The Croft Institute has been home to four other UM students who have won IIPP Fellowships in the past, said Michael Metcalf, associate provost for international affairs. When the university nominates students for these awards, the Office of the Provost agrees to partially fund the recipients’ travel abroad during their junior year of study, Metcalf said.

Next year, Polk plans to study in Germany for the second time, and McDonald is to study in Ecuador, her second trip to South America.

For more information about the Croft Institute for International Studies, go to: