Special to SW Rankin News
University of Southern Mississippi Honors College graduate Jonathan Puckett of Florence, Miss., has been selected as a recipient of the Sherrill Carlson Fellowship by The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi — the nation's oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines.
Puckett is one of only two students nationwide to receive the prestigious, top prized $35,000 fellowship. Created in 2018, the Sherrill Carlson fellowship is awarded to the top-ranking nominee in the humanities and the arts. Carlson was a former Phi Kappa Phi chapter president and lifelong supporter of the society.
“This fellowship is something I never expected to obtain, and I am beyond thankful for all of those who have contributed to my growth as mentors and friends,” Puckett said. “As a librarian and archivist, I hope to use my occupation to emphasize the dignity and importance of every human being I encounter.”
Puckett adds this impressive designation to an already extensive list of academic achievements: Honors College Schillig-Baird Presidential Scholar; Four genealogical publications; King Alfred Prize in Medieval English from Keele University; Seton Shields Genealogical Research Grant recipient; and Wall Street Journal profile for genealogical research.
Puckett earned his bachelor's degrees in English and history from USM in May 2020. As a Carlson Fellow, he will attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and study for an M.S. in library and information science through the archives and special collections pathway.
“I am absolutely delighted to see Jonathan win this prestigious award,” said Ellen Weinauer, Dean of the Honors College and president of the Phi Kappa Phi chapter at USM. “He is a truly extraordinary young scholar who has long used his interests in archival discovery, history, and literature to build bridges between people. I have no doubt that he will continue this bridge-building work at the University of Illinois. Jonathan truly embodies the Phi Kappa Phi motto: “Let the Love of Learning Rule Humanity.” I am so proud to know him!”
Since its creation in 1932, the Fellowship Program has become one of the Society's most visible and financially well-supported endeavors, allocating $615,000 annually to outstanding students for first-year graduate or professional study. Currently, fifty Fellowships of $8,500 and six of $20,000 are awarded each year. Puckett is the 10th Honors College student to garner a Phi Kappa Phi fellowship since 2009.
Each year, active Phi Kappa Phi chapters select one candidate each among its local applicants to compete for its Society-wide awards. The selection process for a Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship is based on the applicant's evidence of graduate potential, undergraduate academic achievement, service and leadership experience, letters of recommendation, personal statement of educational perspective and career goals, and acceptance in an approved graduate or professional program.
In addition to the Fellowship Program, the Society awards $1.4 million each biennium to qualifying students and members through study abroad grants, dissertation fellowships, funding for post-baccalaureate development, member and chapter awards, and grants for local, national and international literacy initiatives.
To learn more about awards offered by Phi Kappa Phi, visit www.PhiKappaPhi.org/awards or contact USM Project Director for Nationally Competitive Programs Carlee Causey at Carlee.Causey@usm.edu.