The Orrin Swayze Scholastic Awards Program is a very selective scholarship program for finance students in the state of Mississippi. Throughout the years and under the direction of Finance Professor Michael Highfield, Mississippi State University has several recipients under its belt. This year’s winner was Jimmie Webb, a senior finance and economics student at MSU.
With the Orrin Swayze Scholastic Awards, the scholarships given are split into two categories, the MYB Scholars and the Swayze Scholar. Out of the five students selected, only one is selected as the Swayze Scholar, with an award of $5,000 and the MYB Scholars being awarded $1,500 each.
The event is held by the Mississippi Young Bankers, a division of the Mississippi Bankers Association. Each year, any university in Mississippi with a finance program can nominate up to five students for these awards. To be eligible for the event, the students must register, and send in transcripts and a recommendation letter. Then, the MBA selects five students statewide to participate in several rounds of interviews.
Webb’s win is the first Swayze Scholar win for MSU in five years. Since 2008, Highfield has coordinated the MSU branch, with seven winners to his credit. Highfield’s involvement in the program has been beneficial to the school and aspiring bankers alike.
“Mr. Webb is not only a good student, he is a relationship builder,” said Highfield "To be a good banker, one has to care about meeting the needs of people (and) customers."
Webb has proven himself a promising student and future banker, and he said he plans to stay in Mississippi after his college career. With a focus on the local side of banking, he wants to work his way up to eventually be a lender at one of these banks.
“It’s an ongoing interview process being held for the four days that you’re there,” Webb said regarding the process.
With the rest of the Mississippi contestants, Webb traveled down to Point Clear, Alabama to participate in several rounds of interviews. Through evaluations, making connections and learning about the industry in the process, the event really made it clear to him that banking was Webb’s calling.
“Going down there, getting to interact with these bankers and hearing stories about what they do really solidified that career path I want to go in," Webb said.
One of Webb’s classmates, Quinten Reiser, said Webb is a diligent student.
“Jim is a great, hardworking classmate,” said Reiser. "I’ve gotten to work with him on several group projects in some finance classes at Mississippi State, and he always puts forth the utmost effort and is always willing to contribute any way he can."
Webb and Reiser are also currently competing together in a national competition in their Advanced Bank Management class.
Highfield had nothing but praise for Webb and said he really believes Webb will become a great banker. Highfield said the way Webb interacts with others really makes him stand out from the crowd.
The Orrin Swayze award itself is based on a Mississippi banker of the same name. Swayze was a senior officer for Trustmark in the 1960’s and wanted to carry on the tradition of banking throughout the state, with the Scholastic Awards being established in 1979.
This year's finalists for the award came from across the state, with two being from the University of Mississippi, two from Mississippi State University and one from Southern Mississippi.