"I suspect Reese is a good candidate for these types of awards because he has a great attitude about what he does, and he does everything to a level that people want to emulate," said Matthew Priddy, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Mississippi State University.
Mr. MSU 2021, Reese Dunne, is a senior mechanical engineering student native to Starkville and has his hands in a multitude of activities outside of the classroom. He is a student athlete on the cross-country and track teams, a member of the State Singers, and former president, junior advisor and current U.S. National Representative of the Lambda Sigma Honor Society at MSU.
"It is difficult to balance everything. I am so passionate about everything that I do, so I don't want to drop anything," Dunne said. "So, the way I balance it is to adapt and build on my time management skills. I'm way more efficient with my time now than I was in high school."
Dunne also spoke about the research he conducts with Priddy on medical imaging, specifically magnesium implant degradation.
"I love using my mechanical engineering skills for this research because, in the medical field, it is so nice knowing that all the work you're putting in coding at a computer is going to contribute to something so much bigger than yourself," Dunne said. "Research in the medical field can save many lives."
Priddy has been advising Dunne's research since last fall and said it was impressive watching him work on the magnesium degradation project. He also spoke to his abilities as a scholar and a student.
"He's always upbeat. He asks excellent questions when you chat with him, and he is intent on having a conversation with you without distractions," Priddy said. "The conversations are always engaging and interesting. He also knows how to stay grounded and not get overwhelmed with the activities he is a part of and the research he conducts. He seems to do a great job of managing that."
Another important figure in Dunne's career at MSU has been Amy Fountain, an advisor for the Lambda Sigma Honor Society. Fountain described Dunne's student leadership style.
"Reese is an incredible student leader, and he leads with humility. Everything he does, he considers the effect his actions have on other people. I think it's worth noting that very few students achieve the success in one area that Reese has achieved in a number of areas. It's extremely impressive, and he does it all with character," Fountain said.
Fountain also detailed the qualities that helped Dunne become this year's Mr. MSU.
"His resume and accomplishments likely made him in the elite pool of applicants that were considered. I think it was his character that was a defining factor," Fountain said. "He's a gracious, humble, kind and selfless person. He is going to represent MSU in a way that will make all members of our community very proud."
After graduation, Dunne hopes to attend a graduate program and figure out his career from there.
"I'm still figuring it out and hoping to use grad school as a way to find out what I want to do. I could see myself getting my Ph.D. and working in academia. That's what my dad did, and he inspires me in so many ways. It's tough to know for sure, and I'm always figuring things out," Dunne said.
Agreeing with Dunne, Priddy said that, in his eyes, Dunne could attend any graduate program he sets his mind to.
"Hopefully, he is able to choose a research lab that is interesting to him. I think that whatever he wants to do after that, he'll be capable in that field," Priddy said. "He's spoken to me about pursuing a career in academia, and I could see him excelling at that and more. Whether that is doing research and development for a national lab or starting his own startup company and using the technology he developed in grad school, he can excel."
Dunne spoke of his years at Mississippi State University and explained the qualities he found valuable for representing Mr. MSU.
"Everyone's experience is so different, so I had no idea they'd select me. One of the things I love about my experience is that I am involved in a breadth of activities. I love being well-rounded, and I don't like to focus on one thing," Dunne said. "That's one thing I love about MSU, how I am able to do things in athletics, musicianship and research."