A Noxubee County native is now a Truman Scholar

OXFORD, Miss. (WCBI)- Each year roughly 60 college juniors across the country are awarded the Harry S. Truman Scholarship for pursuing a career in public service. Most Truman Scholars you meet have a remarkable story… One of those people is Jilkiah Bryant.

Bryant’s journey to pursue a career in public service started when she was just a little girl. She watched her mother tend to patients at the Noxubee General Hospital. “My dad died when I was nine years old,” said Bryant. “So I would spend a lot of time in the hospital. Everybody at the hospital where my mom used to work, they were my second family so they did play a huge role in me being so interested in the health care field.”

That interest continues to grow every day. Eventually, Bryant would study Public and Community Health at the University of Mississippi. But before heading to Ole Miss, Bryant made sure to be involved and do service around her own community first.

While attending the Mississippi School of Mathematics and Science in Columbus, Bryant created a non-profit organization called Project Powerful. “I think my project was in Noxubee called Operation Gratitude,” said Bryant. “I hosted a wellness seminar and we talked about the implications of nursing homes. We wrote letters and cards to people from Macon in the nursing home. I delivered those cards and that was one of the first projects that I ever did and I fell in love with it.”

And she kept pushing to help families with unmet needs. Bryant is one of four children. Her mother raised their family in a single-parent household. Bryant says most families in Noxubee County have low socioeconomic backgrounds, limiting their access to health care.

So, she became more dedicated to her academic studies with hopes to create equity in the healthcare field and make preventative health care accessible to everyone. “Being from a lower-income side of the state, you see that the health care system is not always on our side. Sometimes people experience chronic diseases or they don’t have access to certain resources or they don’t have health insurance because Noxubee County has an almost 50 percent poverty rate,” said Bryant.

One could agree… Bryant’s commitment to public service makes her an outstanding candidate for the Truman Scholarship award. She says her recent success would not be possible without the sacrifices her mother has made… So we gave her a call.

“Yes, I am very proud and I’m sure this makes her happy,” said Shalondia Woods, Jilkiah Bryant’s mother. “She just lost her grandmama. I’m sure her grandmama is very proud also. She had a great grandmama.”

Bryant plans to attend the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine after graduating from the University of Mississippi.

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