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STARKVILLE, Miss.–Mississippi State is adding another student to its list of prestigious national scholars.

Junior Matthew S. Berk of Starkville is among this year’s selections for a 2013 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the premier undergraduate award for students in the science, mathematics and engineering fields. The home-schooled son of Michael and Trish Berk, he is an aeronautical engineering major.

Competition for the award always is intense; this year, only 271 students were chosen from the 1,000 nominations received.

Another MSU student, senior biological engineering major Andrew H. Lewis of Clinton, was awarded an honorable mention in the 2013 competition. He is the son of Timothy and Betty Lewis and is a Clinton High School graduate.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by the United States Congress in 1986 to honor of the former U.S. Republican senator from Arizona and 1964 presidential candidate. Its goal is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who will pursue careers in these fields.

In recent years, MSU has been home to 11 Goldwater Scholars, six Harry S. Truman Scholars and had two Morris K. Udall and Steward L. Udall Scholars.

“We’re so proud of Matthew and Andrew and the programs that have nurtured their intellect,” said Tommy Anderson, associate professor of English and mentor for MSU’s Shackouls Honors College. “It demonstrates the university’s commitment to providing undergraduates the richest research experience possible nationally.”

At MSU, Berk is attending the land-grant institution as a member of the Presidential Scholar Program, formerly the Distinguished Scholars Program. Awarded annually to a very small number of top incoming freshmen, the awards cover the entire cost of a four-year education, with additional funding to encourage undergraduate research.

Berk said his love of airplanes and rockets started when he was about 11 years old.

“I began participating in the MSU Soaring Club with remote-control airplanes,” he said. “It was something I really enjoyed doing, and my interest just grew from there.”

This summer, he will complete an internship at Aurora Flight Sciences in Manassas, Va. Following planned graduation next year, he said he plans to work for a time in the private sector, then attend graduate school and pursue his ultimate goal of a doctoral degree in aerodynamics.

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