A Noxubee County native is now a Truman Scholar
OXFORD, Miss. (WCBI) – Each year, approximately 60 college juniors across the country are awarded the Harry S. Truman Scholarship for pursuing careers in public service. Most of the 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 began when she was just a little girl. She watched her mother tend to patients at Noxubee General Hospital. “My father died when I was nine,” Bryant said. “So I was spending a lot of time in the hospital. Everyone at the hospital where my mother worked, they were my second family, so they played a huge role in my interest in the field of health.
This interest continues to grow every day. Eventually, Bryant will study public and community health at the University of Mississippi. But before heading to Ole Miss, Bryant first made sure she was involved and doing service in her own community.
While attending the Mississippi School of Mathematics and Science in Columbus, Bryant started a nonprofit organization called Project Powerful. “I think my project was at Noxubee called Operation Gratitude,” Bryant said. “I held a wellness seminar and we talked about the implications of nursing homes. We wrote letters and cards to the Macon people in the nursing home. I delivered these cards and it was one of the first projects I ever did and fell in love with them.
And she kept pushing to help families with unmet needs. Bryant is one of four children. Her mother raised her family as a single parent. Bryant says most families in Noxubee County have low socioeconomic backgrounds, which limits their access to health care.
She therefore devoted herself more to her academic studies in hopes of creating health equity and making preventive health care accessible to all. “Being on a low-income side of the state, you see the healthcare system isn’t always on our side. Sometimes people suffer from chronic illnesses or don’t have access to certain resources or don’t have health insurance because Noxubee County has a poverty rate of nearly 50 percent,” Bryant said.
We might agree… Bryant’s commitment to public service makes her an exceptional candidate for the Truman Scholarship. She says her recent success wouldn’t be possible without the sacrifices her mother has made… So we called her.
“Yes, I’m very proud and I’m sure it makes her happy,” said Shalondia Woods, mother of Jilkiah Bryant. “She just lost her grandmother. I’m sure her grandmother is very proud too. She had a great-grandmother.
Bryant plans to attend Johns Hopkins School of Medicine after graduating from the University of Mississippi.