Admin/ May 20, 2024/ Uncategorized

Ole Miss Veterans and Military Services Celebrates Inaugural Three National Scholarships

Story originally Published by the University of Mississippi

OXFORD, Miss. – Three University of Mississippi student veterans have been awarded the Harold and Muriel Berkman Charitable Foundation’s national scholarship, the first veterans at Ole Miss to do so.

The scholarships will help Jordan Rott, of Plainfield, Illinois; Max Martz, of Boise, Idaho; and Charles Matava, of Miami, continue their education.

“This is a chance for students to be recognized outside of the institution for what they have done,” said Andrew Newby, head of the Office of Veteran and Military Services. “I don’t think there is a more intrepid group of students on our campus than the veterans.”

The Harold and Muriel Berkman Charitable Foundation has awarded scholarships to more than 230 student veterans across the country since 2014. The foundation also provides scholarships for students in marketing, which was Harold Berkman’s field of study.

“Many veterans like these have a lot of needs that other students may not have as many of them aren’t traditional students,” said Barry Babin, executive director of the Academy of Marketing Science and Phil B. Hardin Professor of Marketing at Ole Miss. Babin was a long-time friend and colleague of Harold Berkman.

“All applicants have to write an essay to justify consideration for a scholarship.  Reading these essays, one comes to understand the veteran-student. They’re often parents with families and, sometimes they have jobs along with being students.  Those selected for scholarships have often faced combat, as is the case with these three here with us today.  Anything we can do to help them through their education is worth it, they’ve earned our support.”

Three UM students have won the marketing award since 2014 but never has an Ole Miss student received the veteran scholarship, he said.

“You know, we don’t have a hand in choosing the winners; that comes from the committee,” said Laurie Babin, a member of the foundation’s board and UM instructional associate professor of business administration.

“There were more than 200 veteran applications, and I think it’s pretty impressive that three of the awards came to Ole Miss students.”

Two of the students – Matava, a second-year law student, and Martz, a Navy veteran who earned a Bronze Star with Combat Valor, is a senior who studies exercise science – received the $1,000 veteran scholarship.  Rott, a senior social studies student, received the Brigadier Gen. Albin Irzyk scholarship for $2,000. Only one of Irzyk scholarship is given each year.

Rott is a father and two-tour Army veteran who received the Bronze Star with Valor, a Purple Heart and two Meritorious Service Awards for his time in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Like Berkman, he also earned the Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB).  He hopes to complete a doctoral degree and teach at the university level. Matava is also an Army vet who earned a CIB in Afghanistan. 

“This gives me the opportunity to keep going after my G.I. Bill runs out,” he said. “This will help me with another semester. (Scholarships like these) give us the motivation to go to school.”

The foundation is named for Harold Berkman and his wife, Muriel, whom Barry Babin got to know during his time at Louisiana State University through the connection with the Academy of Marketing Science, which Berkman founded and directed for 50 years. The academy has become one of the world’s largest and most prestigious academic marketing organizations.

Before his career in marketing, Harold Berkman served in World War II and received 15 decorations for valor and service. He wanted to support and recognize those veterans who, like himself, went back to school after serving their country, Barry Babin said.

“He wanted to help all veteran students, but particularly infantrymen like him,” he said. “He served in the infantry, and he knew what it was like to be quite literally, the boots on the ground.”

Feature Image. Pictured from left to right:  Max Martz (Scholarship winner), Barry J. Babin (me – Board Member), Jordan Rott (Irzyk Award Winner), Laurie Babin (Board Member), and Charles Matava (Scholarhip winner).  We are pictured on the lawn of the Veterans’ Center at the University of Mississippi. 

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