It’s the highest honor awarded by the nation’s most selective collegiate honor society and one Ole Miss grad is now proud to call it his.
Marcus J. Daniels, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s in biology and now attends medical school at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, is a 2015 Phi Kappa Phi Fellow.
Daniels attended Brandon High School and was first exposed to Ole Miss through the “Summer College for High School Students” program. His first class was Introduction to Engineering, but along the way he changed direction and enrolled as a freshman with the intent of becoming a physician.
As a student, Daniels said he found challenges and opportunities.
“Ole Miss is a unique place to be a student, because there are a plethora of problems to be fixed concerning the social atmosphere compared to most places, so there are many opportunities to make a change and become an activist,” Daniels said.
Daniels said his involvement in groups such as the Black Student Union and PRIDE Network while at Ole Miss made his college career lively and enjoyable.
“The mentors I made through these organizations helped me develop into a holistic person,” Daniels said.
He credits his Ole Miss experience with providing him both the academic knowledge and the social involvement to become a well-rounded applicant for the PKP Fellowship. He also credits biology professor Mika Jekabsons.
“I particularly enjoyed physiology with Dr. Jekabsons. It was my first medical-oriented class, and it was interesting to learn about the functions of the body and all the complex mechanisms that occur.”
Daniels said writing his thesis with the guidance of Jekabsons also taught him how to write scientifically and efficiently.
Daniels was one of 51 students in the nation who received a $5,000 scholarship from Phi Kappa Phi.
“I applied because I believed I was a competitive applicant, and I have always believed that you never know what may happen until you try it,” Daniels said.
Journalism professor Deb Wenger is on the PKP board and was part of the selection committee that submitted Daniels’ name for the national competition.
“We had so many outstanding students to choose from that it was very challenging to pick just one,” Wenger said. “But Marcus Daniels is clearly an extraordinary student who is already making Ole Miss proud.”
This semester, hundreds more UM students have been selected to join Phi Kappa Phi, but they must register by Thursday, Oct. 15 to accept the honor. Joining the organization makes them eligible for scholarships, and new members will be recognized at a Ford Center ceremony on Nov. 1 at 3 p.m.
Today, Daniels is so busy with his studies that he often forgets he’s training at the world’s premier medical school. But when he does get a moment to stop and reflect, he said he is amazed.
“It is awe-inspiring because of the talent of your classmates, to see the plethora of opportunities you have, and realizing that your professors are the best professors in the world,” Daniels said.
Much of this is possible, he said, thanks to his time at Ole Miss.
“My education at UM equipped me for my future by teaching me how to work every day to satisfy long-term goals, the importance of having positive people around you, the importance of having strong intra-personal courage and strength, and the importance of treating everyone with dignity and respect.”
Story by: Jane Walton | Photos by: Keith Weller
Courtesy of The Daily Mississippian