MSU alumna selected for national leadership program designed for those serving U.S. veterans

The George W. Bush Presidential Center is announcing that a Mississippi State alumna—who currently serves as National Youth Coordinator and STEM Lead in the Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture—is among 50 scholars selected nationwide for the Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program.

Photo of Kourtney Hollingsworth
Dr. Kourtney Hollingsworth (Photo submitted)

Dr. Kourtney Wilhemenia Hollingsworth, a Laurel native who earned a Bachelor of Business Administration at MSU and Ph.D. in statistics and technology from William Carey University, will meet with a variety of distinguished and nationally known professionals, educators and experts in veteran transition and leadership development with the goal of improving U.S. veteran outcomes.

“I am extremely excited to be selected from thousands of qualified leaders throughout the country. Being a daughter of a Vietnam veteran and granddaughter of a World War II veteran, I understand the importance of making sure veterans and their families are given opportunities during and after their military careers. I attended Magnolia Girls State in high school, and it gave me the chance to learn more about government and veterans. I am blessed to have the opportunity to be in a program that will raise my program to a higher level,” Hollingsworth said.

Through participation in the leadership program, Hollingsworth hopes to promote Vetting4Veterans to lower the number of vacant federal leadership positions. She said she would like to fill federal job vacancies with veterans with specialized leadership skills developed during their military careers, as well as develop career pathways for students who choose to go into the military instead of pursuing a college education.  

Among her leadership roles, Hollingsworth serves as the USDA’s representative for the White House Federal Commission in STEM and the department’s representative for the White House HBCU Initiative. She has worked with the Department of Commerce and the Department of Education on workforce development in rural areas and was featured on the World Trade Organization’s international panel for the importance of youth in leadership roles. Hollingsworth also has been selected as a representative and mentor to work with a STEM program providing opportunities to students with blindness and visual impairments.

“I was blessed to attend Mississippi State University, a public land-grant institution, and William Carey University, a private Southern Baptist institution. At MSU, I was given the opportunity to intern in Washington, D.C., while being a national exchange student at Bowie State University, an HBCU,” Hollingsworth said. “This launched my government career and desire to be a public servant. I was the first U.S. Congressional Joseph H Rainey Scholar on Capitol Hill, and I was able to work on the No Child Left Behind legislation.”

“Mississippi State University taught me not to be a number but be a known individual. MSU has a very diverse and inclusive campus, and the university has programs and celebrations for all different religions, races and genders. As a student with a visual impairment, MSU made sure that I had all the reasonable accommodations needed to excel. MSU has an amazing disability resource center to assist students. I was an NIDRR Scholar in the engineering department, a member of LEADER State, and a member of Leadership Jones County while a student at MSU,” she said. “I was allotted opportunities at MSU that I would not have had at any other university.”

Read more about Hollingsworth and the Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program at

Monday, June 13, 2022 - 3:30 pm