Noel Barbieri, introduced by Millsaps President Rob Pearigen, told Rotary about his road to becoming a Rhodes Scholar and his passion for returning to Mississippi once he has completed his education in Oxford, England and at MIT.
Monday, April 2, 2018
Rotary president Brooks Buchanan was very pleased to induct three new members into the Rotary Club of Jackson.  Those who proposed the new members introduced them. Mrs. Assam Amen Ali, attorney with the Elmore & Peterson Law Firm, was introduced by Dean Jim Rosenblatt, Silas Wood McCharen, Director at Daniel Coker Horton & Bell law firm by All Underwood and Robert Earle Farr, III, with Cooke Douglass Farr and Lemons by Gib Ford.  All were warmly welcomed by the membership.

Buchanan announced that invoices for 2nd Quarter 2018 membership dues and fees had been emailed last week.  Please don’t delay making your payments.

Dr. Rob Pearigen, president of Millsaps College, introduced today’s speaker, Noel Barbieri, 2018 Rhodes Scholar. He is Millsaps’ second Rhodes Scholar in the last three years.  Barbieri also won the Truman Scholarship in his Junior year, this being the premier graduate fellowship in the U.S. for those pursuing careers as public service leaders.  He also received the Sportsman award to study in China but had to turn it down to accept the Rhodes Scholarship. Noah’s parents attended Rotary with him today.
Barbieri majored in economics and philosophy with a minor in mathematics and has a 4.0 GPA at Millsaps where he was Student Body President. After he finishes his two years obtaining his M.Phil. in Economics at Oxford University in England, he hopes to obtain his PhD in economics from MIT.  He is committed to returning to Mississippi after he completes his education.

Barbieri is from north Mississippi outside of Tupelo. In the 7th grade he was diagnosed with a chest deformity which required a metal rod to be implanted in his chest between his lungs and ribcage.  A very active boy, he decided that since he could not play sports, he would read a book a week.  He lived outside of town and did not have internet and video games like kids today have.  During his freshman year in high school, he had to spend three weeks in the hospital which caused him to drop near the bottom of his class in GPA ranking.  After the rod was removed, he returned to school and made all A’s, graduating third in his class.

As a senior in high school, he was thinking he would probably go to college outside of Mississippi, but he received a phone call from Millsaps Professor Kenneth Townsend who advised him he could probably follow in his footsteps as a Truman and Rhodes Scholar. He decided on Millsaps and ran for Senate his first year as Townsend had done.

As a Millsaps freshman he was a classroom assistant at Brown Elementary near Millsaps where 90% of the students are on the free lunch program.  He became interested in and began researching inequality in Mississippi. There are 32 Rhodes scholars chosen from the U.S. They start with around 2,000 applications and 200 are chosen for interviews.

He talked about the brain drain in the state.  There are many problems in the state, but when most leave Mississippi, they tell everyone it is great. And it is. We have an abundance of natural resources and other unique assets. However, when we are here, we talk about our problems. People always tell him they can tell he loves Mississippi. In the last seven years we have lost many of our millennials. The Mississippi House of Representatives, in trying to address this issue, passed a bill to give tax breaks to those who move back to the state.  Young people are looking for exciting things to do.  Many go to Atlanta, Dallas, Memphis and New Orleans.  He wants to complete his education and come back so he can make a difference.  His generation is an activist generation. Tongue in cheek, he said if he lived in Norway or Sweden or in some area where they had everything figured out already, he probably would be bored out of his mind.  Millennials are looking for a good place they can raise a family, have good schools and safe neighborhoods.  Mississippi may be last in many statistics now, but he feels that will change in the very near future.  He wants to serve in a position where he can make a difference, in private business, serving on committees, boards, or in whatever capacity where he feels he can accomplish that.  He feels Jackson is a cool area with a lot going on.  People who live in rural places have a hard time commuting to jobs, going to good schools, having fun places to go.  He feels Jackson can fulfil those needs.

Our next meeting is Monday, April 9, when our speaker will be our own Rotarian Rachel Cantor, executive director of Mississippi First.
The 4-Way Test:
1.  Is it the TRUTH?
2.  Is it FAIR to all concerned?
3.  Will it build GOODWILL and better friendships?
4.  Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
Carol Hardwick, IOM
Executive Director
The Rotary Club of Jackson #3954
P. O. Box 3807
Jackson, MS 39207-3807