#MedSchoolMonday – Many Stamps Scholars go on to enjoy successful careers in medicine after graduation. Every Monday we will spotlight a Stamps alum thriving in the medical field, featuring their insights on how the Stamps Scholarship contributed to their pursuit of medical school. This week we feature Matt Knerr, who graduated from Ole Miss in 2023 and is now pursuing a medical degree at Harvard Medical School.

Q: Can you share your med school acceptance journey?

A:I was accepted to Harvard Medical School, Yale, NYU, the University of Chicago, Case Western, and Washington University in Saint Louis. Overall, I was very happy with my application cycle because I was accepted to the schools that enabled me to continue and deepen the work I care about and at the same time matched my personal interests and criteria.”

Q: Why did you choose Ole Miss for undergrad over an MD feeder school, for example?

A:I wanted to retain agency in choosing a fitting medical school, so I didn’t look deeply into any pipeline programs — how could I possibly know what would make a good fit four years away? I initially applied for Ole Miss because of Oxford’s connection to William Faulkner as well as the incredible work I had heard the university does in the Mississippi Delta. I was selected to interview for the Stamps Scholarship and spent a February weekend learning about the unparalleled opportunities that this scholarship affords. Stamps was the single most significant factor in making my decision: it is a very prestigious scholarship that is well known by students, faculty, and staff — the name can open doors. More importantly, it enables not only true freedom to pursue anything academically, anywhere in the world, but it comes with an extensive alumni and current student network that has been meticulously developed to support you, within truly any scope! Stamps was the pivotal reason I chose Ole Miss.”

Q: When it came to your medical school applications, in what ways did your experiences as an Ole Miss Stamps Scholar contribute to your competitiveness?

A:When my medical school application cycle arrived, I found that choosing to be Stamps Scholar at Ole Miss was invaluable, and in my applications and interviews, I drew from my experiences as a Stamps Scholar. Over four years at Ole Miss, despite COVID, I traveled to 21 or so new countries, across four continents. I spent nearly two years total abroad. The scholarship enabled me to travel, and provided me with a global perspective which influenced my research and activism at Ole Miss. My time abroad also was also critical for my public health education: I spent a month in Amsterdam learning from one of the best public health systems in the world as well as a month in Cape Town, where I studied the intersection of social justice and public health, particularly as it relates to HIV. Public health and food insecurity in the MS Delta are massively important to me, and something I see directly relating to my future career; Stamps enabled me to go to the global destinations that are the veritable world leaders in these topics and learn directly from academic experts, but also from local farmers and market owners. Stamps elevated my education from a great one centered around a single university to a simply excellent one across at least 5 major global universities. 

Attending Stamps conferences and workshops hosted by members was also critical: the scholarship network put me in regular contact with some of the brightest, most curious and impactful high-achievers in the country, and regularly seeing their work and hearing about their goals absolutely pushed me to expand my vision for the impact I could have at Ole Miss over four years. 

More personally, Stamps also let me have fun and dive into things I otherwise never could have pursued. Rather than a traditional senior spring on campus, I elected to spend 6 months in Aix-en-Provence, France, working with a master vigneron on a biodynamic vineyard. There, I learned French, cliff-jumped into the Mediterranean, and dove into wine and art. I painted and studied Cezanne where he actually painted, taught by an international leader in his work. After 6 months on the vineyard and attending regular wine tastings, I could identify not only the grapes composing a wine, but also the region and sometimes even the village where the wine was made. I am a fuller person for this. I never would’ve had this at a different university, with a different scholarship. 

When it was time to interview for medical school, I drew directly from these experiences. For Harvard, I talked about South African wine and Dutch public health. For Yale, I connected with my interviewer over Italian truffles; we had visited some of the same areas outside of Naples. For the others, I just talked about what excited me, and so often this material stemmed from trips abroad or bodies of knowledge I stumbled across as a result. Stamps was always the impetus.”

About the Stamps Scholars Program

The Stamps Scholars Program was founded by E. Roe Stamps and his late wife Penny in 2006, with the purpose of enabling extraordinary educational experiences for extraordinary students. Through partnerships with institutions across the nation (and into the U.K.), Scholars receive annual awards that range from $6,000 to $88,400 (four-year awards total an average of $24,000-$353,600) with additional funds for enrichment activities such as study abroad, academic conferences, and leadership training. The Stamps Scholars Program and partner schools evenly share the costs of the award. Penny Stamps passed away in December 2018, but her legacy continues through the Stamps Scholars community, which has grown into an international network with more than 3,250 Scholars and alumni. Find out more at stampsscholars.org.

For more information, contact:

Connelly Crowe

Director of Communications and Scholar Experience