MSU-Meridian announces inaugural class of new Master of Physician Assistant Studies program

Inaugural cohort

Twenty students comprise the inaugural cohort of Mississippi State University’s new Master of Physician Assistant Studies program: (l to r front row): Pamela Vayda, Collinsville, MS; Jacie McKenzie, Sandy Hook, MS; Sahar Eilami, Delray Beach, FL; Terry Dale Cruse, associate vice president and head of campus; Jennifer Madden, Metairie, LA; Megan Wade, Broomfield, CO and Krishna Patel, Seymour, IN; (second row) Kelly Edmonds, Baton Rouge, LA; Kaitlin White, Brandon, MS; Kallie Belcher, Quitman, MS and Katherine Bruister, Meridian, MS (third row) Taylor Rawls, Ellisville, MS; Frank Anin, Hattiesburg, MS; Madison Whitehead, San Jose, CA; Cody Guidry, Larose, LA; Megan McCormick, Houma, LA and Kaiman Parker, Petal, MS (back row) Cerina James, York, AL; Madison Reese, Birmingham, AL; Karen Keith, Lumberton, MS and Wesley Wilson, Casselberry, FL PHOTO: Megan Bean | Public Affairs

Twenty students comprising the inaugural cohort of Mississippi State University’s new Master of Physician Assistant Studies program reported last week for orientation at MSU-Meridian’s Riley Campus. These students are among over 250 applicants and 50 finalists who vied for limited slots in the state’s only publicly funded PA program.

The program achieved Accreditation-Provisional status, the initial phase of accreditation for all new programs granted by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, or ARC-PA, in October 2020.

PAs are nationally certified and state-licensed medical professionals who practice medicine on healthcare teams with physicians and other providers. They perform a broad range of diagnostic, therapeutic, preventative and health maintenance services. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the occupational outlook for PAs will increase by 31 percent through 2029.

In addition to Mississippi natives, the inaugural class includes students from six other states across the country:

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- Kelly Edmonds

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Madison Reese

BRANDON, Mississippi -- Kaitlin White

BROOMFIELD, Colorado -- Megan Wade

CASSELBERRY, Florida -- Wesley Wilson

COLLINSVILLE, Mississippi -- Pamela Vayda

DELRAY BEACH, Florida -- Sahar Eilami

ELLISVILLE, Mississippi -- Taylor Rawls

HATTIESBURG, Mississippi -- Frank Anin

HOUMA, Louisiana -- Megan McCormick

LAROSE, Louisiana -- Cody Guidry

LUMBERTON, Mississippi -- Karen Keith

MERIDIAN, Mississippi -- Katherine Bruister

METAIRIE, Louisiana -- Jennifer Madden

PETAL, Mississippi -- Kaiman Parker

QUITMAN, Mississippi -- Kallie Belcher

SAN JOSE, California -- Madison Whitehead

SANDY HOOK, Mississippi -- Jacie McKenzie

SEYMOUR, Indiana -- Krishna Patel

YORK, Alabama -- Cerina James

The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the Mississippi State University Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Mississippi State University.

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students. Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class. The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at

For more on MSU-Meridian’s PA program, visit or email

To learn more about MSU-Meridian, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Lisa Sollie | Public Affairs

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