Second UM Fulbright Scholar Named

Michael Shea plans to teach English, study literary and cultural connections in Argentina

Michael Shea

Michael Shea

OXFORD, Miss – Both a poet and a scholar, Michael Shea earned a Master of Fine Arts in May from the University of Mississippi. Now he is headed to Argentina as a 2014 Fulbright U.S. Student Award winner, the university’s second Fulbright Scholar of the year.

Shea will participate in the English Teaching Assistant program, which places Fulbright recipients in classrooms abroad to provide assistance to the local English teachers. ETAs help teach English language while serving as cultural ambassadors for the United States.

A native of Clearwater, Florida, Shea is interested in the connections between Argentina and American literature and culture

“As a student of Spanish, it was the ability to contextualize my language skills through literature that allowed me to fully understand my new tongue,” Shea said.

With an English teaching assistantship to Argentina beginning in March 2015, Shea plans to establish a community poetry workshop where students will read poems by American poets and attempt to write their own works in English to encourage cross-cultural awareness and language acquisition.

“I hope to offer my students a similar experience by teaching English through poetry, while also fostering greater understanding between the two nations on a grass-roots level,” he said.

Shea also wants to establish a virtual reading series in which American poets will be invited to read their work via video chat programs to a live Argentine audience (and vice versa), creating an international dialogue.

This opportunity “will allow me to lay a strong foundation for future studies in global literature and translation,” Shea said.

“As a graduate student in our Master of Fine Arts program, Michael Shea has demonstrated a high level of talent, creativity and dedication,” said Derrick Harriell, assistant professor of English and African-American Studies. “He’s been a model for our program and is extremely deserving of this distinguished honor.”

At UM, Shea was the senior editor of Yalobusha Review, the university’s literary journal, while coordinating the monthly Trobar Ric Reading Series.

In Argentina, Shea plans to seek out contemporary Argentine poets and translate their work into English, a project that will continue with the eventual goal of publication upon his return to the U.S. He also plans to pursue a doctorate in comparative literature, with a specialization in Pan-American poetics. Shea’s parents are Michael and Annie Shea of Clearwater.

“We are proud of Michael’s award and his vision and poetic sensibilities,” said Douglass Sullivan-Gonzales, dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. “We hope that his sojourn in Argentina enables him to understand the depth of dilemmas facing humanity and that he retraces successfully the paths that the great Argentinian poets have trod.”

Shea is the university’s 14th Fulbright U.S. Student Award winner since 2000. Katie Shuford also won a Fulbright to Hungary this year. Last year, Ryan Ezelle won a Fulbright to serve as an English Teaching Assistant in the Dominican Republic.

Established in 1946, the Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

Students interested in applying for the Fulbright U.S. Student Award are encouraged to contact Debra Young of the Office of National Scholarship Advisement at

UM Students Get Hands-on Experience Digging in Rome

Classics department takes seven students on five-week dig at site dating to circa 600 B.C.

UM students Shiloh Spears, a junior English major from Olive Branch (left); Laura Dona, sophomore anthropology and classics major from Monroe, Louisiana; and Juliana Norton, a junior classics and linguistics major from Tupelo, work at the S. Omobono field school in Rome. Photo by Hilary Becker.

UM students Shiloh Spears, a junior English major from Olive Branch (left); Laura Dona, sophomore anthropology and classics major from Monroe, Louisiana; and Juliana Norton, a junior classics and linguistics major from Tupelo, work at the S. Omobono field school in Rome. Photo by Hilary Becker.

OXFORD, Miss. – A group of seven University of Mississippi students recently participated in an educational trip of a lifetime, five weeks of learning in Rome and helping with an archaeological dig at a site that dates to about 600 B.C.

Hilary Becker, UM assistant professor of classics, took the students to the Area Sacra di S. Omobono archaeological field school.

The multi-year excavation project is organized by the University of Michigan and the University of Calabria, under the aegis of the Sovraintendenza ai Beni Culturali di Roma Capitale. During the program, UM students were introduced to the methods of field archaeology, including excavation techniques, artifact processing and the latest in documentation technology, including three-dimensional modeling.

“I’m very proud of their contributions,” Becker said. “It’s a testament to their abilities that they arrived with basically no knowledge of field archaeology, but during the program they developed the skills and experience that allowed them to understand all the different facets of work at an archaeological excavation and also how to handle the different jobs. Sometimes, it’s hard to learn these skills out of a textbook, but being on site allows students to make lasting connections between the technique and the materials.”

The students dug near the Roman Forum and Capitoline Hill. The excavation site, which dates to 600 B.C., was utilized as a Roman sanctuary that remained in use for more than 800 years. It was eventually transformed into Christian churches, the latest of which still stands.

Since the site has been active for such a long time, there is a rich accumulation of artifacts and remains of many building phases. As a result, excavators have to dig to a depth of about 21 feet to reach some of the earliest materials.

“To able to see remains of the sixth century B.C. in Rome is difficult because the city is a continually occupied place,” Becker said. “Millions of people still live there and one cannot simply destroy what’s on top in order to see what lies beneath. There are only a few areas where archaeologists have been able to go that deep. We were extremely lucky to be working there.”

This is the first year the UM classics department has conducted any faculty-led trips abroad, said Molly Pasco-Pranger, associate professor and chair of classics who also brought six students to Rome for a 10-day course earlier this summer.

“We can give them a very strong foundation in the languages and in the history and the art and archaeology here on campus, but both getting to the site in Rome and seeing its topography and the remains in person is incredibly valuable,” she said. “Learning the theory of archaeology is one thing, but getting the dirt under your fingernails is another.”

Several students received financial support for their trip from the Mike and Mary McDonnell Endowment in Classics. They kept an Internet blog that chronicled their work in words and photos.

Laura Dona, a sophomore anthropology and classics major from Monroe, Louisiana, said being there was like “being able to reach behind the glass in a museum.”

“We were able to learn hands-on how archaeology is performed alongside amazing teachers,” Dona said. “It was an irreplaceable experience that taught me more in five weeks than I have learned in years.”

Zack Lawrence, a junior classics major from Tupelo, said, “S. Omobono taught me to understand what lies just below our feet and to probe what evidence there is in search for context, and I brought away a willingness to explore the unknown and to be unafraid to explore new ideas in search of answers.”

Juliana Norton, a junior classics and linguistics major from Tupelo, said she learned more about the different areas of archaeology, including stratigraphy, zooarchaeology, topography, bioarchaeology, surveying and other skills. But the trips around Rome to other important excavation sites, as well as museums, were also inspiring.

“Overall, it was an unforgettable experience that I’m very glad I participated in,” Norton said. “Not only did I learn a lot more about archaeology and Roman history than I ever could in a classroom, I was able to get some real experience working in the archaeological field and found out it’s something I would like to continue doing.”

Andersen Marx, a senior history and classics major from Oxford, said the experience opened his eyes to possibilities in the field.

“The dig at S. Omobono taught me that one can interpret history not only through primary literary sources, but also through actual physical evidence,” Marx said. “After our stint at the excavation, I came to realize there is still more archaeological work available in Italy. There are still ruins and artifacts left to discover.”

The professionalism the UM students displayed while working at the site made an impression, said Mahmoud Samori, a doctoral student in ancient history at Brown University who was the field school’s area supervisor.

“I realized one morning towards the end of the field school that I’d felt all for the last hours as if I’d been digging with colleagues instead of students,” Samori said. “The student-teacher dynamic had evaporated, leaving only a handful of archaeologists excavating with a deadline. It was a great pleasure to excavate with the team from Ole Miss and I was proud to watch them transform from cautious students into confident archaeologists.”

Rome Group shot

UM students, from left: William Hudson, a junior chemical engineering and classics major from West Point; Andersen Marx, a senior history and classics major from Oxford; Juliana Norton, a junior classics and linguistics major from Tupelo; Zack Lawrence, a junior classics major from Tupelo; Shiloh Spears, a junior English major from Olive Branch; Mackenzie Breeland, a junior international studies, French and classics major from Ocean Springs; and Laura Dona, sophomore classics and anthropology major from Monroe, Louisiana. Photo by Hilary Becker.



UM Student Receives Udall Scholarship Honorable Mention

Kendall McDonald, a junior public policy major from Diamondhead, is among 50 national honorees

Kendall McDonald

Kendall McDonald

OXFORD, Miss. – Kendall McDonald , a public policy leadership major at the University of Mississippi who has worked on campus environmental issues while maintaining a 3.96 grade point average, recently was awarded a prestigious Udall Scholarship honorable mention.

McDonald, of Diamondhead, is a junior enrolled in the university’s Sally McDonell Barksdale Honors College and works as an intern in the Office of Campus Sustainability. She has helped operate the UM football game day recycling program, which involved establishing a new partnership with an international recycling company. She also oversaw the production of UM’s Green Week, including the construction of an 8-foot cube of waste educational exhibit.

She studies environmental issues, including participating in an experimental class about the lower Mississippi River. A member of Delta Gamma sorority, she is also active in campus environmental campaigns and “green” student groups.

“Being named an honorable mention to the Udall scholarship, which signifies the top 20 percent of applicants nationally, is very encouraging to me,” McDonald said. “It affirms that I am on the right path in pursuing environmental advocacy and it also places me within the larger network of Udall scholars and honorable mentions. I am so grateful for the support this network provides, and for the opportunity and assistance provided by the Office of National Scholarship Advisement.”

McDonald is the daughter of James Steven McDonald, of Lexington, Kentucky, and Shellye McDonald, of Diamondhead. She is the university’s third student to be recognized by the Udall Foundation. Taylor Cook was named a Udall Scholar in 2012 and Alecia Waite was named a Udall Scholar in 2008.

This year, the Udall Foundation’s 14-member independent review committee picked 50 students from 47 colleges out of more 489 candidates nominated to make up the 2014 scholars class. The foundation, which was established by Congress in 1992, makes its selections based on the students’ commitment to careers in the environment, American Indian health care or tribal public policy, leadership potential, academic achievement and record of public service. Scholars received up to $5,000 for tuition, room and board or other educational expenses. The committee also awarded 50 honorable mentions and those students receive access to the Udall Alumni Network.

McDonald’s application for the Udall Scholarship was supported by UM faculty members and employees, who wrote letters endorsing McDonald’s achievements.

Anne McCauley, UM assistant director of the Office of Sustainability, said McDonald is deserving of the recognition.

“Kendall McDonald is a talented individual who I have truly enjoyed working with and getting to know,” McCauley said. “Though she is intelligent, creative and a natural leader, she is humble and service-oriented. I trust her to represent the Office of Sustainability when she meets with student groups as well as staff members on campus. She has proven herself as capable as a professional colleague, which is exactly how I regard her.”

Joseph “Jody” Holland, UM assistant professor of public policy, said that as one of his students, McDonald completed an extensive research project that examined the barriers and opportunities for building recycling plants in Mississippi. But McDonald is also a well-rounded student who does more than just focus on work in the classroom, Holland said.

“She exemplifies a well-rounded student, who participates in multiple areas of service work on campus and in the community,” he said. “While being a full-time student, Kendall has volunteered for nine service projects over the years at Ole Miss and around the community. Her efforts are constantly focused around environmental policy and contemporary policies issues. As a student worker, she has work closely with the Office of Sustainability in many capacities. Even with that, she still maintains her academic performance as a top scholar.”

David Rutherford, UM associate professor of public policy and geography and executive director of the Mississippi Geographic Alliance, said McDonald is “an outstanding student but is also committed to work that improves the planet’s environment at local to global scales.”

“One of my classes in which Kendall enrolled is titled ‘Global Environmental Issues,’ and she demonstrated a strong desire to understand these issues and earned an A for the course,” Rutherford said. “Her performance in the course not only demonstrated high-level skills in reading, understanding and writing but also showed her insightful thinking about contemporary issues and her discerning identification of action steps needed to develop solutions.”

Three Students Receive Critical Language Scholarships

Trio set to study in China this summer, hope to use experience to further career goals

Photo by Nathan Latil

Photo by Nathan Latil

OXFORD, Miss. – After a competitive application process, three University of Mississippi students have been selected for the prestigious U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship program this summer.

Susannah Slimp of Meridian, Abigail Szabo of Brandon and Steven Mockler of Ocean Springs have been awarded the U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship to study critical needs languages this summer in China.

The CLS program is a part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Participants in the fully-funded program will spend seven to 10 weeks in intensive language institutes receiving intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences.

This, however, will not be the first trip abroad for the UM students.

“Last summer, I studied abroad in Qingdao, and while I was there I took a few trips to Beijing,” said Slimp, a sophomore in chemical engineering. Slimp will study this summer at Zhejiang University of Technology in Hangzhou.

“After the trip of a lifetime in Seoul, South Korea, I knew that learning a critical language was key to an international lifestyle,” said Szabo, who also was a participant the U.S. Department of State’s National Security Language Initiative for Youth in high school. “After a whole summer of intensive Chinese under my belt, I decided to stick with it. Now, two years later, I have come so far in such a short time that there is no turning back.”

Szabo, a sophomore majoring in political science and Mandarin Chinese with a minor in environmental science, will be studying at Suzhou University-Dushuhu Campus, in Suzhou, Jiangsu.

“Being in China while learning Chinese is completely different than an Ole Miss setting, for in China, the world is my classroom,” Szabo said. “Intensive language programs abroad offer an invaluable opportunity for building language skills.”

Mockler, who is a second-time recipient of the CLS, has traveled to China three times.

Every street has at least a thousand years of history, and, from this American’s perspective, Chinese society is filled with so many contradictions that I wanted to dedicate myself to understanding the language and culture so I could build more trust and understanding between our two nations,” he said.

Mockler, a rising senior majoring in Chinese and international studies, will be studying in Guangzhou at Sun-Yatsen University.

“The Department of Modern Languages is very proud of the students who this year have received a Critical Language Scholarship to study in China,” said Donald Dyer, chair of the department. “Ms. Slimp, Ms. Szabo and Mr. Mockler have all demonstrated their linguistic prowess over the years and are very deserving of this award, which puts them in an elite category of students to receive this honor.”

CLS participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship period, and later apply their critical language skills to their future professional careers.

After graduation, Slimp plans to attend graduate school in engineering and hopes to work in the petroleum industry, while Szabo plans to go to graduate school, studying Mandarin and environmental science. Mockler plans to attend graduate school and hopes to work in government on Chinese issues related to education, cultural exchange and diplomacy.

Six UM Students Named Outstanding Freshmen

Omicron Delta Kappa honors students for leadership

John Brahan

John Brahan

Joesph Bell

Joesph Bell

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society has selected six students for Outstanding Freshman honors for their exceptional academic, service and leadership roles at Ole Miss.

Recipients are Madeleine Achgill of Indianapolis, Joseph Bell of Gloucester, Massachusetts, John Brahan of Hattiesburg, Terrius Harris of McComb, Chase Moore of Horn Lake and Austin Powell of Corinth.

“We are fortunate to have such outstanding young leaders here at the university,” said Ryan Upshaw, ODK adviser and assistant dean for student services in the UM School of Engineering, “They already exemplify the attributes that Omicron Delta Kappa looks for in potential members.

“These students have contributed to our campus in a myriad of ways very early on in their undergraduate experience: performing arts, community service, sustainability and campus government, to name a few. I look forward to seeing their continued leadership on our campus.”

Chase Moore

Chase Moore

Madeleine Achgill

Madeleine Achgill

Achgill previously attended United World College-USA in Montezuma, New Mexico. At UM, she is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Chinese Flagship Program. An international studies and Chinese major, Achgill is also a vice chair of Ole Miss Students for a Green Campus and a Stamps Scholar.

Bell attended the Thacher School in Ojai, California. He is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Lott Leadership Institute. Bell, an international studies and public policy leadership major, is also a campaign chair of Ole Miss Students for a Green Campus and Real Food Rebels.

Brahan, a public policy leadership and theatre arts major, attended Presbyterian Christian School in Hattiesburg. He is a member and scholarship recipient of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Lott Leadership Institute. He’s also a member of the Chancellor’s Leadership Class, Sigma Chi Fraternity and the Chancellor’s Honor Roll. He is an Associated Student Body senator and has performed in UM theater productions.

Terrius Harris

Terrius Harris

Austin Powell

Austin Powell

Harris attended McComb High School. At UM, he is a member of the Associated Student Body Freshman Council, Ole Miss Model United Nations and Student Activities Association. A marketing and corporate relations major, Harris is also vice president of administration for the UM Residential Housing Association and had a program selected for the “Top 20 Program” at the South Atlantic Affiliation of Colleges and University Residence Halls.

Moore is a graduate of Horn Lake High School, and since being enrolled at UM, he is a member of the University of Mississippi Gospel Choir, the Student Activities Association and the Luckyday Residential Hall Council. Moore is also a member of the Chancellor’s Leadership Class, Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Chancellor’s Honor Roll.

Powell attended Corinth High School. Majoring in public policy leadership, he is a recipient of the Lott Leadership Scholarship and Coca-Cola Foundation Scholarship. Powell is also a member of the Chancellor’s Leadership Class, Sigma Chi Fraternity and the Chancellors Honor Roll. He is an ASB senator and secretary of the ASB Freshman Council.


Two UM Students Land Prestigious Boren Scholarships

Awards provide $20,000 apiece for year of study abroad

Alison Bartel

Alison Bartel

William Bumpas

William Bumpas

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi students William Bumpas III and Alison Bartel have been awarded Boren Scholarships to study in China for the academic year.

Bumpas, of Dyersburg, Tennessee, and Bartel, of Harvest, Alabama, both international studies and Chinese majors, will use the scholarship to complete their capstone year in the Chinese Language Flagship Program.

“Mr. Bumpas and Ms. Bartel are two of the strongest students in our Chinese Language Flagship program and very deserving of a Boren Scholarship,” says Donald Dyer, chair of modern languages. “They have worked hard to develop their language skills and have high proficiencies in the language to show for it. The Department of Modern Languages and, indeed, the University of Mississippi community are very proud of their accomplishments.”

Scholarship recipients receive up to $20,000 to study abroad in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East. In exchange for funding, Boren award recipients agree to work in the national security arena of the federal government for at least one year.

“I am happy but not surprised Alison Bartel and William Bumpas both won Boren Scholarships,” said Kees Gispen, executive director of the Croft Institute for International Studies. “They are among the very strongest students in the Croft Institute for International Studies at the university. These are two fantastic students, shining examples of what it is possible to accomplish at the University of Mississippi.”

Bumpas, who graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree earlier this month, plans to pursue a graduate degree after studying in Nanjing for a year. He is a Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College Scholar and member of both Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies, and he credits the Croft Institute for the opportunity to combine his Chinese language skills with a nuanced understanding of the evolving world.

“I’m excited to take what I’ve learned at the University of Mississippi and put it to use during my time as a Boren Scholar and also in my career,” Bumpas said.

“William was a terrific student to work with these past few years and he wrote a superb senior thesis on the mass expansion of enrollment in China’s higher education system,” says Joseph Howard, Croft associate professor of history and international studies. “I am so proud of him that he received a Boren fellowship to continue his studies at Nanjing University this coming fall.”

Bartel, a rising senior, will continue her study of the language and focus on refining her understanding of governance from the Chinese point of view through an internship in Nanjing. A member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Bartel hopes to pursue graduate studies in international relations and public policy and then work in government service.

“Alison is one of those great students who seems to excel at everything she does,” says Carl Jensen, director of the UM Center for Intelligence and Security Studies. “A few years ago, she and another student took first place in a briefing competition at a prestigious conference in Washington, D.C. We’re very proud but not at all surprised that she was awarded the Boren.”

Bartel and Bumpas are the university’s 15th and 16th Boren Scholars since 2000. Last year, Kevin Scott (China, Mandarin) won a Boren Scholarship.

Students interested in applying for a Boren Scholarship or Boren Fellowship are encouraged to contact Andrus Ashoo, Boren campus representative, at

UM-Tupelo Honor Graduates Discover Passion for Education

Taylor Medal recipients both took unconventional paths to earning their degree


Bethany Wray and Will Knight are pictured with Chancellor Dan Jones.

TUPELO, Miss.­­ – During the University of Mississippi’s annual honors convocation, two students from the university’s Tupelo regional campus were awarded prestigious Taylor Medals for academic achievement. Both honorees plan to share their passion for education with the next generation of students.

Bethany Wray, of Pontotoc, and Will Knight, of Mantachie were among the recipients of Marcus Elvis Taylor Memorial Medals at the April 10 ceremony in Oxford. Taylor Medals are awarded to no more than 1 percent of the Ole Miss student body each year. Recipients must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.90.

Wray, who was awarded one of only four medals that went to 2014 graduates of the UM School of Education, walked across the stage to accept her college diploma nearly 25 years after she walked in her Pontotoc High School graduation in 1989.

“It took me all these years to realize the passion I have for teaching children,” Wray said. “And I couldn’t imagine doing anything else for the next 25 years.”

After working as an office manager at a furniture supplier and later as a medical transcriptionist, Wray was inspired by the impact that educators were making in the life of her son, who had been diagnosed with autism.

“I saw how my son’s teachers were so dedicated to his education and how they never gave up on him,” Wray recalled. “I knew if I could do for just one child what my son’s teachers were doing for him, then I would be a success.”

Wray applied for a kindergarten teacher’s assistant position at Pontotoc Elementary School. She says that after her first few days at work, she went home and told her husband that she planned to teach for the rest of her life.

Wray continued working while starting her first college classes at Itawamba Community College in Tupelo. She thought it might take seven or eight years to complete her education but later found out about a way to keep her job and complete her bachelor’s degree through the Ole Miss-Tupelo campus.

“I have a very supportive family,” Wray said. “My husband would work all day at North Mississippi Medical (Center) while I was working as a teacher’s assistant in Pontotoc. I would leave work to pick up the kids, feed them, start on homework and then drive over to Tupelo. The kids and I would meet my husband in the Ole Miss-Tupelo parking lot and switch the kids into his car.

“Then I would head to class for the evening, and he would head home. It took some juggling, but we made it work.”

This month, Wray completed her UM coursework and classroom observation at Pontotoc’s D.T. Cox Elementary to earn her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She has applied for teaching positions for this fall and hopes to land a job as a third- or fourth-grade language arts teacher.

“I will encourage my students to strive to do their very best, but I will also understand individual success,” Wray said. “Sometimes a student bringing up a ‘D’ grade to a ‘C’ grade is a big accomplishment. Those students need to be praised. I want to let my students know that I believe in them. I want to inspire them and help them realize that with a little hard work and determination they can succeed.”

Discovering a passion for the life-changing effects of education also came for Knight after an adjustment in career paths.

As a student at Mantachie High School, Knight first visited a local funeral home for a class project. He saw how the funeral directors were carefully providing a service to those who were grieving. He soon talked his way into a part-time job with Holland Funeral Directors in Tupelo.

“I just felt that serving in this field seemed like such a fulfilling job and an honest day’s work,” Knight recalled. “I found out that you could do so much to help others.”

Knight thought he would spend his career helping families through the process of planning funerals, but he soon found a new calling. He transferred to the Oxford campus in fall 2011 after completing his associate’s degree at ICC.

“I enjoyed working with the community and helping families through the difficult times after a loved one passed,” Knight said. “But when I met Ole Miss English professor Colby Kullman, he really made a strong impression on me. He stressed the importance of the education profession and sharing your passion and knowledge with others.”

After Knight’s first semester in Oxford, his grandfather became ill, so he moved back to Mantachie to help his family. He enrolled at the Ole Miss-Tupelo campus in August 2012, doubled up on classes and earned his bachelor’s degree in English in August 2013.

He was accepted to both the Ole Miss and Mississippi College law schools, and planned on returning to UM but later decided to accept a spot in the Master of Community College Education program at Mississippi State University. He teaches freshman writing and composition, and plans to teach English at the college level after completing his graduate degree.

“Education, especially at the college-level, can be infectious,” Knight said. “It’s the atmosphere that is electric. Everyone is learning, discovering and working hard to achieve the same goal. It’s just really special. I think that opportunities are endless when you actually feel what you can achieve.”

For more information on programs available at the UM-Tupelo campus, go to http://www.

Ole Miss Agency Wins $2,000 Award in AT&T Challenge

Competition provides real-world experience for integrated marketing communications students

Students from the Meek School of Journalism and New Media placed second in a recent AT&T student competition.

Students from the Meek School of Journalism and New Media placed second in a recent AT&T student competition.

OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss Agency student marketing group won second place and a $2,000 award in the EdVenture Partner AT&T SEC Campus Brand Challenge.

The University of Mississippi students created and presented an integrated marketing campaign to AT&T to introduce and market the new SEC network on AT&T’s U-Verse services. The campaign is a part of the AT&T Campus Brand Challenge, a program designed to provide students with real-world business experience by designing and implementing an integrated marketing communications plan.

“I didn’t know that I could do so much,” said JJ Townsend, campaign strategy director for the Ole Miss Agency. “I have learned a lot about working on a marketing campaign from start to finish and everything in between. I cannot wait to see the hard work coming to life.”

The campaign was designed to increase awareness and purchase of AT&T U-verse TV and the new SEC Network, which is set to launch in August. The Ole Miss plan features several innovative and engaging tactics to increase awareness of AT&T U-verse by highlighting its features.

The campaign includes the characters Harry and Jerry. Harry has U-verse. Jerry does not. Both characters are avid SEC fans, but only one can win the title of “best SEC fan.” The campaign encourages Twitter users to select whether they are #TeamHarry or #TeamJerry by following @YTYT_OleMiss on Twitter.

Each of the six schools participating in the AT&T Campus Brand Challenge is competing for an opportunity to present its ideas to AT&T executives at the term’s conclusion.

The Ole Miss Agency is a student-run marketing agency composed of students from the UM School of Business Administration and the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. The agency branched off of the Ole Miss Marketing Association in 2013.

Members of the agency from the journalism school who worked on the project include Chun Wu, a graduate student in the integrated marketing communications program, and Tiffany Odom, a senior IMC major from Richton. Wu led and presented the research that served as the foundation for the campaign, and Odom created the public relations portion of it.

UM Students Dominate State Public Relations Association Awards

Meek School of Journalism and New Media wins all three top awards and 10 of 11 awards overall

University of Mississippi public relations students in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media won the three top awards in the Public Relations Association of Mississippi student competition and 10 out of all 11 awards presented. Pictured from left to right, are (front row) Bridget Quinn, a journalism major from Alpharetta, Ga. and Sofia Hellberg-Jonsen, a marketing communications major from Stockholm, Sweden; and (back row) Lauren McMillin, a journalism major  from Madison, Miss.; Caty Cambron, a journalism and Spanish major from Rome, Ga.; Wil Yerger, a marketing communications major from Jackson, Miss.; Olivia Rearick, a journalism major from Glen Ellyn, Ill.; Robin Street, lecturer in journalism and public relations; Katie Davenport, an integrated marketing communications major from Wiggins, Miss.; Madison Hill, a journalism major from Auburn, Ala.; and  Emily Crawford, a journalism major from Horn Lake, Miss. Not pictured: Laura Gaziano, an integrated communications major from Atlanta, Ga. Photo by Stan O'Dell.

UM public relations students in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media won the three top awards in the Public Relations Association of Mississippi student competition and 10 of 11 awards presented. Pictured from left to right, are (front row) Bridget Quinn, of Alpharetta, Georgia; and Sofia Hellberg-Jonsen, of Stockholm; and (back row) Lauren McMillin, of Madison; Caty Cambron, of Rome, Georgia; Wil Yerger, of Jackson; Olivia Rearick, of  Glen Ellyn, Illinois; Robin Street, lecturer in journalism and public relations; Katie Davenport, of Wiggins; Madison Hill, of Auburn, Alabama; and Emily Crawford, of Horn Lake. Photo by Stan O’Dell.

OXFORD, Miss. – Public relations students in the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media won the three top awards in the Public Relations Association of Mississippi student competition and 10 of 11 awards presented overall.

Journalism major Olivia Rearick of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, won both Student Best of Show for the best entry in the entire competition and the top award in her category, called a PRism. Marketing communications major Wil Yerger, of Jackson, also won a PRism. Those students won the only PRisms presented.

In addition, eight other students and their instructor, Robin Street, all won awards, which were presented April 25 at the PRAM state conference in Hattiesburg. In each category, the award a step below the PRism is the Award of Excellence, followed by the Award of Merit.

“Having 10 of our students get awards sets a record for us,” said Street, a lecturer in journalism and public relations. “It was overwhelming that the judges only chose 11 students’ work from all over the state, and 10 of those were ours.

“Our students demonstrated that they excel in the diverse set of skills needed to succeed in PR such as producing quality journalism, planning strategy and conducting research. That is a real tribute to the preparation they received from all the faculty members at the Meek School.”

Winning Awards of Excellence were Lauren McMillin, a journalism major from Madison; Madison Hill, a journalism major from Auburn, Alabama; Caty Cambron, a journalism and Spanish major from Rome, Georgia; and Street.

Awards of Merit were presented to Katie Davenport, an integrated marketing communications major from Wiggins; Sofia Hellberg-Jonsen, a marketing communications major from Stockholm; Bridget Quinn, a journalism major from Alpharetta, Georgia; Emily Crawford, a journalism major from Horn Lake; and Laura Gaziano, an IMC major from Atlanta.

The students entered public relations campaigns they produced as final projects in an advanced public relations class taught by Street. Each campaign required multimedia journalism skills, including writing news releases and feature stories, as well as creating video, photos, blogs and social media.

For more information on the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, visit or email

UM Student Receives Golden Key International Society Scholarship

Lorin Dawson plans to use funds to continue studies in Brazil


Lorin Dawson

OXFORD, Miss. – Among the beautiful beaches and carnival celebrations, University of Mississippi junior Lorin Dawson is hoping to gain practical experience in the Brazilian business environment with the help of a scholarship from Golden Key International Honour Society.

Dawson, of Lafayette, Indiana, is a recipient of the Joan Nelson Study Abroad Scholarship, which provides recipients with $2,500 for study in the country of their choice. Each year, Golden Key gives out only one Joan Nelson award.

“Since 1977, Golden Key has recognized over 12 million graduate and undergraduate students in the top 15 percent of their class and has awarded over $10 million in scholarships and awards to its members,” said Brad Rainey, executive director of Golden Key. 

Dawson, who has been in Rio de Janeiro since July 2013, chose the country to supplement a Latin American focus in international studies in the university’s Croft Institute for International Studies. Besides pursuing international studies, Dawson is also majoring in economics and minoring in Spanish, Portuguese and mathematics.

“I believe a strong business partnership with Brazil will become increasingly more important to the United States and other developed countries as Brazil continues to capitalize on its abundant natural resources and develop its economy,” Dawson said.

A member of the UM Croft Institute and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Dawson is enrolled at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, earning academic credit towards his Ole Miss degree.

“I chose Ole Miss because I felt that the faculty is focused on what students need to excel and have a positive collegiate experience,” Dawson said. “The Croft Institute was one of the major factors for choosing Ole Miss due to its selective admission and rigorous program.”

“He is one of our most determined and ambitious students, and we are lucky to have him in our program,” said Kees Gispen, executive director of the Croft Institute and professor emeritus of history, “I am thrilled for Lorin and, based on his hard work and his academic achievements, I’m not surprised that he was ‘discovered’ and has now been recognized for his extraordinary potential and achievements.”

Besides his academic endeavors, Dawson has been involved with St. Anthony Hall’s philanthropic efforts as well as acting as assistant scoutmaster for a local Boy Scout troop. After graduation in May 2015, Dawson plans to pursue a master’s degree in finance.

“We’re very proud to send students like Lorin to study abroad because they are such impactful ambassadors for our school to the wider world,” said Brad Noel, UM study abroad adviser. “I have every reason to believe that Lorin, with his motivation and talent, will continue on to make a positive impact in his career field after graduation and will continue to be an ambassador for the University of Mississippi of which we can all be proud.”

Dawson’s parents are Douglas and Jill Dawson of Lafayette, Indiana.

Golden Key is the world’s largest honor society, with more than 2 million members and more than 400 chapters around the world. The society offers education-based scholarships and awards for service and leadership achievements, about $1 million each year for both undergraduate and graduate students.