17 Inspirational Messages from Ole Miss with Love

Many members of the Ole Miss community are sharing advice, well wishes and bits of wisdom to help others get through these times of isolation and stress. Adobe Stock photo

Charles de Gaulle, quotable French statesman and army officer, once said, “Faced with crisis, the man of character falls back on himself. He imposes his own stamp of action, takes responsibility for it, makes it his own.” 

Social media, always abuzz with inspirational quotes like the one from de Gaulle on any given day, has been especially flooded with positivity, well wishes and expressions of love during the global COVID-19 pandemic. There’s a theme of coming together, helping others and focusing on the opportunities that lie in the challenges. The university community has gotten in on spreading the love and finding some silver linings.

UM Marketing and Communications sought comments from the Ole Miss community in hopes of passing on the lessons we’re all learning and also sharing details about what motivates and inspires us as we move forward. 

Here’s 17 quotes from the UM community to inspire you and strengthen your resolve during your social distancing and other times of quiet reflection:

1. Laura Schulenberg, counselor, University Counseling Center“I’m motivated by the new ways we have learned how to be – to think differently about what we truly value, about each other, about the greater good, more about what makes us alike than different, or expressing our needs, our creativity and our love in new ways. And I’m mostly motivated by the fact that when we all come back together and we are healed, that I’m going to give and receive some of the best hugs of my life and listen to and sit with people like I never have before.”

2. David D. Allen, dean, School of Pharmacy:“As a leader, this has been, by far, my greatest challenge. However, my resolve to help the Ole Miss pharmacy ‘phamily’ get through this has never been greater. The ability of our faculty to make the conversion to virtual learning essentially overnight has been extraordinary. One student contacted me and said they have never been more energized to learn. The only way that kind of reaction is possible is because of the stellar efforts of our School of Pharmacy team!”

3. Carey Hanson, professor of costume design:“As an educator, I have always strived to make meaningful connections with our students. Moving to a strictly online platform of teaching has made engaging with students even more special for me as an educator. I think, now more than ever, the importance of genuinely connecting with our students on a personal level, during these uncertain times, is essential.”

4. Marni Kendricks, interim associate dean for undergraduate programs, School of Engineering:“I cannot wait to meet this amazing freshmen class in the fall! They came into the world in the 9/11 era and will have graduated from high school in the COVID-19 era. Seems nothing will stop them or get in their way. And those are exactly the students we’re looking for. Welcome to Ole Miss!”

5. Jennifer Mizenko, professor of theatre arts:“I have always resisted teaching dance and movement-based classes online. It is not a logical format for teaching someone how to use their body in an efficient and expressive manner. Clearly now, the situation demands for me to teach all of my classes online, including three movement/dance classes. In consultation with colleagues from around the world, I have been able to come up with a decent plan.

“I have been meeting with my students live, via Zoom, and we have moved together and laughed and played. I am giving them assignments to do movement work on their own in between classes. This is so vital right now. To stay connected to our bodies, to touch base with our breath and feel grounded while it feels like the world is falling apart all around us is vital to our emotional and mental health during this pandemic.

“Regardless of what classes you are in right now, take time away from your computer to move around, get in touch with yourself, turn on some music in the house and have a dance party with your family. Feel your breath, stay connected to who you are and have faith that the world will heal.”

6. Wendy Pfrenger, assistant director, PreCollege Programs:“Our office thinks constantly about how we can bring the great resources our university community has to offer and reach new audiences – young ones, distant ones, folks for whom the traditional university experience simply isn’t accessible. This new challenge has sparked so much creativity in our staff, and I think we’re going to end up better for it.

We’re thinking in new ways about high-impact online learning, about accessibility, about meaningful, personalized support that inspires students and meets them where they are. I think what we’re building now will become just a normal part of our future programs, and I’m super excited about that!”

7. Adole Muruako, graduate student in counseling from Vicksburg, School of Education: “Now, more than ever, I feel that counseling is going to be at the forefront of helping our society navigate through societal changes that will occur as a result of this pandemic. Our mental health is key to our responses at all times, as well as how we interpret the events that befall us, and our determination to see opportunities to rise to challenges and grow from our resolve to get through this together.

We have always been in this together, and times like this starkly hold that truth to light. We are all, as a university community, bound together by our common humanity – our fear, our hope and our willingness to persevere and move forward. And we will, together. I am motivated as a mental health provider to help us move forward stronger and more resilient.”

8. Meredith Brown, sophomore biology and psychology major from Marshall, Illinois: “We need each other more than ever, yet we are all scattered apart, distant and isolated from one another. In these recent days, I have come to realize the phrase, ‘People need you, and you need people.’ As human beings, we thrive from social activities, human-to-human interactions and healthy relationships.

It simply comes down to the fact that we desire to love and to be loved. This is why it is so important that we love our people around us hard, that we reach out to one another to let each other know that no one is alone in this fight, and that we spread love with every opportunity that comes. It is essential that we check in on the people we wouldn’t always think to, like the ‘strong friends’ or the people who are our ‘rocks.’

In this time, it is OK to not know how to feel or how to cope, but no matter what, we cannot let each other feel alone. In being kind and loving others, we find our humanity in its purest form.”

9. Fara E. Shook, instructor, Department of Writing and Rhetoric:“Before the semester resumed, students responded to my emails that few people had contacted them; they report feeling isolated and lonesome. After the semester resumed and Zoom classes began, students became animated. They greeted each other on Zoom with enthusiasm. Many brought their cats and dogs to meet their classmates.

The class dynamics became closer and more personal as we saw into one another’s homes. As the formalities of the classroom setting dissolved, a special connection grew. I am thankful for the privilege to be part of this transformation. Furthermore, this experience has taught me the value of staying connected to others.”

10. Alice Steimle, associate director, Center for Mathematics and Science Education:“It is easy to lose yourself in all of this and to question your purpose. Please know that the tasks you are taking on – things on your to-do list that need extra thought and review – are all part of your purpose. We will overcome this and will feel good about the time we were able to dedicate to the important things.”

11. Lila McRight Neely, program coordinator, Master of Business Administration program:“If someone asked me what is special about Ole Miss or why they should come to Ole Miss, I would tell them without hesitation that the magic of Ole Miss is the relationships that we build. Since the onset of COVID-19, it has become more and more important to reach out and to stay in touch with our students and each other.

“I am responsible for the career efforts and professional development of our MBAs. Spring 2020 is a particularly uncertain time to be in the job market. I do it for them. I have a new respect for computer programs like Zoom and I am grateful for the many ways that people can connect. Ole Miss alumni and Ole Miss staff have been wonderful to support these efforts.

“I would encourage all of you to reach out to the people in your circle for support. I am motivated each time one of these relationships impacts the future of one of our graduates. Their success is our success.”

12. Belinda Turner, records clerk, University Police Department:“I would like to commend an employee that I work with, (UPD lieutenant for administrative services) Kendall Brown. During this very stressful time he took out the time in his daily struggles to help me get set up at home to be able to telecommute. He was extremely helpful and could not have done more.

I appreciate him and would like for him to know how much this means to me. Again, thank you so much, Kendall, for all you did to help me during this time. It is greatly appreciated.”

13. Chelsea Welch Bennett, assistant dean for student services and assistant professor, School of Pharmacy:“I’ve been working in advising/admissions/student affairs for 16 years. Looking forward to seeing applications from today’s children about how this in their lives made them want to be a pharmacist, doctor, artist or teacher. … Little eyes and little ears are tuned in! I’m working to carefully craft the message I want my kids to receive.”

14. Rebecca Phillips, director, University and Public Events:“This is survivable. This is a time to overprotect, but not overreact.”

15. Chad Hathcock, multimedia specialist, School of Business Administration: “I know this is a terrible situation we find ourselves in, but if you look around, you will find those happy moments that will bring a smile to your face. Such as working from home and having a video conference and your 1-year-old wants to say ‘Hello!’ to everyone in the meeting or chatting with students from your own front porch via Zoom or watching a talented group of professors change their entire teaching method overnight to help accommodate for this situation.

“I know it seems to look bleak, but it’s not. Beauty and fun are everywhere in this world we live in; you just have to find it.”

16. Amy Goodin, project coordinator, PreCollege Programs:“This is a place for everyone. It is a place to be welcomed and to find your calling. Young and old. Student, faculty, staff or community. Each person that steps foot on this campus becomes a part of the Ole Miss family and a part of Ole Miss’ legacy. This place is not made of bricks. It’s not made of diplomas and degrees.

This place is made of love and caring. Of people persevering against all odds. It is the site of a fierce struggle to integrate higher education in the state. It is the site of Civil War casualties. It is the site of the Walk of Champions and bid days. It is the site of touchdowns and research breakthroughs. Of home runs and thesis defenses.

This place is home. And the family will return.”

17. Katie Harrison, counselor, University Counseling Center: “Through such a difficult adjustment to coping with the global pandemic, I have been blown away by the amount of support, love and encouragement from my colleagues, not only for myself but for the students of the university. What a great team to be a part of! We are Ole Miss!”