Alumni Give Guidance to the Class of 2023

Notable UM alumni encourage leadership, kindness and pursuing passions

When the members of the class of 2023 graduate on May 13, they’ll complete one journey and commence the next. Building on the legacies they’ve established at the University of Mississippi, they are ready to go forth and apply the talents, education and verve they’ve developed as Ole Miss Rebels.

Urging them on are the many successful alumni who have come before them. Whether they’ve entertained us, achieved professional feats, served the better good or blazed new trails, each of these outstanding Ole Miss alumni illustrates what it means to build a legacy. Check out the advice they’re offering the latest graduates:

Standup comedian, actress, social media star and podcast host Healther McMahan advises graduates to live life fearlessly to avoid regretting the things they didn’t do. Submitted photo

Heather McMahan

A standup comedian, actress, social media star and host of the podcast “Absolutely Not,” Heather McMahan (BFA 09) earned a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts at Ole Miss and began pursuing her comedic craft soon after graduating. She is traveling the U.S. on her “Heather McMahan: The Comeback Tour.”

“They say one ‘never really leaves Ole Miss’ and that’s true, not because you have an outstanding tab at The Library sports bar, but because the lasting friendships will endure a lifetime. As you embark on this next chapter of life, there will be many unknowns. Live your life fearlessly, you will only regret the things you didn’t do. Show up for others because at the end of the day, you’re only competing with yourself. Always remember your attitude is everything, so strive to be someone people want to emulate.”

Mack Hubbell

Mack Hubbell

Mack Hubbell (BS 19) is a comedian, writer and actor based in New York City, where he works as the monologue writers’ assistant at “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” Mack does standup, performs in theater productions and posts online sketch videos that have amassed millions of views across platforms.

“Find whatever it is that fires you up and pursue it passionately. When it comes to fear of failure, which you will almost certainly experience, embrace that fear and use it as motivation to spur you on. Also, be patient with yourself and remember that anything worth doing is going to take time. Instead of looking around to compare yourself to others, look back at all you’ve accomplished and look ahead toward all the success to come. Hotty Toddy!” 


Stephanie Hickman, CEO of Trice Construction Co., in Chicago, encourages graduates to focus on building relationships across multiple networks. Submitted photo

Stephanie Hickman

Stephanie Hickman (JD 91) is CEO of Trice Construction Co., in Chicago. Under her leadership, the company has transformed from a small residential construction company to an award-winning utility infrastructure contractor serving top corporations and contractors and major public entities. Hickman will deliver the university’s 2023 Commencement address.

“Relationships. It’s always about relationships. Build multiple networks – social, company, industry. Feed and nurture your network, starting with the one you’ve already built at Ole Miss. These are not only friends, colleagues and professors but they are your future business partners, clients, bankers, investors and advisers. They are your cheerleaders, allies and confidants as you move into your next phase.”

Jasmine Meredith

Jasmine Meredith

An account executive at BBDO, a worldwide advertising agency network, Jasmine Meredith (MA 21) is the oldest granddaughter of James Meredith, who integrated the university in 1962, and the daughter of Joseph Meredith, who earned the university’s Outstanding Doctoral Student Achievement Award in 2002. Jasmine received her master’s degree in integrated marketing communications.

“Make the most of every opportunity. Always put your best foot forward and use every chance you get to show your value and how you are an asset to anything you touch. Challenge yourself to be your best you first, and everything else will fall into place. Be kind and lead with passion.”

Peggie Gillom-Granderson

Peggie Gillom-Granderson

A life coach for the UM chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Peggie Gillom-Granderson (BSW 80) had a record-setting career for the Ole Miss Rebels women’s basketball team between 1976 and 1980 and later played in the WBL. Her career as a coach includes time leading the WNBA’s Houston Comets to a league championship, time with Texas A&M and Ole Miss, and as assistant coach for 2000 Gold Medal Olympic Team. Gillom-Granderson was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.

“Congratulations to the Class of 2023. Graduation is a culmination of hard work resulting in completion of what you started. It is also an opportunity for a new beginning as you turn the page and continue to write your story. Your success here at Ole Miss has prepared you for what awaits. When you make God’s plan and purpose the top priorities in your life, you can be sure you will succeed. Remember that God sees the big picture, even if you don’t.”


Ignacio Murillo, global talent casting director at Vogue, honed some of his earliest skills as a photographer and designer for The Daily Mississippian and the Ole Miss yearbook. Submitted photo

Ignacio Murillo

Ignacio Murillo (BAJ 14) is the global talent casting director at Vogue. He was previously the bookings and visual director at Harper’s Bazaar and has contributed to publications including ELLE, Marie Claire and Esquire. Murillo, a member of the Ole Miss Alumni Association’s 2023 Top 40 Under 40 class, honed early skills as a photographer and designer for The Daily Mississippian and the Ole Miss yearbook.

“As you end an amazing milestone in your career and begin a new one, go and dream big. With the right research, passion and preparation, no dream is out of reach. Take everything you have learned from Ole Miss and apply into the workplace. Always be kind and respectful. Hotty Toddy!” 

Bill Reed

Bill Reed

Senior counsel in the law firm Baker Donelson, Bill Reed (BA 72, JD 77) served as president and COO of the firm from 1998 to 2005. As an undergraduate at Ole Miss, Reed was president of the Associated Student Body and a member of the Hall of Fame. In law school, he served as editor-in-chief of the Mississippi Law Journal and graduated first in his class. He is the 2022-23 president of the Ole Miss Alumni Association.

“Graduation from Ole Miss is not the end of your journey to success. It is just the beginning. Whether the next step in your journey is to continue your education in the classroom or in the workforce, true success will require focused effort, patient dedication and the steady support of your friends, family and fellow alumni. So, when the toasts and speeches have ended, resume your journey, knowing your future is bright, and there are countless Rebels cheering for you.”