Triplets Inducted into Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society

Juniors Ann Weston, Katherine and Will Sistrunk each earned the honor

Triplets Katherine, Will and Ann Weston Sistrunk were inducted into Phi Kappa Phi honor society, Sunday, October 29. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi chapter of Phi Kappa Phi honor society inducted 270 new members Sunday (Oct. 29), including three juniors from the same family.

Ann Weston, Katherine and Will Sistrunk, triplets from Springfield, Missouri, were inducted into the most selective interdisciplinary honor society at the university. All three are members of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

“The invitation to be a member of Phi Kappa Phi is a great accomplishment and it is especially exciting to be inducted with my siblings, as I owe much of my success to the guidance and support of Katherine and Will,” Ann Weston said.

Ann Weston is a public policy leadership major and is seeking minors in Spanish and intelligence and security studies. She plans to pursue a career in global health policy upon completion of graduate school.

Also a public policy leadership major and a pre-nursing student, Katherine is minoring in Spanish and society and health. She wants to combine her love for public policy with a career in a health-related field.

Will is majoring in biology and pursuing minors in chemistry and society and health. He plans to attend medical school after graduating from Ole Miss.

“Being nominated for Phi Kappa Phi is an awesome honor and reward for me academically,” Will said. “It also is a reflection of the great opportunities I have had at Ole Miss, from advising in the Honors College to meeting with professors who are always willing to help. I am excited for all that Phi Kappa Phi has to offer.”

To receive an invitation to join Phi Kappa Phi, juniors must have completed at least 72 credit hours and rank in the top 7.5 percent of their class. All three made the cut.

Deb Wenger, Phi Kappa Phi chapter president and assistant dean for partnerships and innovation in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, said this is the first time she is aware of triplets inducted into any chapter of Phi Kappa Phi.

The Sistrunks come from an Ole Miss family. Their parents, William and Camille Sistrunk, are university alumni and Mississippi natives, and when it came to the three choosing a college, UM was always a consideration.

“As we were considering colleges, we initially had varying ideas on where we wanted to go and what we wanted to study,” Katherine said. “At first, I thought it was a definite possibility that we would end up at different schools. But, as we continued to visit other universities, Ole Miss kept calling us back.

“Ever since we were little, we have called Mississippi our second home. Ole Miss has brought us friendships and memories, and we ultimately chose Ole Miss because it was not only where our family went to school, but because it felt like home.”

UM was where the three siblings felt most comfortable and could each pursue the major of their choice.

“We are all very close but independent and different in our own ways, and it was a great thing that we each decided Ole Miss was the right place for each of us,” Katherine said. “Aside from Ole Miss having so many outstanding academic and extracurricular opportunities in which to participate, choosing Ole Miss was like coming home, and I couldn’t image what my college experience would have been like without my family by my side.”

But it wasn’t just the culture and the legacy aspect that drew them in. The Sistrunks said the scholarships offered through Ole Miss were the most generous of any institution to which they applied.

“Ole Miss has been everything we expected and much more in providing an excellent academic environment in which our kids are thriving, and we are very grateful for that,” the triplets’ father, William, said. “We are excited that they are planting roots in Mississippi.”

The university has since allowed each of them to academically perform to the best of their abilities.

“I am motivated to achieve by the desire to one day be able to be a successful professional and say that I am an alumni of the University of Mississippi, and with that, hopefully give back to the university that has given me so much,” Ann Weston said.

Ultimately, their independent achievements allowing them to come together in Phi Kappa Phi has made the family closer than ever.

“To me, my sisters being at the same college has been a great resource and comfort,” Will said. “I wouldn’t be where I am now without them. However, I know wherever they go, they will succeed.”

Their mother, Camille, agrees.

 “My husband and I are very proud of Ann Weston, Katherine and Will,” she said. “We are very blessed that they are happy and healthy kids and students who have always academically challenged themselves and each other.”

UM Museum Hosts Textile Exhibit by Mary Zicafoose

Collection of contemporary tapestries aspires to lift the 'vibrational frequency for mankind'

‘Mountain for Buddha’ is among the tapestry images on display at the UM Museum as part of Mary Zicafoose’s ‘Fault Lines’ exhibit. Submitte

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Museum’s newest exhibit “Fault Lines,” a unique tapestry exhibit by artist Mary Zicafoose, ties an ancient art form with modern concerns in a vibrant, captivating array.

Curated from three of Zicafoose’s collections – “Fault Lines,” “Mountain for the Buddha” and the “Blueprint Series” – the exhibit is on display in the museum’s Lower Skipwith Gallery through Feb. 3, 2018.

Each piece, based on classic archetypal symbols, depicts climate change through the artist’s representation of tectonic plates, fault lines and land shifts. Zicafoose’s tapestries and rugs have been exhibited around the world, including in American embassies on three continents.

“You make art and you want to draw people in,” Zicafoose said. “You want to get people involved in the work. You want to tell your story, but also one of the primary driving forces is I hope that the work can trigger a shift in consciousness of people.

“That’s part of the mission. It may be pretentious or lofty or maybe just stupidly nuts, but that’s my driving force and I have had those experiences in the arts, where I’ve seen something that made me different. Something happens in that moment and that’s the role of the arts – to lift the vibrational frequency for mankind as we toil on this planet.”

Having a show in Mississippi is special, she said.

“This is a place where people come for that,” she explained. “To be a participant in that process is a very distinct honor and responsibility to bring work here that will do that.”

Her love for textiles began as a child, when she was fascinated by a piece of Pacific Island cloth an aunt gave her.

“After many formative years of art schooling and teaching, I somewhat surprisingly found myself behind a loom,” she said on her website. “I have spent the last 22 years in pursuit of visual surprise on the flat woven ‘rug’ surface through dye processes, tapestry techniques and intriguing color play.

“Weaving has become my ticket into the arts – it is a personal vernacular that speaks about the unabashed use of color and the power of illusion.”

A largely self-taught weaver, Zicafoose earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts at St. Mary’s College at Notre Dame. She studied in graduate programs at the Art Institute of Chicago and University of Nebraska.

“The University Museum is thrilled to present the work of this major American tapestry artist and weaver, whose work is exhibited internationally in 24 U.S. embassies and museum and corporate collections nationwide,” museum Director Robert Saarnio said.

“Mary’s pieces are exceptionally vibrant, and elegant in their colorways, symbolism and the complexity of the ikat process, and we were compelled by her description of her work: ‘I create contemporary tapestry, pushing the boundary of this ancient art form, to investigate the intricacies of how we, as individuals, are tied to one another.'”

The University Museum, at the corner of University Avenue and Fifth Street, is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Admission is free.

To learn more about Zicafoose and her work, visit For more information about the museum and its exhibits, visit

Harvest Supper Raises More than $120,000 to Support Museum

Proceeds will help fund exhibits and programming

More than 500 guests enjoy dinner and atmosphere at the University Museum’s annual Harvest Supper on the grounds of Rowan Oak. Photo by Christina Steube/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Museum’s sixth annual Harvest Supper raised more than $120,000 earlier this month for museum exhibits and programming.

The catered event, on the grounds of William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak, attracted some 550 guests, all of whom bought tickets in support of the museum.

“This event provides money to the museum for exhibitions, lectures and more education for children,” said Gayle Henry, a Friends of the Museum board member. “It allows the university to reach more people and have the best exhibits.”

Besides ticket sales, money was also raised through a silent auction and a live auction featuring pieces by Mississippi artists. The live auction included a sculpture by Tom Corbin, who has previously exhibited at the museum.

“Harvest Supper is an exceptional fundraising event that brings together museum and Rowan Oak stakeholders and supporters from across the region and the country,” said Robert Saarnio, museum director. “The entire spirit of the evening is one of such positive goodwill for us that it sustains our energy and passion for our work, at the same time that it raises critically needed support.

“We are deeply grateful to the Friends of the Museum and the attendees for their hard work and generous participation on our behalf.”

The Harvest Supper began in 2011 with the idea that the museum needed a way to increase funding to grow. The small gathering of around 100 people has grown into a major event.

“Nearly impossible to imagine that in six short years, a dinner for a few people interested in helping fun museum projects has grown into the gala I experienced for the first time last night,” said Debbie Nelson, the museum’s membership, events and communications coordinator. “I am impressed by the volunteers and staffing behind the scenes as well as night of event.

“The combination of generous benefactors, ambiance of Rowan Oak, musical entertainers and cuisine that rivals any outdoor banquet makes Harvest Supper a ‘must-experience” evening in Oxford each year.”

This year’s event had more than 100 sponsors, including presenting sponsors Diane and Dickie Scruggs and the Madison Charitable Foundation; platinum level sponsors Darrell Crawford, Kent and David Magee, Elizabeth and Will Galtney and The Self Foundation; and gold level sponsors Marty and John Dunbar, Marla and Lowry Lomax, Friends of Dorothy and Tom Howorth, Elizabeth and Jeff Lusk, Hardy Reed, Saint Leo, Howorth & Associates Architects, Rose and Hubert Spears, Mary M. Thompson, Carol and Bill Windham and Ken Wooten and Margaret Wylde.

A full list of sponsors can be found here.

For more information about the museum, its exhibits and events, visit

Data Day Presentations to Feature Experts from Amazon, The Gazette

UM journalism school hosts annual event for students and community members

Erica Huerta. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi students and community members can learn from experts in the field about the value of data and how it is used and analyzed to build customer relationships and deliver content at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media’s fourth annual Data Day.

The Nov. 2 event will feature presentations by Max Freund, managing editor of digital strategy for The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Erica Huerta, competitive intelligence manager at Amazon and Whole Foods.

Freund will speak at 8 a.m. and Huerta is slated for 11 a.m., both in the Overby Center Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

“Understanding data and being able to communicate insights drawn from data has become an essential skill, touching all areas of mass communications, regardless of whether you’re in journalism, IMC, PR, or any other area related to the field,” said Jason Cain, assistant professor of integrated marketing communications. 

“The Meek School hosts Data Day both in order to provide students the opportunity to learn the depth of this relationship from data professionals and to demonstrate that working with data is not just a purely analytical pursuit, but very often a creative one as well.”

Huerta has eight years of experience in the private sector dealing with analytics in the tech hub of Austin, Texas. Her passion for data and continuous learning has led to a successful career in building business strategy for companies including Expedia, Home Depot and Amazon.

She plans to discuss the relevancy of data and how companies apply it to everyday decisions using both art and science.

Max Freund. Submitted photo

A University of Iowa graduate, Freund has degrees in both journalism and informatics. He is passionate about digital storytelling through data and interactive web development. He previously worked as a digital reporter for The Gazette, followed by a career at the creative marketing agency Fusionfarm as product manager and web developer.

Since returning to the Gazette, Freund oversees the company’s suite of digital products, strategies and offerings. He also teaches at the University of Iowa as an adjunct instructor, focusing on journalistic web development and interactive storytelling.

UM Alumnus Helps Produce ‘Same Kind of Different As Me’

Movie opens Oct. 20 in select theaters

University of Mississippi alumnus Stephen Johnston produced and helped raise $15 million for the movie “Same Kind of Different as Me,” which opens in theaters this weekend.

The movie was filmed in Jackson.

Based on the New York Times bestselling book of the same name, the film stars Academy Award winners Renee Zellweger and Jon Voight and Oscar nominees Greg Kinnear and Djimon Hounsou. It is based on a true story.

The story focuses on wealthy art dealer Ron Hall (Kinnear) and his wife, Debbie (Zellweger). The two are unhappily married, but their lives change when they befriend a homeless man named Denver (Hounsou).

The film has earned an 83 percent positive audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, and Oxford residents can check it out starting today (Oct. 20) at Malco Oxford Studio Cinema on West Jackson Avenue.

Johnston, a Jackson native, graduated from Ole Miss in 1993 with a degree in managerial finance, and banking and finance.

Ford Center Hosts ‘Rent’ Anniversary Tour

Award-winning musical set for Thursday UM performance

The acclaimed musical ‘Rent’ comes to the Ford Center for one performance Oct. 26 as part of the production’s 20th anniversary tour. Photo by Carol Rose.

OXFORD, Miss. – The 20th anniversary national tour of the smash musical “Rent” visits the University of Mississippi for one performance Thursday (Oct. 26) at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

“Rent” follows the lives of seven impoverished artists in New York City over the course of a year as they fight to pursue their dreams without giving up or selling out. Underneath the story are inspiring messages of joy and hope, facing fears, friendship and love.

“This courageous love story has resonated with opera audiences since 1896 with Puccini’s ‘La Bohème and again with its modern reimagining 100 years later in ‘Rent,'” said Julia Aubrey, Ford Center director. “It is hard to believe that this 1996 musical is now 20 years oldWhether it is your first time or 10th, this musical still rocks.”

The Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning musical continues to capture audiences two decades later. It is one of only five musicals to win both awards.

“It has enormously valid things to say about the ways in which we all seek out community and form families, and how we take care of one another in very difficult times,” said Michael Greif, who directed the original off-Broadway and Broadway productions. “The message of the musical is to truly appreciate the time that we have and to truly appreciate each other, because you don’t know when someone will be gone from your life.”

The performance, based on the original direction by Greif, is restaged by Evan Ensign and choreographed by Marlies Yearby.

The “Rent” 20th anniversary tour is produced by Work Light Productions, whose other productions include “Cinderella,” “Mamma Mia!” “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” the Vocalosity national tour and “Crazy for You.”

A limited number of tickets are available at the UM Box Office inside the Ford Center. Tickets are $75 for orchestra/parterre and tier 1 box levels, $69 for mezzanine and tier 2 box levels and $63 for the balcony level. A 10 percent discount is available for UM faculty, staff and retirees when tickets are purchased at the box office.

For more information, visit

UM Sophomore Competes in International Triathlon

Elizabeth Fogarty finishes in Top 15 worldwide

UM sophomore Elizabeth Fogarty finished 14th in the world at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Rotterdam, Netherlands, last month. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi sophomore Elizabeth Fogarty represented the United States last month in Rotterdam, Netherlands, during the International Triathlon Union World Triathlon Grand Final.

A native of Houston, Texas, who is majoring in nursing, Fogarty finished 14th in the world after completing a 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike ride and 10-kilometer run.

“It was the craziest, most unbelievable experience ever,” she said. “This triathlon was by far the hardest tri I had ever done. I am used to competing when it is 90+ degrees Fahrenheit outside, but race morning it was 12 degrees Celsius (54 F). The water was so cold that everyone swam in wetsuits.”

Fogarty had never raced in those conditions before, which affected her time.

“My toes were frozen from the moment I got into the water until about the run portion,” she said. “The run was through a pretty park and was mostly shaded.

“The bike course itself was a very technical course. There were many curves and sharp turns. It was very difficult to keep a cruising pace because you constantly had to be completely focused and slowing down and speeding up around turns.”

Although she didn’t perform as well as she had hoped, Fogarty pushed through to complete it, knowing that her parents and friends were cheering her on, she said.

“Crossing the finish line was just the coolest thing ever. I was handed an American flag about 400 meters from the finish line, knowing that I just represented the USA. It’s still hard to believe that I am ranked 14th in the world, with only 13 girls – 19 and under – faster than me.”

Fogarty has been athletic her entire life by participating on swim and soccer teams and running cross country and track, said Susan Fogarty, her mother. Elizabeth Fogarty ran track in high school under coach Kristi Robbins, an Ole Miss alumna and runner.

“For the past couple of years, she’s been doing some fun triathlons and really has a natural talent for the sport,” Susan Fogarty said.

Elizabeth Fogarty competed in her first triathlon when she was just 14, since she was already competing separately in all three sports.

“I love being a triathlete because I enjoy every aspect of it, from training to traveling to racing,” she said. “Being a triathlete is both mentally and physically challenging, but it is always fun to test your limits and rewarding to improve and compete.”

Though she had training in high school, Fogarty has made it to the world championships through self-training and her own merit.

She decided to self-train because of her schedule, which includes coursework and jobs, Fogarty said.

“I was not sure that I would be able to commit to a coach or trainer on a daily basis because my schedule changes every day,” she said.

Over the summer, Fogarty held four jobs and would train either early morning, between jobs or late at night.

“Sometimes it was hard to stay motivated, especially when we started classes this fall,” she said. “My friends always asked me to go out with them or eat sweets and junk food.

“It was a little frustrating having to always say no, but I started saying that just as the football team can’t go out or eat unhealthy during season, I can’t either because I am training for the biggest race of my triathlon career.”

Fogarty modifies her training each week by setting goals and making workouts to reach them.

“It’s just her drive,” Susan Fogarty said. “To make it to worlds on her own impresses me.”

In 2016, Fogarty qualified to compete in the national triathlon championships in Omaha, Nebraska. This is where she qualified to compete in Rotterdam for the world championship in Olympic distance.

Fogarty balances training with her schoolwork and plans to begin nursing school at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in May 2018.

Slavery Research Group Hosts Lecture on Educational Inequality

Alumnus Robert Reece will discuss research on racialized social outcomes

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Slavery Research Group is sponsoring a lecture by alumnus Robert Reece on Friday (Oct. 13) in Barnard Observatory.

Reece plans to discuss his research on current school inequality and how these patterns are linked to the past. The lecture, at 3:30 p.m. in the Tupelo Room, is free and open to the public.

“Robert has developed some very innovative methods for measuring how current racial inequalities are connected to deep historical trends,” said Jeffrey T. Jackson, UM associate professor of sociology and co-chair of the Slavery Research Group. “His work is becoming widely cited in the field because of the methodological sophistication he brings to these important questions.”

Reece’s presentation should spark discussion, said Chuck Ross, UM director of African American studies and the group’s other co-chair.

“We look forward to Robert returning to our campus,” Ross said. “He clearly is establishing himself as a national scholar on race, and its sociological legacies and implications today.”

A native of Leland, Reece earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology from UM. He earned a doctorate from Duke University and recently accepted a position as an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Texas.

His work has been published in journals including Sociology of Race and Ethnicity and The Review of Black Political Economy, as well as in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance magazine.

For more information about the UM Slavery Research Group, visit

Counselor Education Clinic Offers Services to Community

Facility provides learning environment for students and specialized resource for patients

Play therapy, which offers a safe environment for children ages 4 to 10 to address a range of issues, is among the services offered at the Clinic for Outreach and Personal Enrichment. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Counselor Education Clinic for Outreach and Personal Enrichment provides resources to the entire Lafayette County and Oxford community, including assistance for all ages and for a broad range of issues.

Founded in 2015, the clinic, known as COPE, is staffed with two doctoral students and 14 graduate-level counselors-in-training. The student counselors are trained in counseling, interventions, diagnosis and treatment planning under the supervision of skilled counselors. The qualified staff can assist the needs of any from children to adults.

“The main benefit for the community is the lower cost of mental health services that we provide,” said Joshua Magruder, the clinic’s interim clinical coordinator. “We are dedicated to providing the best service at little to no cost for community members in need.

“Being a training clinic gives us the ability to make sure that the service quality is high due to the massive amount of supervision our counselors-in-training receive, but also provide that service at a lower rate than other professional counselors in the community.”

Working in the clinic has helped graduate student Brittany Power Holly, of Madison, better understand what it means to be a professional in the mental health field.

“COPE is a special learning environment because it allows students to struggle in a healthy way,” Holly said. “We are constantly challenged to push ourselves and learn from our mistakes.

“It takes knowledge and experience to become a better counselor, and COPE provides a safe environment for students to grow in that experience and it provides access to learn more about the profession. We are constantly receiving helpful feedback in a caring and supportive manner.”

Counselor Ashley Forrester Wright (right) works with children using play therapy at the Clinic for Outreach and Personal Enrichment. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The clinic can meet the needs of adults through individual counseling, couples counseling, family counseling, divorce mediation and group counseling. Many college students and adult community members use these services to treat mental health symptoms including anxiety, depression, grief, trauma and substance abuse, Magruder said.

Having students help staff the training clinic benefits clients by offering flexible hours and affordable care, Holly said.

“The community can greatly benefit from knowing about our clinic because COPE provides affordable services from passionate and eager students who are monitored and guided by the best professionals,” she said. “One of our bigger goals this year as a clinic is to educate the community more about mental health and inform them of the services we provide, like individual therapy, play therapy, group therapy and couples therapy.”

COPE is also an approved play therapy provider that offers a safe environment for children ages 4 to 10 to address issues from behavior problems, divorce, anger management, developmental delays, ADHD, autism, trauma and grief, among others.

“We use toys as the child’s language because they don’t have the developmental vocabulary to explain all their thoughts, feelings or behaviors at such a young age,” Magruder said. “Play therapy fosters responsibility, creative solutions, respect for others and self, learning to express emotion, and new social skills.”

The facility, at 850 Insight Park, Suite 163A, is part of the UM School of Education. Services are offered on a sliding-scale pay system to reach as many people in need as possible. The clinic also accepts Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance.

For more information, visit or contact the clinic at 662-915-7197 or by email at

Fourth Annual Rebel Trail Challenge Set for November

Runners of all ages invited to face obstacles on 5-mile course

Rebel Trail Challenge participants compete in a 5-mile run and obstacle course, which includes a wall climb. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Department of Campus Recreation invites contestants of all ages to compete in the annual Rebel Trail Challenge next month at the South Campus Rail Trail.

This is the fourth year that Ole Miss Campus Recreation is hosting the challenge event, set for 2 p.m. Nov. 5. The race is open to runners ages 10 and up, and participants will be placed into one of seven divisions to compete with peers.

Each racer will have a teammate, and each division will have one team winner. Participants will face six obstacles over the 5-mile trail. Racers will be asked to run, jump, crawl and get muddy.

“It is always a good time,” said Shannon Richardson, assistant director of campus recreation. “We want everyone to come out; everyone in the community is welcome.”

Sponsors include Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, Board and Brush Creative Studio, Oxford Cryotherapy and NutriShop of Oxford. All proceeds from the race will help fund student scholarships.

The race is limited to 200 participants. Registration is $25 through Sunday (Oct. 15) and $30 thereafter. Online registration ends Nov. 1.

Each racer will receive an official Rebel Trail Challenge Dri-Fit T-shirt, as well as a “swag bag” filled with items provided by sponsors. First-place winners for each division will receive additional prizes.

To register, click here.

For more information about activities sponsored by the Department of Campus Recreation, visit