Forensic Chemist Named 2018 Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus

Randall Clark earned his doctorate in medicinal chemistry from the School of Pharmacy

Randall Clark

OXFORD, Miss. – Randall Clark, a 1973 University of Mississippi graduate with a doctoral degree in medicinal chemistry, has been named the School of Pharmacy Department of BioMolecular Sciences’ 2018 Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus Award honoree.

Clark earned degrees in both biology and chemistry from Berry College in Mt. Berry, Georgia, before completing his Ph.D. under the direction of late Ole Miss professor Ronald F. Borne. He has spent his 45-year academic career at Auburn University, where he is a professor of medicinal chemistry, mentoring more than 50 master’s and doctoral students.

“It is truly an honor to be selected for this award,” Clark said. “Just receiving consideration for an award of this magnitude is a significant achievement.

“The previous recipients are all very successful individuals, and many, many very productive and talented people have passed through the Ole Miss School of Pharmacy.”

Clark will deliver the Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus Lecture at 11 a.m. Friday (Aug. 17) in Room 2066 of the Thad Cochran Research Center. His presentation is titled “Forensic Chemistry of New Psychoactive Substances: Regioisomer Differentiation in Cannabinoid, Cathinone and N-BOMe Drugs.”

“It’s a great privilege for our department to be able to recognize our alumni leaders in pharmaceutical sciences with the Joe Sam Distinguished Alumnus Endowment,” said Kristie Willett, chair of the Department of BioMolecular Sciences. “Having Dr. Clark back on campus provides our students and current faculty with a unique opportunity to expand their professional network and learn about cutting edge research in medicinal chemistry.”

With a research interest in forensic drug chemistry, Clark has received more than $2.5 million in research funding over the last 10 years from the National Institute of Justice, the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. He has authored or co-authored more than 250 scientific publications.

Clark has served as the faculty chair of Auburn athletics’ drug testing oversight committee for the last 20 years. His research group has contributed more than 1,000 mass spectra of new druglike substances to the National Institute of Standards and Technology mass spectra database.

He is the recipient of Auburn’s Alumni Professorship, Distinguished Graduate Faculty Lectureship and the Sandra Kent Gilliland and David Louie Gilliland Endowed Professorship in recognition of outstanding research and teaching accomplishments. In 2012, he was awarded a New Zealand Government International Fellowship to present a series of workshops and lectures on forensic drug science.

John Rimoldi, professor of medicinal chemistry and environmental toxicology at the UM School of Pharmacy, served on the award’s selection committee and knew Clark was a perfect fit for the accolade.

“Dr. Clark is most deserving of this award,” Rimoldi said. “He has built a distinguished career at Auburn University and is a leading authority in forensic drug chemistry and analysis. 

“His commitment to student mentoring and graduate education in medicinal chemistry is remarkable and inspiring.”

The award’s namesake, Joseph Sam, was an influential part in educating future scientists in the field of drug development and discovery. He served as one of the first chairs of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, as well as dean of the university’s Graduate School and vice chancellor of research. In honor of his spirit and inspiration, the Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus Award was created in 2009.

“Dr. Sam was a constant figure in the labs and other pharmacy facilities,” Clark said. “He took a personal interest in all the graduate students in the program and provided encouragement to everyone. He and the members of the pharmacy family at Ole Miss made my four years in graduate school a most enjoyable experience.”

Alumna Credits Ole Miss with Helping Her Win Miss Tennessee

Christine Williamson to compete in Miss America pageant next month

Christine Williamson

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi alumna Christine Williamson has spent countless hours with children of the Children’s Miracle Network. Christine’s passion for helping others is a big part of why she won Miss Tennessee, said her sister, Christal Williamson.

“She really cares about the children there,” said Christal, a 20-year-old junior at the University of Tennessee.

She touched the heart and changed the life of one child so much that when the child passed away, the parents asked Christine to sing at the funeral.

“It was really hard for her to keep it together,” Christal said.

Christine Williamson, 22, grew up in Memphis. After high school, she attended UM as a broadcast journalism major. While at Ole Miss, she was a news anchor for NewsWatch and a member of Phi Mu sorority.

After graduating in 2017, she enrolled at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to pursue a master’s degree in business with a certification in data analytics, which she has put on hiatus for now.

She began competing for Miss Tennessee just five years ago. The first year, she was Miss Memphis and didn’t make the top 15. Then she was named Miss Smoky Mountains the next year and jumped all the way to earning second runner-up.

Her third year, she fell back slightly as Miss Mountain Empire by getting third runner-up. Last year, she was able to get first runner-up as Miss Scenic City. Finally, she won the title this year as Miss Chattanooga.

“It was five years of determination and hard work,” Christine said. “Lots of hurt and disappointment, but there were a lot of reflection and understanding that it’s not about instant gratification. It’s about what you learn on the way to achieving your goal.”

As Miss Chattanooga, Christine served as a Tennessee congressional advocate and national ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Association, raising more than $25,000 for the association. She is also a Tennessee State Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Her experiences at Ole Miss have stayed with her along the way, giving her skills that helped her become Miss Tennessee.

“I’m glad that my undergraduate degree at Ole Miss gave me the on-camera skills for my job as Miss Tennessee,” Christine said. “Going forward, I know how to use those media skills and know how to best promote the issues that I care about.”

Additionally, the close friends she made during her time at UM continue to provide encouragement and support.

“I was really shocked at when I worked at NewsWatch at how much it became like an entire second family and how supportive they’ve been through all of it,” she said.

Her Phi Mu sisters have provided an enormous extended family as well.

Most of all, Christine said, her family has supported her on this journey, and they were able to celebrate when she finally won the Miss Tennessee crown.

“My mom has been my biggest cheerleader and friend through the process, and Christal, my little sister, definitely has been, too,” she said. “My sister was squalling her eyes out … so it showed me how much it meant to her.”

“I was really excited, but mostly excited for her to see her fulfill this goal,” said her mom, Carol.

“I love cheering her on,” Christal said.

Her family continues to provide love, support and encouragement as she prepares for the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. They understand all the hard work and effort she has put into the contest, such as going to the gym, practicing speeches and more, because they competed in a few pageants as well.

Christal won Miss Banana Pudding Outstanding Teen in Dickson, Tennessee, Miss Collierville Outstanding Teen and Miss Delta Fair. One year, their mom even competed for Miss Tennessee.

“A lot of people don’t realize how much work it is,” Christal said. “They think you just put on a pretty dress. It’s a lot of work behind the scenes.

I think she has a great shot. She has so much experience over the last five years. I think she’d be phenomenal for the job.”

“We believe she has a really good chance at reaching that goal as well,” her mom said.

Christine said if she was to be named Miss America, her focus would remain on a few key topics: to spread awareness of Alzheimer’s and the Children’s Miracle Network, in addition to character education.

The children and their families at the CMN hospitals have shaped her life, she said.

“I want to really focus on them and give them my everything,” she said. “They’re so strong, brave and courageous, and the families have really changed my life. I’m really excited to spend more time with them hands-on.”

The Miss America pageant is set for Sept. 5-9 in Atlantic City. The final night of the competition will be televised at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Besides Williamson, Asya Branch, a rising junior majoring in integrated marketing communications at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at UM, was crowned Miss Mississippi and also will compete for the Miss America title.

Four UM Students Accepted into Rural Physician Scholarship Program

Scholars agree to serve in small Mississippi communities after graduation

University of Mississippi students (from left) Steven Smith, Katelynn McGowen, Conner Ball and Megan Buchanan have been selected to participate in the undergraduate portion of the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program. Submitted photo

JACKSON, Miss. – University of Mississippi seniors Conner Ball, Megan Buchanan and Steven Smith, and junior Katelynn McGowen, have been selected to participate in the undergraduate portion of the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program.

Ball is the son of Janyce and Scott Ball, of Madison. Buchanan is the daughter of Terri Buchanan, of Collinsville. Smith is the son of Brian and Denise Smith, of Terry. McGowen is the daughter of Hugh and Robin McGowen, of Moselle.

Created in 2007, Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program identifies college sophomores and juniors who demonstrate the necessary commitment and academic achievement to become rural primary care physicians in the state. The program offers undergraduate academic enrichment and a clinical experience in a rural setting.

Upon completion of all medical school admissions requirements, the student can be admitted to the UM School of Medicine or William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

During medical school, each Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program scholar is under consideration for $30,000 per year, based on available funding. Consistent legislative support of the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program translates to 60 medical students receiving $1.8 million to support their education this fall.

Additional benefits include personalized mentoring from practicing rural physicians and academic support. 

Upon completion of medical training, the scholars must enter a residency program in one of five primary care specialties: family medicine, general internal medicine, medicine-pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology or pediatrics. The program scholar must provide four years of service in a clinic-based practice in an approved Mississippi community of 15,000 or fewer population located more than 20 miles from a medically served area.

The Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program provides a means for rural Mississippi students to earn a seat in medical school, receive Medical College Admission Test preparation, earn a $120,000 medical school scholarship in return for four years of service and learn the art of healing from practicing rural physicians.

For more information, contact Dan Coleman, MRPSP associate director, at 601-815-9022, jdcoleman@umc.edu or http://mrpsp.umc.edu.

Coker Accepted into Rural Dental Scholarship Program

UM student selected for prestigious academic opportunity

Kaitlin Coker

JACKSON, Miss – Kaitlin Coker, a recent graduate of Northwest Mississippi Community College and a junior at the University of Mississippi, has been selected to participate in the undergraduate portion of the Mississippi Rural Dentists Scholarship Program.

She is the daughter of Tray and Stephanie Coker, of Charleston.

Created in 2013 by the Mississippi Legislature, the Mississippi Rural Dentists Scholarship Program identifies up to seven college sophomores and juniors who demonstrate the necessary commitment and academic achievement to become rural pediatric or general dentists in the state. The program offers two years of undergraduate academic enrichment, including Dental Admission Test preparation and clinical experience in a rural setting.

Upon completion of all dental admissions requirements, the student can be admitted to the UM School of Dentistry.

During dental school, each MRDSP scholar may receive $35,000 per year, based on available funding. The program will award nine scholarships in 2018-19, totaling $315,000. With continued legislative support, administrators hope to grow the program to 12 scholarship totaling $420,000 by 2019.

Additional benefits include personalized mentoring from practicing rural dentists and academic support. 

After completing dental school, the scholars must practice general or pediatric dentistry in a rural, medically underserved community. The program scholar must provide dental services in a full-time clinical practice in an approved Mississippi community of 10,000 or fewer population located more than 20 miles from a medically served area.

The program provides a means for rural Mississippi students to receive Dental Admission Test preparation, benefit from mentoring, learn the art of oral health care from practicing rural dentists and earn a $140,000 dental school scholarship in return for four years of service.

For more information, contact Dan Coleman, MRDSP associate director, at 601-815-9022 or  jdcoleman@umc.edu, or go to http://www.umc.edu/mrdsp.

Three Graduates Receive Rural Physician Scholarships

Funding supports medical training at UM School of Medicine

Three recent graduates of the University of Mississippi (from left), Cal Wilkerson, Alison Redding and Kaleb Barnes, have been awarded Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarships. Submitted photo

JACKSON, Miss. – Three recent graduates of the University of Mississippi have been awarded Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarships valued at $30,000 per year for their medical training at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in Jackson.

Cal Wilkerson, Alison Redding and Kaleb Barnes were honored at the annual ceremony for the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program.

Wilkerson is the son of Mr. and Mrs. David Wilkerson, of Woodville. Redding is the daughter of James and Carolyn Cegielski, of Laurel. Barnes is the son of Rodney and Melissa Barnes, of Booneville.

Created in 2007, the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program is designed to provide more primary care physicians in rural areas of Mississippi. During medical school, each scholar receives $30,000 per year, based on available funding. Consistent legislative support of the scholarship program translates to 60 medical students receiving $1.8 million to support their education this fall.

“The Mississippi Legislature celebrates with these Mississippians from across the state in their commitment to improving health care for rural Mississippians by becoming rural primary care physicians,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Buck Clarke said.

Besides the legislative support, three privately funded scholarships were also awarded this year.

Other benefits include personalized mentoring from practicing rural physicians and academic support. 

Upon completion of medical training, the scholars must enter a residency program in one of five primary care specialties: family medicine, general internal medicine, medicine-pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology or pediatrics. The scholar must provide four years of service in a clinic-based practice in an approved Mississippi community of 20,000 or fewer population located more than 20 miles from a medically served area.

The Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program provides a means for rural Mississippi students to earn a seat in medical school and to earn a $120,000 medical school scholarship in return for four years of service and learn the art of healing from practicing rural physicians.

For more information, contact Dan Coleman, MRPSP associate director, at 601-815-9022, jdcoleman@umc.du or http://mrpsp.umc.edu.

UM Student Earns Summer Internship at Library of Congress

Brandon native among 40 selected for distinguished program

Daniel Baxter

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi senior has a prestigious internship this summer as a junior fellow at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Accountancy major Daniel Baxter, of Brandon, was among 40 people chosen as junior fellows out of more than 700 applicants.

“It’s a very honoring and rewarding experience being chosen to be in this very important internship,” Baxter said. “I’m excited to be one of the interns able to represent the state of Mississippi and very excited to represent Ole Miss here at the Library of Congress.”

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States and extensive materials from around the world on-site and online. Its Junior Fellows Program allows interns to witness the extensive work done at the library.

The program, which runs from May 29 to Aug. 3, gives the students projects across the library’s divisions.

“The junior fellows help bring the Library of Congress’ unparalleled collections and resources to light through projects focused on expanded access,” said Eric Eldritch, program coordinator. “At the same time, they gain exposure to a broad spectrum of library work – preservation, digital initiatives, educational outreach, information management – under the mentorship of expert curators and specialists.”

Baxter is working on projects for the National Book Festival. Some of his job assignments include documenting the history of the festival, producing a video on the importance of the National Book Festival to help promote it and assisting during the festival’s event planning process.

For more information on the Junior Fellows Summer Internship Program at the Library of Congress, call 202-707-0698 or visit https://www.loc.gov/item/internships/junior-fellows-program/.

Ford Season Features National Tours and Performances for All Ages

Tickets available for public Aug. 1, Friends members can purchase this week

The Broadway national tour of the Tony and Grammy Award-winning true-life musical phenomenon ‘Jersey Boys’ comes to the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 9. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Two Broadway national tours of classic musicals, “The Wizard of Oz” and “Jersey Boys,” will make stops at the University of Mississippi as part of the 2018-19 season at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Other shows coming to the Ford Center this season include “In the Mood,” a big band USO show with live musicians, singers and dancers; an acrobatic comedy set in the American West of the 1800s; a production of the “Nutcracker” by the Moscow Ballet; a musical based on the Junie B. Jones children’s book series; the comic Gilbert and Sullivan opera “H.M.S. Pinafore” and much more.

“We present another wonderful season in 2018-19 to celebrate the arts,” said Julia Aubrey, Ford Center director. “A diverse and interesting group of shows is scheduled, and you won’t want to miss a single one.”

While tickets to the general public go on sale Aug. 1, those who are members of the Friends of the Ford Center or who become members before the end of July can purchase tickets early. Through July 31, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, Ford Center representatives will be available to advise and assist those who want to purchase tickets before they are available to the public.

The season begins next month when Emmy Award-winning actor Gordon Clapp stars in the one-man show, “Robert Frost: This Verse Business.” Clapp, who played Detective Medavoy in the hit TV series “NYPD Blue,” will bring his acclaimed performance of one of America’s most celebrated poets to the Oxford community at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 30.

“We will offer our first friends reception in the Studio Theatre before this show,” Aubrey said.

The Robert Frost play is part of the 2018-19 Artist Series that will also include:

  • An Oct. 16 concert by the St. Lawrence String Quartet, described as “modern … dramatic … superb … wickedly attentive … with a hint of rock ‘n’ roll”
  • A Jan. 31 concert by ensemble 4.1, described as the only “piano windtet” in the world
  • A Feb. 12 concert of “We Shall Overcome – A Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.,” which features traditional and modern gospel, classical, jazz, Broadway and spirituals.

The Ford Center’s 2018-19 season begins Aug. 30 with ‘Robert Frost: This Verse Business,’ a one-man show featuring Emmy-winning actor Gordon Clapp, who brings the acclaimed poet to life. Submitted photo

This year’s Ford Series begins with the Oct. 21 performance of “The Wizard of Oz,” which promises to be a spectacular celebration of the classic 1939 MGM movie that the entire family can enjoy. “Jersey Boys,” the Tony- and Grammy-winning musical that tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, comes to Ole Miss on Nov. 9.

Just in time for the holidays, Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker” dances onto the Ford Center stage on Nov. 30. However, two months before the performance, the Moscow Ballet will host open auditions for student dancers ages 6 to 18 so some of the younger members of the community will be able to perform with the full Russian company. For information on the Sept. 11 auditions, join the email list at http://fordcenter.org/nutcracker-auditions/.

The final two shows in the Ford Series will be “In the Mood” and a production by Cirque Éloize. “In the Mood,” the 25th Silver Celebration Tour that celebrates the big band era with the 13-piece String of Pearls Big Band Orchestra and the “In the Mood” singers and dancers, will be here Feb. 16.

Cirque Éloize, one of the leaders in contemporary circus arts, will present “Saloon: A Musical Acrobatic Adventure.” This traveling company will close out the Ford Series on Feb. 26 with a show featuring a combination of infectious energy and acrobatic comedy that has been described as a music-packed theatrical thrill ride.

This year’s Jazz Series, sponsored by John and Marty Dunbar, kicks off Sept. 13 with The Hot Sardines, a New York-based ensemble that has been featured at the Newport and Montreal jazz festivals, as well as several sold-out New York City venues. The Warren Wolf Quartet, which has taken the jazz world by storm, follows on Nov. 13. This series concludes with a March 7 performance by Billy Hart & the Academy, featuring master jazz drummer Billy Hart.

Inspired by the words and actions of Martin Luther King Jr., producer and musical director Damien Sneed’s ‘We Shall Overcome’ showcases repertoire from across the African-American music traditions with interwoven spoken words from King’s recorded speeches. The production comes to town Feb. 12. Submitted photo

Other highlights of the 2018-19 season include a special return engagement on Sept. 20 of acclaimed ballet stars Alessandra Ferri and Herman Cornejo as they once again join Bruce Levingston, piano virtuoso and UM Chancellor’s Honors College Artist-in-Residence, for an unforgettable evening of dance and music.

“Junie B. Jones,” a delightful family-friendly production, comes to the Ford Center on March 30. This musical, centered on the popular children’s book character, contains funny songs that kids of all ages will enjoy.

The 2018-19 Ford Season goes out in lighthearted style on April 26-27 when UM Opera Theatre and Orchestra stage the much-loved comedic operetta “H.M.S. Pinafore.” This production is part of the Ford Center’s Campus Connection Series, sponsored by the Madison Charitable Fund through Joc and Leigh Anne Carpenter, and offers faculty and community members an opportunity to join UM students on stage and in the orchestra.

For more information about the performances, visit http://fordcenter.org/.

UM Team Places Third in Pharmacy Quality Alliance Challenge

Students devised business proposal to reduce opioid abuse

Siddhi Korgaonkar

OXFORD, Miss. – A team from the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy placed third out of 22 teams in the Pharmacy Quality Alliance’s Healthcare Quality Innovation Challenge last month in Baltimore.

The four-student group consisted of third-year student pharmacists Mariah Cole, of Meridian; and Anna Crider, of Brentwood, Tennessee; as well as pharmacy administration graduate students Sushmitha Inguva, of Hyderabad, India; and Siddhi Korgaonkar, of Mumbai, India.

“I was very proud of our group and thought they did a superb job of presenting their proposal and answering questions from the judges,” said Ben Banahan, director of the Center for Pharmaceutical Marketing and Management and professor of pharmacy administration. “Though we might be slightly biased, the UM faculty in attendance truly thought our team would get first place.

“They provided a great practical approach for improving access without developing a costly competitive system that was based on electronic health record systems.”

The team was tasked with submitting a business summary around the prompt “Addressing Potentially Unsafe Opioid Use.” The students’ goal was to develop a plan that alleviated the time-consuming effort for health care professionals to manually track and monitor a patient’s history of prescription opioid use.

Anna Crider

The result was “Interactive Coordination in Healthcare Promoting Safe and Effective Prescription Drug Use” or “iCHOOSE Rx.” The proposed computer/phone application would give providers an easier and more useful method to understand a patient’s history and manage their pain effectively.

“Addiction is a serious issue in the United States, which is costly to our health system,” Cole said. “As a future pharmacist, I feel compelled to monitor for potential medication abuse.

Mariah Cole

“In addition, pharmacists play a great role in dealing with the current opioid crisis, so I was intrigued to improve prescription monitoring for all health care professionals.”

With their proposal submitted, the team prepared a presentation for judges at the PQA annual convention. Inguva said the team felt comfortable onstage.

“We were nervous about answering the judges’ questions since we did not know what to expect,” she said. “In order to prepare for it, the team conducted mock sessions where members would speculate potential questions, and then everyone would discuss how to tackle them.”

Sushmitha Inguva

The team originated from collaboration between the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy and International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research student chapters. The challenge provided an opportunity to learn from each other and spread awareness about each professional organization.

“Working with a team this size was a wonderful learning experience,” Crider said. “Being from different educational backgrounds, we each brought an aspect of creativity and knowledge to the proposal to make it thorough and applicable in the real world.

“This experience taught me how critical it is for each person working in a group to have different interests and education because it helps broaden the scope of conversation and interaction.”

Ten UM Freshmen Receive Omicron Delta Kappa Awards

Honor society recognizes outstanding young leaders and community servants

This year’s recipients of the Omicron Delta Kappa Freshman Leader Awards are (back row, from left) Kneeland Gammill, of Memphis; Nicholas Crasta, of Vicksburg; Abby Johnston and Harrison McKinnis, both of Madison; (front row, from left) Bridget McMillan, of Long Beach; Asia Harden, of Greenville; Margaret Baldwin, of Birmingham, Alabama; Swetha Manivannan, of Collierville, Tennessee; and Ariel Williams, of Waynesboro. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Ten University of Mississippi freshmen have been named recipients of Omicron Delta Kappa’s Freshman Leadership Awards.

The annual ODK Freshman Leadership Awards, which identify outstanding freshman leaders and community servants, were presented at the organization’s annual induction ceremony in April. Previous recipients have gone on to serve in roles such as Associated Student Body president and Student Activities Association director, and to be inducted into the university’s student Hall of Fame.

This year’s recipients of the ODK Freshman Leadership Awards are: Margaret Baldwin, of Birmingham, Alabama; Nicholas Crasta, of Vicksburg; Jacob Fanning, of Philadelphia; Kneeland Gammill, of Memphis; Asia Harden, of Greenville; Abby Johnston, of Madison; Swetha Manivannan, of Collierville, Tennessee; Harrison McKinnis, of Madison; Bridget McMillan, of Long Beach; and Ariel Williams, of Waynesboro.

“We created this award in 2010 to recognize the future leaders on our campus and to encourage their continued engagement in campus and community activities,” said Ryan Upshaw, ODK adviser and assistant dean for student services in the School of Engineering. “Each year, the selection process becomes more difficult as the university attracts student leaders from all over the country.

“Our society is excited to be able to recognize their outstanding contributions during their first year on campus. We also look forward to their potential membership in our society later in their college career.”

McKinnis, a chemical engineering major and graduate of Madison Central High School, said he is honored to be a recipient of the award.

“I was very excited when I found out I would receive this award,” McKinnis said. “To be recognized alongside such talented student leaders is truly an honor. I hope more than anything that my actions here on campus will make the lives of students more enjoyable and that they will see Ole Miss with the same love that I do.”

Baldwin, a chemistry major, is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, where she received the Parker Memorial Scholarship. As an incoming freshman, she attended the MPOWER Leadership Conference, and she is a member of the Student Activities Association, Ole Miss Running Club and the Baptist Student Union.

Crasta, a Provost Scholar, is studying biology and political science. He attended the MPOWER Leadership Conference and served as a legislative aide for the Associated Student Body Senate. He is a member of Men of Excellence, the Black Student Union and Lambda Sigma. He is serving as an orientation leader this summer.

A biology and political science major, Fanning is a Provost Scholar and member of the Chancellor’s Leadership Class. He serves on the Ole Miss Mock Trial Team and is a member of ASB Freshman Forum. He is serving as an orientation leader this summer.

Gammill, a business and public policy leadership major, is a Provost Scholar and member of the Center for Manufacturing Excellence and the Lott Leadership Institute. He is a member of ASB Freshman Forum, the Ole Miss Cycling Team, Alpha Lambda Delta and Lambda Sigma.

Harden is a member of the Honors College and is studying integrated marketing communication. She attended the MPOWER Leadership Conference and is a member of ASB Freshman Council. She was a team leader for the Big Event and is a staff writer for the Ole Miss yearbook and a member of the Chancellor’s Leadership Class and Lambda Sigma.

A member of the Honors College, Johnston is studying public policy leadership as part of the Lott Leadership Institute and the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program. She is an ASB senator and an ambassador for the Lott Institute. She also serves as a pre-college programs counselor for the Office of Outreach and a member of the Chancellor’s Leadership Class.

Manivannan is an international studies and Spanish major as part of the Honors College and Croft Institute. She serves as secretary of the Residential College Cabinet and the UM Collegiate DECA chapter. She is also a member of the Model United Nations team, the Indian Students Association and the ASB Freshman Council.

McKinnis is a member of the Honors College and the recipient of the Stamps Foundation Scholarship. He attended the MPOWER Leadership conference and is a member of the ASB Freshman Council, Lambda Sigma and the Chancellor’s Leadership Class. He is serving as an orientation leader this summer.

An accounting major, McMillan is a member of the Honors College and the Center for Manufacturing Excellence, where she serves on the Student Advisory Board. She attended the MPOWER Leadership Conference and serves on the ASB Freshman Council.

Williams is pursuing a degree in biomedical engineering as part of the Honors College. She is a member of ASB Freshman Council and Alpha Epsilon Delta, and participated in RebelTHON and the Big Event. She is serving as an orientation leader this summer.

Omicron Delta Kappa is a 104-year-old leadership honor society that has initiated more than 300,000 members since its founding. The society has more than 285 active chapters at colleges and universities across the United States.

‘It Starts with (Me)ek’ Team Wins Silver Anvil

Award is considered to be the Oscar of the PR industry

Actress and ‘CBS Sunday Morning’ contributor Nancy Giles presents a Silver Anvil award to UM senior lecturer Robin Street at a ceremony in New York. Accompanying Street at the ceremony are three of the 30 graduates who worked on the campaign. Pictured (from left) are Grace Miller, Giles, Street, Bianca Abney and Brittanee Wallace. Photo by Stan O’Dell

OXFORD, Miss. – An instructor in the University of Mississippi Meek School of Journalism and New Media and her 30-student team have won a Silver Anvil, the most prestigious U.S. award in public relations, for “It Starts with (Me)ek, a public relations campaign they created asking students to “just pause” before stereotyping others.

The award, given by the Public Relations Society of America, is considered to be the “Oscar” of the public relations industry.

Actress and “CBS Sunday Morning” show contributor Nancy Giles, perhaps best known for her role on the TV show “China Beach,” served as emcee for the event in New York and presented the award to senior lecturer Robin Street, campaign chair.

Three of the 30 students who served on the It Starts with (Me)ek committee joined Street at the ceremony. The journalism school graduates attending the event in New York were Brittanee Wallace, an integrated marketing communications major from Gulfport, Bianca Abney, an integrated marketing communications major from Moss Point, and Grace Miller, a broadcast journalism major with a specialization in public relations from Gainesville, Georgia.

The weeklong “It Starts with (Me)ek” campaign consisted of 50 events, speakers and activities, all based on the message to “just pause” before judging people based solely on one factor, such as their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, mental illness or other factor.

While those judging the entries in this category remained anonymous, one of the judges said the “It Starts with (Me)ek” campaign was a “very brilliantly executed and impactful campaign. Well done!”

Street said winning the Silver Anvil and attending the ceremony with three of the students who worked on the campaign was “so exciting.”

UM senior lecturer Robin Street, chair of the ‘It Starts with (Me)ek’ campaign, accepts the award at a ceremony in New York. Accompanying Street at the ceremony are three of the 30 graduates who worked on the campaign. Pictured (from left) are Brittanee Wallace, Street, Bianca Abney and Grace Miller. Photo by Stan O’Dell

“We were surrounded there by some of the biggest names in public relations and corporations in the country,” Street said. “The fact that a student team won competing with those professionals is truly a testament to the education our students received from all their Meek School instructors.

“It is also especially meaningful because it was for a public relations campaign with a very simple message: Just pause before stereotyping others based only on their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or other factor.

“We hoped that the campaign would encourage our students to treat others with understanding, dignity, respect and inclusion, and based on our follow-up surveys and focus groups, we believe we succeeded.”

Like the Oscars, Silver Anvils are given in multiple categories. “It Starts with (Me)ek” won in the internal communications category for government or nonprofit organizations. Only one Silver Anvil is awarded in each category, while other entries may be given an Award of Excellence.

The campaign previously won awards from both the Public Relations Association of Mississippi and the Southern Public Relations Federation.

A previous campaign Street did with 15 Ole Miss students won a Silver Anvil Award of Excellence in 2009.