UM-Tupelo Students Hit Top 10 in Bloomberg Stock Trading Challenge

Class project yields solid investing experience for group

Finance students at the UM-Tupelo campus placed in the top 10 among 265 teams from colleges around the country in the Bloomberg Business Stock Trading Challenge. The winning team includes (from left) Daniel Patterson, Zack Marcinek, faculty adviser Ivonne Liebenberg, Candy McDonald and Heather Couture. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – Managerial finance students at the University of Mississippi at Tupelo regional campus have been busy this spring managing a $10 million investment for the Bloomberg Business Corp.

Although the money existed only in theory, the students who participated in the 2017 Bloomberg Trading Challenge gained a real-world knowledge of financial trading principles that helped them bridge classroom theory with actual stock marketing trading.

“I had never participated in anything like this before,” said Zack Marcinek, a senior at UM-Tupelo from Corinth. “I enjoyed it so much that I’ve switched my career goals a bit from wanting to be a financial adviser specifically for individuals to now being more interested in becoming a corporate financial analyst for a larger corporation.”

Ivonne Liebenberg, UM instructional assistant professor of finance, said that when Bloomberg representatives reached out to her in fall 2016 about participating in their new collegiate stock market competition, she jumped at the opportunity for her students to garner investing experience.

“I knew this would be an exciting, interactive way for students to apply what they were learning in class,” she said. “They had the opportunity to learn more about how the stock market works, handling orders, learning about transaction costs and analyzing the outcomes.”

The Tupelo students named their trading team “I. Liebenberg & Co.” in honor of their instructor. Team members included Heather Couture of Mooreville, Zack Marcinek of Corinth, Candy McDonald of Guntown, Daniel Patterson of Pontotoc and Katie Watson of Shannon.

“We started out letting the students pitch their stock ideas,” Liebenberg said. “They had to give me a good reason to add their stock pick to the portfolio. Once we made our decisions, the students began analyzing and following their investments.”

To diversify their portfolio, each student focused on different stock areas to create a balanced investment. Marcinek said he focused on technology stocks and ultimately recommended Netflix and Adobe Connect.

“Both companies are tried-and-true,” Marcinek said. “Most of my friends use Netflix. It seems to be cannibalizing regular television.

“The university uses Adobe Connect in several of my classes. I think it’s only going to progress.”

Both his stock picks recorded gains during the competition.

The trading challenge introduced students to Bloomberg’s Stock Terminal, which is used to define market assumptions, develop a return-generating strategy and execute trades over a closed network.

“It was interesting seeing all of the tools that were part of the trading terminal and how they helped you assess your trades,” Marcinek said. “It wasn’t too complicated and coached us through.”

The competition continued for eight weeks, with students having opportunities to buy and sell stocks throughout that timeframe. The teams that generated the highest return and presented the best investment methodology at the end of the challenge were named among the top 10 finalists.

“We decided to go invest Warren Buffett-style, that is, to buy and hold,” Marcinek said. “We thought by diversifying well and staying patient, our strategy would pay off.”

The students had to keep a close eye on their stocks, but Liebenberg said she felt that trading too much might not garner the greatest return in the competition’s short eight-week timeframe.

In mid-April, Bloomberg representatives informed Liebenberg that the team was came in ninth among the 265 competing teams from 81 colleges around the country.

“I’m very proud of the students’ work, especially since this was their first time competing,” Liebenberg said. “I think they learned a great deal and came up with solid strategies to guide their trading.”

Street Awarded UM Online Teaching Award

Journalism instructor honored for innovation in online instruction

The Ole Miss Online office recently announced that Robin Street, center, is this year’s winner of the annual Paragon Award for Excellence in Distance Learning. Blair McElroy, left, UM director of study abroad and adjunct instructor in the legal studies department, and Jason Solinger, associate professor of English, were named as runners-up. UM photo by Pam Starling

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – Adjusting to the ever-changing world of public relations has been a constant in Robin Street’s career. Although she has taught at the University of Mississippi for more than 25 years, the courses she teaches and her teaching style are parts of that continual evolution.

Her efforts were recognized this month when she was awarded the eighth annual UM Paragon Award for Excellence in Distance Teaching.

“In some classes, such as history or math, the materials taught pretty much remain the same each semester,” Street said. “But this class looks at current public relations cases and situations. You never know when a situation will occur that creates a public relations nightmare for an organization.”

Last year, Street, a senior lecturer in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, worked to translate her Journalism 492: Public Relations Case Problems course into an online format. She credits her success in creating this course to looking at online course creation in a different way.

“I once attended a workshop on good writing called ‘Think Like a Fish,'” Street said. “The speaker, a renowned writing coach, explained the title. Her father was an excellent fisherman. When asked what his secret was, he replied, ‘I think like a fish.’

“In designing the online JOUR 492 class, I decided to think like a student. Today’s students have short attention spans and are very visual. They do not read lengthy documents, but prefer to skim instead. I thought about what would attract their attention in the class and filled the online class with folders, icons, charts, to-do lists and other visual reminders of what to do next.”

Each year, the UM Office of Online Design and eLearning recognizes a UM faculty member who has excelled in online teaching through the annual Paragon Award. The nominee must exhibit good practice in course design and innovative use of technologies. Nominees’ efforts are acknowledged for engaging students as well as their commitment to providing students with a quality education.

“While I expect that there will always be a need for an on-campus educational experience, the digital-immersive, online learning environment is growing and evolving,” said Noel Wilkin, UM acting provost, during the Paragon Award presentation April 7 in the Lyceum.

“In that realm, design and innovation enhance the educational experience. It is inspiring to see our faculty members dedicate considerable effort to innovate on this evolving platform.”

When asked about developing a successful online class, Street said that organization is key.

“The layout of the class was easy to follow and keep up with,” said Kailee Wilson, a December graduate from Allen, Texas. “The lesson folders were so convenient.

“We had everything for that week laid out so there was no reason or excuse for not knowing what to do. I especially loved the to-do lists that were posted each week.”

Street created a private Facebook page account where students were required to take part in weekly discussions about the class topics.

“I chose to use Facebook because the students were already comfortable with this medium,” Street said. “They were able to see photos and learn about each other from the very first post where they introduced themselves.

“They also responded and reacted to each other’s posts. Student comments about that experience were very positive.”

YouTube and other popular social sites also were used to give students a greater grasp on current PR situations and campaigns to discuss what strategies might be best for a PR professional in certain situations.

“Students are not just reading a text and listening to a lecture, but observing public relations at work,” Street said. “They can watch PR events take place in real time while visiting the sites of the organization being studied.

“Students are asked to watch videos to learn not just theory from the text, but realities of public relations practice and careers today.”

Sydney Rubin, a senior marketing and corporate relations major from Raleigh, North Carolina, said her favorite part of the class was creating PR plans.

“I am currently applying for jobs in public relations and companies are asking me for writing samples, “Rubin said. “Now, I have lengthy campaigns that I was able to create on my own and get feedback on as a part of this class. I now feel more confident applying for these jobs and submitting my work.”

By using multiple forms of media in the course, Street maximized student engagement and maintained their interests, said Wan Latartara, instructional designer and training specialist.

“Her course design did more than meet the eye,” Latartara said. “She strategically placed elements so to catch students’ attention and guide them through the course right from the beginning.

“By thinking like a student, Robin made a commitment to meet students where they are.”

This year’s runner-up category for the Paragon Award featured two online courses taught by Blair McElroy, UM director of Study Abroad and adjunct instructor in the UM legal studies department, and Jason Solinger, associate professor of English.

UM Summer Camps Help Students Explore Conservation and Ecology

Leadership program, day camps offer variety of experiences combined with fun activities

Second- through 12th-grade students are invited to learn more about environmental conservation and local ecology during special camps taking place at the UM Field Station this summer. The Ecology Day Camps run weekly from June 5 to July 14, and the Environmental Conservation Leadership Program is scheduled for June 4-9. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss.­­ ­– Students in second through 12th grades can participate in special camps this summer that focus on environmental conservation and exploration, offered by the University of Mississippi Field Station and the UM Office of Pre-College Programs.

Rising 11th- through 12th-grade students have an opportunity to explore environmental challenges facing Mississippi and the world as part of the Environmental Conservation Leadership Program scheduled for June 4-9.

Field Station Director Scott Knight says that he hopes this program can help students connect with nature and gain a better understanding of how our intertwined ecosystem functions.

“The camp provides a hands-on learning experience that teaches students more about how the planet works, how it heals, how it sustains all life and how we can live in balance with it,” Knight said. “If nothing else, I hope the participants will learn that their food doesn’t come from a grocery store but (from) a viable, living ecosystem.”

Participants will work with UM professors conducting research on issues associated with conservation, pollution control, water quality, ecosystem services and environmental stewardship.

The cost for residential students who would like to stay on campus during the camp is $500. The cost for commuter students is $350. Varying scholarships funds are available for participants, including Toyota Wellspring full funding for students who attend a public high school in Lee, Pontotoc or Union counties.

Younger campers can explore aspects of biology and environmental science during the 2017 Ecology Day Camps, also held at the UM Field Station. Students will participate in activities to identify species, learn about water quality, build bird nests, catch dragonflies and much more.

“I believe that one reason Ecology Day Camp is so popular is because of our great teachers and counselors,” Knight said. “And while they are teaching great lessons, our leaders never forget that it is summer and summer is a time for fun.”

Rising second- through fourth-graders can attend either June 5-9 or June 12-16. Rising fifth- and sixth-grade students will be attending June 19-23 and June 26-30. A special camp for older students, rising seventh- and eighth-graders, is set for July 10-14.

The camp runs 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily and the cost is $175. Scholarship funds are available for children of UM faculty and staff.

Faculty member Melissa Dennis enrolled her son in Ecology Day Camp last summer for the first time.

“My son really enjoyed being outside and participating in activities with friends at the camp,” Dennis said. “I think one of his favorite activities was the parent-student cookout. I know I enjoyed it.”

For more information on these and other UM academic summer camp opportunities, visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/pre_college.

Toyota Wellspring Scholarships Available for UM Summer Camp Programs

Middle and high school students in Lee, Pontotoc and Union counties encouraged to apply

Several UM summer camps for middle and high school students, including ones focusing on engineering and STEM fields, have been chosen for the 2017 Toyota Wellspring Education Scholarship fund. The scholarships will pay full costs for select academic summer camps on the Oxford campus for students who attend public schools in Lee, Pontotoc and Union counties. UM photo by Bobby Steele

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – Sixth- through 12th-grade students who attend public schools in Lee, Pontotoc and Union counties can take advantage of special scholarships that will pay all costs associated with attending select University of Mississippi summer camps this year.

“We are so happy to see local students receive scholarships that will help them expand their knowledge and future opportunities during these various summer camps,” said Ellen Shelton, UM director of pre-college programs.

Numerous weeklong camps offered on the Oxford campus by the Office of Pre-College Program have been approved for 2017 funding by the Toyota Wellspring Education Scholarship Committee at the Northeast Mississippi CREATE Foundation.

“The Toyota Wellspring Committee believes that summer camps can provide important enhancement in the educational process,” CREATE President Mike Clayborne said.

Interested students can use the funding to attend one-week overnight camps on the Ole Miss campus. Some programs have an application fee of $25.

The scholarship will provide full funding for students interested in attending the university’s Engineering Camp, STEM Camp for Girls, “Summer Days of Intrigue” Intelligence Studies Camp, Environmental Leadership Camp, CSI Camp, “Code Monkeys” Camp, Rebel Chefs Cooking Camp and Theatre Camp.

Students also can receive the scholarship if they choose to attend the UM Summer Academy ACT Prep, Debate or Introduction to Engineering sessions. Summer Academy is a two-week residential experience on campus.

These particular camps where chosen for scholarship funds because the special emphasis areas can help students master areas such as career exploration, science, creativity, presenting, time management, design and problem solving

“The Toyota Wellspring funding will allow students to learn more about an area that they might not have access to at their schools,” Shelton said. “These scholarships help cover costs for families and provide students with an academic experience on the University campus that is fun and enriching.”

Interested students can visit the pre-college programs summer camps website at http://www.olemiss.edu/precollege for camp dates and more information. Students are asked to complete a program scholarship application and indicate Toyota Wellspring Scholarship on that form.

Faculty, Students Prepare for Learning Adventures Across the Country

StudyUSA program participants take courses in a variety of cities this summer

University of Mississippi students joined biology professor Erik Hom and education professor Renee Cunningham for a StudyUSA Biology course taught in Hawaii over the 2017 Wintersession. The StudyUSA program has a full course schedule of travel learning experiences for UM students and faculty members coming up this summer. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss.­­ – This summer, University of Mississippi students will be eyewitnesses to the raising of Tappan Zee bridge in New York City, meeting with Pulitzer Prize-winning staff at The Washington Post and visiting Google’s headquarters in California.

These are just a few of the learning adventures that students have opportunities to experience when they enroll in a StudyUSA course during UM summer school sessions.

“My StudyUSA experience is hands-down one of the best things I have ever been a part of,” said Jontae Warren, a UM junior majoring in pharmacy. “I never would have thought I would get a chance to do scientific research in Hawaii with my professors.”

Warren, of Booneville, took part in Biology 380: Hawaiian STEAM: Microbes, Symbiosis and Culture in Honolulu during the recent Wintersession. Led by Erik Hom, UM assistant professor of biology, and Renee Cunningham, assistant professor of education, the class journeyed throughout the island of Oahu collecting and processing samples in hopes of finding new species and developments.

“It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do something like this,” Warren said.

Housed in the UM Division of Outreach and Continuing Studies, the StudyUSA program is designed to give faculty and students opportunities to learn about an academic subject firsthand outside the traditional classroom setting. These short-term domestic travel classes are typically offered during the university’s summer, winter and intersession terms. Ole Miss students can explore the United States while earning college course credit to use toward graduation requirements.

Several new classes are on the StudyUSA schedule for summer 2017. During May intersession, Chris Mullen, associate professor of civil engineering, will lead Engineering 497 to study bridge structures in New York City.

The class will meet on the Oxford campus May 17-19 and then travel to New York May 21-26. While there, students will meet with experts concerning the art and science of bridge design. They will also learn about construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of the Big Apple’s most famous bridges when they visit the Brooklyn Bridge, the George Washington Bridge and the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

The 2016 election cycle and inauguration of a new president provides plenty of material for Marvin King’s StudyUSA course POL 389: Political Media, taking place May 21-26 in Washington, D.C.

“I’m hoping this class will help students gain a better understanding of how politics and journalism intersect,” said King, associate professor of political science. “They will have the opportunity to meet with media who cover our government in real time.

“Students can gain a greater understanding of the pressure journalists and politicians are both under when dealing with the public.”

Jontae Warren (left), from Booneville, combed the island of Oahu, Hawaii, collecting and processing plant and animal samples during UM’s 2017 Wintersession as part of the StudyUSA program. Submitted photo

In June, Jennifer Sadler will lead the new course IMC 353: Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley. Students will learn about digital marketing tools and strategies while meeting with entrepreneurs and start-up business leaders to explore business development and digital marketing.

This program is for students majoring in integrated marketing communications, journalism or business, those minoring in entrepreneurship, and anyone interested in these fields.

“I hope this class will give students a broad worldview and help them to expand their network,” said Sadler, an instructor in integrated marketing communications. “We are planning visits to Google and Facebook headquarters and will be learning more about community action plans and partnerships.”

Also new this summer in the StudyUSA program lineup will be Writing 399: Travel Writing in Austin, Texas, set for Aug. 1-7. While visiting some of the city’s popular and off-the-beaten-path attractions, writing and rhetoric instructor Jeanine Rauch will teach students to apply a range of rhetorical methods for conveying their travels through the written word. Students will spend time gathering ideas, writing and recording their experiences.

A variety of courses for various majors and interests are being offered this summer. The full summer 2017 UM StudyUSA course listing can be found at http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/studyusa.

Scholarships are available. The application deadline for summer 2017 classes is April 6.

University to Host Open House for 2017 K-12 Summer Camp Options

Locals invited to stop by Feb. 7 for info about variety of academic summer programs available

RebelQuest participants watch as a counselor tests one of their Lego bridges by loading the structure with water bottles to determine how much weight it can bear. The Office of Pre-College Programs will host an open house 4-6 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Yerby Conference Center so parents can learn more about the more than 20 academic summer camp options available to K-12 students in a variety of subjects and formats. UM photo by Larry Agostinelli

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – Summer activities for school-age children are a hot topic this time of year as parents look to secure spots and decide on the best camp options for their children.

Local parents can get a head start on planning a fun academic experience for their children this summer when the University of Mississippi Office of Pre-College Programs hosts an open house Tuesday (Feb. 7) at the E.F. Yerby Auditorium.

The come-and-go event is set for 4 to 6 p.m. Camp directors and staff will be on hand to answer questions about the 20 different academic camps taking place at Ole Miss this summer for rising first- through 12th-grade students. Information will also be provided concerning costs, financial aid and payroll deduction options.

Anna Sayre, of Oxford, recently registered her 9-year-old daughter Nora for the university’s popular Rebel Quest weekly camps available for three age groups of elementary school children.

“I wanted my daughter to have a fun learning experience this summer,” Sayre said. “It is convenient for her to be on campus so close to my office, and the weekly camp options were reasonably priced. I think the variety and different subject matters will keep learning interesting for her over the summer.”

The camps provide opportunities for both academic and personal development for K-12 students.

The goal of these on-campus summer academic programs and camps is to bridge the gap between secondary and post-secondary education for area youth. Children have opportunities to develop skills and garner interest in a variety of academic areas.

“There can be this learning gap that takes place in the summer months,” said Matthew DeLoach, director of student services for UM Pre-College Programs. “That’s why these summer academic exploring opportunities are so important.”

CSI Summer Camp participants photograph and document a body in a staged crime scene as well at gathering data on other evidence at the University of Mississippi. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Along with Rebel Quest for younger ages, a variety of week and monthlong camps are offered for middle and high schoolers to sharpen their skills in a number of areas, including creative writing, ecology, engineering, math and theater.

Resume and transcript-building options also are available for high school students preparing for college.

The UM Summer College for High School Students provides an opportunity to enroll in six hours of college credit courses while developing friendships and independence. Session one is offered May 30-June 27, with session following on June 29-July 28.

As with all programs for middle and high school students offered by the Office of Pre-College programs, students have the option to stay on-campus or commute to campus during the sessions.

For more information about the variety of summer youth program opportunities, stop by on Feb. 7 or visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/summercamps.

UM Communiversity Classes Offer Variety of Enrichment Activities

Several new options this spring to include Latin dancing and sushi making

Dance instructor Arman Sahakyan will lead a four-week course in ‘Ballroom and Latin Dance with Arman’ at the Turner Center as part of the spring Communiversity lineup.

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – Trying something new this spring might be the spark that energizes you for the new year, and the University of Mississippi Communiversity program has a great lineup of classes ready to help you explore new subjects and hobbies.

A full slate of enrichment course opportunities are scheduled this spring to help participants learn more about technology, healthy living, baking, floral design, landscaping and more. The schedule even includes a free cooking class! The full spring class schedule can be found online at http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/funclassnews.

Last fall, Carol McGonagill gifted her sister Ginger Patterson, both of Oxford, with the Communiversity class “Intro to Essential Oils.” The two enjoyed learning about different plants and minerals beneficial to healing and good health.

“The class was awesome,” Patterson said. “I learned so many different ways to take care of my body without needing to turn to medication.”

Patterson is looking forward to learning more about this subject in the second part of the class, being offered this spring on the Ole Miss campus. The “Advanced Essential Oils-Lifestyle Change” class is offered from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, April 11, 18 and 25 in the E.F. Yerby Conference Center.

Participants get to try their hands at creating oil-based blends that are perfect for bath, body and home. They also will learn to safely replace household, personal care and wellness products with essential oils. Each person will leave with samples made in class. The cost is $85 plus a $9 materials fee.

The spring 2017 Communiversity schedule kicks off Feb. 1, with Jeff and Kathleen Taylor of Oxford’s Sweet T’s Bakery, who were contestants recently on Food Network’s “Cake Wars” program. Come find out all their secrets to decorating like the pros during the new “DIY: Make Award-Winning Cake Designs” from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Oxford-University Depot. The class cost is $75 plus a $9 materials fee.

Communiversity will host a free class Feb. 8 at the Institute for Child Nutrition on Hill Drive. From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., registered dietitian Mariana Jurss will teach participants to make “Delicious Soups to Warm Your Body and Soul,” including such favorites as potato corn chowder and catfish stew. Although there is no charge for this class, interested people are encouraged to register as soon as possible. Seats are limited. 

Gardeners will have several opportunities to plan for their spring gardens and learn floral design from area professionals during the popular lunch-and-learn classes that return this spring. Each class, offered from noon to 1 p.m. at the UM Depot, costs just $10.

The lunch-and learn-series kicks off with guided tips for “How to Create a Beautiful Hummingbird Garden” taught by Mitch Robinson from Strawberry Plains Audubon Center. Learn how to attract and support hummers and other pollinators with native plants and habitat enhancement on March 22.

The following week, Jordan Brown, of Oxford’s Discount Building Materials design center, will share tips on easy-to-do, affordable tablescapes and eye-catching centerpieces. Learn how to decorate your Easter table on March 29.

Proper techniques for pruning trees and shrubs will be taught during “Spring Pruning with Jeff McManus” on April 26. McManus will share tips from his book “Pruning Like a Pro” during the final lunch-and-learn of the season.

Oxford Floral’s Whitney Pullen will demonstrate how to pair different flowers to complement any theme during the hands-on course, “Making a Beautiful Spring Bouquet,” set for 5:30-7:30 p.m. May 4 at the Yerby Center. Participants will be inspired to pair different flower variations and design ideas for weddings and home decorating, and everyone will design their own arrangement to take home. The cost is $69 plus a $10 materials fee.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, couples might enjoy “Ballroom and Latin Dance with Arman.” Learn step-by-step instructions with expert dance instructor Arman Sahakyan. The class will be taught 6-8 p.m. Feb. 16 and 23 and March 2 and 9 at the Turner Center dance studio. The cost is $69.

Arman will host a free meet-and-greet to discuss his class from 6:45 to 7:45 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Turner Center. There is no charge for this introductory event, but registration is required, at http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/communiversity/classes_dance.html.

Many locals remember the popular Two Stick sushi restaurant on the Oxford Square. Sushi chef Jesse Mullin was trained by the owners of the former hot spot and will share tips on how to create your own Rebel Roll at home. Join him from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 10 at the Depot to learn to make the perfect sticky rice and sushi’s most popular sauces. The class fee is $39 plus $9 for ingredients.

Helping local first responders communicate effectively will be discussed in the new class, “Medical Spanish for Emergency Responders,” offered 6-7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 and March 3, 7 and 9 in Lamar Hall, Room 133.

The instructor starts with the basics of Spanish pronunciation and then moves on to simple words for everyday emergency situations. This class will provide basic knowledge needed when working with a Spanish-speaking patient. This class is perfect for first responders, EMTs, police officers and all medical personnel. The cost is $85.

A wide variety of classes are available for local professionals this spring, including “Marketing Your Business Using Social Media” offered from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 13, 20 and 27 in Weir Hall, Room 104. The cost is $69. Learn to set up social media sites for your business, generate targeted leads using Facebook ads and increase traffic to your website.

Find out more about these and the variety of other classes available this spring at http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/funclassnews or call 662-915-7158 to request the spring class brochure.

Grenada Hospital Employee Benefits from Scholarships at Regional Campus

Simpson family working toward college degrees with help from employee benefit

Sonia Thompson (seated) and daughter Jennifer, both of Grenada, are enrolled in college courses together this fall at the University of Mississippi at Grenada. The Thompsons are taking advantage of scholarships available to full-time employees and their children at the University of Mississippi Medical Center's Grenada hospital.

Sonia Thompson (seated) and daughter Jennifer, both of Grenada, are enrolled in college courses together this fall at the University of Mississippi at Grenada. The Thompsons are taking advantage of scholarships available to full-time employees and their children at the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Grenada hospital.

GRENADA, Miss. – Sonia Simpson never imagined that she would one day be sitting in a college classroom with her daughter, but this fall semester she is doing just that as she works to complete her junior year of courses at the University of Mississippi’s Grenada campus.

“This has been a personal goal of mine for a long time,” Simpson said. “And now I have the help I need to meet that goal.”

Simpson works as a clinical supervisor over ambulatory care at the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Grenada hospital. Previously, she worked for 20 years with Grenada Family Medicine before she joined those three providers who transferred to the hospital staff.

“My director encouraged me to take advantage of the employee scholarship that is available to hospital employees,” Simpson said. “I just go across the street after work and take my classes. It couldn’t be any more convenient.”

As a full-time employee of the Grenada hospital, Simpson soon learned that not only could she take advantage of scholarship benefits for herself, but she could also apply for a half-tuition scholarship for daughter Jennifer as well.

“The university strongly supports professional and personal development,” said Pam Johnson, UM assistant director of benefits and compensation. “As an institution of higher learning, we encourage continuing education to help create a stronger employee base.”

Simpson is a 1987 graduate of Grenada High School and received her associate’s degree in accountancy from the Holmes Community College Grenada campus. Her daughter graduated from Grenada High School in 2011 and also went on to take her freshman- and sophomore-level courses at Holmes-Grenada

Sonia and Jennifer both received the UM employee benefit scholarships and are enrolled this fall at the regional campus.

Full-time Grenada hospital employees who have worked for the institution for at least a year are eligible to apply for scholarship benefits for their single, dependent children under the age of 25 who are interested in completing their first bachelor’s degree with Ole Miss.

This scholarship covers 50 percent of tuition costs each semester.

“It’s great to be share this journey with my daughter,” Simpson said. “We are both taking the transfer student experience class this semester. It has really helped me get back into the expectations of college classes. It is really exciting to be learning together.”

Jessica Hughes, associate director of the Grenada campus and instructor of the transfer student experience course, said she enjoys having the Simpsons in her class, and that there is even a bit of friendly competition between mother and daughter.

“It’s funny how they get a little competitive when grades come out after a test,” Hughes said. “They are happy for each other, but they both want to get the top grade. They are engaged in class and encourage one another. It’s a great dynamic for the classroom.”

Sonia is taking upper-level courses to complete her bachelor’s degree in business. Jennifer is working on minors in education, history and psychology to earn her bachelor’s degree in general studies.

“I already see where my classes are helping me,” Simpson said. “Of course, my business courses are giving me new insight into the fundamentals of a successful business, but they are also helping me learn more about working with people and improving my writing skills.”

The Grenada campus offers most live classes in the afternoons and evenings as well as a selection of online course offerings.

Earning a degree at the campus is a family affair for the Simpsons. Sonia’s husband, Herman, who retired as Grenada’s fire chief in 2013, completed a degree there in 2015.

Upon retirement, he decided to enroll in classes and went on to complete his bachelor’s degree. He now works for the Social Security Administration office in Grenada.

Sonia said she isn’t sure whether she would be able to continue pursuing her education if not for the scholarships available to UMMC employees.

“It will be such an accomplishment for me to complete my bachelor’s degree,” Thompson said. “I’m excited to put this on my resume. I’m very happy to have this opportunity and have it work out so well for my family.”

For more information on the UM-Grenada campus and tuition scholarships available to full-time employees of UMMC’s Grenada hospital and their dependent children, contact Jessica Hughes at 662-227-2348 or visit http://www.olemiss.edu/grenada.

Give a Summer Youth Camp Experience for Christmas

New UM camps to include Code Monkey computer programming class, culinary arts courses

High school students start the final race with project cars they built during the UM Summer College for High School Students on the Oxford campus. The UM Pre-College Programs Department is offering certificates for parents, grandparents and relatives who want to the gift of a learning experience to a child or teen for summer 2017.

High school students start the final race with project cars they built during the UM Summer College for High School Students on the Oxford campus. The UM Pre-College Programs Department is offering certificates for parents, grandparents and relatives who want to the gift of a learning experience to a child or teen for summer 2017.

OXFORD, Miss. – Dreaming of warm days in the Grove is a great way to pass the cold winter months. The University of Mississippi Office of Pre-College programs has an offer to make this dream a reality as registration opens for the summer schedule of camps for students in kindergarten through 12th grades.

The list of classes includes several new courses and more available seats as well as a special offer for gift-giving this holiday season.

“We had such a great response to this past summer’s offerings that we wanted to open up more spots for students and expand even more on the variety of classes for next summer,” said Ellen Shelton, UM executive director of pre-college programs.

Registration is open for more than 25 summer programs offered to K-12 students beginning in late May 2017 on campus. There are monthlong, two-week and one-week camps to choose from. Some programs also offer options for students to stay on campus overnight or commute each day from home.

New camps in the lineup for summer 2017 include the “Code Monkey” crash course in computer code writing and programming. Offered for rising 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders, the camp will take place June 25-30 on the Oxford campus.

A new Shakespeare camp is set for June 11-16 that will help high school students learn five different ways to examine Shakespeare’s works in five days. The class will include an excursion to Memphis to attend the Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s performance of “The Comedy of Errors.”

Also new this year is a culinary arts camp that will be offered July 16-21 for middle school students and July 23-28 for high school students.

Program staff anticipate this class will fill up quickly, said Ari Lugo, UM pre-college counselor.

“We think Mississippi, and Oxford in particular, have such a unique culinary scene that students will enjoy learning more about,” Lugo said.

Students will have an opportunity to try out their cooking skills and learn about working with locally grown food sources.

The popular Rebel Quest day camp has expanded for next summer to include a section for rising first- and second-graders, another section for rising third- and fourth-graders, and a third section for rising fifth- and sixth-graders.

The summer 2017 weeklong themes include “Mad Scientist Week,” “Gamer Week” and “All About Art Week,” among several others.

For high school students looking to get a head start on college, UM’s Summer College for High School Students and Jumpstart programs are taking applications.

These camps allow students to come to campus for one month over the summer and get a head start on college courses. Students can receive college credit in one of the numerous academic tracks available, including computer science, engineering, health professions, pre-pharmacy, journalism, integrated marketing communications, intelligence and security studies, legal studies, liberal arts or one of numerous intensive foreign language programs.

UM Summer Academy is a two-week academic program designed to provide U.S. and international rising 9th-, 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders an opportunity to have a glimpse into college life for two weeks during the summer. During their stay on campus, students take one of the different classes offered in fields such as ACT/ SAT exam preparation, debate, engineering, arts, or literature and earn a one-half Carnegie high school credit.

There are also one-week academic camps available for middle and high school students looking to learn something new this summer. Those include CSI, creative writing, ecology, intelligence studies, math, theater and several others.

“We know that students can be very busy in the summer months and may not have a full month to dedicate to a program,” Shelton said. “These various shorter camp options allow students to have an engaging academic experience and explore the Ole Miss campus with a smaller time commitment.”

If you are looking for a unique gift for a student in your life, the UM Office of Pre-College programs has special gift certificates available that would be great for this holiday season.

“Giving the gift of a learning experience is something children and teenagers will keep with them always,” Lugo said. “And by making a summer camp opportunity available to a student in any grade from kindergarten to a senior in high school, you may be opening up a door to their future. Who knows how a summer camp program might pique their interest in a particular field or future career.”

To find out more about the UM Pre-College Programs’ summer 2017 schedule, including the full list of classes, dates and costs, as well as gift certificate and payroll deduction information, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/precollege, email precollege@olemiss.edu or call 662-915-7621.

UM Communiversity Helping Community Capture the Holidays

New 'Happy Holiday Hour' lunchtime classes offered for just $10

Area residents are invited to come prepare to deck the halls with the UM Communiversity program's array of holiday classes being offered this fall. Seasonal favorites returning this year are 'Wreath Making' and 'Holiday Sweet Treats.' New this year are $10 lunchtime classes to help participants spruce up their homes in a hurry.

Area residents are invited to come prepare to deck the halls with the UM Communiversity program’s array of holiday classes being offered this fall. Seasonal favorites returning this year are ‘Wreath Making’ and ‘Holiday Sweet Treats.’ New this year are $10 lunchtime classes to help participants spruce up their homes in a hurry.

OXFORD, Miss. – As the leaves begin to turn bright red and orange on the University of Mississippi campus, the Division of Outreach’s Communiversity program is ready to help local residents prepare for the hustle and bustle of the upcoming holiday season.

“We know everyone is so busy this time of year,” said Sandra Sulton, the university’s Communiversity coordinator. “We wanted to help make decorating, cooking and capturing precious holiday memories a little easier.”

For people who are short on time but would love to decorate like the pros this Christmas, Communiversity will offer five unique one-hour classes that meet during the noon lunch hour.

“These ‘Happy Holiday Hour’ classes pack a lot of great ideas into 60 minutes and cost just $10,” Sulton said.

First up, Robert Jordan, the university’s director of photography services, will pass along his best photo tips for “Capturing Your Christmas Card Photo.” From what to wear to camera settings, Jordan has rounded up some of his tried-and-true tricks for family photos, kids and babies, and even pets, plus some fun Christmas card photo ideas.

The class is set for noon to 1 p.m. Oct. 26 at UM’s Insight Park, off Hawthorn Road near the Ole Miss softball and soccer fields.

Jeff McManus, UM director of landscaping services, is preparing to show participants how to have a beautiful winter arrangement that greets your holiday guests during the “Holiday Container Gardens” class offered at noon Nov. 9 at the University-Oxford Depot.

Participants will learn to use beautiful natural elements from the outdoors including spruce, fir, cedar, holly, dried flowers, pinecones and many other items to create a beautiful outdoor focal point.

On Nov. 16, Jordan Brown, of Oxford’s Discount Building Materials, will teach her favorite techniques for putting together a lovely Christmas tree from start to finish in “Tips for Trimming Your Tree.” The class will meet at noon at the University-Oxford Depot.

Another new class for this year is “Merry Mailboxes,” with Oxford Floral’s Whitney Pullen. The class will show you how to add holiday flair to your street by assembling the perfect holiday display using beautiful greenery on your own mailbox. The one-hour class will meet at noon Nov. 30 at the Depot.

The final “Happy Holiday Hour” $10 class is a special meeting with Mitch Robinson from Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs. Robinson will lead the “Christmas Tree for the Birds” class, where participants will learn different ideas for decorating a tree that can be moved outdoors after the holidays and enjoyed by our feathered friends. The class is set for noon Dec. 14 at the Depot.

Two more holiday-themed classes will be offered in the evening to give participants a little more time to create. The first is “Holiday Sweets and Treats” class taught by Jeff and Kathleen Taylor, owners of Oxford’s Sweet T’s Bakery and recent contestants on the Food Network show “Cake Wars.”

The Taylors will share their best tips for making holiday meringues and other sweet treats from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Depot. The cost is $68.

Oxford Floral’s Whitney Pullen will be back on Dec. 8 to teach the “Wreath Making” course again this year. One of the most popular Communiversity courses from previous years, this one teaches participants to create a beautiful, fragrant holiday wreath that they take home. This class has been a great girl’s night outing in years past. The class meets from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and the cost includes greenery and a wreath form for just $70.

You can find out more and register for these or any classes being offered this fall at http://www.olemiss.edu/communiversity.