New Program Engages Students in Environmental Issues Close to Home

Students learning scientific process for observing health of local resources

Participants and faculty in the ‘Green Is the New Pink’ program spent a recent Saturday working and learning at the UM Field Station. On hand for the session were (front, from left) faculty members Angela Whaley, Ellen Shelton, Martha Tallent and Katie Szabo, students Mary Porter Fountain of Oxford; Michaela Anderson of Saltillo; and Alex Nagle, Claire Cizdziel, Srujana Murthy, Andreel Ward, Emory Elzie, Grace Wolff and Zoe Jones, all of Oxford, and (rear) Scott Knight, Field Station director. UM photo by Pam Starling

OXFORD, Miss. – Students involved in the University of Mississippi’s “Green Is the New Pink: Young Women Environmentalists in Action” program recently spent a Saturday testing and observing water sources and trying their hand at electrofishing at the UM Field Station in northeastern Lafayette County.

“I like nature,” said Mary Porter Fountain, a ninth-grader at Oxford High School. “I think it’s interesting getting to learn about what plants and different species need to survive.”

This fall is the inaugural year for the new environmental program for girls in eighth through 12th grades. It is sponsored by grants from the National Writing Project, John Legend’s “Show Me” Campaign, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and Collective Shift.

Martha Tallent, an eighth-grade science teacher at Oxford Middle School, serves as a faculty member for the program.

“I feel like something happens between eighth and 10th grades where many students seem to lose interest in science,” Tallent said. “I want to teach our students to be risk-takers in science and to engage in several different scientific fields to see what interests them.

“There are so many disciplines and jobs in the various fields, and we want to expose them to the different options.”

A collaboration among the Office of Pre-College Programs, the UM Writing Project, the UM Field Station and Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs, the program is introducing students to real-world research strategies and generating curiosity about the natural environment.

The cross-disciplinary partnership between English and science is allowing students in the program to conduct their own research, create a project and deliver a presentation. They are guided through four field experiences of data collection, data exploration, analysis and interpretation of data, and drawing conclusions.

“I’m thinking about trying some of the water quality experiments on the ponds in my neighborhood,” Fountain said.

Oxford High ninth-grader Srujana Murthy said she is interested in looking at some invasive species growing around a local pond and possibly reintroducing native plants to bring native birds back to the area.

“That’s what happened at Strawberry Plains,” Murthy said. “The former owner planted several non-native plants around the home, and the hummingbirds stopped coming. Once they removed those and replanted with native species, they saw many hummingbirds return to the area.”

Srujana Murthy (left) and Claire Cizdziel try their hand at electrofishing under the guidance of Scott Knight, director of the UM Field Station, as part of the ‘Green is the New Pink’ environmental program. UM photo by Pam Starling

So far this fall, students have spent one Saturday in September at Strawberry Plains Environmental Center in Holly Springs. This month, they spent a Saturday studying the ecosystem at the Field Station.

In February, they will return to Strawberry Plains to examine the winter landscape and wildlife. Their final Saturday field experience will be at the Field Station in April to participate in environmental-awareness activities surrounding Earth Day.

The activities this month at the Field Station included testing the water quality of local streams and sampling the fish content through a process called electrofishing. This scientific tool involves sending a small electrical current into the stream that attracts the fish and makes them easier to catch. The different types of fish are recorded and then released.

“Comparing ecosystem integrity from one stream to another is just one tiny piece of what ecology is about,” said Scott Knight, Field Station director. “In our experiments, we were trying to test the integrity and sample the diversity to measure the health of the environment.”

Throughout the year, participants stay connected in their research and writing through an online Google classroom, where they will be reflecting on their field experiences and refining the writing component of their scientific findings.

“There are so many interesting paths in studying ecology,” Knight said. “There are also many job opportunities in this field that we hope to open participants’ eyes to.”

For more information about the “Green Is the New Pink” program, visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/environment.

Division of Outreach Sets Open House to Show Off New Space

Community invited to tour new facility Nov. 9 at Jackson Avenue Center

The new Division of Outreach and Continuing Education space at the Jackson Avenue Center houses 10 departments and includes space for conferences and other events. The division will host an open house on Thursday (Nov. 9) so community members can view the new space and learn more about its various services for students, faculty and the community. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Demand for educational opportunities delivered in new and innovative ways continues to grow. Earlier this fall, the University of Mississippi Division of Outreach and Continuing Education set events in motion that will help the university keep up with these evolving needs.

Just before the fall semester began, the division’s faculty and staff members moved files, boxes, computers and years of experience to the university’s Jackson Avenue Center, at 1111 West Jackson Ave., next to the Ole Miss Barnes & Noble bookstore and Malco’s Oxford Studio Cinema. The 41,500-square-foot area includes conference spaces, two testing centers and offices for 10 departments.

The division will open its doors for an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 9). Everyone is invited to come view the space, locate colleagues in their new offices and preview the conference spaces available for events.

“This move is helping the division expand offerings and services for UM students, faculty, staff and the community,” said Tony Ammeter, UM associate provost for outreach and dean of general studies. “Relocating to the Jackson Avenue Center made sense for the university and the division.

“We were able to free up prime real estate in the heart of campus and at the same time gain space to advance the mission of our unit.”

The Division of Outreach vacated nearly 22,000 square feet at the E.F. Yerby Conference Center. Also included in the move were department offices on the second floor of Kinard Hall.

“We hope the newly renovated space provides opportunities for our staff to continue creating and implementing innovative educational opportunities that serve the university community, our city, state and nation,” Ammeter said.

The new Division of Outreach and Continuing Education space at the Jackson Avenue Center includes the Linda Chitwood Testing Center wing and three large conference auditoriums. The division will host an open house on Thursday (Nov. 9) so community members can view the new space and learn more about its various services for students, faculty and the community. Submitted photo

With construction beginning in March 2016, the university’s Jackson Avenue Phase II renovation encompasses previously unused space in the former Oxford Wal-Mart and mall area. The space includes three new 150- to 250-seat conference room auditoriums that are available for event rental by university and community constituents.

“We are thrilled to see how this former Wal-Mart space has been transformed into a state-of-the-art office facility,” Provost Noel Wilkin said. “It will be a wonderful home for our outreach staff. They do tremendous work, and I am pleased that they have nice facilities within which to continue their support of the academic and outreach efforts of our institution.”

The division houses several departments that offer nontraditional learning opportunities for students.

“This move has given our office the opportunity to increase our instructional designer and training specialist teams for UM’s online programs,” said April Thompson, director of academic outreach. “We are excited to have the ability to provide more in-person and virtual workshops with more space for faculty training.”

The Department of College Programs, headed by Laura Antonow, is among the departments getting new space in the renovation. It includes iStudy, Study USA, the Internship Experiences Programs and the UM Testing Centers.

The Educational Testing Services center and the Distance Education Testing Lab are housed in the Linda Chitwood Testing Center, on the west side of the JAC.

Named for the former dean of the School of Applied Sciences and associate provost for outreach, this new space doubles the seating for UM students who need to take proctored exams as well as students and community members who are looking to take professional exams, such as the Praxis exam for teaching licensure and the Graduate Record Exam for those looking to pursue graduate studies.

The ETS testing center has seen a 20 percent increase in test-takers utilizing testing services in the past two years. The new testing center space more than doubles the number of seats available for those taking any of the 10-plus different types of proctored exams administered through the office.

During mid-term and final exam timeframes, the Distance Education Testing Lab can have up to 450 students who need test proctoring space each day, said Catherine Hultman, DETL testing coordinator. The new testing lab includes 32 testing modules as well as auditorium space reserved for use during mid-terms and finals.

Also found in the newly renovated areas is the Office of General Studies that provides administration and advising for more than 500 undergraduate majors. Ammeter, Assistant to the Dean Terry Blackmarr, and the BGS advisers and staff are housed on the east side of the building.

The Office of Professional Development and Lifelong Learning’s move to the JAC will help staff further expand upon their work within the community, state and nation to ensure educational opportunities are available to people of all ages and walks of life, said Mary Leach, the department’s director.

The Office of Pre-College programs, under the direction of Ellen Shelton, offers programming throughout the year for kindergarten through 12th-graders. From academic competitions to numerous summer learning opportunities, the varied activities organized through this office encourage students to strengthen skills and grow academically and personally.

Also included in the JAC are administrative offices for the university’s regional campuses overseen by Rick Gregory and the academic outreach office that encompasses UM’s online, winter and summer sessions.

Further space allotments were made for the division’s service units, including its business and accounting office overseen by Beth Sanders; operations and conference services office; and the Department of Creative Services and Marketing, under the direction of Janey Ginn.

The provost’s office also aided the addition of a Technology-Enabled Active Learning training room,  located off the atrium of the new space. This room will be available to UM faculty and staff.

“From training teachers and law enforcement to organizing university conferences and events, we are excited that these new conference facility areas will make more space available for these learning opportunities,” said Justin Murphree, director of outreach operations.

To RSVP for the Nov. 9 open house, visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/JAC.

UM Students, Faculty Take Learning on the Road

Study USA program gearing up for hands-on Wintersession courses in four exciting locales

UM geological engineering faculty members Bob Holt, Dennis Powers and Doug Granger visit the Clinton P. Anderson overlook outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, with students during the ‘Geological Engineering Design Field Camp’ course offered through UM’s Study USA program in August. During Wintersession 2018, students will again have opportunities to travel with UM faculty members as they study biology, education, English, gender studies, hospitality management, philosophy, political science and more. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Whether students are capturing biological field samples in nature or capturing the essence of a culture, the eye-opening experience of experiential learning will be on full display through the University of Mississippi’s Study USA Wintersession 2018 classes.

This year’s offerings are: “Writing Gender and Sexuality in the Crescent City” in New Orleans; “Californian STEAM: Microbial Science, Conservation and Society” in Riverside, Monterey Bay and San Francisco, California; “Las Vegas Resort Course” in Las Vegas; and an honors course in “Biomedical Ethics” in Washington, D.C.

New Orleans native Jaime Cantrell is among the UM faculty members leading a Study USA learning adventure in January. A visiting professor of English and faculty affiliate for the university’s Sarah Isom Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, she said she wants to share her knowledge of the community and culture with students.

“Like its gumbo, New Orleans is richly diverse,” Cantrell said. “It’s our plan for this course to highlight those transnational, multicultural and indigenous legacies.”

The dual-listed course can be taken for Writing 398 or Gender Studies 395 course credit. Participants will travel to New Orleans Jan. 4-9 and conduct a virtual presentation on Jan. 12.

Cantrell said she hopes the course will prepare students to understand how their university educational experience parallels communities, publics and subcultures outside their learning walls.

“This can be seen where people work together in meaningful, creative and unexpected ways to transform lives and preserve historical and cultural memory,” she said.

Students who are interested in the teaching and exploration of the scientific process have an opportunity to get their hands dirty during the “Californian STEAM” course set Jan. 4-14 in various Californian coastal areas.

“California is a hotbed for both microbial sciences, conservation research and STEM education,” said Erik Hom, UM assistant professor of biology. “This course is looking at how microbes are everywhere and affect all areas of life.”

Hom, along with Renee Cunningham, assistant professor of education, will lead the class in conducting field samples and exploring conservation issues at various Pacific coast locations, including Monterey Bay and Joshua Tree National Park.

Students interested in education, environmental science, biology, premedicine, pharmacy, chemistry, biochemistry, geoscience, ocean sciences and engineering are all encouraged to take part in this course.

Hospitality management and business majors have a chance to learn more about the business of managing resorts and tourism while interacting with industry leaders during the Las Vegas resorts course set for Jan. 3-8.

Led by Jim Taylor, associate professor of hospitality management, the class will offer informative meetings with upper-level management to discuss how various amenities of a resort property add to the overall guest experience.

“Las Vegas is a real-world laboratory for hospitality management,” Taylor said. “Where else can students see a destination that was once a desert and has now become one of the premier convention, vacation and dining locations in the United States?”

Students will learn more about large-scale hotel operations and how lodging components interact with resorts. They will also find out more about how different facets of resorts work together to increase productivity and customer satisfaction.

Students from the UM Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College can dive into ethical theories and principles at work in our nation’s health care system during “Biomedical Ethics,” led by philosophy professor Neil Manson.

The class will meet Jan. 2-6 in Oxford and Jan. 7-13 in Washington, D.C.

“Students will get to meet with experts addressing some of the most interesting issues in medicine right now,” Manson said. “They will be discussing questions like ‘What can we do with a person’s genetic information’ and ‘How should the American health care system be structured?’

“Also, ‘Is medicine just about restoring people to “normal” health, or should we feel free to use medical technologies to enhance human abilities?'”

Manson said he hopes the class helps students learn how to be professional, prepare, ask intelligent questions, overcome their fears and feel comfortable interacting with experts in the workplace.

“I also hope they get some sense of how Washington works – not just the branches of government, but the think tanks and the lobbyists,” Manson added. “Whether or not they aspire to careers in or near government, there is just no substitute for seeing up close how the system works.”

The application deadline for Study USA’s Wintersession 2018 courses is Nov. 9. Some scholarship opportunities are available. For more information, visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/studyaway.

Students Share Experiences from New York and D.C. Summer Internships

UM program helps students make transition from college to career

Grant Gaar (right) of Ripley, a senior integrated marketing major, got to meet several of his favorite Food Network stars, including celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis, during his summer internship with Scripps Networks Interactive, the media company that perates lifestyle channels including HGTV, The Travel Channel and DIY Network. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Preparing for the transition from college to career can be intimidating. The University of Mississippi Internship Experience Program, in its 10th year, helps make that move successful for students through career preparation and internship opportunities in New York and Washington, D.C.

Participants in the summer 2017 cohort recently presented an overview of their internship experiences during a presentation for Ole Miss students, faculty and staff.

“Fostering these experiences is one of the ways that the university is showing a commitment to our students,” said Noel Wilkin, the university’s provost, who encouraged students to keep stepping out of comfort zones to make positive changes in their lives.

“I know there were steps that I took that changed the course of my life for the good. I hope these internship experiences will do the same for you. The real value is what you learned and how it changed your perspective on your career field and the world.”

Since its inception in 2008, the program has sent more than 100 students to Washington and New York. In summer 2018, students also can be part of a new cohort living and working in Atlanta.

The program is a two-way pipeline between these cities and the university, said Laura Antonow, director of college programs for the UM Division of Outreach and Continuing Education.

“UM students have the opportunity to work with successful UM alumni in their field of interest,” Antonow explained. “In return, these alumni have the opportunity to stay connected to the students and happenings on our campus.”

Networking and gaining professional experience is the key role of the program, which also helps students earn academic credit while interning in a metropolitan location. The 2017 participants spent the spring semester enrolled in a career-preparation course on campus that provided insight into what employers are looking for and how to make the most of an internship experience.

“This program really opened my eyes to another world,” said Aurielle “Sunny” Fowler, an Ole Miss junior from Clinton.

Fowler, a psychology major who is minoring in biology and chemistry, plans to attend medical school upon graduation. Her internship at the National Rural Health Administration helped her to dive into many of our country’s most pressing medical issues, she said.

“I was working on analysis of the American Health Care Act and how it would affect patients in rural areas of the country,” Fowler said. “I was present at congressional briefings, where I took notes and then published the key points online.

“I was able to learn so much in my workplace, but also I felt inspired by the other young adults working in the city.”

Will Hughes, a senior from Savannah, Georgia, also spent the summer on Capitol Hill while serving as a congressional intern for U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and Rep. Tom Graves, both of Georgia.

“Growing up, I had visited D.C. a few times, and it was very awe-inspiring to me,” Hughes said. “I was grateful for the opportunity to work there this summer and for the opportunity to help people in my home state.”

UM senior Aurielle ‘Sunny’ Fowler of Clinton spent her summer interning with the National Rural Health organization, where she researched and shared information concerning the most pressing medical and health needs for people living in less populated areas of the country. Fowler was one of four Ole Miss students preparing for future careers as participants in the university’s Washington Internship Experience program last summer. Submitted photo

Hughes said he worked on research briefings for the senator concerning important issues such as veterans’ affairs, immigration, gun rights and health care. He also fielded phone calls, emails and letters from constituents and presented their concerns to the senator’s staff.

“The senator’s office would get thousands of phone calls a day,” Hughes said. “It’s busy, but exhilarating.”

Hughes plans to attend graduate school, but said he hopes to return to D.C. to work on a political campaign.

Fellow D.C. interns included Kenric Wright, a senior management information systems major from Greenwood, and junior public policy leadership major David “Walker” Oglesby of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Wright’s summer internship with First Global helped him to learn more about the behind-the-scenes work of an international organization, he said.

“There is a lot of preparation and handling of logistics with international partners,” Wright said. “It was exciting and the environment really encouraged and celebrated diversity.”

Nine UM students interned in New York City this summer: Caroline Block of Athens, Georgia; Sam Dargene of Dallas; Grant Gaar of Walnut; Anna Clara Lee of Atlanta; Jack Lynch of Atlantic City, New Jersey; Rachel Mudd of Perryville, Missouri; Anna Bess Pavlakovich of Denver; Malki Pridgeon of Horn Lake; and Brittany Pringle of Jackson.

Gaar, a senior integrated marketing communications major, hosts a regular cooking show on UM’s NewsWatch 12 television station. This summer, he used his love of food and media to land an internship in New York with Scripps Networks Interactive, owner of several cable channels including Food Network and HGTV.

“It really was a dream come true,” Gaar said. “I got to meet several of the cooking celebrities, and I also was able to network with people in the industry who really inspired me.”

Gaar served as a digital video producer who created content for the network’s social media channels. His favorite part of the internship was a passion project that his supervisor asked interns to present to a team of producers, he said.

Hence, “The Fried Chicken Chronicles” was born. The episodes that feature Gaar sharing different ideas for cooking fried chicken will be shown on the Food Network’s website later this fall, he said.

Before leaving New York, Gaar applied for full-time employment with the media group following graduation in the spring.

“It’s amazing how one conversation with someone in your field can change your outlook for the future,” he said. “I think this summer was really an investment in myself that I’ll reap the benefits of for years to come.”

UM’s Internship Experience Program is taking applications for Atlanta, New York and Washington, D.C., interns for summer 2018. Students interested in the program should visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/experience. The application deadline is Nov. 10.

UM Communiversity Classes Help Locals Try Something New this Fall

Schedule includes $10 Lunch and Learn holiday classes

Communiversity participants practice their CPR skills. The program’s fall slate of classes features many options, including first aid, photography, social media marketing, cake decorating and many more. Photo by Larry Agostinelli

OXFORD, Miss. – What does learning to decorate a home like Joanna Gaines, spinning around the dance floor like your favorite “Dancing With The Stars” couple and decorating a cake like you’re a contender on “Cake Wars” have in common? These are just a few of the things participants can learn during the University of Mississippi’s fall 2017 Communiversity classes.

“We want to give people the chance to change their, ‘I wish I coulds’ into ‘Yes, I cans,'” said Gazel Giles, Communiversity coordinator. “People may want to try something new, like learning to use essential oils or putting together a show-stopping Christmas tree, and with Communiversity classes, now they can.”

With several options this fall, the schedule features  new classes and several returning favorites, including the popular $10 fall “Lunch and Learn” classes. These classes teach participants how to design their perfect holiday table, trim a beautiful tree and even make a Christmas tree for the birds.

“Communiversity classes are for everyone,” Giles said. “We try to offer a broad range of short workshops and classes that will give community members the opportunity to learn something new.

“There is a wealth of knowledge to pull from in our community. People enjoy sharing the hobbies, skills and techniques they are passionate about. Our Communiversity teachers make these classes fun.”

The fall schedule kicks off this weekend with an excursion to the 2017 Hummingbird Migration and Nature Celebration at Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs. Birdwatchers on the sold-out trip will enjoy one of the biggest nature festivals in the area and enjoy the thousands of hummingbirds, live shows, arts and crafts, and native plant sales.

Next week, the popular “Ballroom and Latin Dance with Arman” class begins for the fall. Arman Sahakyan will host his step-by-step dance instruction classes on Monday evenings at a location to be announced.

Participants can come for one or all of the classes taking place from Sept. 11 to Nov. 27. Ballroom dance lessons run from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., and Latin dance classes are 7:30-8:30 p.m. The cost for each class session is $10 per person.

The popular “CPR and First Aid Training” class is set for 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 23 at Insight Park on Hathorn Road. Students will learn resuscitation techniques for infants, children and adults, along with how to use Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs.

The course also covers first aid, home safety, splinting and victim assessment. This course meets requirements for foster care, adoption and child care workers. The fee is $79 and includes American Red Cross CPR certification.

Ole Miss graduate Maila Rogers of Southaven enrolled in this course last spring and used the first aid information she learned while serving as a camp counselor this summer at Camp Lakeside in Scobey.

“I felt better prepared and calmer when I needed to recall my training,” Rogers said. “Unfortunately, we did have a few minor accidents at camp this summer that needed quick responses. I was glad to have the knowledge and skills to help.”

“Safe Sitter Essential Skills for ages 11-14” is a nationally recognized program where teens learn lifesaving skills to stay safe when they are home alone or watching younger children. The class meets 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 4 at Insight Park. The cost is $45.

Community residents who would like to learn more about the healing power of natural remedies are invited to try Communiversity’s special classes with Ann Marie Farrell on Thursday evenings in October.

“The Healing Power of Herbs and Spices” class meets 5:30-7:30 p.m. Oct. 5 at the Oxford-University Depot. The cost is $39. “Advanced Essential Oils – Lifestyle Change” is set for the same times Oct. 19 and 26. The cost is $85 plus a $9 materials fee.

Communiversity classes are short noncredit classes open to anyone in the community interested in learning something new. Back on the schedule this fall are the popular $10 holiday decor and design classes. Photo by Larry Agostinelli

Learn more about how to take photos like the pros in “Getting to Know Your Digital Camera” from 8 a.m. to noon Sept. 30 at Insight park. Robert Jordan, UM director of photography services, will teach participants to take professional-looking photos and share his tips on enhancing images, archiving photos and techniques for printing. The cost is $85. Students will have an opportunity to practice their skills with their own camera during lessons around campus that same day.

For beginning photographers who want to learn more about digitally enhancing photos, the “Adobe Photoshop Workshop: Getting Started,” is set for 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 7 at Weir Hall. The cost is $89.

Local seniors interested in learning more about their tech devices are invited to the “iPhones?, iPads?, iWhat?” class offered ofrom 5 to 6:30 p.m. Nov. 16 at Weir Hall. The fee is $45. Participants will learn basic settings, navigation, how to take photos, send texts, download apps and much more.

“Marketing Your Business Using Social Media” will meet 6-7:30 p.m. Oct. 5, 12 and 19 at Weir Hall. The cost is $69. This course teaches participants how to set up and optimize social media accounts for their business, generate leads through Facebook ads and gain traffic to their websites.

Two-time winners of Food Network’s “Cake Wars,” Jeff and Kathleen Taylor, of Oxford’s Sweet T’s Bakery, are back this fall with their popular cake design classes. They will lead a Halloween-themed “Cake Decorating: Spooky, Scary and Spectacular” class from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at the Depot. The class covers techniques for creating piping, cake borders, flowers, rolled fondant and modeling techniques. The course fee is $75.

The Taylors also will lead “Holiday Sweet Treats” from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 12, again at the Depot. This family-friendly class will cover how to take a simple cupcake or cookie and turn it into something special. The class fee is $59.

Communiversity’s popular $10 holiday Lunch and Learn classes return to help participants deck their halls with lots of festive cheer and decor. Each class will be offered from noon to 1 p.m. at the Depot.

The first Lunch and Learn class is set for Nov. 8, when one of Oxford’s favorite designers, Jordan Brown, of Discount Building Materials, shares her unique “Tips for Trimming Your Tree.” Learn her easy-to-re-create design ideas for putting together your own show-stopping tree this holiday season.

Brown also will teach fun DIY holiday decorating ideas for designing “Easy to Elegant Tablescapes and Centerpieces” during a noon class on Nov. 29.

The final Lunch and Learn is slated for Dec. 13, when Mitch Robinson from the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center shows participants how to attract feathered friends to their yards with his class, “Christmas Tree for the Birds.” Students will get hands-on training to decorate an evergreen tree with decorations that will attract birds and various wildlife.

Visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/inspired for more information on these and other classes happening this fall. Discounts are available for ages 55 and older. UM employees can use payroll deduction for any class over $60.

Gazel Giles Takes on Community Enrichment Position with UM

Oxford native looking forward to organizing inspiring programs and continuing education opportunities

Gazel Giles

OXFORD, Miss. – After graduating from Lafayette High School in 2002, Gazel Giles had a dream of helping others. She wanted to go into nursing, but family responsibilities and the need to work 40 hours a week left little time to attend college, so she trained for a position as a dialysis technician.

“I enjoyed working with patients,” Giles said. “Knowing that I was making a difference in their lives made it enjoyable to come to work.”

Giles took courses at Northwest Community College in Oxford part time when she could, and in 2011 she was ready to pursue her dream of a bachelor’s degree. She enrolled at the University of Mississippi to begin classes in the psychology program.

“I was thinking of working as a counselor or case manager,” Giles said. “I felt like I was called to continue making a difference in others’ lives.”

After graduation, Giles needed to stay in Oxford, as she was raising her children. She took a position in the Rebel Reserve temporary clerical pool and began serving as a secretary in the Ole Miss Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and later in the university’s Facilities Planning Office.

A full-time position became available in the facilities planning office, and Giles landed the job. As a receptionist there, Giles learned more about the SAP data management system, billing, organizing projects, and working with architects and contracts.

“I really enjoyed learning new things and meeting new people,” she said. “It was a great experience for me.”

In 2014, Giles joined the UM Staff Council to represent her department. Two years later, she was elected by her peers to serve as the president of the staff council for that year.

“I saw this as a way to represent my fellow staff members and help solve problems in a positive way,” Giles said. “I wanted to make a difference. This position taught me so much about working with university and community leaders.”

During this time, Giles continued her education by taking classes toward a master’s degree in higher education. She graduated in May.

This spring, Giles applied and was chosen for a position in the UM Division of Outreach as a coordinator of continuing education programs.

“I felt I could be a strong example of the benefits of continuing your education,” Giles said. “I took classes when I could, raised my family, stopped classes, worked and started classes again.

“I had a dream and just pursued it when the opportunity came along. I’m grateful that I had those opportunities.”

In her new position, Giles works with UM’s noncredit, professional development and lifelong learning programs. She will coordinate the Communiversity short-term, noncredit classes that support community members who want to learn new skills. These programs are open to anyone in the community, including retirees, Ole Miss students, and family members of all ages.

Giles’ outgoing personality and experience in event planning will be factors that will contribute to her success in this position, said Mary Leach, director of UM’s Office of Professional Development and Lifelong Learning.

“She has outstanding customer service skills,” Leach said. “She’s willing to go the extra mile in getting the job done.

“I think her experience as president of the staff council will add to our department’s mission by fostering relationships on and off campus that will help us provide quality programs to those that we serve.”

In a recent ballroom dance class offered by Communiversity, Giles said she was able to witness firsthand how this program is enriching other’s lives.

“I watched one participant who was nervous and unsure of himself as the class began, but by the end of the session he was smiling and happy. He was able to spin his wife around the dance floor with confidence.

“When I saw that, I knew for sure that this program was something I wanted to be a part of.”

For more information about the Communiversity program, visit http://outreach.olemiss.edu/communiversity/.

UM Multidisciplinary Degree Adds New Counselor

Audra Trnovec helping students navigate career path in new position

Audra Trnovec , new academic counselor in the UM Bachelor of General Studies program, works with Serenity Jones, a student in the program, on her schedule. UM photo by Larry Agostinelli

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – When she first started college, Audra Trnovec thought she wanted to be a cruise director like Julie McCoy on the ’70s television show “The Love Boat.” Although her career journey never took her out to sea, Trnovec’s path has had a few twists and turns.

The new academic counselor in the University of Mississippi’s expanding Bachelor of General Studies program, Trnovec ran outdoor adventure programs with two different universities for more than 20 years before making a change that would allow her to continue guiding students into unknown territory. The difference is that this journey winds up at their future careers.

“I like a challenge,” Trnovec said. “I guess that’s why I like my job. It’s similar to leading people in a ropes course. I’m helping students navigate academic and career decisions.

“It’s very rewarding when I get to see a student excited about completing their educational journey.”

Originally from northern Illinois, Trnovec attended Iowa State University to pursue a degree in recreation management.

“I found out that cruise directors had to work 18-hour days, so I changed my mind about that particular career goal,” she said.

Crediting her academic adviser for steering her in the right direction in her career and later suggesting graduate school studies, Trnovec said that she respected her adviser for asking her the tough questions.

“I had to really think about what I wanted to do with my life and analyze my skills,” Trnovec said. “I think having the opportunity to work in my field of study as a student also helped me to investigate opportunities and gain even more knowledge about the profession.”

It was her adviser who first mentioned the possibility of part-time work in the college’s recreation program. She took the job and worked as a student assistant in the program for the next three years.

“I was learning how to lead trips and handle equipment,” Trnovec said. “It really was the best job on campus for a student, and it helped me decide to pursue a career in student outdoor recreation.”

After completing her bachelor’s degree, Trnovec stayed on at Iowa State to complete a master’s degree in higher education and student development. Shortly after, she was offered a full-time position as the coordinator of outdoor recreation programs.

Part of Trnovec’s position included mentoring and guiding students through the undergraduate program, just as her mentor had done for her.

Audra Trnovec

“I wanted to help students prepare for their futures,” she said. “We worked on resumes, interview preparing, and training for not only our outdoor programs, but life.”

In 2001 Trnovec became the assistant director of outdoor recreation at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where she oversaw the Seahawk Adventure program and helped facilitate travel programs, surfing workshops and fly fishing lessons.

After getting married, her next move was to Indiana State University, where she took a position in the college’s career center as a liaison for the College of Health and Human Services.

“This position allowed me to help students find ways to infuse career and life skills together,” Trnovec said. “I worked with faculty to help add professional and career services into their classes while we worked to help students after graduation.”

The next leg of her journey brought her to north Mississippi, when her husband, Bud Edwards, came to serve as the director of the UM Counseling Center.

“He went to Ole Miss and wanted to return home and help his community,” Trnovec said.

Upon coming to Oxford, Trnovec interviewed for a position as an academic adviser in UM’s Center for Student Success. She also began teaching the EDHE 105: Freshmen Year Experience course.

“This was a neat experience because along with teaching study skills and life management, there was a lot to learn about the campus and the university as part of this class,” she said. “As someone who was new to Ole Miss myself, I told my students that we were going to learn about all of this together.”

In the Center for Student Success, Trnovec worked with students who had yet to declare a major.

“This took a lot of guidance and working with the students,” she said. “I worked to help them find the right fit for their academic and personal goals.”

In March, another challenge came her way when Trnovec landed her new position with the Bachelor of General Studies program.

“I like the creativity of this degree program,” she said. “Our BGS students get to put together their varied interests and career goals in order to make a degree as unique as they are. I really believe in the viability of this major, and I love to help students plan their own career paths while earning this degree.”

With the addition of Trnovec, the BGS advising office has a great team assembled to guide students in their educational journey, said Terry Blackmarr, assistant to the dean in the Office of General Studies.

“Audra really complements and understands the nature of this program and the goals of our students,” Blackmarr said. “Her background in career services is bringing experience that helps our students throughout their career journey.”

When she is not working with students, Trnovec is a student herself, working on a doctorate in higher education at Ole Miss.

“My hobby is school,” she said. “I love learning and growing in my skills. I feel like I am right where I’m supposed to be.”

UM High School Offers Expanding Opportunities for Earning Diplomas

Program celebrates 2017 graduates, partners with local community resource

The University of Mississippi High School honored its 2017 diploma-route students during the annual graduation ceremony held May 20 on the UM campus. Students on hand for the ceremony are (from left) Jordan Taylor and Sydney Bishop, both of Columbus, Jamie McGee of Birmingham, Alabama, and Jacob Wilkerson of Greenville. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – High school students hailing from cities across Mississippi, various states and even a few foreign countries are taking advantage of the University of Mississippi’s online program to complete high school courses with the UM High School.

During the 2016-17 academic year, UMHS staff oversaw continuing efforts to provide academic excellence and continued outreach for students who want to earn their high school degrees in a nontraditional way.

“We aim to meet our students where they are,” said Ellen Shelton, director of UM pre-college programs. “We work to provide the highest quality education for students for whom the traditional classroom doesn’t work.”

A new partnership emerged this year between UMHS and the Oxford-based Stonewater Adolescent Addiction Recovery Center.

“We needed a nationally accredited program to provide our students with courses that not only keep them from falling behind on their studies, but also allow them to excel,” said Daniel Farmer, the center’s academic adviser.

“Choosing an online program such as the UMHS, which is ranked among the top 25 online high school diploma programs in the country, aligned with our goals because we at Stonewater strive to be one of the best treatment facilities serving adolescents.”

The program saw about six students from Stonewater enroll in classes during the first semester of the partnership, said Thomas Herrington, UMHS coordinator.

“The Stonewater coordinators wanted a way for students to keep on track for graduation while they were focusing on recovery,” Herrington said. “I feel like this was a strong partnership because we offer an accredited, flexible program for their patients. We have teachers and faculty who care and are very accessible to students.”

More than 280 students are enrolled in the UM High School. These students have chosen the program to complete high school courses online due to illness, moving, family military enlistments or any number of situations, Shelton said.

The program’s goal is to help students learn in the best way possible so that they can go on to be successful, she said.

“The program continues to meet the growing need for options that help students complete individual high school courses that fill in the gap for schools that may not have a particular class that the student is interested in,” Shelton said. “We also have students who enroll in a full slate of UMHS classes in order to earn their high school diploma.”

The diploma-route students were honored May 20 on the Ole Miss campus during the annual graduation celebration event.

Eight students who were enrolled full-time in the program earned their diplomas in 2017 and are heading to college and work opportunities. Four of those eight were able to attend the ceremony with their families.

During the event, Joseph Landry Smith was honored with this year’s M. Lynne Murchison Academic Achievement Award in the 2017 graduating class.

“I felt that the UM High School was a great opportunity for me to explore my maximum potential, even with a busy schedule,” Smith said. “Not only was exploration an option, but I was allowed to progress in a fast, efficient manner.”

Smith plans to enroll at the University of Southern Mississippi this fall to pursue his goal of becoming a neuropsychologist.

Graduate Jamie McGee of Birmingham, Alabama, was chosen by the faculty as the graduation speaker for the event.

“After moving to another state, I needed a new schooling option, and UMHS was the best thing for me,” said McGee, who plans to enroll at Troy University this fall majoring in psychology.

Rebecca Cantrell of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, said that the faculty members were a big part of the reason she excelled in the program.

“They challenged me, and it made me dig deeper to see what I was capable of accomplishing,” she said.

Cantrell will enroll at Southeast Missouri State University in the fall.

The UMHS program enrolls students anytime throughout the year and offers more than 50 online courses for high school credit. For more information, visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/umhs.

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.