Applied Sciences Welcomes Inaugural Visiting Research Scholar

Cecile Guin to provide expert grant and publication counsel, mentorship to faculty

Cecile Guin

OXFORD, Miss. – Cecile Guin, director of the Office of Social Service Research and Development at Louisiana State University’s School of Social Work, will serve as the inaugural visiting research scholar for the School of Applied Sciences.

The school launched the Visiting Research Scholars Forum this academic year to help enhance research productivity, bringing meritorious research scholars to campus to facilitate discussion on best practices in research publication and grantsmanship. Renowned for their presentations, strong research publication record and national competitive grant award record, these scholars will provide lectures, small-group discussions and individual meetings for any interested faculty.

Guin will be on campus Feb. 26-27. After presenting a session on “Writing Grants to Support Your Research Agenda” to a universitywide audience and a lecture on “Pathway to Funding: Finding Support for Your Research Career” to the School of Applied Sciences faculty, the visiting scholar will lead a panel discussion, hold individualized mentorship sessions with faculty and meet with doctoral students.

“Dr. Guin has an impressive publication and grantsmanship record,” said Daphne Cain, the school’s interim associate dean. “She is nationally recognized for her teaching, her history of high-impact publications and her extramural funding. We are thrilled to have her share her experience and advice with our faculty.”

Guin began working for LSU in 1995 as a funding consultant and associate professor of research. Before moving to Baton Rouge in 1996, she operated a private business that provided grant writing, evaluation and consultation to nonprofit and governmental agencies.

As director of the LSU Office of Social Service Research and Development, Guin focuses heavily upon external fund development and actively solicits opportunities for various grants and contracts that address many of the social problems inherent to Louisiana. In particular, she develops programs and seeks funding aimed at interrupting the pathway to delinquency, crime and other forms of nonproductivity that claim many Louisiana children and youth, especially those considered “at-risk.”

Additionally, she has become an expert in truancy and death penalty mitigation and is court-qualified in the areas of adult criminality, development of a criminal personality, juvenile delinquency social work and poverty.

Office of Social Service Research and Development also continues to engage in the acute post-Katrina and Rita problems of those with behavioral health problems. Guin is the lead author for the recent publication “Health Care and Disaster Planning: Understanding the Impact of Disasters on the Medical Community.”

While she has served as the office’s director, it has obtained more than $50 million in grants and contracts for the school, LSU and the agency partners of the School of Social Work. All the grants deal with some aspect of social problems faced by Louisiana’s citizens.

“We are so pleased that our first visiting research scholar will benefit such a broad constituency of researchers in our school and across campus,” said Teresa Carithers, UM interim dean of applied sciences. “I truly believe she can spark ideas of interdisciplinary and interprofessional investigation, which is a large part of our research mission.”

For more information about the Visiting Research Scholars Forum, visit

Social Work Conference Promotes Cultural Humility, Social Justice

Diversity event includes keynote on 'Using Truth, Bravery and Compassion to Heal the World'

Jennifer Stollman presents ‘Using Truth, Bravery and Compassion to Heal the World’ at the Department of Social Work’s recent Diversity Conference. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – “You risk nothing by standing up for what is right,” Jennifer Stollman told nearly 200 attendees at the recent 2018 Diversity Conference, presented by the University of Mississippi Department of Social Work. “You risk everything by staying silent.”

Stollman, academic director of for the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, served as keynote speaker. Attendees included Ole Miss students, faculty and staff from the Oxford, Tupelo and DeSoto campuses.

Carlyn Allen Conn, a master’s student in social work from Natchez, touted the conference’s focus on cultural humility in effective social work practice.

“The biggest take-away for me is the reminder that different is OK,” Conn said. “Diversity is what makes the world so beautiful, and we should not be threatened by the difference of others.

“It is so easy to see things through the lens of a white-male dominated society without even realizing that you are being arrogant or inconsiderate to another person’s cultural views and beliefs.”

The enthusiastic participation from students was a highlight of the conference for Desiree Stepteau-Watson, associate professor of social work and conference co-chair.

“Students were eager to learn, but not in a passive way,” Stepteau-Watson said. “They also contributed their own thoughts and experiences, which made this a lively and energetic exchange, from which all of us benefited.

“The students seemed to respond in a really positive way to this experiential learning. Information was being shared and learning taking place, but in this environment students, seemed more excited and engaged.”

Amy Fisher, assistant professor of social work and the other co-chair, said she hopes students learned the importance of their voices in the work they will do for the advancement of human rights.

“Social workers stand at the front line of not only racial equity, but other forms of equity such as gender, class, physical ability, sexual orientation and religion,” Fisher said.

“I was reminded that it is important for students to hear how critical their work is. We need to step back and think about the bigger picture, the social justice aspects of our work, on a regular basis.”

Andi Hannaford, a senior social work major from Senatobia, commended a presentation by Na Youn Lee, assistant professor of social work, on cultural competency and social workers’ code of ethics.

Desiree Stepteau-Watson, associate professor of social work and co-chair of the Department of Social Work’s Diversity Conference, welcomes a crowd of nearly 200 students and faculty from UM’s Oxford, Tupelo and DeSoto campuses, Rust College and the University of Southern Mississippi. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

“The code of ethics has actually amended the phrase ‘cultural competency’ to ‘cultural awareness,'” Hannaford said. “This, in turn, makes a huge difference in regards to how social workers should approach clients.

“By being competent, you are implying that you have knowledge of a subject, whereas ‘awareness’ promotes learning and starting where the client is – which is a topic discussed in every social work class. By showing humility and awareness, you can learn about diverse cultures and the individuals who practice them.”

The conference also included a presentation by Reginald Virgil, a University of Southern Mississippi social work student, on “Keep Calm and Discuss Racism” and a skit performed by the Rust College Department of Social Work.

“This conference provided students an opportunity to engage in discussion, network with students and faculty from other campuses and other programs in our state, and get inspiration as future social workers who will be on the front lines of working toward social justice,” said Daphne Cain, chair of the Department of Social Work.

Teresa Cartihers, interim dean of applied sciences, commended conference organizers for leading students in a thoughtful examination of diversity’s role in their practice.

“It always makes me very proud when the School of Applied Sciences provides leadership and opportunities for expanded dialogue on the broad scope of diversity,” Carithers said. “Our support for social work’s diversity conference continues that commitment.”

For more information about the Department of Social Work, visit or email

Applied Sciences Doctoral Student, Faculty Featured in TEDx

Emily Frith and Jandel Crutchfield present 'ideas worth spreading'

Emily Frith, a doctoral student in health and kinesiology, invites participants to consider the effect of exercise on the mind during the 2018 TEDxUniversityofMississippi event in the Ford Center. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Applied Sciences was well-represented at the recent TEDxUniversityofMississippi event at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Jandel Crutchfield, assistant professor of social work, and doctoral student Emily Frith presented “ideas worth spreading” about creativity and perspective to more than 500 attendees.

Frith is a second-year Ph.D. student in health and kinesiology, with an emphasis in health behavior, from Stanford, Kentucky. Her research focuses on the effects of health behavior on psychological parameters, primarily creativity-related cognitions, and she has published 37 peer-reviewed journal articles from her work.

She invited TEDx participants to consider the effect of exercise on the mind, specifically how it can improve creativity.

“Emily set a high bar for student participation,” said Marvin King, TEDx organizer and associate professor of political science and African American studies. “This is the first year that we had student speakers, and to see Emily’s thoughtful and polished talk come to fruition is really gratifying.”

Frith is a longtime fan of TED and its mission to spread ideas in the form of short, powerful talks. TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and has grown to cover almost all topics, from science to business to global issues.

Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events, such as the UM sessions, help share ideas in communities around the world.

“I am astounded by the ideas shared with the public on such a diverse range of topics, spanning academic disciplines, cultures and pervasive social issues,” Frith said. “It was a dream come true to be selected for such an iconic event and have the opportunity to represent my department and university.”

Frith credits the Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management and the School of Applied Sciences for helping her submit her application and prepare for TEDx.

“I was able to collaborate with experts in the School of Applied Sciences to visually bring my idea to life,” she said. “Integrating my passions into an accessible format for the public was such a cool experience. Faculty and students were willing to listen to me practice, and our department is always striving to reach new heights.

“HESRM and applied sciences are uniquely student-centered and really inspire us to challenge ourselves to reach beyond our ‘limits’ and set the bar high.”

Jandel Crutchfield, UM assistant professor of social work, uses her presentation at the 2018 TEDxUniversityofMississippi event to discuss creative ways to improve community discourse. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Crutchfield, a licensed social worker, found inspiration for her TEDx topic from workshops she co-hosted to help reunite communities after several highly publicized tragedies that resulted in the deaths of citizens and police officers in the summer of 2016.

“We thought we needed to answer our professional call to the community work of bringing people together to address difficult topics,” Crutchfield said. “My portion of the presentation helped people engage in reflecting on their own personal experiences that shape how they view the world and potentially divisive topics.

“By using the survey ‘what’s your number?’ they were not only able to see how their own experiences shape their standing and view of the world, but also how they compared to others’ views and standing. Understanding that early experiences in life shape how we and others view the world can help us start with acknowledging differences before tackling difficult topics.”

King praised Crutchfield’s focus on creative ways to improve community discourse.

“Jandel’s talk really opened eyes on how to problem-solve difficult and contentious issues,” King said. “Her talk identifies a new path forward to getting people to actually dialogue and not simply talk past each other.”

Like Frith, Crutchfield found colleagues in the School of Applied Sciences to be an integral part of her TEDx process.

“Many of my colleagues and department chair attended the original workshops on which my talk was based, Together Tupelo and Together Oxford,” she said. “The School of Applied Sciences also supported the workshops. Several of my colleagues nominated me for the TEDx competition and attended the event.”

Besides regularly providing community engagement like the workshops that shaped her TEDx, Crutchfield has presented numerous papers for a variety of constituents, including the American Council for School Social Work, the Society for Social Work Research Annual Conference and the Council on Social Work Education, as well as numerous guest lectures at universities nationwide.

“The School of Applied Sciences encourages our faculty and students to think outside of the box when it comes to their research and service endeavors,” said Teresa Carithers, the school’s interim dean. “These outstanding women truly exemplify that kind of creative thinking to approach problems and create healthier, more vibrant communities.”

For more information about the School of Applied Sciences, visit or email

Social Work to Host Diversity Conference

Sessions to focus on developing skills and experiences for working with varied populations

OXFORD, Miss. – The Department of Social Work at the University of Mississippi will host its 2018 Diversity Conference on Thursday (Feb. 1) at the Jackson Avenue Center, Room H02. Community members and students from any major are welcome to attend the sessions, set for 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

“The comprehensive elements of diversity encompass more than culture alone,” said Teresa Carithers, interim dean of applied sciences. “This event will focus closely on diversity’s role in effective social work practice.”

Desiree Stepteau-Watson, associate professor of social work, and Amy Fisher, assistant professor of social work, serve as co-chairs for the event.

“The goal of this conference is to further develop the knowledge, skills and experiences that students need and that are required for social work practice with diverse populations,” Stepteau-Watson said.

Jennifer Stollman, the university’s academic director for the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, will serve as keynote speaker for the event, presenting “Using truth, bravery and compassion to heal the world.”

Stollman is responsible for campus professional development, anti-oppression training, curricular and co-curricular development, and crisis management and is a consultant for detecting and eliminating institutional and interpersonal bias.

She spent 18 years in graduate and undergraduate classrooms as a professor of history and gender and women’s studies. She specializes in issues related to the construction, projections and deployment of individual and collective identities. Stollman is committed to equity work taking place across college campuses.

“Dr. Stollman has long been a good friend to the social work department,” Fisher said. “Her insight into matters of racial equity and diversity is invaluable to our students. In addition, her dynamic speaking style really engages students and staff.”

Reginald Virgil, a social work student at the University of Southern Mississippi, is slated to kick off the day’s events with his presentation, “Keep Calm and Discuss Racism.” Na Youn Lee, UM assistant professor of social work, will discuss cultural humility. The conference will conclude with a group presentation by the Rust College Department of Social Work.

Students who want to practice in the field must have a respect for cultural differences, said Daphne Cain, UM chair of social work.

“Being culturally competent is essential to social work practice,” Cain said. “Paying attention to environmental forces, including race, class and gender, among others, that create, contribute to and can exasperate difficulties for individuals to thrive and cope is fundamental to social work.”

Interested participants should RSVP by emailing Lunch will be provided during the event, and social work students are strongly encouraged to attend.

For more information, contact the Department of Social Work at 662-915-7336.

Criminal Justice Students Provide Gifts to Children in Need

Department of Legal Studies partners with Oxford Police to provide for local families

Oxford Police Department officers Rachel Ratcliffe (left) and Joshua Shipp (right), a recent graduate and student, respectively, in the criminal justice master’s program at UM, used money collected through the Alpha Phi Sigma criminal justice honor society to help the McGlown family (center) buy presents for Christmas.

OXFORD, Miss. – While most Oxford residents were shopping for friends and family over the holiday season, students from the Alpha Phi Sigma criminal justice honor society at the University of Mississippi made sure local needy families had plenty of presents under their trees.

Alpha Phi Sigma adopted two families from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree and sponsored a Shop with a Cop event for six additional families.

“Our Alpha Phi Sigma chapter partnered with the Salvation Army and Oxford Police Department on a crime prevention community service project to address the financial and emotional stress that fuels hopelessness and frustration within families living in poverty in Oxford,” said Linda Keena, the university’s interim chair of legal studies.

“Shop with a Cop provided a fun-filled day for a number of children in need while creating positive relationships with law enforcement. This promising December shopping experience assisted needy youth and helped foster a trusting relationship between the youth and cops.”

The participating children were identified by Oxford police officers, including Joshua Shipp and Rachel Ratcliffe.

Shipp, a graduate student and Alpha Phi Sigma member, and Ratcliffe, a recent graduate of UM’s criminal justice master’s program, met Oxford resident Cindy McGlown and her four children at the local Wal-Mart to help them shop for themselves and one other.

“They asked us to identify people in the community in need who would benefit from these services who we could help out and give back to the community,” Shipp said. “We were able to identify one family with four people through the Oxford Housing Authority.

“We were able to get them, and we came here to make this donation to them, help them shop and hopefully make their Christmas good.”

More than 280 Ole Miss students and criminal justice faculty contributed funds to the Angel Tree project by donating $5 to purchase a blank paper ornament. Each donor decorated an ornament, added a personal message and hung the ornament on a 6-foot Christmas tree.

With a portion of the funds, Alpha Phi Sigma members constructed police and fire-related stuffed animals at Build-A-Bear Workshop. Faculty members purchased shoes and coats, and community members donated law enforcement-related children’s books to accompany clothing and toys purchased by the honor society. Those items, totaling more than $1,500, were donated to the Salvation Army.

The Ole MissAlpha Phi Sigma chapter is an active campus organization that recognizes academic excellence of undergraduate and graduate students of criminal justice. Its goals are to honor and promote academic excellence, community service, educational leadership and unity.

It is the only criminal justice honor society certified as a member of the Association of College Honor Societies and affiliated with the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

For more information about criminal justice programs at UM, visit

Sports Nutrition Program Helps UM Athletes Reach Fullest Potential

Nutrition and hospitality management doctoral students provide sports dietetics

Melinda Valliant (right), UM associate professor of nutrition and hospitality management, leads doctoral students (from left) Corbit Franks and Matthew Frakes in conducting a body composition assessment with the BodPod for athletics trainer Nate Yoste. UM photo by Sarah Sapp

OXFORD, Miss. – It’s the New Year, a time when many people rethink their diet. But for doctoral students in the University of Mississippi’s Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management, rethinking diets is a year-round activity.

“A proper diet is important for everyone, but it is critical for athletes,” said Melinda Valliant, associate professor of nutrition and hospitality management and co-director of the university’s Center for Health and Sport Performance.

Faculty, staff and graduate students from the sport nutrition emphasis provide dietetics services to athletes across 16 different Ole Miss sports through the center.

“Usually we are helping athletes navigate fueling adequately around early morning workouts, tutoring, class, study hall, practices and games, so it’s really a lot,” Valliant said. “Most of them start at six in the morning, and they might finish at eight or nine at night.”

Prescribing individual meal plans based on an athlete’s physical output is just part of what the students, faculty and staff offer for athletes looking to retool their fuel.

“Sports dietetics is both food service and clinical work,” Valliant said. “They are prescribing meal plans, providing education, doing grocery store tours and hosting cooking classes.

“We work with a multidisciplinary team, including athletic trainers, strength coaches, sports medicine physicians, physical therapists and sports psychologists to help the athlete be the best they can be.”

Matthew Frakes, is a registered dietitian enrolled in the Ph.D program, is working to meet the requisite hours he needs to obtain credentials as a certified specialist in sports dietetics. He works with athletes in baseball, track and field and golf.

“My favorite part of what I do is working with athletes and seeing the outcomes they want to see after helping them with the missing nutrition pieces to their performance puzzle,” Frakes said. “For instance, an athlete who complained of feeling tired and sluggish throughout the day was having trouble with putting on weight for their individual goal.

“We had a one-on-one consultation and discussed difficulties with schedule, timing and sleeping habits. After our consult and follow-up, they were able to reach their goal weight during off-season training, sleep better and perform a lot better in the classroom and during their practice and training times.”

Frakes stays busy, conducting group nutrition education talks; developing individual nutrition assessments; creating nutrition education material; preparing practice, training and competition refueling snacks and travel bags; executing BodPod body composition assessments and working with the coaching staff on individual and team health and performance goals.

His passion for sports nutrition began as an undergraduate student-athlete, playing football for Ohio University, then Bowling Green State University and studying nutrition.

“Learning nutrition while being a student-athlete help me connect the dots on why I was not playing at my best in the past, not able to recover as fast and why I was always tired in the classroom,” he said. “After I graduated and started my dietetic internship rotations, I couldn’t see myself doing anything but working with sports and helping athletes get the best out of their health and performance.”

Frakes is enrolled alongside Corbit Franks, an assistant athletic trainer who decided to enter the doctoral program when he started seeing the distinct advantages and disadvantages that food choices create in athletic competition.

“Dr. Valliant has been a phenomenal mentor,” Frakes said. “She challenges us to think outside the box and allows many opportunities to learn. The education and my experience working with her on a daily basis will provide opportunities to expand myself as an educator and professional.

“Each athlete that I have who undergoes a surgery is required to meet with Dr. Valliant to ensure that they are fueling properly and taking in the adequate nutrients to promote healing. This is invaluable.”

While Ole Miss athletes get world-class nutrition counseling, the department has a pool of athletes for case study to develop injury protocol and add to a growing body of peer-reviewed sports nutrition research. Similar programs at other universities allow students to work only with intramural athletes, but the unique relationship with athletics affords UM doctoral students full access to all athletes in their cafeteria, weight rooms and training rooms.

The job market for sports dieticians has increased dramatically in recent years, Valliant said.

“There are a lot more colleges and professional sports organizations hiring sports dietitians, but there aren’t enough qualified practitioners to fill the jobs,” Valliant said. “What I want to do is get students ready to take these jobs that are opening up.”

She has seen a shift in perception of sports nutrition on campus.

“Attitudes in the athletics department around nutrition have certainly changed,” she said. “I think people see the value in sport nutrition – that dietitians are valuable team members. I also think having this program has allowed us to have more numbers.

“When there was just me working 10 hours a week, there was the same number of student-athletes. Clearly, I only had time to work with those athletes with problems. We weren’t proactive. Now that there are more people, there is more opportunity for athletes, but also the ancillary staff, coaches, everybody to see what dietitians can do.”

Teresa Carithers, School of Applied Sciences interim dean, sees potential for the center to draw national attention as its improves clinical outcomes and contributes critical research.

“Dr. Valliant was the driving force in developing our sport nutrition program and has provided the critical leadership in consistently helping us keep our program on the cutting edge,” Carithers said. “Applied Sciences recognizes the great future potential this center has to offer and is assisting with positioning and resource acquisition to help increase their overall impact and national visibility.”

Approved by the IHL in October 2013, the center began as a partnership between the departments of Nutrition and Hospitality Management and Intercollegiate Athletics, and continues to grow its staff and student support. Shannon Singletary, senior associate athletics director for health and sports performance, co-directs the center, and Kate Callaway, a certified specialist in sports dietetics, joined the staff in 2016.

For more information about the sports nutrition emphasis in the Nutrition and Hospitality Management Ph.D. program, contact Valliant at or visit

UM Students and Faculty Help Children Develop to Their Potential

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders offers assessments and in-home services

Lauren Stantz, of Houston, a graduate student in communication sciences and disorders, conducts a play therapy session, which regularly helps address a variety of speech, language, cognitive or physical developmental delays for clients in the Early Intervention Program. UM photo by Sarah Sapp

OXFORD, Miss. – As children progress through infancy and early childhood, parents rely on health care professionals to determine if they are meeting normal developmental milestones. The earlier a delay is detected in cognitive, speech, language or physical development, the sooner practitioners and parents can implement strategies and therapies to help children achieve their potential.

Graduate students in the University of Mississippi’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders have an opportunity to see firsthand how critical early intervention can be.

Through the Mississippi Department of Health’s Early Intervention Program grant, CSD graduate students and certified speech and language pathologists provide in-home, individual assessment, evaluation and treatment for children with developmental delays or diagnosed physical or mental conditions.

“We will see anywhere from one to five evaluations in one day,” said Gina Keene, a certified speech and language pathologist and UM clinical supervisor. “We see such a variety of children – babies as young as less than a month old, up to toddlers – for a variety of reasons.

“Some aren’t talking yet, some with Down syndrome, swallowing problems, complicated medical histories or extreme prematurity.”

Participation in the program helps graduate students get the 400 clinical hours required to become a certified speech and language pathologist, including 25 observation hours and 375 hands-on hours, under the direction of Keene.

“They’re a part of a multidisciplinary team of speech pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and special education instructors that conducts in-home, individual assessments of the infants or toddlers and their families to develop an individualized family service plan,” said Michele Masterson, district coordinator for the Early Intervention Program.

Through an open referral system, cases of infants or toddlers with diagnosed physical or mental conditions, or those who exhibit a 33 percent delay in one area of cognitive, physical, social or communication development or a 25 percent delay in two or more areas of development, are routed to the Mississippi Department of Health, where district coordinators assign evaluation teams.

“Catching delays early can be critical,” Masterson said. “That is our purpose – catching it early – so when they begin Head Start or a preschool program, they’re caught up and their delays are being addressed.”

As service providers and evaluators for the Northwest Public Health District, Ole Miss students and certified speech and language pathologists serve 323 children across a nine-county district, Masterson said. The most successful interventions occur in a natural, home environment, so teams travel throughout the district to provide in-home services, she said.

Teams coordinate services including family-centered programming, nutrition counseling, behavioral services, vision and hearing assessment, physical therapy, occupational therapy and/or language development. The services are free for families, with payment being processed through insurance or Medicaid first, with the MSDH grant-funded program serving as payer of last resort.

“Not only are the Ole Miss students getting an understanding of the first piece of the intervention, they’re actually getting to see the services and carry out the services with the babies,” Masterson said. “They can see the changes in the child when they follow the case for year. They can see the difference in the child from the time they met them to the time they leave.”

Graduate student Lauren Stantz, of Houston, understands firsthand the importance of early intervention.

“It is really interesting to go into the homes and include the caregivers in the therapy session,” Stanz said. “They are able to see firsthand strategies they can use to continue progress when the SLP’s aren’t around.

“I also love getting to be in the child’s everyday environment and incorporating activities and toys they are familiar with. It is helpful in communicating with them and building language skills.

“I’ve had a few clients who I’ve seen make some really great progress in sessions, and it’s been very heartwarming. I have definitely learned things I feel like I wouldn’t have in any other setting. It has been wonderful, and I’m extremely thankful for this opportunity.”

Rebecca Lowe, CSD clinical assistant professor and coordinator of the Early Intervention Program, praised the program for providing service-learning opportunities for her students and providing job opportunities.

“We really look at this as a feeder program, since our graduate students who participate can become professional service providers in the state network after graduation and licensure,” Lowe said.

Lowe and Masterson are working to further develop the university’s involvement in the grant by tapping other disciplines across campus for help, such as education, exercise science and health professions.

“We want to eventually expand our work with other programs from the university,” said Masterson, indicating a need for special instructors in early childhood and special education, physical therapy and occupational therapy.

“We have a mission to improve human health and well-being, first and foremost, in Mississippi,” said Teresa Carithers, interim dean of the School of Applied Sciences. “Through research and service-learning, our departments seek to solve problems for individuals, families and communities in need, and children are chief among the most vulnerable populations.”

The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders within the School of Applied Sciences provides an accredited program to educate and train graduate students in the discipline of communication sciences and disorders specific to the field of speech-language pathology. The department also houses a Speech and Hearing Clinic for training students and for service to the community and university consumers.

Visit for more information about the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders or email For more information about the Early Intervention Program, visit

Legal Studies Offers 3+3 Option with School of Law

Paralegal studies enhances program, adds new fast-track to Juris Doctorate

Susan Duncan, UM law dean (center) and Macey Edmondson, interim assistant dean for admissions and scholarships (left) join Linda Keena, interim chair of legal studies, to announce the launch of the Bachelor of Paralegal Studies 3+3 emphasis. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi is offering a new fast-track to the School of Law through a Bachelor of Paralegal Studies 3+3 emphasis in the Department of Legal Studies, reducing the time and tuition dollars needed to complete a bachelor’s and law degree.

Under this new pre-law emphasis for paralegal studies majors, a student’s fourth-year requirements for the B.P.S. are satisfied by completing first-year law school classes. The student must meet the law school’s admissions requirements, which are established each year based on the previous year’s data on grade-point averages and Law School Admission Test scores for students admitted to the school.

While there is no guaranteed entry to law school, students who designate this new emphasis of study are signaling their passion for the field.

“The fact that they picked an undergraduate degree that closely aligns with the legal profession shows us they have a strong interest in law,” said Susan Duncan, UM law dean.

In their first three years of study, students take courses in legal research and writing, civil litigation, and criminal law and procedure, providing them with a critical understanding of the total system of justice and the society in which it functions. An extensive internship program enables students to link classroom learning with practical experience.

In their fourth year, students will begin taking classes offered to first-year law students, including contracts, torts, civil procedure, property and constitutional law.

“We have students tell us, ‘I’m interested in law school. What should I major in?'” said Linda Keena, interim chair of legal studies. “Paralegal studies, if you look at the curriculum, is a perfect entree to law school. If you look at how the curriculum is set up, the focus is on critical thinking in every course, which is so beneficial in law school.”

Recruiting the best and brightest students to law school is a priority for Duncan and Macey Edmondson, the school’s interim admissions director.

“This program allows us to get strong students from our own institution,” Edmondson said. “We can work with them earlier and help them map out their law school path.

“I think students who engage in the 3+3 program are a little ahead of the curve because they will have had some experience with law firms and different legal backgrounds, so we can meet them where they are and guide them on their path.”

A student who chooses this emphasis but does not meet law school admissions requirements or elects not to attend law school can switch to legal studies’ paralegal emphasis and complete a fourth year of undergraduate study to earn their B.P.S.

“If a student decides not to go to law school, they will still have the expertise to do most of the legal research and work done in a law office under the supervision of a licensed attorney,” said Whitman Smith, UM admissions director. “This will be a major attraction to students interested in the legal profession.”

Campus leaders concerned about overall affordability point out the program’s cost savings for students.

“I think we have an obligation to try and hold down student debt,” Duncan said. “This is really attractive, because the students can take a whole year off the process and get into the workforce faster.

“These people know what they want to do, so let’s help them get there quicker and eliminate part of the tuition burden.”

The new emphasis is the brainchild of now-retired legal studies professor, Robert Mongue, who recently returned to Ole Miss as an adjunct faculty in legal studies.

“Once I began discussing this type of program with faculty from other institutions, it became clear that we owed it to our students, the university and the state of Mississippi to implement a 3+3 option for qualified students,” he said.

Several similar programs exist across the nation and seem to being doing well, Mongue said. In fact, the 3+3 concept appears to be a trend in legal education.

“My alma mater, the University of Maine, has one initiated by the law school,” Mongue said. “It has agreements with three undergraduate educational institutions, so some of my initial investigation was based there.

“However, since our model is a UM undergraduate-to-UM School of Law only, it is closer in operation to those at Fordham University, University of Central Florida, Florida State University and the University of Iowa, a top-50 law school that started its program in 2013.”

Before his retirement, Mongue created a supervisory board, soliciting help from legal professionals, educators and alumni to modify the paralegal studies curriculum, get valuable input about trends in the field and promote the program. He worked to enrich the curriculum with more critical thinking by adding courses such as logic and LA 440: Access to Justice.

Heather Joyner, paralegal studies coordinator and instructor. Submitted photo

Students who take Access to Justice can work for legal organizations, such as North Mississippi Rural Legal Services, that help populations without appropriate access to legal representation or services, said Heather Joyner, paralegal studies coordinator and instructor. Students get hands-on experience doing intakes and writing legal document, such as wills, for people with financial need.

Program internships also are available, ranging anywhere from the U.S. Attorney’s Office to private law firms, during students’ junior or senior year of undergraduate study.

“If a student wants to have part-time employment while they’re in law school, these internships and classes that give them real-world experience open doors for jobs in the legal profession,” Joyner said.

Previously an adjunct professor at UM and Northwest Mississippi Community College, Joyner served as assistant district attorney for the 1st Judicial District from 2002 to 2011 and public defender for Lee County Youth Court in 2000-02. She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Alabama and her master’s degree in political science from Mississippi State University.

“The students entering higher level courses have shown marked improvement in being able to apply foundational knowledge in the upper-level courses since Heather started teaching,” Keena said. “Her contacts in law offices, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, state prosecutors’ offices and the like strengthen her credentials. We are very excited to have her join our faculty on a full-time basis.”

Stakeholders are optimistic that compressing the amount of time and money involved will provide opportunities for students to earn law degrees and apply that knowledge in a variety of fields outside of the courtroom.

“There is so much more you can do with a law degree other than being a litigator,” Keena said. “Many of our students are interested in homeland security, and there are things they can do with a law degree in that capacity.

“Entrepreneurially thinking, it is so helpful to have that law degree, so if at this stage, as freshmen and sophomores, they can start to see that there are options for them beyond being a litigator, I think we’ll see this 3+3 program blossom.”

For more information about the Bachelor of Paralegal Studies 3+3 emphasis, email

UM Social Work Student Wins Leadership in Health Care Scholarship

State professional organization recognizes Ashleigh Jones

Ashleigh Jones (left), a graduate student in social work at the University of Mississippi, receives the Mississippi Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care scholarship at the organization’s annual conference in Tupelo. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The Mississippi Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care has awarded Ashleigh Jones, a graduate student in social work at the University of Mississippi, its annual scholarship in recognition of her academic excellence and community engagement.

The scholarship was established to provide financial assistance to those students interested in pursuing social work careers in health care. Three recipients were selected based on several criteria, including academic standing, community involvement, awards and aspirations.

After Jones was admitted to the competitive master’s program in the UM Department of Social Work, she became one of two graduate assistants in the department’s Child Welfare Academy, which provides training for all new child welfare workers and existing supervisors in the state.

“She possesses rare, yet much-needed, strengths and abilities that are crucial for training workers employed in child protective services – the workers that ensure safety, well-being, as well as mental and physical health for Mississippi’s children,” said Viktor Burlaka, assistant professor of social work.

“Ashleigh’s work for my class was always of the highest quality, and through my conversations with her during office hours, it quickly became apparent that she is a well-rounded student with a genuine interest in social work with medical patients suffering from chemical addictions,” Burlaka said.

After graduation, Jones wants to become a counselor for an adolescent residential treatment program for girls and, eventually, a clinical director.

“Because of my experience and education, I am the perfect candidate to crush the stigma and educate those suffering, their families and society about the epidemic that is drug addiction,” Jones said.

Jones is close to the issue of substance abuse and mental health, having overcome addiction at age 19 after losing her father to suicide, a result of untreated bipolar disorder. After seeking treatment, she dedicated herself to living a lifestyle of recovery.

“The therapists I encountered challenged me along the way, and there was one in particular that I felt just understood me,” she said.

“I knew I had to become one of those people. Very few people get clean at the age that I did, and I just want to help others in this age group realize that their potential is truly limitless. I feel called to give those people a voice that would otherwise have none.”

Jones attributes much of her success to faculty in the Ole Miss social work department.

“The social work classes at Ole Miss talked about the good, bad and the ugly,” Jones said. “Each instructor highlighted the importance of ethics and practice principles, but the most important thing that each one did was talk about self-care. I have to constantly remind myself how important that is.

“They also made themselves available and worked with me, despite my circumstances. I was pregnant and due during finals week last fall and had multiple doctors’ appointments. They worked with me, asked me how I was doing and made sure that I was taking care of myself. The social work department is unique. We are all a family, and I am honored to be a part of it.”

The UM Master of Social Work program has a clinical concentration. Students gain the advanced knowledge, values and skills to work in a variety of clinical settings, such as health, mental health, aging, child welfare and administrative fields of practice.

The department also offers a bachelor’s degree in social work and a doctoral program in social welfare. For more information about social work at Ole Miss, visit or email

‘Just Mercy’ Panel Sparks Restorative Justice Discussion at UM

Legal studies department and Common Reading Experience host 250 students for program

Roughly 250 students attended the ‘Just Mercy’ panel discussion hosted by the Department of Legal Studies and the UM Common Reading Experience. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – “Is it the water that needs to be changed, or is it the fish? I think it is the water that needs to be changed,” said Joseph Holiday, an inmate at the Marshall County Correctional Center.

Holiday’s question regarding the high rate of recidivism in Mississippi’s prison system elicited applause from the 250 students attending the recent panel discussion hosted by the University of Mississippi Department of Legal Studies and the Common Reading Experience about social issues and problems in the criminal justice system. The issue is the focus of “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption,” this year’s universitywide common reading book.

Twelve inmates from the Marshall County Correctional Center joined the event via Skype to share their insights from the book, having completed a study of it through restorative justice classes with Linda Keena, event facilitator and interim legal studies department chair.

Panelists included Patrick Alexander, assistant professor of English and African American studies and co-founder of the UM Prison-to-College Pipeline program; Randall Rhodes, chief juvenile officer for the 32nd Judicial Circuit of Missouri and adjunct legal studies instructor; and Patricia Doty, deputy warden of security operations at the Marshall County Correctional Center.

The final panelist was Terun Moore. Originally sentenced as a juvenile to life without parole, Moore was paroled in October after serving 19 years. He was able to appeal for parole thanks to “Just Mercy” author Bryan Stevenson’s winning argument to the Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama that life sentences without parole are unconstitutional for juveniles.

“This has been a great motivation to each and every one of us,” Moore said. “We have learned through our restorative justice class that the things we did to our victims took away from them the power that they once had and instilled fear instead.

“We’ve learned to how to take responsibility for that. We want to thank Dr. Keena and Warden Doty, who have been very supportive of us. This class has been wonderful.”

Restorative justice is a sentencing philosophy wherein the focus isn’t on the perpetrator and how to punish him or her. The focus is on the victims and what would make them feel whole, Keena said.

“We work with the institutions to teach the offenders to recognize their responsibility, to quit blaming other people for their wrongdoings and then provide them opportunities to make amends for their harm to society,” she said.

Alexander described the UM Prison-to-College Pipeline classes he teaches at Parchman. The program, a university-community engagement initiative, promotes higher education in prison in response to rising rates of incarceration, high-cost punishment and recidivism in the state.

Ole Miss joins Mississippi College, Millsaps University and Jackson State University in providing classes, supplies, books and professors to teach incarcerated people.

“This is an investment in our shared citizenship,” said Alexander, citing the high rate of illiteracy among incarcerated people. “It saves taxpayer dollars. Education, particularly higher education, reduces recidivism.

“There is a much greater chance these people who have taken these restorative justices classes will do well when they are back out in society.”

Twelve inmates from the Marshall County Correctional Facility joined the event via Skype with host Melissa Dennis, of the UM Common Reading Experience (left); facilitator Linda Keena, legal studies department chair (second from left); and panelists Patrick Alexander, assistant professor of English and African American studies and co-founder of the UM Prison-to-College Pipeline Program; Randall Rhodes, chief juvenile officer for the 32nd Judicial Circuit of Missouri and adjunct legal studies instructor; Patricia Doty, deputy warden of security operations at the Marshall County Correctional Center; and Terun Moore, a recent parolee. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Communications

Rhodes talked about the school-to-prison pipeline he combats through grant-funded detention alternative programming that diverts juveniles into community engagement before they end up in prison as adults. He discussed the growing number of children in foster care due to parents’ drug abuse and skyrocketing elementary school suspension rates affecting a disproportionate number of children of color.

“I want to warn you that this bubble of foster care youth and this bubble of elementary suspension kids is a problem,” Rhodes said. “It is really something we have to watch. Stevenson’s idea of a constantly moving target where racial biases come in – now it has moved to this elementary suspension zone.”

Improving the way courts and society consider mitigating factors, such as previous abuse and mental health issues, became an important talking point for the panelists.

In Doty’s years in the criminal justice system, inmates have shared a common thread of substance abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse or mental health problems, she said. Society would rather not address these problems because people don’t understand them and are afraid, she said.

“Substance abuse contributes to a significant amount of crimes in the U.S., and a significant number of those folks are people of color,” Doty said. “White people have a more significant substance abuse problem, yet people of color are more often incarcerated.”

Rhodes encouraged students to volunteer time with vulnerable children to help keep them out of prison.

“With all my years in grant programs, I’ve always told my officers (that) it really doesn’t matter what you spend time doing with these children, but that you’re right there beside them spending time with them, showing enthusiasm for whatever you’re doing together,” he said. “Whatever you have to offer is important.

“The kids are going to get something out of it – an attachment with an adult who cares about them. So go for it. Go out there and do it.”

The evening ended with the men from the Marshall County Correctional Center thanking Ole Miss students, faculty and staff for the opportunity to connect.

“Let everyone know, the people there in the audience, you all are the future and cornerstone of changing the mindset of how incarcerated people are viewed in the United States,” said Joseph Holiday of New Orleans.

“The worst prison is what a lot of people are dealing with right now – the prison inside the mind. Many people are held captive to their old prejudices, biases and other things that aren’t conducive to our human development. We want to ask you all to lay down your past biases about those incarcerated and look at the soul and mindset of the individual that can be cultivated.”

For more information about the UM criminal justice program, email or visit