Meet Margaret F. Walden, October’s Staff Member of the Month

Margaret F. Walden

Margaret F. Walden, associate director for institutional research in the Office of Institutional Research, Effectiveness and Planning, has been selected as Staff Council’s Staff Member of the Month for October. To help us get to know her better, she answered a few questions for Inside Ole Miss.

IOM: How long have you worked at Ole Miss? 

Walden: 11 years. 

IOM: What is your hometown?

Walden: Pensacola, Florida. 

IOM: Talk about your favorite Ole Miss memory.

Walden: It was the day I attended Freshmen Orientation with my son. All of the orientation events were wonderful, but the most exciting part was the realization that I was now officially an Ole Miss parent.

IOM: What do you enjoy most about your position or the department in which you work?

Walden: The best thing about working in IREP is the people. I enjoy working through technical issues with the staff and finding creative ways to support our internal and external stakeholders.

IOM: What do you like to do when you are not at work?

Walden: I love to spend time with my family, go on walks and to read.

IOM: What is one thing on your bucket list?

Walden: To go hiking and watching the sunset in the Grand Canyon.

IOM: What is your favorite movie or book?

Walden: My preference would be to read rather than watch movies. My favorite books are Christian fictions, especially the “Left Behind” series.

IOM: What is your favorite Ole Miss tradition?

Walden: My favorite Ole Miss tradition is the annual Staff Appreciation Week. The university is only as great as its people. I think we should always take time to let those around us know how much we appreciate the outstanding contributions they make to their individual departments, to the university and to the community.

IOM: What is a fun fact about you?

Walden: I am a foster parent. Having reared my own three children, I am enjoying the challenges of partnering with my church, Child Protective Services and the community in providing a safe and nurturing environment for children in foster care as they transition through a very stressful and sometimes unpredictable time in their lives.

IOM: If you could have lunch with anyone alive or dead/fictional or real, who would it be and why?

Walden: While there are several great people in history I would love to meet, if I could have lunch with any one person, it would be my father – Howard Freeman Sr. He passed away almost nine years ago. I think about him every day, and I would love to have just one more opportunity to see him face-to-face and listen to the great wisdom he possessed.

IOM: What are three words you would use to describe yourself?

Walden: Encouraging, analytical and faithful.

IOM: If you could visit one time or place in world history (past, present or future), what would it be?

Walden: I would like to have witnessed Dr. Martin King deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech. I believe this was a pivotal moment in America’s history.

IOM: If I could be an animal for a day I would be _____ .

Walden: An eagle, because I taught my children that they should always soar high and reach for the stars.

To nominate a colleague for Staff Member of the Month, email staffcouncil@olemiss.edu with the name of the individual you’d like to nominate as well as why you feel he or she should be recognized.

Meet Loretta Sledge Thomas, September’s Staff Member of the Month

Loretta Sledge Thomas

Loretta Sledge Thomas, an assistant II in the Department of Procurement, has been selected as Staff Council’s Staff Member of the Month for September. To help us get to know her better, she answered a few questions for Inside Ole Miss.

IOM: How long have you worked at Ole Miss?

Thomas: 20 years on Oct. 5

IOM: What is your hometown?

Thomas: Oxford. I’ve been here all of my life.

IOM: Talk about your favorite Ole Miss memory.

Thomas: My older sister Diana graduated from Ole Miss, and my niece Katie Tidwell will graduate in May 2019.

IOM: What do you enjoy most about your position or the department in which you work?

Thomas: I love the people that I get to work with on a daily basis. These folks keep me going on bad days, and we are always laughing. Everyone encourages each other. I’ve worked under Procurement Services my entire time at Ole Miss. Then the people I talk to all over campus, the awesome faculty and staff, make my job enjoyable.

IOM: What do you like to do when you are not at work?

Thomas: Be with my family, my husband and son. We camp out a good bit, and I play the piano at church.

IOM: What is one thing on your bucket list?

Thomas: Visiting Alaska with my husband, Gale, and my son, Bradley.

IOM: What is your favorite movie?

Thomas: “Deja Vu” with Denzel Washington.

IOM: What is your favorite Ole Miss tradition?

Thomas: Ole Miss football. Love it!

IOM: What is a fun fact about you?

Thomas: Most people don’t know this, but I sing in church and used to sing in a local group when I was in my teens and early twenties.

IOM: If you could have lunch with anyone alive or dead/fictional or real, who would it be and why?

Thomas: My twin sister, Loreen. She passed away from kidney failure eight years ago. I miss her every day and really miss the time she worked on campus, too.

IOM: What are three words you would use to describe yourself?

Thomas: Christian, loyal and devoted.

IOM: If you could visit one time or place in world history – past, present, or future – what would it be?

Thomas: I’m looking onward and upward. I’ll stay right where God wants me to be today.

IOM: If I could be an animal for a day, I would be _____.

Thomas: A dog. 

To nominate a colleague for Staff Member of the Month, email staffcouncil@olemiss.edu with the name of the individual you’d like to nominate as well as why you feel he or she should be recognized.

Meet Laura Vaughn, August’s Staff Member of the Month

Laura Vaughn

Laura Vaughn, coordinator of admissions for the UM Intensive English Program, has been selected as Staff Council’s Staff Member of the Month for August. To help us get to know her better, she answered a few questions for Inside Ole Miss.

IOM: How long have you worked at Ole Miss?

Vaughn: Five years.

IOM: What is your hometown?

Vaughn: Starkville, Mississippi. 

IOM: Talk about your favorite Ole Miss memory.

Vaughn: I will never forget one group of new students a few years ago. It was only their second day on campus, but one of them loved football and did a lot of research about Ole Miss traditions ahead of time. We were heading to an event and he starts teaching the rest of the students the “Hotty Toddy” chant. By the time we got to where we were going, the entire group was chanting “Hotty Toddy” at the top of their lungs and it was pretty amazing to hear.

IOM: What do you enjoy most about your position or the department in which you work?

Vaughn: I love getting to meet new students from all over the world every semester. I especially enjoy watching students enter into our program with very little English and then seeing their skills develop over time to complete fluency.

IOM: What do you like to do when you are not at work?

Vaughn: I enjoy traveling to new places, whether it’s within the United States or abroad.

IOM: What is one thing on your bucket list?

Vaughn: I want to learn how to fly a plane.

IOM: What is your favorite movie?

Vaughn: I like “The Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy.

IOM: What is your favorite Ole Miss tradition?

Vaughn: I enjoy how you can be anywhere in the world, but when you see someone wearing Ole Miss gear, you can greet them with “Hotty Toddy” and have an instant camaraderie.

IOM: What is a fun fact about you?

Vaughn: My arms are double-jointed.

IOM: If you could have lunch with anyone alive or dead, fictional or real, who would it be and why?

Vaughn: I’d like to have lunch with Harriet Tubman to see the person behind the legend and get her thoughts on today’s world.

IOM: What are three words you would use to describe yourself?

Vaughn: Determined, driven and imaginative

IOM: If you could visit one time or place in world history – past, present or future – what would it be?

Vaughn: I wouldn’t visit a time or place in history since I’m honestly fairly happy where I am now. Plus, the past wouldn’t have modern conveniences and I’d be a little too scared to see what the future holds.

IOM: If I could be an animal for a day, I would be _____ .

Vaughn: A cat.

A Retirement Tribute to Robin Buchannon

So Long, My Boss, My Mentor, My Friend

Robin Buchannon and husband, Denny, stop for a quick break during a hike in Patagonia this past February. Submitted photo

I’ve known for many months that my boss and my friend, Robin Buchannon, associate vice chancellor for university relations, was retiring after 34 years at Ole Miss. This day was coming, and, despite my constant cajoling and begging, there was nothing I could do to change it.

So, as a writer, I figured the next best thing I could do was to pen a tribute to her from my perspective as one of her longest employees and mentees.

Rock-solid

My first interaction with Robin came when I worked in Old Chemistry (now Brevard Hall) in the 1990s. I have vague memories of the very nice, soft-spoken blonde woman who worked on the second floor. I didn’t really know much about her other than she was Bob Woolsey’s right hand in the Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute.

So, for those of you who don’t know, Robin came to Ole Miss in 1981 as a graduate assistant in the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering. She went on to earn her M.S. in Geology and her Ph.D. in Engineering Sciences from Ole Miss before assuming roles of research assistant professor and associate director and research geologist in MMRI. She’s a registered professional geologist and, for many years, chaired the program committee for the Offshore Technology Conference for the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration.

I guess you can trace the roots of her rock-solid reputation back to her academic beginnings!

The Permanent Interim

I didn’t really know Robin during the first half of her career at Ole Miss as a geologist. Rather, for the last 16 years, I have known her as a stellar supervisor, an exceptional role model and an administrator extraordinaire. In fact, I have very succinct memories of Robin from 2002, when she assumed the role of interim administrative director of the Mississippi Space Commerce Initiative. It was the first time that Robin was asked to step up into an interim role to be the steady hand to guide a struggling program, but it wouldn’t be the last.

In fact, over the next 15 years, Robin would serve in special assignment leadership roles for more than five programs, centers and departments. The extent of her knowledge ranges from remote sensing to economic development to food services and a little bit of everything else in between!

Some of her greatest successes came during her time in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, including being named assistant vice chancellor in 2008. During this time, she never met a budget she didn’t like and honed her airtight knowledge of institutional policies and procedures. Robin was also instrumental in enhancing the credentials of the department by encouraging and supporting staff to follow in her footsteps and become Certified Research Administrators – it was the first time in the history of UM that such a level of external credentialing had been achieved by the staff of the sponsored programs administration.

Robin Buchannon and husband, Denny, enjoy cake during an Office of Research celebration thanking Robin for her many years of service before she transitioned to University Relations. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

A Tough Exterior

I know that many see Robin as a tough nut to crack – and she is. But it was because she always did things the right way: following and enforcing policies and procedures, holding people accountable and handling the most difficult and challenging situations with a quiet, assured confidence. She approached every aspect of her job with the utmost integrity, always keeping the university’s best interest as her guiding principle. It was never in doubt that she truly loves this university.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones who got beyond that tough exterior and had the privilege of knowing her as a friend. Over the last 16 years, we’ve shared long lunches and fun dinners. We’ve shared tailgating Saturdays in the Grove. We’ve shared shopping trips and birthday gifts. And maybe best of all, we’ve shared our love of birthday cake!

Superpowers

Whether or not she intentionally set out to be a role model for others, for me, Robin has served as one of the outstanding women at this university whom I have tried to emulate and learn from. Alice Clark is another one of these remarkable women, but that is a story for another day.   

Over the last 16 years, Robin has nurtured my potential and encouraged me to learn more, take on more responsibility and aim for the next steps in my career at the university. She had great confidence in me, always recognizing my abilities and talents way before I knew I was ready.

Her knowledge of this university is unsurpassed. She has amazing working relationships across every aspect of UM and is widely respected. In the face of working in some of the most challenging situations, I can’t ever remember Robin being ruffled – I think her superpower is her steady, even-tempered, calming influence. But keep an eye out … if you are ever lucky enough to get a glimpse of her sense of humor, she is wickedly funny!

Bet You Didn’t Know

So, while Robin’s reputation for being the epitome of grace under pressure may be widely known, you may not know that she and her husband, Denny, are avid travelers. In fact, they’ve traveled to more than 20 countries. Their travels have included climbing to basecamp at Mount Everest and hiking in Patagonia. They’ve even been known to hop on a last-minute flight to spend the weekend in Paris!

In addition to traveling, she is passionate about music – the Beatles and Paul McCartney in particular. Did you know that she has been to 13 Paul McCartney concerts in four countries?

But perhaps she is most truly passionate about her relationships. Whether it is her volunteer work with the Pilot Club, the friendships she has nurtured over many years, her beloved nieces and nephews, or her feisty cats, Robin is genuine, giving and loyal. I am grateful that my professional life brought with it one of my most treasured friendships.

A Well-deserved Rest

In 2016, Robin was ready to take it to the house. She had enjoyed a magnificent career full of exceptional achievements. But her beloved university called her to serve once more. This time – for her swan song – Robin would serve as associate vice chancellor for university relations to round out an already stellar career.

I can already see her now, sitting on her back porch enjoying the solitude of no HR forms to process or budgets to reconcile. Or, I can see her making the rounds of visiting friends and family far and wide. Or, I can see her jetting to far-off, exotic places. Well, Robin, whatever you choose to do, here’s to all your many, well-deserved future adventures.

And although a decade-and-a-half was not enough time to learn all I could from you, I’m so very grateful that I was able to spend such a significant part of my Ole Miss adventure with you.

Telling Her Story

For those familiar with the wildly popular Broadway show “Hamilton,” there is a very poignant tune about who will tell your story, how it’s the people who remember you who shape your legacy. In keeping with this theme, I reached out to a several people who have had the distinct privilege of working with Robin over her many years at Ole Miss. Here is how they will tell her story…

“Robin has an amazing ability to resolve complex issues in a quiet, professional manner. I worked closely with Robin for 14 years and admired her ability to analyze a situation and quickly get to the heart of the matter. She involved as few people as absolutely necessary to develop a plan forward and always approached situations with the mindset of ‘what is best for the university.’ She also has a great sense of humor and knows when to use it to put others at ease.

“I know it is a cliche, but Robin is irreplaceable, and deserves a tremendous amount of credit for building the research infrastructure that is needed to manage an R1 research enterprise.”

– Walter G. Chambliss, interim associate vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs and professor of pharmaceutics and drug delivery

 

“Robin was one of the first people that I met when I came to the University of Mississippi in 1995. Over the years, we have worked together on many different initiatives and projects. Robin and I spent many hours in car rides to the Stennis Space Center, as part of ‘Driving Miss Robin,’ and during those drives we developed a warm friendship. She has always been a trusted friend that I could go to for advice and counsel. I always appreciated her candor, her advice and her support. The University of Mississippi and I will miss having her on campus.”

– Greg Easson, director and professor, Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute, and associate dean for research and graduate education

 

“Sometimes it is hard to find the right words to acknowledge and describe someone as wonderful as Dr. B. I met her in 2002 while working at Stennis Space Center for the Mississippi Space Commerce Initiative when she was introduced as our interim director. It was evident during our first meeting that she was a person who truly cared about her job, the university and its mission.

“She is one of the most dedicated people I’ve ever met – strong and soft-spoken. I’d like to thank her for being my inspiration, for helping me grow and become the person I am today. She’s truly one of a kind, a leader who makes everyone else stronger. I’ve never been able to call her Robin as I preferred Dr. B., but I will forever call her my friend.” 

Christine Narcisse, retired

           

“I met Robin for the first time on a group trip to Tuscany, Italy. It was an eclectic mix of people and personalities, and it was truly an adventure from beginning to end. Many fond memories were made through cooking classes, wine tastings, goat farms, chocolate and quirky tour guides. Looking back, I realize that I was one of the lucky few who got to know Robin while pursuing one of her true passions: travel!

“Two years later, Robin and I would cross paths again when Dr. Clark was named vice chancellor for university relations. Initially, I joked with her that she probably didn’t want to see me again after ‘Italy,’ but you learn important things about people when you travel with them and when you work with them. In the short time we worked together, we celebrated small victories, struggled through difficult times and she taught me to approach each new challenge fearlessly – with an open heart and mind.

“From those experiences, I learned that Robin has strength, character and grace that I will strive to emulate for the rest of my career. I’m truly grateful to call Robin a mentor, friend and personal hero!” 

Lauren Beyers, executive director of advancement services, University Development

 

“I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Buchannon during the final two years of her career at the university. In that short time, I found her grace, candor and sharp wit to be unmatched; her commitment to this university to be unparalleled; and her trust to be inspiring. Dr. Buchannon is a true servant leader. My only regret is that I didn’t get to work with her longer than I did. Her impact at Ole Miss will be felt long after she’s retired to her next great adventure.”

Ryan Whittington, director of marketing and brand strategy, University Communications

 

“It’s impossible to sum up Robin Buchannon’s impact on our university in a short statement. There is no one I respect more, value more or trust more than Robin. She embodies all that we hope for in a colleague and a friend: she’s trustworthy, thoughtful, honest, knowledgeable, dependable, loyal and a delight to work with every day. Day after day, year after year, it’s people like Robin Buchannon who have worked hard to shape the acclaimed Ole Miss culture of integrity, quality, helpfulness and a commitment to the greater good.

“She is highly respected across campus, is always professional, kind and helpful to all, knows everything about everything (or where to find it), is willing to take on any job asked of her and can solve any problem. She has been a gift to our university, and her absence will be deeply felt throughout the university.”

Alice Clark, interim vice chancellor for university relations and F.A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professor of Pharmacognosy

Q&A: UPD Capt. Thelma Curry Reflects on 40-Year Career

Longtime officer has been a part of university's transformation and growth

University of Mississippi Police Capt. Thelma Curry (left) has retired. Looking back on her 40-year career, she said she cherishes the time spent interacting with students at events like this ‘Coffee With A Cop’ in 2016. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Thelma Curry, a captain in the University of Mississippi Police Department, has been a familiar face on campus for more than 40 years, but she recently put down her badge for good. 

Curry, UPD’s captain of support operations, retired May 31 after a career that began on campus when she was an Ole Miss undergraduate. She was an intern with UPD and was encouraged to apply for an open patrol officer position. She was hired and never looked back.

Through the years, she’s worked for seven different UPD chiefs and has seen the university grow from just a few thousand students to more than 20,000 on the Oxford campus. 

On her last day of work, she took a break from cleaning out her office to talk with Inside Ole Miss about her time at the university. Here is the interview in its entirety: 

IOM: Tell us how you got started at Ole Miss.

Curry: I came to school here as a freshman in 1975, and in 1977 I started working for the police department as a student worker. Along the way in my junior year, I was getting ready to do my internship and a position came open within UPD, so I decided, with some encouragement from some other folks, who said, “Why don’t you apply?” I did. Luckily, I got the position.

It’s so funny because when I was asked then how long I expected to be here, I said, “Two years at most, until I finish my degree (laughs).” Along the way, I finished the police academy and then before you knew it, it was five years. The years just passed so fast.

 The beauty about UPD is every day at work is different. You never know what you’re going to do.

IOM: Talk a little about how you went from easing into that job when you were young to figuring out this is where you wanted to be, and what you wanted to keep doing. How did it hit you?

Curry: I just felt that I was helping the students. I was continually taking classes, so I was in school and in classes with a lot of students and just seeing them around, and if they needed something, even though I was a patrol officer, they felt comfortable coming to me and talking to me.

Then, being involved in a lot of different staff activities, it just kind of like, “This is OK. This is where I want to be.”

IOM: What is it you like best about working on campus?

Curry: I guess it’s truly the family atmosphere that you see here. Every August and September, you get a new group of people to speak to and be involved with, and, of course, seeing the campus grow as it has. There were 4,000 or 5,000 students when I started, up to more than 20,000 now.

You can tell how the campus has changed and grown for the betterment of the students. Throughout all of the years, UPD has been focused on the students and their safety and making sure we get them out of here in a safe environment.

IOM: Talk a little about that. I know you have seen a change in the campus since you started 40 years ago. Talk about what it was like when you started, compared to what it is like now.

Curry: Oxford itself wasn’t as full blossomed, you may say, as it is now. There were very few activities for students to participate in off-campus. The majority of their activities were on-campus and we didn’t have as many residence halls as we do now.

It was just that wholesome feeling, and the students pretty much got along. There always have been some type of issue going on, but through it all, the students always come together with the administration and they always work through the problems.

IOM: Are there moments in your career that stand out to you? A few memories that you’d like to share that will always stand out to you, things you’re proud of?

Curry: In recent years, I think one of the biggest things is seeing students in various activities like the Big Event, when it first started and getting students involved in different activities, going out and helping the community. If they get out and give back to the community, through events like RebelTHON, they’re doing stuff for other people.

I think that makes a person well-rounded, when you’re looking after the needs of others. That makes them feel like part of the community and it sets some standards for them in life, like placing an importance of taking care of others and looking after the needs of others.

IOM: Today is your last day. What are thinking about? What’s going through your mind?

University of Mississippi Police Capt. Thelma Curry

Curry: I had a moment this morning. I was like, “Oh, Lord. This is my last day leaving the house to go to work at UPD.” It’s bittersweet.

At some point, everyone has to call it quits, in a sense, but it’s been a great career. I look back – we only had 13 patrol officers, and now we’re up to, like, 22. I’ve served through seven UPD chiefs. Just going through all of the different changes and each one of them had a different focus, missions, but still we all worked toward the greater good and toward the university’s mission to provide security for our students, the staff and visitors alike.

For the most part, UPD has always been well-received by students. We try to be interactive with them. They don’t see us as the bad guy, so to speak. People know we’re here to provide law enforcement services, but there are those other things that we do.

When I first started, we provided ambulance service to the campus, as well as police duties. We had EMTs. That was a service we provided, and just watching that change go over, it is just different aspects of the whole campus. We have substations for students. We have tried to be in the community with students so we’re more accessible to them.

IOM: What’s next for Thelma Curry? What do you plan to do?

Curry: First I’m going to rest a little bit (laughs). I’ll also work part-time at Kroger, so I will do that for a little while longer. I want to still be involved in the community, but some things I’ll stop doing.

For a while, I didn’t know how to say no, then I had to learn how to say no. I want to get back involved with some things. I have served on various committees.

When I became crime prevention coordinator in 1977, I became a board member of Family Crisis Services of Northwest Mississippi, and throughout the years I stayed involved with that because, at first, it’s kind of like a grassroots organization in that it has very little funding, so the volunteers and the staff do a lot of the work. I saw how it benefited those victims of family violence.

Of course, I will stay involved with United Way. You can see the good that United Way does for all the different organizations and people that they help. I resigned from the board last fall, but I will continue to help out. Also, I have been volunteering with the food pantry. That is another need that is being fulfilled. I also plan to be more involved in church activities. 

IOM: Is there anything else you’d like to say to the Ole Miss community?

Curry: The faculty and staff have been great. As far as the students, I have had so many people that I have met along the way, people I can call on for various reasons and there is always an answer or a willingness to help out in any way possible.

I think when they say that this is one of the best workplaces, I can truly say that it is, but you have to put your heart into it and be involved with everything that is going on and do your part. This is the only way a real family works; it is everyone being a part and looking for the greater good. The greater good is the education of the students and having a welcoming atmosphere so that anyone who steps on this campus can feel like they belong.

If we get all of that accomplished, this will continue to be a great university and a place that people will want to come and enjoy.

Meet Katherine Slone, May’s Staff Member of the Month

Katherine Slone

Katherine Slone, executive assistant in the Office of the Provost, has been selected as Staff Council’s Staff Member of the Month for May. To help us get to know her better, Slone answered a few questions for Inside Ole Miss.

IOM: How long have you worked at Ole Miss? 

Slone: Six years.         

IOM: What is your hometown?

Slone: Oxford, born and raised!

IOM: Talk about your favorite Ole Miss memory. 

Slone: When Ole Miss beat Alabama in 2014!

IOM: What do you enjoy most about your position or the department in which you work?

Slone: My co-workers and the diverse visitors that come through the university.

IOM: What do you like to do when you are not at work?

Slone: I enjoy spending time with my family and working on DIY projects with my husband.

IOM: What is one thing on your bucket list?

Slone: To retire!

IOM: What is your favorite movie?

Slone: “Just Go with It.”

IOM: What is your favorite Ole Miss tradition?

Slone: Hotty Toddy! I love the enthusiasm of the cheer.

IOM: What is a fun fact about you?

Slone: I completed my first half-marathon last year.

IOM: If you could have lunch with anyone alive or dead/fictional or real, who would it be and why?

Slone: My brother – I would love to see him again and exchange stories about everything that’s happened in the past 26 years.

IOM: What are three words you would use to describe yourself?

Slone: Compassionate, dependable and resourceful.

IOM: If you could visit one time or place in world history – past, present or future – what would it be?

Slone: The future in 100 years. I would like to see all the technological advances and how they impact daily society.

IOM: If you could be an animal for a day you would be _____.

Slone: A dolphin.

To nominate a colleague for the Staff Member of the Month, email staffcouncil@olemiss.edu with the name of the individual you’d like to nominate as well as why you feel he or she should be recognized.

Persistence Leads to Perseverance

Mary Knight, a friend and colleague, has been a tremendous support in my journey. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

“A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.” – B.F. Skinner

The inaugural Red and Blue Celebration for graduating faculty and staff is a testament to those who have worked hard to overcome obstacles of balancing life, work and family, all while bettering themselves through education.

For some of us, such as myself, it was a journey filled with many setbacks.

In 2013, I was ready to graduate. I began looking at graduate programs, took the GRE and even joined the Ole Miss Alumni Association. I even have a brick with my name on it in the circle under the Class of 2013. That’s how ready I was to graduate. Then, as it tends to do so, life happened. I ended up lacking one single class and, due to several setbacks, was not able to finish.

Four years would pass before I would finally have a chance to complete my degree.

On Wednesday (May 9), I participated in the inaugural Red and Blue Celebration. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

During my undergraduate years, I was not always the best student. Life tended to get to me, and attempting to balance working 35 hours or more while taking 15 hours of classes was trying on top of other events occurring in my personal life.

I admit I did get lost along the way, briefly, but with time, I grew to understand and learn how to cope with whatever life threw my way. I learned how to better manage my time and how to better cope with circumstances, whatever they maybe.

If college teaches us anything, it is how to adapt to whatever life may have in store. Actually, it teaches us not only to adapt, but never to give up.

I went through every administrative process imaginable during those five years, hoping to finally graduate. Even after the many unsuccessful attempts to finish, I rarely took no for an answer. With the help of an unbelievably gracious friend, I was finally able to take my last class this past fall.

I was so nervous to get back into class after being out for nearly five years and now working a full time job at the university. I knew with the time away, I had been able to reflect on those mistakes and use them as lessons to drive positive change in my life. I was prepared to prove, not only to myself, but everyone, that I am capable.

I am extremely proud to say that in December 2017, I passed my last class with an A to complete my bachelor’s degree in psychology. The lesson here: Being patient and persistent pays off.

I immediately applied for a graduate program, only to be rejected. I made connections and voiced how I knew I would succeed in the program and that my undergraduate time is not a reflection of what I can accomplish. I then reapplied and will be beginning my master’s degree this summer.

Without the support of family, like mine here, many faculty and staff members would not have been able to achieve the success celebrated during the Red and Blue Celebration. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

You cannot simply take rejection as the end-all, be-all. I hold strong to the idea that if one keeps pushing and striving, you can succeed.

It will not always go according to plan, but being able to quickly and effectively adapt to what life has to offer is a valuable lesson all its own. If you’re willing to accept help and know that you are never alone in your journey, there is a tremendous support system here at the university, and at home with family and with friends.

I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to participate with others in such an outstanding celebration of our hard work. It was the perfect closing to this chapter in my life. It’s also the beginning of bigger and better things.

The one thing my family, friends and colleagues have learned from my experience is to believe in yourself, keep pushing and always be patient and persistent.

 

Meet Martina Brewer, April’s Staff Member of the Month

Martina Brewer

Martina Brewer, associate director of admissions, has been selected as Staff Council’s Staff Member of the Month for April. To help us get to know her better, Brewer answered a few questions for Inside Ole Miss.

IOM: How long have you worked at Ole Miss? 

Brewer: Fourteen years. I started in April 2004.

IOM: What is your hometown?

Brewer: Cleveland, Mississippi. 

IOM: Talk about your favorite Ole Miss memory. 

Brewer: My favorite Ole Miss memory was receiving my acceptance letter.

IOM: What do you enjoy most about your position or the department in which you work?

Brewer: What I enjoy most about my position is the staff I work with, The A-Team, and the relationships I build with prospective students, parents and other colleagues.

IOM: What do you like to do when you are not at work?

Brewer: When I am not at work, I enjoy spending time with my family – husband and two sons, 14 years old and 3 years old.

IOM: What is one thing on your bucket list?

Brewer: One thing on my bucket list is to visit Paris, France.

IOM: What is your favorite movie?

Brewer: My favorite movie is “Fireproof.”

IOM: What is your favorite Ole Miss tradition?

Brewer: My favorite Ole Miss tradition is to do House Call. I enjoy meeting the students and hearing their stories.

IOM: What is a fun fact about you?

Brewer: A fun fact about me is I enjoy outdoor activities: gardening, fishing and hunting.

IOM: If you could have lunch with anyone alive or dead/fictional or real, who would it be and why?

Brewer: If I could have lunch with anyone, it would be Mr. Barack Obama. I would love to hear how he overcame the barriers he faced while serving as the commander in chief.

IOM: What are three words you would use to describe yourself?

Brewer: Honest, compassionate and strong-minded

IOM: If you could visit one time or place in world history – past, present, or future – what would it be?

Brewer: Africa

IOM: If you could be an animal for a day you would be _____.

Brewer: An eagle

To nominate a colleague for the Staff Member of the Month, email staffcouncil@olemiss.edu with the name of the individual you’d like to nominate as well as why you feel he or she should be recognized.

School of Applied Sciences Lauds Annual Research Symposium Winners

Students present research in broad range of fields

Ovuokerie Addoh (left) and Emily Frith bring home first- and second-place awards in the Eighth Annual Graduate Student Council Research Symposium. Photo by Paul Loprinzi

OXFORD, Miss. – Administrators and faculty in the School of Applied Sciences offer congratulations to the school’s winners of the Graduate Student Council’s Eighth Annual Research Symposium:

  • Christopher Hill, Sam Wilson, James Grant Mouser, Caleb Williams, Lauren Luginsland and Harish Chander for their third-place podium session, “Impact Of Repeated Balance Perturbations on Lower Extremity Lean Muscle Activity”
  • Daegeun (Dan) Kim, Eun-Kyong (Cindy) Choi, Euntae (Ted) Lee for their second-place podium session, “The Secret to Winning the Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence: A Case Study on Hotels”
  • Jeremiah Blough and Paul D. Loprinzi for their first-place podium session, “Experimentally Investigating the Joint Effects of Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior on Depression and Anxiety: A Randomized Controlled Trial”
  • Kurt Pollack, Georgianna Mann and Kathy Wachter for their third-place poster session, “The Relationship Between Millenials’ Health-Related Lifestyle Behaviors and Label Attitudes and Their Purchase Intention of Organic and Non-GMO Produce”
  • Emily Frith and Paul Loprinzi for their second-place poster session, “Experimental Investigation of Exercise-Related, Perceived Hedonic Responses to Preferred Versus Imposed Media Content”
  • Kirby Rhodes for her second-place poster session, “Police Officers and Procedural Justice: The Forgotten Perspective”
  • Ovuokerie Addoh and Paul D. Loprinzi for their first-place poster session, “Experimental Investigation of Priming Hedonic Responses to Acute Exercise: Pilot Study”

The symposium acts as a mini-conference, allowing graduate students to discuss their research through podium and poster presentations in the categories of social sciences, education, business, accounting, physical and life sciences, arts, humanities, journalism, mathematics, computer science and engineering.

For more information on graduate programs in the School of Applied Sciences, go to http://sas.olemiss.edu/.

Celebrating Great UM Women

Inspiring stories reflect observance of Women's History Month

In conclusion of Women’s History Month, celebrate with accomplishments made by great UM women. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

In celebration of Women’s History Month, this selection of stories highlights achievements by great UM women. These are just  few of the wonderful stories about faculty, staff, students and alumni: