Natchez Native Joins University’s CEED Program

Janae Owens hopes to use her experiences to help create opportunities across the state

Janae Owens (left) and Albert Nylander

Janae Owens (left) and Albert Nylander

OXFORD, Miss. – Growing up on the banks of the Mississippi River in Natchez can be an adventure that immerses residents in the heart of a rich, vibrant history that is complemented by Southern cultural celebrations and events.

However, accompanying that atmosphere is a state of wealth that serves as a jarring contrast to the poverty, crime and economic stagnation seen by LaKyre’a Janae Owens, who was born into a family that resided in Natchez for generations. A graduate of Natchez High School and Mississippi State University, she lives in Oxford, where she is pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Mississippi.

While leaving her hometown was bittersweet for Owens, it also paved the way for her to step back and see what the city has to offer and what resources are needed to provide growth.

“I believe the unique history and live culture of Natchez can be seen by anyone,” Owens said. “That down-home Southern atmosphere can be used as a valuable resource, when envisioning the city in unity, to help overcome the health disparities, social inequalities and illiteracy that exist throughout the city.”

Owens said she believes it is crucial that the community find ways to create economic growth and develop opportunities for all the people of Natchez. That’s why Owens joined the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement at UM as a graduate innovation fellow.

Vaughn Grisham, a leader in the field of community development, founded the McLean Institute at Ole Miss in 1984. From that foundation, the McLean Institute is being dramatically expanded as part of UM 2020, the university’s strategic plan that calls for an increase in service to benefit Mississippi.

The McLean Institute seeks to make community engagement a distinctive part of the university’s educational culture by promoting engaged scholarship and reflective community action.

Owens has been named a McLean Institute Innovation Fellow within the institute’s Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Initiative, known as CEED. Throughout the year, she will be working alongside some 30 other UM students to establish partnerships throughout rural communities in Mississippi.

CEED organizers hope that these partnerships will help boost economic development and entrepreneurship throughout these communities.

“Janae’s role as an innovation fellow at the McLean Institute provides her the opportunity to engage her background from Natchez and her health education/promotion major to advance the mission of the McLean Institute,” said. J.R. Love, CEED project manager.

The goal of each innovation fellow is to develop a specific sustainable solution within a community. The scholars attain the solutions by making connections with communities and by developing a method of research that includes participating in a summerlong internship in their chosen community. Each fellow presents some sort of business plan or research paper at the end of two years.

Although she has many paths left to explore before selecting an area to address, Owens said she is considering focusing her efforts on improving the health, wellness and overall quality of life throughout Mississippi.

She said she hopes her service to the state will play a part in nurturing the growth and development of future generations of Mississippians and, as a result, having a healthier and better-prepared workforce will contribute to sustaining economic development in all corners of the Magnolia State.

UM Junior Receives Prestigious Study Abroad Scholarship

Biloxi native is living and studying in Berlin this academic year

Savannah Coleman

Savannah Coleman

OXFORD, Miss. – Savannah Coleman, a junior at the University of Mississippi, has been given the opportunity of a lifetime this academic year to study abroad in Germany on a scholarship funded by the German Academic Exchange Service.

The Biloxi native is majoring in international studies with a concentration in Europe at UM. A member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Croft Institute for International Studies, she is also studying German, global business and economics.

“I have always been interested in learning about different cultures and the world around me,” said Coleman, who is living and studying in Berlin for two semesters. “International studies and studying abroad just seemed totally natural for me.”

The German Academic Exchange Service – Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst in German, known as DAAD – is a German government-funded program that not only offers scholarships to those wanting to study in Germany, but also to German students wanting to study outside in other countries. The scholarship provides a monthly stipend of 650 euros for 10 months, a funded pre-semester language program, additional funds to defray travel and research expenses, and health insurance.

“I have to say that living in a city like Berlin has exceeded my wildest expectations,” Coleman said. “I have never in my life fallen so completely in love with a city. I feel like I have found a place where I could belong and create a life. There is something for everyone here.”

Each year, about 500 to 600 Ole Miss students study abroad. Many other students believe that studying abroad is out of reach, but the UM Study Abroad Office helps guide students through their journey. The office’s staff helps students plan their programs without getting behind on classes. Financial aid and scholarships apply to study abroad programs, and additional scholarships are available.

Many classes are taught in English, so students without a foreign language background can study all over the world. Studying abroad also looks great on resumes, and international internship opportunities are available in the fall and spring semesters and summer.

Studying abroad offers several benefits, said Blair McElroy, director of the Study Abroad Office.

“Students step out of their comfort zones and experience a new way of life and a new culture,” she said. “But in addition to learning about a new culture, students also learn so much about themselves, including increased tolerance, independence and empathy. They also gain lifelong friends and experiences that stay with them forever and mold their future academic, professional and personal goals.”

Coleman encourages fellow students to take advantage of the opportunities.

“I understand that it can be scary and a bit nerve-wracking, but it is the most incredible adventure you can embark on,” Coleman said. “I feel like study abroad opens doors and opportunities that one could never dream of while back home.”

Anyone interested in studying abroad can visit the Study Abroad Office’s website at For information on applying for the DAAD scholarship for the 2016-17 academic year, visit

CEED Effort Focuses on Community Service

UM students address business needs, poverty issues

The McLean Institute's Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development cohorts 1 and 2 on the steps of the Lyceum with Albert Nylander, director, and J.R. Love, CEED project manager. Photo by Robert Jordan

The McLean Institute’s Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development cohorts 1 and 2 on the steps of the Lyceum with Albert Nylander, director, and J.R. Love, CEED project manager. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The 2014-2016 cohort of the Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development initiative provided 14 University of Mississippi students opportunities to engage in community service projects in Tallahatchie, Calhoun, Coahoma and Lee counties over the past year.

During the 2014-2015 academic year, the students immersed themselves in the mission of the university’s McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, which is to fight poverty through education by transformative service, said J.R. Love, project manager of the CEED initiative.

Social problems such as education, health care, asset building and poverty are all components of the CEED program. The students addressed these issues either by creating a business plan, drafting the framework of a nonprofit organization or authoring an academic/policy paper, he said.

“We recognize the significant challenges that our state faces in the areas addressed by the CEED program, but we also acknowledge that these challenges can be met with tangible solutions,” Love said.

Specific locations of the transformational service by the students included: the CREATE Foundation and North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo; the Tallahatchie Wellness Center in Charleston; the TriCounty Workforce Alliance and the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale; the smART program in Vardaman; Insight Park in Oxford; the Mississippi Development Authority in Jackson; and the Tutwiler Community Center in Tutwiler.

For students such as Caitlin Brooking, who worked with the TriCounty Workforce Alliance, these service projects have allowed them to expand their knowledge with real-world experiences and get to know people they probably never would have met had they stayed within the confines of campus.

“I’ve had the opportunity to meet Josephine Rhymes and Dennis Dupree Jr., two very well-respected staff members of the TriCounty Workforce Alliance who are already making a big impact on Coahoma, Quitman, Tallahatchie, Bolivar and Sunflower counties, and learn from them the priorities of the community and how to best get things done,” Brooking said.

“I’ve also been able to lend my own experience in developing programs that fight poverty in Mississippi, and knowledge from my master’s work in sociology to help them expand their reach and implement new programming in the community. The CEED program is a unique opportunity to learn by doing in an academically supportive environment, and it provides the necessary support system to engage directly with communities and organizations, conduct research and pilot strategies to affect change.”

The students in the 2014-2016 cohort include four Innovation Fellows (UM graduate students): Brooking of Methuen, Massachusetts, Mary Blessey of Biloxi, Daniel Fudge of Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Ashley Smith of Mount Pleasant, North Carolina.

The 2014-2016 cohort also includes 10 Innovation Scholars (UM undergraduate students): Chris Beard of New Albany, Michael Davis of Kilmichael, Lorin Dawson of Salt Lake City, Brittany Fields of Houston, Mississippi, Elizabeth Kelley of Newport Beach, California, Elizabeth Robinson of Flowood, Samuel Russell of Pontotoc, Katelyn Sackett of Canadian Lake, Michigan, Ryan Snow of Summerville, South Carolina, and Camille Walker of Tupelo.

In spring 2016, each student will share his or her solutions as a part of their two-year commitment to the CEED program.

“The McLean Institute is uniquely positioned to address the structural inequities that are a part of many rural communities,” Love said. “Since the founding of the McLean Institute over 30 years ago, the notion of local people addressing local problems has been a hallmark of our institute. These UM students are a key component in working with local people to help address the needs in rural communities in Mississippi.”

The 2015-2017 cohort has started and includes four Innovation Fellows: Will Bedwell of Hattiesburg, Rebecca Bramlett of Memphis, Tennessee, Taeisha Gambrel of Belden and Zack Grossebacher of Madison.

This cohort also includes 12 Innovation Scholars: Madeleine Achgill of Indianapolis, Audrey Dayan of Oxford, Alex Borst of Madison, Madison Gable of Diamondhead, Vera Gardner of Memphis, Terrius Harris of Eagle Lake, Alaska, Leah Gibson of Starkville, Henry Lang-VanDerLaan of Hinsdale, Illinois, Holly Pitts of Indianola, Austin Powell of Corinth, Mackenzie Poole of Olive Branch and Brittanee Wallace of Gulfport.

A $1.6 million donation from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation in 2014 provides the financial support for the CEED initiative.

For more information on the McLean Institute or the CEED program, contact Love at 662-915-8832 or

UM Honors College Names Scholarship Recipients

Outstanding students awarded four prestigious awards to fund Ole Miss studies

Photo by Robert Jordan

The Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College has announced this year’s incoming scholars. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Fourteen standout incoming freshmen accepted into the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at the University of Mississippi have been awarded four of the university’s most prestigious scholarships.

Of the 14, four were awarded the McDonnell-Barksdale Scholarship, six were awarded the Doris Raymond Scholarship, two were awarded the Harold Parker Memorial Scholarship and two were awarded Annexstad Family Foundation Leaders for Tomorrow Scholarships.

Barksdale Scholarship recipients are Dylan Devenny of Pass Christian, John Ross Graham of Hernando, Galina Ostrovsky of Madison and Jessica Tran of Hattiesburg.

Raymond Scholarship recipients are Anna Beavers of Gainsville, Florida, Taylor Bentley of Amarillo, Texas, Kaci Crawford of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Raven Francomano of Bay, Arkansas, Thomas McFann of Arlington, Tennessee and Mikaela Sarkar of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Parker Scholarship recipients are Devna Bose of Philadelphia, Mississippi, and James Long of Olive Branch.

Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship recipients are Tan Le of Gulfport and Francisco Santos of Southaven.

“We are proud of our Honors scholarship winners! They will teach us by their example of what it means to be both citizen and scholar in today’s challenging world,” said Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, Honors College dean. “I look forward to four great years with each of them.”

Devenny graduated from St. Stanislaus College Preparatory School, where he received the Star Student award and the Character Cup. A member of the band, he received the John Philip Sousa Award, the Patrick S. Gilmore Band Award and the Excellence in Music Award. An Eagle Scout, he has worked on numerous service activities through his Boy Scout troop. He is majoring in computer science.

Graham is a graduate of Hernando High School. The valedictorian of his class, he was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” and inducted into the Hernando High School Hall of Fame. He received the Commercial Appeal Academic All Star in English Award and the Mississippi Economic Council Star Student Award, and served as a National Society of High School Scholars Ambassador. A member of the tennis team, he won the 2013 men’s singles district championship and received the Lindy Callahan Scholar Athlete Award. He co-chaired the program Backpack Angels, providing food relief local elementary schools. He plans to major in English.

Ostrovsky is a graduate of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. The winner of the AP Spanish Language and Culture Class Award, she is the co-founder and president of the National Spanish Honor Society and served as the president of the Spanish Club. Her service activities include working as a tutor in various programs and working with adults with disabilities at both the Mustard Seed and St. Catherine’s Nursing home. She is a Guillot Global Studies fellow and received a grant to participate in an exchange program to Hyderabad, India. She plans to major in chemical engineering with a minor in Spanish and pre-med.

Tran, a graduate of Oak Grove High School, was the salutatorian of her class. Voted “Most Intellectual”, she is the Pride of Oak Grove recipient and in the Oak Grove Hall of Fame. In 2013, she was named the 6A state champion in archery. Her service activities include volunteering at the Hub City Animal Shelter and All Animal Clinic, serving as a tutor and working with nursing homes and Operation Christmas Child. She is majoring in chemistry.

Beavers graduated from Lakeview Academy, where she served as senior class president. A recipient of the University of Georgia Certificate of Merit, she also received the Piedmont College Junior Fellows Award, Wesleyan College Award and the Golden Lion Award. She is a member of Key Club and also volunteers with the Helping Hands Foreign Missions Uganda. She plans to major in criminal justice.

Bentley is a graduate of Amarillo High School, where she was the 2015 salutatorian. A National Merit Commended Scholar, she received the calculus departmental award and the hospitality and tourism departmental award. As a member of the varsity track and field team, she was a regional qualifier in 100-meter hurdles and the pole vault. She served as Wesley Community Center and VA Hospital volunteer. Bentley plans to major in mechanical engineering.

Crawford graduated from Hillcrest High School. Recognized as HHS Top Senior and Academic All-Star, she received the Tuscaloosa County Star Senior and Champion of Character Awards. She served as the National Honor Society president, student government vice president and student government historian. Having worked as at Center Ridge Outpost as an autism camp counselor, she organized an autism awareness week wristband fundraiser, raising $1,200. She plans to major in chemical engineering.

Francomano graduated from Bay High School. An Arkansas Scholar, she received the highest academic honors, graduating as Class of 2015 Valedictorian. A member of student council, she also served as a member of student government, Family Career and Community Leaders of America, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Her community service includes Bay After School Program tutor, Bay United Methodist Community Outreach Committee and March of Dimes Prom Fashion Show model. She is majoring in public policy leadership.

McFann is a graduate from Arlington High School. The valedictorian of his class, he was named Science Olympiad Winner and the AP Scholar with Distinction and received Performing Arts Excellence awards in piano and drums. He served as a student ambassador, class leader and mentor for Bellevue Middle School Youth. The president of National Honors Society, he was a member of Mu Alpha Theta, Key Club and the Science Olympiad Team. He is majoring in computer science.

Sarkar, a homeschooled student, has lived in seven states and two foreign countries. For the past decade, she received her education travelling across the country and abroad with her mother and sister “globeschooling.” She is a National Merit Scholar and the Tennessee 4-H Essay Contest Winner on county, regional and state levels. Founder of the environmental blog, she has volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club of Blount County and Millar Park Afterschool Program. Sarkar is majoring in public policy leadership.

Bose is a graduate of Philadelphia High School. The valedictorian of her class, she received numerous awards in math, Spanish and world history and was named the 2015 STAR student of Philadelphia High School. A member of the PHS band, she received the Band Leadership award. She served as vice president of Leadership Neshoba and Crown Club and was a member of the National Spanish Honor Society and Beta Club. A co-founder of Students Against Destructive Decisions, she also founded the annual PHS Book Drive. Bose is majoring in journalism.

Long, a graduate of Olive Branch High School, received awards in math, debate, chess and computer programming competitions. He served as vice president of Mu Alpha Theta and lettered in soccer and tennis. He is majoring in mathematics and plans to attend medical school to become a surgeon.

Le is a graduate of Harrison Central High School. He led the HCHS marching band as head drum major. Le is a first-generation Asian-American and is the son of Ba Le and Duyen Ngo. He has an older sister who also attends Ole Miss.

Santos graduated from Southaven High School, where he participated in band and drama. He is majoring in computer science and has an interest in studying music. He is the son of military veterans Francisco and Paula Santos.

For more information about the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, visit

Six Freshmen Honored for Leadership, Academic Excellence

Omicron Delta Kappa honor society presents annual awards

(Left to Right) Olivia Dear, Christopher Feazell, Dillon Hall, Alexis Smith, Loden Snell

This year’s honorees include (left to right) Olivia Dear, Christopher Feazell, Dillon Hall, Alexis Smith and Loden Snell.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society has honored six students for their academic performance, leadership and community involvement.

This year’s recipients of ODK Freshman Leader Awards are Olivia Dear of Madison, Seth Dickinson of Mantachie, Christopher Feazell of Mendenhall, Dillon Hall of Saltillo, Alexis Smith of Picayune and Loden Snell of Ridgeland.

“These six students are among many outstanding freshmen here at the university,” said Ryan Upshaw, ODK adviser and assistant dean for student services in the School of Engineering. “Our society is excited to be able to recognize their outstanding contributions during their first year on campus. We also look forward to their potential membership in our society later in their college career.”

Dear, a graduate of Madison Central High School, is president of ASB Freshman Council and serves on the Chi Omega sorority philanthropy committee. A member of Lambda Sigma honor society, she is a Provost Scholar and on the Chancellor’s Honor Roll. An English and journalism major, she volunteers with Leap Frog, Hermitage Gardens and the Oxford Humane Society.

“I’m really grateful to receive the ODK Freshman Leader Award,” Dear said. “It was a really motivating award to get, and now I am excited to spend the next three years engaging in activities that serve the student body even more.”

Dickinson attended Mendenhall High School. He is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and Trent Lott Leadership Institute and is an Honors College Freshman Senator. A public policy leadership major, he is a recipient of a Lott Scholarship and is an Ole Miss Ambassador, member of Delta Psi fraternity and on the Dean’s Honor Roll. He volunteers with Brookdale Oxford retirement community.

Seth Dickinson

Seth Dickinson

Feazell, an accountancy major, attended Mendenhall High School. He is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Luckyday Success Program, National Association of Black Accountants, Undergraduate Black Law Students Association and Lambda Sigma honors society. He is a LuckyDay Scholar, on the Chancellor’s Honor Roll, a Rebel Quest counselor and a volunteer tutor for business calculus.

A graduate of Saltillo High School, Hall is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Center for Manufacturing Excellence, Engineering Student Body Leadership Council, Engineers Without Borders Design Committee, American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Delta Psi fraternity. A mechanical engineering major, he is a CME ambassador and a volunteer with Green Grove Initiative and Oxford City Market.

Smith, a graduate of Picayune Memorial High School, is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Croft Institute for International Studies, and is an Honors College Freshman Senator and community service co-chair for International Justice Mission. She is a recipient of an Honors College scholarship and a member of the Chi Omega scholarship committee. An international studies major, she is a writer for the Daily Mississippian and a volunteer with Oxford Humane Society and More than a Meal.

A graduate of Saint Joseph Catholic School, Snell is a public policy leadership major in the Trent Lott Leadership Institute and recipient of a Lott Scholarship. He is also a member of ASB Freshman Council, Residence Hall Association, College Republicans and the Chancellor’s Leadership Class, an ASB senator and Stockard Hall Council President. He volunteers with the Big Event and Green Grove Recycling.

Omicron Delta Kappa is a 100-year old leadership honor society that has initiated more than 300,000 members at since its founding. The society has more than 285 active chapters at colleges and universities across the United States.

UM Economics Student Wins Prestigious Prize

Doctoral candidate honored for research on relationship between homeownership and unemployment

George Akpandjar

George Akpandjar

OXFORD, Miss. – George Akpandjar, a doctoral student in the University of Mississippi Department of Economics, is the winner of the 2015 Barry M. Moriarty Graduate Paper Competition sponsored by the Southern Regional Science Association.

Akpandjar, of New Castle, Deleware, was recognized for his paper titled “The Effect of Homeownership on Unemployment: Outcomes and Implications,” based on his dissertation. Akpandjar investigated the relationship between homeownership and unemployment using a job search framework. He discovered that the increased search costs associated with homeownership do not weaken employment opportunities for homeowners.

“Results from the paper are very important for federal and state governments’ policy on homeownership,” Akpandjar said. “Going by the result from the paper, homeownership should be encouraged by federal and state government as higher homeownership rates across the country will lead to lower unemployment rates since homeowners are less likely to be unemployed.”

He competed nationally for the $1,000 prize. Previous winners have come from major universities such as Duke University, Ohio State, Texas A&M and the universities of North Carolina, Southern California and Texas.

“It feels great to win this award,” he said. “It makes me believe I can contribute something meaningful to society. I am really gratified that all the efforts that I put into my research have been recognized.”

Akpandjar entered the Ph.D. program in 2010. He has also been a graduate instructor of economic principles and statistics for several semesters.

“George has been an outstanding student and is highly regarded by the undergraduates he teaches, his fellow graduate students and faculty alike,” said Walt Mayer, UM professor of economics.

After graduation, Akpandjar plans to begin a career with Bank of America as a quantitative operations associate.

Memorial Scholarship Created by Papa John’s CEO and Archie Manning

Fund memorializes late UM student Fenton Kottkamp

Fenton (left), Harrison, Rush, Jane and Stephen Kottkamp gather in one of their favorite spots, the Grove at the University of Mississippi. Fenton Kottkamp’s spirit will live on at Ole Miss, where a scholarship has been created in his memory. His parents will accept his diploma at the May 9 Commencement. Courtesy photo.

Fenton (left), Harrison, Rush, Jane and Stephen Kottkamp gather in one of their favorite spots, the Grove at the University of Mississippi. Fenton Kottkamp’s spirit will live on at Ole Miss, where a scholarship has been created in his memory. His parents will accept his diploma at the May 9 Commencement. Courtesy photo.

OXFORD, Miss. – “In honor of Fenton, please love one another,” read the last line of the obituary for University of Mississippi senior John Fenton Kottkamp, a request added by his dad, Stephen Kottkamp of Louisville, Kentucky.

“Fenton would want everyone to love one another, and he would want all of us to go forward with our lives,” said the dad, describing his son as having a “huge heart with great love for his family and friends.”

And people likewise loved Fenton, as evidenced from the outpouring from around the country when he lost his life in a tragic Feb. 25 accident in Oxford. He and his identical twin brother, Rush, were slated to graduate May 9, both from UM’s Patterson School of Accountancy. Fenton’s parents will accept his diploma during Commencement exercises.

Fenton’s influence will continue on campus for generations to come through the Fenton Kottkamp Memorial Scholarship Endowment, created by John Schnatter, president and CEO of Papa John’s Pizza, and Archie Manning, businessman and Mississippi football icon.

The Kottkamp brothers chose Ole Miss because of its nationally recognized accountancy program and well-rounded college experience, along with the university’s size and tightknit community.

“Ole Miss gave us the best four years anyone could have wanted,” Rush Kottkamp said. “Fenton loved everything about Ole Miss and Oxford. He loved every single sporting event. No matter what time the football game started, Fenton was in the Grove as early as possible.”

Stephen Kottkamp recalls spending Thanksgiving 2014 in Oxford with wife Jane and youngest son Harrison, preparing dinner for the twins’ friends who lived too far from campus to go home for the holiday.

“We love Ole Miss for Ole Miss,” Stephen Kottkamp said. “Ole Miss became our happy place. As Rush said to Jane on the way home from Fenton’s visitation, ‘Fenton and I caught lightning in a bottle when we chose Ole Miss.’ Fenton and Rush hit their stride in the Ole Miss environment; they blossomed and excelled. Our family will strive to make Ole Miss our happy place again.”

Schnatter encourages others to honor Fenton by supporting the scholarship fund.

“My family and I have been deeply impacted by the tragic passing of Fenton Kottkamp, not only because of the fine young man that Fenton was, but also because of the relationship between the Kottkamp family and my family,” he said. “Over the years, my wife, Annette, and I have become close to Fenton’s mother and father, Jane and Steve. Fenton’s youngest brother, Harrison, can often be found at our home hanging out with our son, Beau.”

Fenton’s Ole Miss experience was not lost on his four-year journey in Mississippi, Schnatter said. “Fenton and his brother Rush both served as interns at Papa John’s headquarters not far from our Anchorage, Kentucky, homes. Ole Miss clearly had an impact on Fenton; he was bright and ambitious and welcomed the experience. He embodied all of the qualities we want from a young professional looking to make his place in the world.

“Working with Ole Miss alumnus Archie Manning to create the Fenton Kottkamp Memorial Scholarship Endowment was a way for my family and other donors to honor Fenton’s memory and highlight for the Kottkamp family how much affection and respect we hold for their son.”

Manning agreed, adding, “We are deeply saddened by the loss of Fenton, a beloved member of our Ole Miss family. Our hearts continue to be with the Kottkamp family during this difficult time. We hope others will join us in remembering this extraordinary young man by helping build this scholarship endowment to help others experience Ole Miss in Fenton’s name.”

The Kottkamps agree that Fenton would be pleased to have his name on a scholarship. “He probably would have been a little embarrassed, too, for all the attention – but very proud,” Jane Kottkamp said.

In addition to his great love of people, among other descriptions family and friends offer include “excellent student,” “fun and funny,” “welcoming and kind,” “compassionate” and “adventuresome.”

The scholarship committee will look for recipients who embody Fenton’s spirit, character and integrity. Those eligible for consideration are students in the Patterson School of Accountancy and the School of Business Administration. Recipients must maintain a minimum 3.0 grade-point average.

The scholarship is an appropriate means of remembering Fenton, said Mark Wilder, dean of the Patterson School.

“His life had such a positive impact on the faculty and students in our school, as well as other members of the Ole Miss family. Fenton was always friendly, cheerful, smiling and never in a bad mood. He was instantly likeable because of his good nature. Fenton worked very hard in school, and his determination showed. It was obvious that his parents had raised him right.”

Jane Kottkamp said she feels Fenton’s deep enjoyment of the university stemmed from his devotion to family, something she also sees in Ole Miss.

“Fenton was always happy and excited to come home and be close to his family and cousins in Kentucky, and then he would be eager to get back to his college home,” she said. “Ole Miss is the place where you develop lifelong friends – friends who are like family – and not just among students but also parents of students. We hope Fenton’s scholarship will make it possible for other young people to go to Ole Miss and also for them to be a part of this great tradition of developing great lasting relationships.”

Laura Johnson of Atlanta, a senior education major and close friend of Fenton, graduates in May and intends to carry forward his impact.

“Fenton was an all-around great guy,” Johnson said. “He was so inspirational in that he lived every day to the fullest. He was always down for a night out with friends and taking new adventures. I met Fenton at the freshman welcome picnic the day before classes started, and we had an instant friendship. He’s been my best friend for the past four years at Ole Miss.

“I want the individuals who receive this scholarship to know that Fenton always had a smile on his face and made any situation positive. To recipients, I encourage you to aspire to live your lives in a similar way – to live life to the fullest and to take chances. Fenton always took the extra step to make others happy and include everyone before even thinking about himself. I aspire to live my life like him and to be welcoming to everyone.”

A graduate of Anchorage Public School and DuPont Manual High School, Fenton planned to pursue a master’s degree in accountancy at Ole Miss beginning this fall.

His goal was a career in public accounting, but he recognized that his degree provided many career options. He was a member of St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church and Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, and an avid Rebels and Louisville Cardinals supporter.

In addition to his parents and brothers, Fenton is survived by his grandparents, Dr. Wayne and Eileen Kotcamp; and a large number of aunts, uncles and cousins. He also leaves his loyal dog, Biggs.

Individuals and organizations can make gifts to the Fenton Kottkamp Memorial Scholarship Endowment by sending a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655 or online at For more information, contact Brett Barefoot, director of development for Parents Leadership, at 662-915-2711 or

Pharmacy Students Accept Johns Hopkins Internships

Experience offers chance to make hospitalwide effect on patient care

Rachel Lowe (left), Dean David D. Allen and Kelsey Stephens

Rachel Lowe (left), Dean David D. Allen and Kelsey Stephens

OXFORD, Miss. – Two University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy students have received and accepted summer internship offers from The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.

Kelsey Stephens, from Greenwood, and Rachel Lowe, of Memphis, Tennessee, both in their second professional year of pharmacy school, will participate in the Johns Hopkins Pharmacy Internship Program, which accepts fewer than 20 students annually. Johns Hopkins Hospital is consistently ranked as one of the leading health care institutions worldwide.

Stephens was encouraged to apply for the internship by Mary-Haston Leary, a third-year professional student who completed the program last summer. Stephens said the internship will provide an irreplaceable learning experience.

“This internship will not only provide me with an unforgettable learning opportunity, but will also help me develop into a more well-rounded future health care provider through personal and professional growth,” Stephens said.

Following a lengthy application process, Stephens received the call in February that she had been accepted into the Education Training and Personal Development internship, which will be located on-site at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The Education Division of the Department of Pharmacy trains and provides ongoing educational support regarding new policies, practices and drug therapies to the pharmacy staff.

As an intern, Stephens will assist with rotations, training, continuing education and staff development.

David Gregory, the pharmacy school’s associate dean for academic affairs, wrote a letter of recommendation on Stephens’ behalf. He said she has proven herself “time and time again” in both leadership and academics.

“Kelsey has been consistent in her commitment to practice in a clinical setting with a focus on research that improves patient care,” Gregory said. “She is dedicated to the profession, and I have no doubt that she will excel in this program.”

Lowe said she knew she wanted to expose herself to additional areas of pharmacy after interning at Walgreens last summer. She will be interning in the hospital’s Investigational Drug Services Department, where she will assist with dispensing investigational drugs, counsel research subjects, manage drug returns and summarize protocols and federal regulations for clinical drug trials.

Lowe said she is thrilled about the opportunity to be mentored by “experienced and brilliant pharmacists and staff” at Johns Hopkins. She said her experience at the UM pharmacy school has allowed her to develop and prepare for this internship.

“The School of Pharmacy truly fosters growth and excellence in each of its students,” she said. “The staff gives its time to further our education and development, and I am grateful to the faculty and the deans for their commitment to interacting with and encouraging students in all of their endeavors.”

John Bentley, pharmacy administration professor and Lowe’s faculty adviser, wrote one of her recommendation letters.

“Rachel is a scholar, a servant leader, a committed member of the pharmacy profession and a person of high integrity,” Bentley said. “She is an individual who learns for the sake of learning – to improve herself and to help others. I have been very impressed with her work ethic, her high standards and her willingness to go well above and beyond the basic requirements of pharmacy school.”

Both Lowe and Stephens will participate in weekly journal clubs, pharmacist and resident discussions, continuing education and individual research projects. They will also be able to shadow pharmacists in any specialty area of their choosing.

The internships begin June 1 and conclude July 31.

Recent UM Graduate Launches Business to Help Impoverished Families

Fundraising venture becomes successful company aiding women and children on two continents

christen edmonds bandiez alumnae university of mississippi ole miss swaziland africa bachelor general studies women children headbands

Christen Edmonds visits Swaziland to interact with and aid children in the area.

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – Many students dream of starting their own businesses after college, but some, such as University of Mississippi alumna Christen Edmonds, don’t waste time waiting for graduation.

And Edmonds, who completed her Bachelor of General Studies in December, didn’t stop with simply being a successful entrepreneur. She dreamed big and used her idea for a simple headband to develop a company that is helping fill the needs of women and children on two different continents.

“It’s all about helping these real people who were born into really bad circumstances,” said Edmonds, of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. “I never thought this small idea would become so big.”

It all started in 2010 when Edmonds went with her parents and brother to Swaziland in southern Africa.

“My dad created a website for this nonprofit organization called ‘Heart for Africa,’ and our whole family was inspired by their mission, so we joined one of their trips,” Edmonds recalled. “We spent a week working with orphans and vulnerable children to help them build a garden at their school. We just loved on them and played with them. I couldn’t believe how positive and happy they were even though they lived in such difficult surroundings and circumstances.”

Swaziland is a landlocked country bordered by South Africa and Mozambique. Due to the excessive mortality rates of those infected with HIV, Swaziland has one of the lowest average life expectancies in the world, 46 years old. Most of the children Edmonds met were orphans.

After returning home, Edmonds desperately wanted to return to help the people who had touched her heart. She weighed options for ways to earn travel money while balancing her college courses and hit upon an idea to create specialty cloth-and-spandex headbands. When she showed some friends the prototype, they immediately pulled out their wallets and her company, Bandiez Couture, was born.

“My 76-year-old grandmother, Velda, is an amazing seamstress,” Edmonds said. “I told her about my idea to make functional headbands that looked good, and she taught me and my mom how to sew cloth and elastic to create each piece. I chose some nice fabrics and got to work. My plan was to sell them to all of my sorority sisters, but before I knew it, other sororities and college girls were wanting them.”

Those word-of-mouth sales funded another trip to Africa in the summer of 2011, which in turn only piqued Edmond’s interest to make a legitimate business out of her creations.

“After my second trip, I found some ladies in my hometown that I paid to help my mom and me make more of the bands at a faster rate. After we started working with them, we had enough inventory to move into retail markets. We were selling them in boutiques and shops in Missouri, Mississippi and Texas. My dad helped me create a website and then they could be purchased online as well.”

Children of Swaziland are thankful for their new Bandiez headbands.

Children of Swaziland are thankful for their new Bandiez headbands.

Through the “Heart for Africa” and “Children’s Hope Chest International” charities, Edmonds began giving a portion of her earnings to help children in Swaziland. She even got to meet two of the children she sponsored during her third trip to Africa in 2013. At that time, she was also researching how she could employ Swazi residents to help produce the product, but shipping across the Atlantic Ocean and working through a strict monarchical government eventually proved too difficult.

“My dad visited Haiti on a mission trip, and he heard about a company run by a young lady from Texas who was helping create jobs for impoverished women in Haiti, and since we couldn’t work out a way for Swazi women to help, we decided to reach out to her to see if we could be a part of the Haiti program,” Edmonds explained.

In February 2014, Edmonds traveled with her parents to Port-au-Prince. With the help of a translator, she and her mother taught 10 Haitian women how to produce each style of her Bandiez line.

“We had a lot of fun,” Edmonds recalled. “My mom would recite the directions while a Haitian translator repeated the instructions back. All the while, I was demonstrating the technique on old pedal sewing machines. The women caught on quickly. I was impressed at how productive and hard-working they were. Providing these ladies with a job not only allows them the independence of making money to take care of their families, but it gives them hope.”

Edmonds still works with ladies from her hometown to have an American production team as well. They help to keep the product stocked in over 25 boutiques around the Southeast.

“We are really blessed to have such a great market for these right now,” Edmonds said. “Now that I have completed my degree, I want to take what I have learned in my classes and implement that knowledge to help my business grow. Then I also plan to see where we might be able to expand the brand in terms of products.”

As a BGS major at Ole Miss, Edmonds chose to minor in art, business and psychology to craft a specialty degree that fit her interests.

“I’m really lucky to also have a minor in art that has helped me tap into my creative side,” Edmonds said. “And upper-level courses in business and psychology have been invaluable as I have learned to communicate and bring about relationships with shop owners and factories in both America and Haiti.”

UM art professor Philip Jackson described Edmonds’ venture as inspiring.

“Christen is a thoughtful, caring person and a great role model for women her age,” Jackson said. “She fell right into place in our printmaking courses. She’s a natural artist who sees color very well. While she was a student in two of my courses, I found out more about her business and passion of helping others. Her commitment and faith are strongly rooted.”

Now that her degree is finished, Edmonds is channeling all her energies into the business and is looking for new merchandising outlets. She has launched an updated website and is perfecting her photography skills to show off her products. She hopes to sell through online shopping websites and also has added a shop in South Carolina to her growing list of vendors.

“Our company slogan is ‘threading to thrive,” Edmonds said. “I’m just really thankful that I found something I enjoy doing that is also helping others.”

To find out more about the Bandiez products, visit

Barksdale Award Winners Eager to Experience Life in ‘the Margins’

Recipients to spend time with cowboys on two continents, use theater to raise awareness of the deaf

barksdale award ole miss university of mississippi sally mcdonnell barksdale honors college uruguay north america

Dean Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez presents Joe Bell with his Barksdale Award.

OXFORD, Miss. – Two University of Mississippi students have been chosen to pursue adventures in experimental learning in Uruguay and across North America.

Joe Bell, a sophomore from Gloucester, Massachusetts, and Kate Lindsay, a junior from Starkville, both students in the UM Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, are the 2015 winners of the Barksdale Awards. They were announced as the 17th and 18th winners of the prestigious awards Tuesday evening (Feb. 10) during the Honors College spring convocation at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

The $5,000 award supports creative, courageous projects developed by students who are willing to take risks with their time and efforts for ambitious, independent programs of study, research or humanitarian work. The Barksdale awards were established in 2005 to encourage students to test themselves in environments that don’t have the built-in safeties of a classroom, teaching lab or library.

Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, dean of the Honors College, describes the award as an opportunity to take on a task and put yourself where the problem is acute. All students who apply for the Barksdale Award have helped us “dream a little bigger and brighter,” he said.

“From horseback and from the campfire, Joe will be recording cultures already on the margins and, perhaps, soon to disappear, Sullivan-Gonzalez said. “Kate, too, will be reporting from the margins, this time between the deaf world and the hearing world. The stage she has chosen is the stage itself.

“Both Joe and Kate are genuine, self-directed citizen-scholars. They’re folding their academic training into experience and evolving public space, in an effort to bring us all closer to what is happening and what could happen.”

Bell, fluent in Spanish and an accomplished equestrian, will travel to Colorado, California and Uruguay to live and work among cowboys and gauchos and experience the world from their point of view. From his experience, he hopes to explore how labor policy, agricultural policy and the globalization of food systems affect both groups.

Bell says that the award will allow him to pursue his passion for people and the natural environment.

“I am intrigued and inspired by the independent and somewhat tragic lives of the North American cowboy and the Uruguayan gaucho,” said Bell, who is majoring in international studies, public policy leadership and Spanish. “These two entities, although separated by an almost hemispheric landmass, have long suffered from the same cultural, economic and legal marginalization.”

John Winkle, professor emeritus of political science, calls Bell’s project a personal challenge to pursue unbridled adventure and embrace the independent spirit.

“Joe Bell is the only Honors College student whom I have taught or known in 17 years who could complete this proposed research project,” Winkle said. “He is a first-rate equestrian, he speaks Spanish well and he understands the expectations of the research enterprise. He will succeed.”

Kate Lindsay receives her Barksdale Award.

Dean Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez presents Kate Lindsay with her Barksdale Award.

Lindsay is a double major in theater arts and accountancy. She began studying American Sign Language in 2013 as a degree requirement. Quickly gaining a newfound respect for the deaf community through her studies, she began exploring the language and culture outside the classroom and found ways to incorporate ASL into other areas of her academic life.

In seeking new methods of collaboration between deaf and hearing theater artists, Lindsay will travel to Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C., to participate in theater by the deaf, for the deaf and about the deaf.

“My purpose is to be a part of a movement to create theater that bridges the cultural divide between deaf and hearing people, not only making theater more accessible to deaf audiences but also raising awareness of the deaf community in America,” she said.

Having worked on numerous theater productions at UM, Lindsay joined Michael Barnett, associate professor and assistant chair of theatre arts, as an assistant on a production of “Titus Andronicus” in Washington, D.C., featuring deaf actors and crew members.

Although 21st century theater has pursued diversity in casting and subject matter, little attention has been focused on the integration of those with disabilities, Barnett said.

“Kate’s project will place her at the forefront of a movement which is beginning to be discussed within the industry and in the pages of its trade publications,” said Barnett, who is directing Lindsay’s honors thesis. “This is very exciting work.”