Coast Native Takes Leadership Role in CEED Program

UM junior Madison Gable helps launch camps for kids

Madison G - Nylander

Madison Gable visits with Albert Nylander.

OXFORD, Miss. – As a McLean Institute Innovation Scholar within the Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, or CEED, Initiative at the University of Mississippi, Madison Gable will work alongside other UM students to establish partnerships in rural Mississippi communities during the next two years.

Gable was born into a family that has resided in Mississippi for many generations. After living briefly in other states and across Mississippi, she said she understands her state’s unique challenges from an intimate perspective.

As a McLean mentor, Gable traveled to neighboring counties to tutor elementary and middle school students.

“Seeing the disparities between their opportunities and my own was a turning point,” the Ole Miss junior said.

Moving away from the Coast to attend UM gave Gable an opportunity to view her home from a distance, allowing her to appreciate the distinct educational opportunities coastal schools offer. She said her early exposure to the art, music and “gifted” programs at East Hancock Elementary were essential to her academic success.

Her Hancock High School teachers were committed to their students’ social education and set an example by using their education to serve others, Gable said.

As a freshman at Ole Miss, she sought opportunities that would allow her to follow their lead. That’s when she began volunteering with the McLean Institute’s mentoring program during its pilot semester.

Vaughn Grisham, a leader in the field of community development, founded the McLean Institute. The McLean Institute is in the process of a dramatic expansion as part of UM 2020, the university’s strategic plan, which calls for an increase in service to benefit Mississippi. The McLean Institute seeks to make community engagement a distinctive part of the educational culture at UM by promoting engaged scholarship and reflective community action.

In her time volunteering, Gable said she realized that most Mississippi children have minimal exposure to art, music or other activities to enrich their academics, and, more importantly, lives overall.

“Not only have I observed the educational deficits these children face, but I have come to learn about their insufficient access to medical care,” she said. “Many struggle with undiagnosed learning disabilities and problems with their sight that further complicate learning.

“The dedicated staff does their best to make up for the lack of doctors and psychologists, working hard to uncover these problems and proceed toward resolutions.”

Seeing their example, Gable found it was not enough to just serve these organizations, but that she must learn firsthand how to initiate social entrepreneurship endeavors that help spur change in the education and economic opportunities within her state.

Social entrepreneurship is the attempt to use business techniques to find solutions to social problems. Gable discovered social entrepreneurship while working with the McLean Institute and was inspired to promote social entrepreneurship when her mother, Stephanie Gable, founded Gulf Coast Breastfeeding Center LLC, the only private practice breastfeeding center in the state at the time, in November 2014.

By helping mothers and infants successfully breastfeed, Stephanie Gable has created an entirely new environment for Gulf Coast women and children.

“By using her business to advocate for a breastfeeding norm, my mom is helping to solve education and health care issues rooted in social problems, which is my aim as an innovation scholar,” Madison Gable said.

This summer, Gable began working toward that end by launching smART Art and Wellness Day Camp in Vardaman with two fellow CEED Scholars. For the month of June, Gable and her partners taught 32 students, ages 4-13, about art history and health.

This experiential learning opportunity taught Gable about community partnership and program administration.

“Madison’s role as an innovation scholar at the McLean Institute provides her to engage her background from the Coast to advance the mission of the McLean Institute,” said J.R. Love, CEED project manager.

The goal of each innovation scholar 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 scholar then presents some sort of business plan or research paper at the end of two years.

Going forward, Gable said she is considering focusing her efforts on promoting early education and reducing the barriers that make it difficult for sustainable food producers to enter markets, thereby boosting economic development in the state.

Ray Brothers Create Scholarship to Honor Their Mother

Funds are earmarked for students who have lost a parent to cancer

Martha Nell Flaherty Ray is being honored through the Martha Nell Flaherty Ray Scholarship Endowment established by her sons Ken and Van at the University of Mississippi.

Martha Nell Flaherty Ray is being honored through the Martha Nell Flaherty Ray Scholarship Endowment established by her sons Ken and Van at the University of Mississippi.

OXFORD, Miss. – Though Martha Nell Flaherty Ray lost her battle to cancer at the young age of 52, her memory and dedication to education will live through a gift from her sons, Ken Ray and Van Ray, in the form of the Martha Nell Flaherty Ray Scholarship Endowment at the University of Mississippi.

“Our goal in establishing this scholarship is to reflect and model the nurture, support, value for education and community responsibility that our parents and the Pontotoc community provided to us during and after our mother’s illness, and to assist deserving students, particularly those from Mississippi, who face challenges similar to those Van and I faced when we were pursuing our degrees,” said Ken Ray of Long Valley, New Jersey.

This new scholarship has been created with an initial $25,000 gift and is earmarked to help Ole Miss students whose parents have fallen victim to cancer.

Martha Nell passed away in June 1981, a year after Van Ray received an undergraduate degree in business from Ole Miss, and just before Ken Ray entered the university as a freshman. While the loss of their mother presented hurdles to completing their college studies, Van and Ken both earned bachelor’s and graduate degrees from Ole Miss and went on to successful careers.

“Our parents modeled the values of leadership and service in the community and did so simply because it is the right thing to do,” said Van, who lives in Yazoo City. “Despite losing our mother early in life, the values Martha Nell gave us prepared us to be independent and successful, despite the inevitable challenges we face in life.”

Martha Nell supported efforts for reading programs at the Pontotoc County Library, and both Martha Nell and her husband, Raymond, were church and community leaders and regular boosters at school events. She was always there for those who needed her but did so quietly and without any desire for recognition, her sons recounted.

However, the generosity displayed by the Ray family will undoubtedly change lives and shape the future for incoming UM freshmen.

In a letter sent to the Ray brothers earlier this year, then-Chancellor Dan Jones wrote, “Your support enables us to challenge students, broaden their perspectives and give them the preparation needed to help them reach their full potential. Thank you for your extraordinary dedication to Ole Miss and our students.”

The Martha Nell Flaherty Ray Scholarship will be available to incoming freshmen from Mississippi, with preference being given to those from Pontotoc County.

Anyone interested in making a gift to the Ray Scholarship Endowment can send 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 information about establishing a scholarship, contact the UM Foundation at 662-915-5944.

UM Sophomore Wins Free Tuition

Journalism major Marlee Crawford victorious in C Spire-sponsored competition

Oxford, Mississippi native and 19-year-old sophomore Marlee Crawford, a journalism major at the University of Mississippi, won the C Spire Toss for Tuition contest Saturday - earning free tuition for the remainder of her college education. (PRNewsFoto/C Spire)

Marlee Crawford, a sophomore majoring in journalism at the University of Mississippi, won the C Spire Toss for Tuition contest, earning free tuition for the remainder of her college education. (PRNewsFoto/C Spire)

OXFORD, Miss. – Marlee Crawford, a University of Mississippi sophomore, bested a student from Mississippi State University in a game of bean bag toss before the Nov. 28 Egg Bowl to win free tuition for the remainder of her education here.

Crawford, a journalism major from Oxford, defeated Emily Ware, a junior at MSU, in the C Spire Toss for Tuition by a score of 21-16 as 2,000 friends, family and spectators cheered.

“Actually playing corn hole at the game just felt like a dream,” Crawford said. “I was so nervous, but when I won, I just couldn’t stop smiling. I was so grateful and thrilled for that amazing opportunity – it was truly a blessing.” 

The company sponsored the contest in November at all its 56 store locations in the state. Hundreds of students and their families had entered the contest, and Crawford and Ware were chosen as the two finalists to battle it out for tuition.

The Mississippi-based company has donated more than $3 million since 2008 to higher education-related scholarships, causes and programs across Mississippi through its nonprofit foundation. Crawford’s victory could yield her an estimated $18,360 in tuition funds.

“At C Spire, support for education has been a key focus for over 27 years, and we are passionately committed to helping elementary, high school and college-age students succeed in school, in the workforce and in life,” said Jim Richmond, vice president of corporate communications for C Spire. “Our children are our future. We need to prepare and support the next generation to be leaders in their communities and the world.”

Interim UM Chancellor Morris Stocks congratulated Crawford.

“We are thrilled for Marlee and her good fortune,” Stocks said. “We are also extremely grateful to C Spire for its outstanding support of higher education in Mississippi.”

Crawford said she was shocked when she was told she was selected for the showdown. She had one week to learn the rules of the game and practice her throws with a borrowed game set, but she immediately went to work. Her mother, Tammy Crawford, paced nervously during the competition.

“She couldn’t have practiced harder, and I’m so proud of her,” Tammy Crawford said. “It’s a sincere blessing.” 

After she won, her father, Ray Crawford, was there to hug her. He said the funds are a huge blessing for the family.

“It’s amazing that C Spire would do that for some fortunate individual, but it’s even more incredible that it’s our daughter,” Ray Crawford said. “We were shocked and overjoyed that she won. God definitely had a hand in this. It’s a huge load off of our shoulders, as we are helping to pay for her schooling.”

With the big victory behind her, Crawford said the money will be extremely beneficial to her, especially since she is planning to study abroad in England in 2016.

“College is such a financial burden for families, and I’m grateful to C Spire for providing opportunities like this one for students,” Crawford said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better support system: my family and friends that practiced with me, coached me and were there cheering me on.”

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