UM-DeSoto Student Recognized for Volunteer Work

Ismail named child advocacy center's Volunteer of the Year, nominated for governor's award

Nazha Ismail

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – For Nazha Ismail, one class project led to fulfilling holiday wishes for 65 DeSoto County foster children. That effort has resulted in a Volunteer of the Year award and an acknowledgement from the Mississippi governor’s office.

Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Ismail is a senior general studies major at the University of Mississippi at DeSoto Center-Southaven. After receiving her associate degree in business from Northwest Mississippi Community College, she enrolled at UM-DeSoto in fall 2016.

Ismail, who minors in business, psychology and sociology, was initially looking for a place to volunteer for a class assignment. A friend suggested that she contact Healing Hearts Child Advocacy Center in Southaven.

HHCAC serves children and families in DeSoto and Tate counties. The nonprofit’s mission is to “respond to child abuse with a supportive team approach that reduces trauma through advocacy, treatment, education and prevention.”

“I wanted something close to home and something with longevity,” Ismail said. “I called and spoke to Mrs. Darlene Cunningham (the center’s family advocate) and I’ve been volunteering there since.”

Ismail thought she would be asked to help with typical office work, but Cunningham gave her a more meaningful task.

“It was a fundraiser where they gather wish lists from children in the foster care system and make sure they experience and have a Christmas,” Ismail said. “I asked if I can take on some of the children’s wish lists and after all was done, I ended up with 65 kids.

“I had never met any of the kids, but what mattered was I needed to make sure their wish lists were met. Many people helped me do that.”

Ismail began asking local businesses if they would consider donating to the project. She received toys, gift cards and monetary donations. She was able to fulfill all the children’s requests.

Ismail was recognized as Healing Heart’s Volunteer of the Year on May 5at the center’s Race to Heal Hearts fundraising event.

Nazha Ismail collected toys, gift cards and monetary donations to help fulfill the Christmas wishes of 65 children in the DeSoto County foster care system as a volunteer for Healing Hearts Child Advocacy Center. Submitted photo

“Nazha worked all fall to organize donations for the kids,” said Cheryl Beene, president of Healing Heart’s board of directors. “The photos of donations don’t even do justice to the amount of work she put in – she even got Southeastern Truck Lines to transport the gifts for us.

“All that said, we were thrilled to honor her as our Volunteer of the Year.”

Not only was Ismail named the center’s Volunteer of the Year, but she was also nominated for Mississippi’s 2018 Governor’s Initiative for Volunteer Excellence Award. As a nominee, she received a certificate of appreciation from Volunteer Mississippi and Mississippi’s first lady, Deborah Bryant.

“I personally didn’t feel I did enough, but these recognitions were very humbling and I am thankful for them,” Ismail said.

Ismail is still finalizing her plans for what she will do after graduation, but one thing is certain.

“I do wish to continue with Healing Hearts and any other organization that needs help,” she said. “I really feel that every person that wants to volunteer needs to visit one of many organizations and do it.

“Many people out there want to help but don’t know who to ask or where to start. All I can say is, just do it.”

For more information about the UM regional campus at DeSoto Center-Southaven, visit http://olemiss.edu/desoto.

New UM Graduates Begin Tenure-track Appointments Across the South

Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management sends six students into faculty positions

The 2018 doctoral graduates from the UM Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management include (from left) J. Grant Mouser, Samuel Buckner, Matthew Jessee, Kevin Mattox, Robert Davis, Sam Wilson, Charles Caleb Williams and Vokay Addoh. UM photo by Sarah Sapp

OXFORD, Miss. – During Commencement ceremonies earlier this month at the University of Mississippi, the Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management celebrated a record number of health and kinesiology doctoral students walking across the graduation stage directly into full-time, tenure-track appointments across the South.

“We had a remarkable group of nine doctoral students hooded this year,” said Allison Ford-Wade, professor and graduate program coordinator. “Of those, seven of the nine have accepted tenure-track faculty positions and one is pursuing a second doctoral program.”

Vokay Addoh, of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, was invited to join UM’s own faculty. Samuel Buckner, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will join the faculty of the University of South Florida. Matt Jessee, of Claremont, North Carolina, accepted a position at the University of Southern Mississippi.

J. Grant Mouser, of Norman, Oklahoma, will begin his new appointment at Troy University in August. Charles Caleb Williams, of Lake Butler, Florida, will join the faculty at LaGrange College in Georgia. Sam Wilson, of Senatobia, will begin his tenure at Georgia Southern University.

Finally, Robert Davis, a December graduate, joined the University of Arkansas as an assistant professor of public health in January.

When you ask these students what attracted them to Ole Miss, their answers have a common thread: a talented, dedicated faculty and administration, the beautiful campus and all the resources that come along with studying at a flagship research university with Carnegie R1 status, indicating the highest research activity.

For Addoh, the prevalent health disparities in Mississippi and the need for health care professionals were another important aspect of his decision to join the program. His dissertation examined a potential method to enhance the positive experience of exercise, an area of health behavior research with potential ramifications for physical activity promotion.

“Moving forward, I intend to extend my inquiry on methods to enhance the experience of exercise and to further contribute to the science on physical activity translational research,” Addoh said.

Addoh credits Paul Loprinzi, associate professor of health, exercise science and recreation management, for his mentorship throughout the doctoral program.

Loprinzi not only is highly regarded by students for his caring mentorship, but he is one of the department’s most prolific publishers. Having published 73 peer-reviewed papers in 2017 alone, Loprinzi’s work has been cited more than 5,000 times since 2011.

Under Loprinzi’s direction, Addoh added 26 scholarly articles to his list of published works.

The potential to work alongside an intensely productive researcher drew Buckner, Jessee and Mouser to Ole Miss as well, specifically to study skeletal muscle adaptations to resistance exercise with Jeremy Loenneke, assistant professor of health, exercise science and recreation management and director of the Kevser Ermin Applied Physiology Laboratory, affectionately called the Ole Miss Muscle lab.

Jessee, who accrued 40 publications while at UM, explained that it was Loenneke’s passion for science and ability to prepare students for success that drew him to stay for his Ph.D.

“I felt that I could learn so much more from him than going elsewhere, because he is always pushing people to think critically and not just align with the status quo,” said Jessee, who will continue studying skeletal muscle health and function in his new research faculty role. He will be searching for new ways to attenuate muscle function loss due to aging and immobilization or injury.

While Mouser counts producing one of the largest published studies on blood flow following exercise as his most exciting project to date, Buckner found his passion in exploring the relationship between changes in muscle size and changes in muscle strength.

“The work we have done here is changing the way people think about skeletal muscle and how it adapts to resistance exercise,” said Buckner.

Loenneke also advised spring doctoral graduate Kevin Mattox of Pittsburgh, who is interviewing for assistant professor positions at a variety of institutions.

“I am both excited and sad to see these students graduate and move on with their careers,” Loenneke said. “All of them have done tremendous research here at the University of Mississippi, and it has been really special to work with each of them over the past three to four years. Their futures are bright.”

Martha Bass, associate professor and former graduate program coordinator, advised Williams’ research examining changes in bat swing kinematics in different areas of the strike zone among collegiate baseball and softball players. She also directed Wilson’s dissertation, where he found his true research interest.

“Our lab’s findings in this dissertation included novel aspects of possible roles of the neuromuscular system in the slip recovery process,” said Wilson, who plans to expand this research, examining older adults and special populations in his new role at Georgia Southern. “We hope we can translate these findings into effective ways of mitigating fall-related injuries and mortality.”

Minsoo Kang, chair of the Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, congratulates Xi Jin at the 2018 Commencement exercises for the UM School of Applied Sciences. Jin will begin her second doctoral program in nutrition and hospitality management this fall. UM photo by Sarah Sapp

Xi Jin of Harbin, China, also a May graduate, will expand her research base by pursuing a second doctoral degree in nutrition and hospitality management in the UM School of Applied Sciences while assisting Teresa Carithers, interim dean, with the new undergraduate applied gerontology program.

Each of the graduates pointed to the outstanding professional and academic values of their fellow graduate student cohort, indicating the quality of their experience directly related to the academic profile and camaraderie of this particular group.

Davis, who is conducting studies focusing on substance use behavior and its association with mental health concerns since starting his career at the University of Arkansas, explained that it wasn’t only the talented faculty mentors, such as Bass, who helped pave his way to success.

“I am immensely thankful to have studied with the group of grad students,” Davis said. “I was fortunate enough to come through the HESRM department at a time of immense progress concerning scientific exploration and rigor.

“The quality of students who came through the program with me should be admired. These are some of the finest minds that I have had the pleasure of encountering. As great as the faculty I studied under are, I can say that I would not be the scientist I am without the advice, challenge and leadership exhibited in these friends.”

This progress in scientific exploration is exhibited not only in the success of this graduating doctoral class, but in the sheer number of peer-reviewed publications produced by the department. Faculty, with the help of these doctoral students, published 134 unique publications in 2017.

On average, faculty members in the field publish 3.6 peer-reviewed papers a year, said Minsoo Kang, HESRM chair, citing data from the 2015 National Academy of Kinesiology Doctoral Program Review. The Ole Miss department’s score of 9.57 publications is much higher than the national average.

“Considering that the top 25 percent of doctoral programs published only 5.52 publications per faculty per year, we just had a remarkable year in 2017,” Kang said. “We could potentially be ranked No. 1 in the nation in the number of publications category.”

The department’s research productivity exemplifies the teacher-scholar model, preparing students to lead their own research teams in an R1 environment, Carithers said.

For more information about the UM Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, visit http://hesrm.olemiss.edu/.

UM Graduate Student Receives Fulbright Award

Higher education major Maria Mulrooney to teach in South Africa

Maria Mulrooney

OXFORD, Miss. – Maria Mulrooney, a University of Mississippi graduate student in higher education, has been selected for the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program to serve as an English teaching assistant in South Africa next year.

Mulrooney is among more than 800 students chosen for the program nationwide. The Palm City, Florida, native was selected based on her essay and academic achievements, as well as a record of service and leadership in education.

“I will teach English to either high school or college students for 25 hours a week and help the teachers with instruction and supplemental materials,” she said. “I can also meet with students after class and help them with language development.

“Then, in my spare time I can volunteer through other organizations.”

Mulrooney will learn exactly where she will teach in during a weeklong orientation in June in Washington, D.C. She plans to move to South Africa in January 2019 to begin the yearlong program.

“I’ve worked with Maria in two classes,” said John Holleman, director of graduate studies at the UM School of Education. “I think the class that created her awareness of the Fulbright program was Cultural Context in Education. She contributed a lot to the class. She’s a wonderful student.”

Mulrooney has a lifelong interest in teaching. As an undergraduate at the University of Central Florida, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, she taught English as a second language to international students at a local community college.

“It was fun to work with people who were learning English and help them develop language skills,” she said. “So, that made me interested in going abroad, but I knew I wanted to go into higher education, too, so I wanted to get my master’s first.

“The whole time I’ve been attending Ole Miss, I’ve been looking at different teaching abroad programs.”

The Fulbright program was established in 1946 by the U.S. State Department with the intentions of building lasting connections between the people of the United States and other countries. The Fulbright Program has given more than 380,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and scientists opportunities to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Mulrooney plans to teach in K-12 schools in Florida when she returns from South Africa.

“Learning about different cultures and people’s lives is something I love to do,” Mulrooney said. It’s only a year, so I think it’s just the perfect time to learn about a whole new culture that I have never experienced.”

Two Grandmothers Receive University’s Highest Academic Honor

From 'I can't go back to school' to earning Taylor Medals, new graduates aim to make a difference

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter and Lori Fain. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Lori Fain, of Sherman, and Brenda Raper, of Nettleton, are both busy mothers and grandmothers who not only spend time investing in their families but are beginning careers that also will allow them to invest in the lives of others in their community.

As students at the University of Mississippi at Tupelo, both ladies’ efforts are being honored this spring as recipients of 2018-19 Marcus Elvis Taylor Memorial Medals.

Only the top 1 percent of all students enrolled at the university receives this award each year. Recipients must have at least a 3.90 grade-point average to be considered and receive nominations from UM faculty.

“Brenda is truly one of those students I will never forget,” said Svjetlana Curcic UM associate professor of education. “We tend to assign a label of a ‘nontraditional student’ to those who enroll in college at a later day.

“In Brenda’s case, she has been a teacher of not only her own children, but other children in our community for years and by going back to school later in life, she has proven that she wants to become the best teacher she can be.”

Upon graduating from Itawamba Agricultural High School in 1980, Raper married and started working as a clerk at the Lee County Tax Collector’s office in Tupelo. She and her husband, Danny Samuel Raper, started a family and soon added three children to their home.

While raising children, she taught everything from 4-year old pre-K through fifth-grade classes in the private school housed at the Tupelo Children’s Mansion for 11 years. At the end of the 2012 academic year, the school program had to lay off employees, and Raper found herself at a crossroads.

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter and Brenda Raper. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

“My husband encouraged me to go back to school and get my degree,” Raper said. “I told him that I didn’t think I could do that, but he was very supportive and encouraged me until I finally decided to try.”

So, in 2014 at age 52, she enrolled at Itawamba Community College and started her college career.

“I was very nervous, but on the first day everyone treated me kindly and like one of the other students,” she said. “I really enjoyed my classes and realized more and more that I was doing the right thing by going back to school.”

After excelling at ICC, Raper transferred to start her junior year of classes on the UM-Tupelo campus. During her time there, she stayed involved in student organizations and worked to maintain her 4.0 GPA.

This spring she served as a student teacher in a third-grade classroom at Rankin Elementary School in Tupelo.

“I just love seeing the students learn and grow,” Raper said. “It’s a special job that I feel I was made for.”

Fain attended East Union High School before getting married and moving to Washington in 1990. A few years later, she returned home to Sherman and earned her GED at ICC in 1993.

Her family soon began expanding with the addition of her four children. Throughout this time, she worked as a phlebotomist with United Blood Services and later as an office manager with a local dentist.

After a divorce and unexpected job loss, Fain began to experience financial issues.

Lori Fain celebrates winning a Taylor Medal, the highest academic honor at UM, with sons Adrian and Carson Hester. Submitted photo

“I lost everything,” she said. “I lost my house, my car, and had to move home with my mother. I had my pity party for about a year, until I decided I had to do something so I might as well get ahead.”

That’s when she decided to work toward earning her bachelor’s degree in social work.

Fain said she decided to major in social work because she wanted to help people who might find themselves in the same situations she had struggled with.

“People can get lost,” Fain said. “I want to help other people who may be going through some hard times just like I did.

“If I had known about some of the resources that were available to me, I might could have stayed in my house. I want to help people when they need it the most.”

During her senior year, Fain helped to organize a “Kids Fest” event at Ballard Park in Tupelo. The event had free games and prizes for children while raising awareness for child abuse prevention.

“Not only did Lori excel academically, she was a leader with peers,” said Shane Robbins, a social work instructor at the regional campus. “Her passion to help others and be a leader in this field has been evident throughout her time at UM.”

Brenda Raper (center, seated) celebrates winning a Taylor Medal, the highest academic honor at UM, with her family. Submitted photo

Because of Fain’s life experiences, she demonstrated a unique ability to problem-solve in real-world scenarios, said Jandel Crutchfield, an assistant professor of social work at UM-Tupelo.

“We need more social workers like Lori, who can use critical thinking to create the most effective interventions possible for their clients,” Crutchfield said. “I believe she will make an important impact in this field.”

Fain said she has learned so much about herself throughout her time at Ole Miss.

“Even though when I started college I knew I wanted to help people, through my studies and my internship experiences, I have learned a better way to look at myself and how to empathize with other people,” she said. “I’ve learned how to step out of my place and into someone else’s situation to work toward the best solution to meet their needs.”

Walk of a Champion: Stricken Student Gets Second Chance, Earns Degree

An aneurysm almost ended his life, but Seth Dickinson graduates Saturday at UM

Seth Dickinson (left), a graduating senior in public policy leadership, and Ryan Upshaw, an assistant dean in the UM School of Engineering, plan to remain friends after Commencement. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Three years ago, Seth Dickinson was just another University of Mississippi freshman enjoying time off for spring break. That is, until an unexpected hemorrhagic stroke left him comatose on his bedroom floor.

When Dickinson awoke from his coma nine days later, the Mantachie native was paralyzed and mute. Gone were his ability to read, write, speak and walk. Worst of all was being told that he would no longer be able to pursue his education at the university.

Fortunately, Dickinson’s story has a happy ending.

Through his own determination and with strong encouragement from a supportive university staff member, he recovered, returned to school and will be walking across the platform Saturday (May 12) in The Pavilion at Ole Miss to receive his degree in public policy leadership.

“I knew I was going to get back,” said Dickinson, who also will deliver the address at the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College commissioning ceremony at 4 p.m. Friday (May 11) in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. After Dickinson was nominated by his peers, all four Honors College deans agreed he is the best person to deliver the address.

“I’m differently abled in a way that I am recovering still, but for the rest of my life I will never take the moniker of ‘disabled,'” Dickinson said.

Dickinson is the first person in his immediate family to attend and graduate from a four-year college or university. His decision to attend the university was a direct result of his initial meeting with Ryan Upshaw, assistant dean of student services in the School of Engineering.

As a high school senior, Dickinson participated in a Lott Leadership Institute summer program, and Upshaw traveled to Washington, D.C., with the group.

“I knew he was the type of student we needed here at the university,” said Upshaw, one of two staff recipients of this year’s Thomas A. Frist Award, which recognizes faculty and staff members for outstanding service to Ole Miss students.

“I was instantly drawn to Ryan,” Dickinson said. “He was the biggest salesman for the university I chose to call home.”

The transition from small high school to university life was difficult, Dickinson said.

“I remember one night in particular where I sat, crying, in my dorm because I thought I would never adjust,” he said. “Then it hit me: Ryan cares. So, I sent a text that just said, ‘Help Me.'”

Within minutes, Upshaw responded with a phone call that resulted in what seemed to be Dickinson’s clear path to student success.

“Thanks to Ryan Upshaw, I became heavily involved in applying for clubs and organizations,” he said. “With his help and encouragement, I became a member of ASB, Freshman Council, Ambassadors, the Honors Senate, Delta Psi fraternity and, eventually, the Columns Society,” Dickinson said. “It was a whirlwind of joy and happiness. Life was beautiful.”

Dickinson said Upshaw was his “ray of sunlight and hope” after the storm of his affliction.

“I’ll never forget what it was like to wake up from a coma in a hospital bed, surrounded by my parents, doctors and nurses, and none other than Ryan Upshaw,” he said. “Seeing him, a peace fell over me instantly.”

“While he is a student, I consider him a friend,” Upshaw said. “Two of my proudest moments with Seth were watching him be recognized with Who’s Who honors and seeing him be named ‘Greek Man of the Year.'”

Upshaw had been to the hospital numerous times, had painted signs for Dickinson with his friends and family, and consoled his distraught mother as she regretfully had to have her son de-enrolled.

“Ryan knew the pain it caused her and cared enough to be a part of the comforting process,” Dickinson said. “He also became part of my healing process.”

Upshaw continued to visit Dickinson in the hospital numerous times, bringing him well-wishes and reminders that his home was in Oxford.

“It was this encouragement that led me to fight so hard to recover,” Dickinson said. “Ryan was the first person I called to cry to after I was told that I would never walk again. He said, ‘It’s gonna be hard to get across the Grove if you aren’t walking. I know you can do it.'”

Upshaw’s words lit a fire within Dickinson. He entered physical therapy and gradually fought his way back to mobility.

“Ryan was the first person I requested my family send a video of me taking my first steps,” Dickinson said. “Because of him, I decided not to give up.”

The combined experiences of the past three years have reshaped Dickinson’s original life plans. Before the tragedy, he aspired to become “future governor of Mississippi.” While he still plans to go to law school, Dickinson’s goal has changed to become a “health care administrator in Mississippi.”

Before the stroke, he did not consider himself a champion of disability rights.

“I always had friends who were disabled, and I would think to myself, ‘Oh, poor them,” without thinking of the perspective, ‘What if that were me?'”

Now, Dickinson thinks of himself as someone who is, if not a champion of disability rights, someone “who is giving his damnedest.”

“Diversity to me, in this regard, is not just making sure everyone gathers at the same table, but everyone has a way to get to the same table,” Dickinson said. “That’s my mantra moving forward: giving everyone equal opportunity to have a voice.”

Upshaw said Dickinson is an inspiration to him and to many others.

“He set a goal of returning to this university after his stroke, and he came back stronger than ever,” Upshaw said. “He distinguished himself as a student leader through involvement in ASB, the Honors College, the McLean Institute and other groups.

“Anyone who knows him can sense the pride he has in the University of Mississippi. I am glad that he plans to stick around to attend law school here.”

Dickinson is the youngest son of Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson and Teresa Dickinson of Mantachie. His older brother is Chris Dickinson Jr., also of Mantachie.

Go Forth and Prosper: Croft Alumni Take on the World

Six graduates reflect on their experience

OXFORD, Miss. – On a Saturday afternoon in May 2001, the first five graduates of the Croft Institute for International Studies at the University of Mississippi received their diplomas. The group included the program’s very first graduate, Lauren Michelle Gent, a Gulfport native who had completed her degree in May 2000.

The ceremony was short. The graduates and guests gathered in the Joseph C. Bancroft Conference Room in the newly renovated Croft building. There were congratulatory remarks. Then the five students – Gent, along with Julie Anna Newton, Martine Louise Schaefer, Jenny Christine Senften and Emily Melissa Sindelar – were presented their diplomas. A reception followed.

Two decades later, as the institute celebrates the 20th anniversary of its 1998 opening, Croft boasts 520 alumni, including 33 who are set to graduate Saturday (May 12).

Croft was established in 1997 by a generous gift and funded annually by the Joseph C. Bancroft Charitable and Educational Fund. Each class has fulfilled Croft’s mission of broadening the international horizon, with students and alumni traveling around the world, from the Siberian pine forests of Russia to the shining metropolis of Accra, Ghana, to the towering skyscrapers in the financial heart of Hong Kong.

It is not easy to describe a “typical” Croft alumni, but the institute’s selective admission, exceptional academic program, small classes and first-rate facilities – along with the requirement that Croft students study abroad for at least one semester – attract motivated and intelligent students who leave the institute prepared to succeed on the global stage.

“From the inception of Croft, the overarching goal of its curriculum for the international studies major was to educate students who knew how to navigate an increasingly interconnected world,” said Oliver Dinius, Croft executive director and associate professor of history. “The pillars of the curriculum are learning a foreign language, studying one world region in depth and gaining a broad understanding of global dynamics.

“The foreign language is a tool for communication, but its study also provides an understanding of the cultural context. Taking courses in history, social science and economics about a region and beyond trains the ability to analyze problems from multiple perspectives, an essential skill in today’s global market.

“The signature elements of our curriculum – the mandatory semester of study abroad and the writing of a senior thesis – reinforce the commitment to the foreign language and to research-based analysis, and they also serve as the proof that our students are ready to go out into the world as global citizens.”

According to Croft, 55 percent of its graduates are employed in the private sector, with other alumni working in the public sector, nonprofits or education. Those in the private sector hold jobs in banking, finance, insurance and accounting; law; media, marketing and public relations; and other fields such as business and manufacturing, consulting and lobbying, and technology.

Public sector occupations include serving in the military, working for the U.S. Department of State or Congress, and being employed in various federal, state and local government agencies. Croft graduates working for nonprofits run the gamut, from the arts and education to international development and human rights.

About half of Croft alumni in the education field are professors, teachers and researchers, while the other half are administrators.

No two Croft alumni stories are alike. Here are six examples of what Croft alumni do:

Chris Lamont

Chris Lamont, Class of 2002 

Associate professor of international relations at Tokyo International University in Tokyo

Originally from Houston, Texas, Lamont attended the Croft Institute because of “a strong interest in international affairs.”

“Given the program’s focus on languages and study abroad, I thought it was a perfect fit,” he said.

What he found at Croft was a strong interdisciplinary foundation in international studies and rigorous research training, and the opportunity to study abroad, which he did in Croatia. That study abroad experience led to a Fulbright Program scholarship that allowed him to spend a year in Zagreb, Croatia, researching post-conflict justice processes in the former Yugoslavia, which ultimately led him to continue working on the topic for years to come.

“Pretty much every member of the Croft faculty encouraged me to embrace research interests that would remain with me throughout my career,” Lamont said. “The interdisciplinary focus of the major helped give me a broader foundation in international relations that went far beyond the narrow discipline specific training that is offered elsewhere.

“Also, Croft provided me with an opportunity to begin to gain early experience conducting fieldwork and to carry out my own research that would later allow me to get a head start on my Ph.D. dissertation research.”

Daniel Booth

Daniel Booth, Class of 2005 

Worldwide account manager at FedEx in Memphis

Booth, a native of Amory, does not hold back when talking about how Croft affected his life and career.

“Every class, professor and teacher had a positive impact on my life,” he said. “I truly believe the Croft Institute is one of the best undergraduate programs in the international studies field. Dr. Michael Metcalf, Dr. Peter Frost, Dr. Kees Gispen and Dr. Holly Reynolds all come to mind as being extremely impactful on my education and development.”

Also a licensed customs broker, Booth works for a global company that serves more than 220 countries and territories with more than 500,000 team members, moving more than 12 million packages a day.

Having a Croft degree positioned Booth for working on the international stage.

“For much of my life, I had a passion for all things international and different cultures,” he said. “I work with individuals inside of FedEx and customers all over the globe each and every day, and I have been afforded amazing travel opportunities. … I believe my international studies education and study abroad experience through Croft created a great foundation for me to be successful in my career.”

Susan Hedglin

Susan Lawrence Hedglin, Class of 2009 

Consultant for oncology research and development, and finance with Eli Lilly and Co. in Indianapolis

Growing up in Madison in the 1990s, Hedglin witnessed the daily headlines of a changing world, she said, from the post-Soviet economic transitions in Russia to China’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001.

She entered Croft because she was drawn to government and policy, had several friends who went through Croft and raved about it, and knew of the program’s sterling academic reputation.

After graduation, Hedglin gravitated toward business instead of government, but her Croft education is always with her. Her consulting position includes quickly processing data from current events to policy changes to large amounts of internal company information. Croft’s rigorous academics prepared her for that.

Plus, her studies gave her extra benefits.

“I always love the look on people’s faces when I tell them I speak Mandarin Chinese,” she said. “They ask, ‘Where did you learn that?’ and the jaws drop when I say, ‘the University of Mississippi.’

“Even though I am based in the U.S., I work at a multinational company with business partners from around the world. Having knowledge of their background and culture helps me build effective relationships. Lots of people are curious about the world, but Croft helps students see it – and process it – in depth at a young age. It’s a valuable foundation to build a career on.”

Cooper Reves

Cooper Reves, Class of 2010 

Digital director for the office of U.S. Sen. John McCain in Washington, D.C.

Reves’ introduction to international studies started in high school in Madison, where he took a course on Chinese history and Mandarin.

“I learned a deep appreciation for cultures outside my own, and I wanted to continue exploring that curiosity into my college career,” he said. “Thankfully, Ole Miss offered an incredible program in international relations at the Croft Institute that I was able to take advantage of.”

But Reves’ education at Croft went beyond the borders of China; he learned history, economics and how to appreciate differences among cultures.

“But most of all, the Croft Institute taught me analytical reasoning skills that I have been able to adapt into my career in campaign politics and digital organizing,” he said. “No matter what you do after college, the skills you learn debating world issues with your fellow classmates in the Croft building will serve you in any capacity.

“At the Croft Institute, I developed the intellectual self-confidence necessary to thrive in the political world. I also know that the historical perspective on current world events that Croft teaches has been directly applicable to my work. Though I work in American politics, the historical echoes of our current political environment are undeniable, and being well-versed in recent world history has proven to be indispensable.”

Deeneaus Polk

Deeneaus Polk, Class of 2011 

Director of the Mississippi Apprenticeship Program for the Mississippi Community College Board in Jackson

While at Pascagoula High School, Polk spent time in Germany and decided there that he wanted to become ambassador to that country in the future. To reach that goal one day, Polk was drawn to Croft because he knew the strong interdisciplinary program would challenge him.

Still working toward his dream, Polk will begin working on a master’s degree in public policy this fall at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government on a full scholarship. The Pascagoula native said the Croft Institute is a large reason why.

In 2015, Polk became the first Mississippian to land an exclusive German Chancellor Fellowship that took him to Germany for a year of study and research, during which he sought to contextualize the German Vocational Education System to fit within Mississippi.

“There are two individuals who are no longer part of Croft that I would love to express gratitude towards,” he said. “I didn’t grow up with much and was the first in my family to go to college, but Dr. Michael Metcalf saw past all of that and urged me to apply to the Croft Institute while I was still in high school.

“Similarly, Dr. Kees Gispen implored me to apply to Croft. … He challenged me to dig deeper in expanding my academic capacity, because passion is only beneficial for others if it is refined and purposeful in its intent.”

Elizabeth Romary, Class of 2017 

English teacher with Peace Corps in Namibia

Only a year removed from her Croft studies, Romary is roughly 7,500 miles from her home of Hillsborough, North Carolina, teaching English and natural science at a primary school to sixth- and seventh-graders at a village in the southern African nation of Namibia.

Her teaching adventure in Namibia is partly because of Dinius, she said.

“Without Dr. Dinius’ guidance, I wouldn’t be here today,” she said. “So I am grateful for everything he taught me during my four years at Croft. I hope that I’m making him proud.”

Romary’s interest in international studies is an equation that includes an interest in international events, politics, cultures and languages from an early age.

“When I learned about the Croft Institute, I instantly knew that this was the program for me,” she said. “I loved the fact that we would be completely immersed in a language, get to broaden our global horizons on multiple levels and have the opportunity to study abroad in a different part of the world.”

Croft’s foreign language requirement came in handy when Romary was assigned by the Peace Corps to learn Khoekhoegowab, a local language that contains “clicking” sounds.

“It was an incredibly difficult yet rewarding process, and I feel that the language practice I had in Croft helped me to prepare for the classes I took here,” she said.

To read more about Croft alumni, visit http://www.croft.olemiss.edu/alumni/.

UM’s 165th Commencement Set this Weekend

Acclaimed historian, biographer Walter Isaacson to speak Saturday morning

The University of Mississippi’s 165th Commencement will take place Saturday, May 12. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi will present degrees to some 5,000 students Saturday (May 12) at its 165th Commencement. The ceremony, set for 9 a.m. in the Grove, features renowned historian and biographer Walter Isaacson as speaker.

Isaacson, who also was head of both CNN and Time magazine, is a professor of history at Tulane University in New Orleans, where he grew up. He’s also a graduate of Harvard College and Pembroke College of Oxford University, in Oxford, England, where he was a Rhodes scholar. In 2003, Isaacson became president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies institute based in Washington, D.C. 

The morning convocation is expected to be attended by about 3,000 degree candidates in academic regalia. Seating for 15,000 will be set up in the Grove for visitors and families and is filled on a first-come basis.

Ceremonies for the individual schools will follow at various locations throughout the day.

In case of rain, the main ceremony will be moved to 9:30 a.m. at The Pavilion at Ole Miss.

If the weather is threatening, a decision on moving the ceremony indoors will be made by 8 a.m. Saturday and announced via a RebAlert text message, Twitter, a banner on the UM website and a blast email to students, faculty and staff. A recorded message also will be available at 662-915-1040 and signs will be posted on the Grove stage.

For complete details about Commencement, visit http://commencement.olemiss.edu/. The site features information about parking, transportation and dining options for graduates, visitors, faculty and staff.

Those not able to attend Commencement who would like to watch the ceremony can visit http://www.youtube.com/olemiss to view a live stream that will begin promptly at 9 a.m.

Here are more details about Commencement weekend.

Full Schedule of Commencement Events

Friday (May 11)

4 p.m. – Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College Ceremony, Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts (tickets required, contact the Dean’s Office)

5:30 p.m. – Celebration of Achievement, Manning Center

7:30 p.m. – Graduate School doctoral hooding ceremony, Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts

Saturday (May 12)

9 a.m. – Convocation, the Grove

Inclement Weather – 9:30 a.m., The Pavilion

11 a.m. – College of Liberal Arts master’s degree ceremony, Fulton Chapel

School of Law – the Grove
Inclement Weather – 6 p.m., Manning Center

School of Engineering – Lyceum Circle
Inclement Weather – 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., Student Union Ballroom (Contact the Dean’s office for individual department ceremony times.)

School of Education – the Grove
Inclement Weather – 6 p.m., The Pavilion

School of Business Administration – C. M. “Tad” Smith Coliseum

Patterson School of Accountancy – Manning Center

School of Applied Sciences – The Pavilion

School of Pharmacy – Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts

3 p.m. – College of Liberal Arts – The Pavilion

Meek School of Journalism and New Media – C. M. “Tad” Smith Coliseum

General Studies – Manning Center

Parking and Transportation

It is recommended that guests park in the lots designated for the school or college ceremony they will be attending after convocation concludes. For more details and a full list of these designated parking areas can be found at http://commencement.olemiss.edu/parking-and-transportation/.

No parking or drop-off will be available on University Avenue or the Circle. Note that once the morning convocation starts, vehicle access to the Grove is limited until convocation and school ceremonies in the Grove conclude.

For safety reasons, parking is not permitted along roadways, sidewalks or grassy areas.

Faculty and staff who are on campus Saturday are urged to park near their buildings and walk to the Grove. Additional faculty and staff parking will be available in the Women’s Terrace lot and the lot behind Crosby Hall.

NCAA Tennis Tournament

Those planning to attend Commencement are reminded that the Ole Miss women’s tennis team will host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament on Friday and Saturday at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center. The tennis center is located between Magnolia Drive and Fraternity Row, and tournament attendance is expected to affect parking in this area of campus.

Ole Miss faces Missouri State at 3 p.m. Friday, while Syracuse and Wichita State will kick off the weekend at noon Friday. The winners meet at 2 p.m. Saturday.

ADA Information

A shuttle service will be available primarily for those with special needs, not the general public. All guests who require assistance should park in the garage attached to The Pavilion on Hill Drive. Wheelchairs, if needed, must be provided by families.

The university has identified ADA/handicap parking areas for both the morning Grove convocation and each of the college/school ceremonies.

To request information prior to Saturday, call 662-915-7235.

Emergency Medical Services

EMS will be available at the UPD area of the Welcome Center on University Avenue for Commencement and the remainder of the day. All information booths and ceremony venues will have basic first-aid kits. For immediate assistance, dial 911.

Information Booths

Information booths staffed by UM employees will be located in key areas around campus on Saturday. At each location, volunteers may assist visitors with ADA shuttle inquiries, driving directions and any other questions they may have about Commencement.

Each booth will have campus maps, complimentary water and general first-aid supplies. Information booths will be at the following locations:

  1. Entrance to the parking garage on Hill Drive *Designated for ADA parking, all those requiring assistance should park here.7 a.m.-3 p.m.
  2. Welcome Center on University Avenue by the Grove (the official University Police Department EMS station) 7 a.m.-noon
  3. South side of Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
  4. Intersection of West Road and Fraternity Row 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
  5. Student Union Drive/Rebel Drive intersection 7 a.m.-noon
  6. University Avenue/University Place 7 a.m.-noon

Dining

Ole Miss Student Union

Chick-fil-A 7 a.m.-3 p.m.

Panda Express 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Which Wich 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Qdoba 7 a.m.-3 p.m.

McAlister’s 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Coulter Hall

Starbucks 7 a.m.-1 p.m.

The Pavilion

Steak ‘n Shake 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Raising Cane’s 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Closed on Saturday

Grill @ 1810

Rebel Market

Marketplace

Starbucks (J.D. Williams Library)

Einstein’s (All locations)

POD (All locations)

My Ole Miss Wish Makes One Special Fan’s Day

Colton Bullock's adventure is part of Student Veterans Association charity effort

Colton Bullock, 8, of Brandon makes his way down the Walk of Champions at the University of Mississippi on April 27, high-fiving members of the Ole Miss ROTC program as part of his My Ole Miss Wish. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – On Friday afternoon (April 27), the Walk of Champions through the Grove at the University of Mississippi was reserved for just one champion: 8-year-old Colton Bullock of Brandon.

Colton, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 3 in September 2013, was made an honorary lifetime member of the Ole Miss Student Veterans Association before that evening’s Ole Miss vs. LSU baseball game at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field. To celebrate the honor, the association bestowed upon Colton his own walk through the Grove before a ride to the stadium aboard an Oxford Fire Department fire engine, complete with flashing lights and blaring sirens.

Colton’s honor was made possible through My Ole Miss Wish, a philanthropic effort of the Ole Miss Student Veterans Association, a nonprofit that works to solve complex issues surrounding veterans in higher education. My Ole Miss Wish works with military families to give children unforgettable Ole Miss experiences in partnership with Charter Road Hospitality and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Colton is the son of Ken Bullock, a first lieutenant in the Mississippi Air National Guard where he serves as a flight nurse, and Brittney Bullock.

Supporting military families is important because it is part of the university’s Flagship Forward Strategic Plan, which includes building healthy and vibrant communities, said Andrew Newby, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and UM assistant director of Veteran and Military Services.

“The SVA is composed of student veterans dedicated to service, and this initiative allows them to serve in new and different ways by making impacts in the lives of our state,” Newby said. “Student veterans understand the transient nature of military families, and with this in mind, we want to make sure they understand that they have a place within the Ole Miss family.”

Ole Miss baseball coach Mike Bianco offers a few words of encouragement to Colton Bullock. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Colton’s day also included a Pass and Review Parade with more than 150 members of the university’s ROTC program and Ole Miss family saluting him, a meet-and-greet with the Rebels baseball team and throwing out the first pitch at the game

On Saturday (April 28), Colton was involved in a Nerf gun war that raged across the Grove. The family’s hotel stay was provided by Charter Road Hospitality, which operates several hotels.

“My Ole Miss Wish will continue to find military families with an affinity or affiliation to the university, and hopes to work with one family in the fall and one in the spring,” Newby said. “As the program gains traction, we hope the community will continue to support our efforts, as they have so far with the new additions to our programming and initiatives on campus.

“The goal in all of this is to make the University of Mississippi nationally relevant for veterans, and we are heading in the right direction.”

The Ole Miss Student Veterans Association was introduced to Colton and his story during this year’s RebelTHON charity, a dance marathon that raised a record-breaking $265,912.30 for the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital at the UM Medical Center, exceeding its goal of $225,000. Colton is a patient at Batson.

Colton Bullock of Brandon visits with the Ole Miss baseball team as part of his My Ole Miss Wish, a philanthropic effort of the Ole Miss Student Veterans Association. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

“The purpose of My Ole Miss Wish is to give Ole Miss experiences to children with illnesses and military families,” said Evan Ciocci, a Navy veteran who serves as president of the Ole Miss Student Veterans Association. “It is important to support the family of military as it is the military member.

“It is our way of giving back to the community and continuing to serve; though our service time is up, (it) doesn’t mean we cannot continue to serve.”

Colton arrived for his wish clad in a powder blue Ole Miss baseball hat and jersey, as the ROTC cadets in uniforms and green-and-blue camouflage lined the Walk of Champions.

Colton’s honorary lifetime member statement was read aloud to him, noting his “strength, courage and amazing ability to overcome any obstacles.”

“Your genuine love and support of your family, your respect for your parents and your love for Ole Miss make this an easy decision,” the statement read. “We look forward to great things from you in the future, and hope you will accept this small token of appreciation as a sign of commitment to you, your family and your future.”

With that, the No. 1 question on the Ole Miss campus was asked: “Are you ready?” Then the crowd erupted with Hotty Toddy as Colton made his way down the walk, high-fiving the blue-, red- and green-clad throng awaiting him.

To nominate children and families to participate in My Ole Miss Wish, contact Andrew Newby at andrew@olemiss.edu. Please put “My Ole Miss Wish” in the subject line.

UM Students Present Their Research at the Capitol

Posters in the Rotunda showcases undergraduate projects at state universities

University of Mississippi students (left to right) Madison Savoy, Abigail Garrett, Cellas Hayes, Lindsey Miller and Brittany Brown present their undergraduate research during Posters in the Rotunda March 20 at the state Capitol. Photo by Shea Stewart/University Communications

JACKSON, Miss. – Five University of Mississippi students displayed their undergraduate research on topics ranging from the Latino South to therapeutic treatments for cognitive disorders during Posters in the Rotunda Tuesday (March 20) at the Mississippi State Capitol.

They were among 33 students from Mississippi’s eight public universities at the event, which showcased to state legislators and leaders some of the undergraduate research and scholarly activity being conducted at public universities.

“Research experiences at the undergraduate level can be extremely impactful for our students, giving them the first thrill of defining and answering a question no one else ever has,” said Josh Gladden, UM interim vice chancellor of research and sponsored programs. “We have been expanding these experiential opportunities at UM and are excited for this opportunity for our leaders to learn more about the impressive work being produced by our students throughout the state.”

The event provided opportunities for state leaders to visit with students from their districts, allowed students to network with one other and showcased cutting-edge research conducted by undergraduates that benefits Mississippians.

“The work being done by undergraduates with their mentors at the eight state universities is quite impressive,” said Marie Danforth, chair of the steering committee for the Drapeau Center for Undergraduate Research at the University of Southern Mississippi and coordinator of the event, in a news release. “This event (helps) legislators appreciate the contributions that the students are making to the state in so many areas, including economics, health care and education.”

Ole Miss students presenting at the Posters in the Rotunda event were:

– Brittany Brown, a journalism major from Quitman. “The Latino South: Migration, Identity and Foodways” was the title of Brown’s poster abstract. According to Brown, her research “examines the demographic changes that result from the migration of Latinos to nontraditional settings in the American South.”

“It is important to understand how this increasing population will affect the idea of race and how Southern society views people of Hispanic descent in order to move forward as a region,” she wrote in her poster abstract.

– Abigail Garrett, a mathematics and computer science major from Mountain Brook, Alabama. Garrett’s research involves analyzing and sorting data with the mission of giving others “the ability to easily view and understand vast amounts of data provided about breast cancer patients and their treatments,” she wrote in her poster abstract.

“The research seeks to benefit Mississippi by helping its residents who are affected by breast cancer, and also benefit the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s research in regard to this terrible disease.”

– Cellas Hayes, a classics and biology major from Lena. As life expectancy has increased, so has diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, Hayes wrote in his poster abstract. The purpose of his research is to “identify therapeutic treatments for these diseases.”

“Within the last 50 years, life expectancy in Mississippi has increased to almost 80 years of age,” he wrote in his poster abstract. “This increased life expectancy has come with more age-related problems such as increased rates of dementia. Our goal is to understand how cognitive disorders come about in order to find potential therapeutic treatments.”

– Lindsey Miller, a pre-pharmacy major from Corinth. Miller’s poster abstract was titled “Finding the Dimerization Interface of Skp1 from Dictyostelium.” The research is focused “on understanding the function of F-box proteins, which are key proteins in regulating a wide variety of cellular activities in organisms including humans, plants and fungi.”

“Dictyostelium is an amoeba that lives in soil and is a good model system for studying how cells react to their environment,” she wrote in her poster abstract. “We are studying the Skp1 protein from this amoeba to understand how it works with other proteins. This information may help advance medicine and agriculture in Mississippi.”

– Madison Savoy, a communication sciences and disorders major from Southaven. Savoy’s research involves examining “how verb transitivity impacts pronoun interpretation for adults with intellectual disabilities versus typically developing adults,” she wrote in her poster abstract.

“Approximately 14 percent of Mississippians have intellectual or developmental disabilities. Understanding strengths and weaknesses in their language can help identify areas for targeted intervention. These targeted interventions could ultimately save the state of Mississippi a significant amount of funds to help these individuals go on to live independent lives.”

Started in 2016 and modeled after the Posters on the Hill event at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., which includes students from around the country, Posters in the Rotunda is held in some format in 17 states.

Both chambers of the Mississippi Legislature proclaimed March 20 as Undergraduate Research Day.

“Outstanding students from across the state have dedicated their time and have worked tremendously hard on their research projects for Posters in the Rotunda, and these students demonstrate the positive impact that higher education appropriation brings to our state, and supporting students who participate in Posters in the Rotunda is an excellent way for Mississippi to invest in its future,” House Resolution No. 54 stated.

“Undergraduate research is critical in developing solutions to the needs of Mississippi’s future workforce because it cultivates the students’ goals and aspirations and it encourages students to specialize in the biomedical and (science, technology, engineering and mathematical) fields after graduation.”

Student-Led Organization Promotes Mental Health Week

Active Minds aims to start conversation among students about the importance of mental health

The Send Silence Packing exhibition places a backpack on the ground to represent each college student lost to suicide. The Ole Miss Chapter of Active Minds host the exhibition Monday (March 26). Photo courtesy of Active Minds

OXFORD, Miss. – Active Minds, a University of Mississippi student organization, is hosting a mental health week March 26-29 to start a conversation about the importance of mental health and well-being.

The week will begin with the Send Silence Packing exhibition. This traveling program demonstrates the number of college students lost each year to suicide by placing a single backpack on the ground to represent each student.

More than 1,100 backpacks will be in the Grove from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. Each backpack has a story attached to it.

Kathryn Forbes, Ole Miss Active Minds president, wanted to bring this exhibition to campus to illustrate and raise awareness of the impact of suicide while connecting students with mental health resources.

“It opens the campus’s eyes to how many students needed to have these mental health conversations with people,” Forbes said. “I hope some students read the stories attached to these backpacks and see how speaking up could help others. This is a powerful statement about how mental health affects college students.

“I look forward to the conversations started by Send Silence Packing and the positive changes it will make in the way students view the importance of mental health awareness.”

Active Minds is a national organization, founded in 2003 by Alison Malmon, who was a junior at the University of Pennsylvania at the time. She lost her brother to suicide and wanted to implement a way for college campuses to reduce the stigma of mental illness and encourage students who need help to seek it out.

More than 400 chapters of the organization have been created on college campuses. Active Minds has been at Ole Miss for two years, thanks in large part to Forbes.

“I wanted to bring Active Minds to our campus because while I was fighting my own battles against depression and anxiety, I noticed others were secretly struggling as well,” Forbes said. “I was always open about my history and I found that others were wanting to talk about it with me once they realized they were not the only ones who have sought help.”

She said she was particularly drawn to this organization because it lets students know they can and should talk openly about mental health.

“Discussing mental health is important for so many reasons,” she said. “It lets people know that they’re not alone in their struggles or successes. People should know that mental health is just as, if not more, important than physical health, and that the stigmas associated with it are outdated and ignorant.

“Most importantly, the more we talk about mental health, the easier it is for others to do so. It can become a part of normal conversation. Less people will feel the need to hide their struggles with mental health and no longer be ashamed to say they understand what it is like to struggle with depression or anxiety or a long list of other prominent issues.”

The Ole Miss chapter of Active Minds is bringing the Send Silence Packing exhibition to campus as part of Mental Health Week to create conversations around the issue of mental wellness. Photo courtesy of Active Minds

Because students are starting the conversation about mental health, they can work to change the culture that contributes to mental health issues, said Bud Edwards, director of the University Counseling Center.

“If these conversations are based on good information, we can spread good information,” he said. “We can also decrease the stigma associated with mental health. Students are often resistant in seeking mental health until things get bad, and we hope to change that behavior.”

Discussing signs and symptoms of mental health conditions, available resources and ways to encourage others to seek help are all possible outcomes of having conversations about mental health.

“Many of the issues we see here are anxiety, depression and relationship issues, which are all connected stress,” Edwards said.

Factors that contribute to student stress include issues such as substance abuse, lack of sleep, inadequate diet or little to no exercise, all of which can cause an impairment of function in the classroom and the workplace.

“When people think about mental health, they often think about the diagnosis, but the issue is much broader than that,” he said. “The decisions people make play a large role in having a mental health diagnosis, and making good choices can decrease the development of a diagnosable concern.”

The week of events includes guest speakers, exhibits and raffles.

“Ole Miss is special in that its students are so willing to become involved in campus activities, which is why Mental Health Week will reach a lot of students,” Forbes said. “I hope that the students who are currently struggling can look around and see that they are not alone.

“I hope that those who have struggled in the past can share their successes and failures with other students as well. I hope that the conversations Ole Miss has during Mental Health Week begin to take place more often and with louder, more confident voices.”

Here is the full schedule of events:

Monday (March 26)

Send Silence Packing – 9 a.m.-5 p.m., the Grove. Local and campus resource centers also be present to provide information about mental health and seeking help.

Ball for Life: A Thousand Threes in Three Days with Phi Delta Theta – 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Galtney Lott Plaza. Basketball goals will be set up for anyone to enter a three-point shot competition. University Sporting Goods will give $1 for each shot made – up to $1,000 – benefiting Active Minds and the William Magee Center for Wellness Education. All participants will be entered into a raffle for prizes.

“A Call to Life” by Michael Ziblich – 7 p.m., Bondurant Hall, Room 204C. Ziblich’s son Keller took his own life in 2012 and he will talk about his family’s story and the importance of reaching out for help.

Tuesday (March 27)

We Listen … with Mr. and Miss Ole Miss – 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Circle. This public art installation will feature ‘mood pins’ for students, faculty and staff to select how they feel.

Ball for Life: A Thousand Threes in Three Days with Phi Delta Theta – 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Galtney Lott Plaza.

Humans of Ole Miss exhibit – 4-6 p.m., Bondurant Hall, Room 204C. The exhibit will include stories submitted by members of the Ole Miss community and feature a talk from members of the University Counseling Center.

Wednesday, March 28

Ball for Life: A Thousand Threes in Three Days with Phi Delta Theta – 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Galtney Lott Plaza.

Thursday, March 29

Active Minds table – 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Galtney Lott Plaza. Members of Active Minds will provide information to students about mental health.