History Makers: Three UM Students among Rhodes Scholarship Finalists

Jarvis Benson, Jaz Brisack, John Chappell set to compete for coveted award

Jarvis Benson

OXFORD, Miss. – For the first time ever, the University of Mississippi boasts three 2019 finalists for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarships, which draw students from around the world to study at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. 

Jarvis Benson, Jaz Brisack and John Chappell will compete for Rhodes Scholarships in meetings Nov. 16-17 in Birmingham, Alabama. UM has had 25 Rhodes Scholars and many Rhodes finalists in its history, but never three finalists in one year.

Having three finalists is a testament not only to the students, but also to the university’s faculty, said Douglass Sullivan-González, dean of the university’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, where all three are students. 

“Our pride and joy are immeasurable,” Sullivan-González said. “That our university has produced three finalists for the prestigious Rhodes scholarship means that our faculty and staff have worked with some incredible scholars who have stood up to the questions of the day, and the world has taken notice.

“Once again, our flagship university produces an intellectual nexus to challenge and provoke, and our students engage this moment with verve. What a great time to be working at the University of Mississippi.”

The Rhodes Scholarships, which were created in 1902, bring outstanding students from many countries to the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Besides “intellectual distinction,” the selection committee seeks excellence in qualities of mind and of person, which combined offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead.

Rhodes Scholars are elected for two years of study at Oxford University, with the possibility of being renewed for a third year.

Benson, a senior international studies and Spanish major from Grenada, serves as president of the UM Black Student Union. He has worked on civil rights, voting rights, immigration and education and was a 2018 Truman Scholarship finalist for Mississippi. He’s looking forward to representing the university. 

“To be selected as a Rhodes finalist is surreal,” Benson said. “I am so blessed to have the chance to represent the university. While I am very excited for the opportunity to further my education at Oxford, I am more excited to show that people who look like me are able to attend and thrive in academic environments.

“To be selected as a finalist, I hope, is to show that it is possible.” 

Jaz Brisack

Brisack, a senior general studies and journalism major from Oxford, is the 2018 Truman Scholar for Mississippi and has a long history as a champion for human, civil and labor rights in Mississippi. She is president of the College Democrats, a frequent contributor to The Daily Mississippian and was a teacher-adviser for the Sunflower Freedom Project in 2016. 

“The U.K.’s historical dominance on the world stage, and Oxford’s position as that empire’s center of intellectual thought, make this school and this degree program the perfect place to deepen my understanding of how power structures emerge, evolve and can best be influenced or fundamentally altered,” Brisack said. “Interacting with professors and other students who are engaging with these issues from myriad global perspectives will give me the opportunity to critically challenge my own ideas and learn from others’ ranges of experience.”

Chappell, a senior international studies and Arabic major from Albuquerque, New Mexico, co-founded Mississippi Votes and works on international human and civil rights. He is a 2017 Barksdale Scholar.

He said he’s thrilled to be in the competition with Brisack and Benson, both of whom he said are friends and partners in community organizing and coalition building at Ole Miss. Being selected is a testament to the people and communities who have made him who he is today, Chappell said.

John Chappell

“I absolutely could not have come this far without the support of the Croft Institute, Honors College and broader university community, as well as the people who have helped me create homes away from home in Mississippi and abroad,” Chappell said. “My family and hometown community of Albuquerque also make me who I am, and I hope to make them proud in my future career.”

Besides the three Rhodes Scholarship finalists, Abhijaya Shrestha, a senior mechanical engineering student from Nepal, was named a semifinalist in the Global Rhodes Scholarship category, and Chinelo Ibekwe, a 2018 Ole Miss chemical engineering graduate from Lagos, Nigeria, was named a finalist in the Rhodes Scholarships for West Africa program. 

Shrestha is grateful to the Rhodes Trust for introducing the Global Rhodes Scholarship category this year, which is available to candidates from any country that is not an existing Rhodes jurisdiction. 

“I feel lucky to be an applicant in the inaugural year,” Shrestha said. “Being selected as a semifinalist gives me a lot of confidence to pursue my goals in any capacity in the future.

“Regardless of whether I am selected for the next round or not, I already consider it an honor and a privilege and I plan to continue building on it.”

Ibekwe will interview Dec. 1 in her category. The scholarship was unveiled in 2017 to support innovative young leaders in West Africa, and Ibekwe was a semifinalist for the scholarship last year.

Her long-term goal is to serve as Nigeria’s minister of health. She is particularly passionate about introducing advanced technology into the country’s health sector, as well as reforming maternal and child health care policies.

“As Africa is viewed as the last frontier in development, it is important that the next generation of leaders and policy makers – Rhodes Scholars – understands Africa’s cultural and political landscape,” Ibekwe said. “I look forward to tapping into the diverse perspectives in the Rhodes Scholar community to prepare myself for the challenges that I may experience on the journey to prosperity for Africa.”

School of Law Introduces Living-Learning Community

Freshmen get a glimpse of legal education through program

UM freshmen (front row, from left) Cassidy Grace Porter, Abigail Avery, Katharine Papp, Carley Sheppard and Nicholas DiConsiglio and (back row) Carson Whitney, Dorrian Reagan, Joseph Shelley, Faith Chatten and Virgil ‘Trey’ Ledbetter are participating in the inaugural School of Law Living Learning Community. Photo by Macey Edmondson

OXFORD, Miss. – Ten freshmen at the University of Mississippi will begin their legal education early through the School of Law Living-Learning Community.

This is the inaugural year of the program, which will take these young students interested in attending law school after graduation and introduce them to the law.

The program will provide opportunities for students to learn about the law and legal education; offer guidance on applying to law school; introduce undergraduates to law students who will serve as mentors throughout their freshman year; and educate students on professionalism and what it takes to be a successful lawyer.

“These students are already interested in law school as high school seniors, and they’re really go-getters,” said Macey Edmondson, assistant dean for student affairs at the law school. “Through the LLC, they will be part of a tight-knit community, and we’re excited to provide them with resources to enhance their future careers.”

This is a relatively new practice among law schools, she said.

Participating students are Abigail Avery, public policy and leadership and psychology major from Lake St. Louis, Missouri; Faith Chatten, business and art, Erie, Colorado; Nicholas DiConsiglio, political science, Clearwater, Florida; Trey Ledbetter, political science, Iuka; Katharine Papp, history, Austin, Texas; Cassidy Grace Porter, paralegal studies, Bakersfield, California; Dorrian Regan, economics, Tucker, Georgia; Joseph Shelley, political science, Flanders, New Jersey; Carley Sheppard, paralegal studies, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and Carson Whitney, business, Edwardsville, Illinois.

Edmondson has coordinated programming for the students throughout the year, including a social event with law Dean Susan Duncan, guest speakers including judges and attorneys, and a field trip to Jackson to gain a better understanding of the legal system and how it works.

“We hope the experience of immersing yourself in the legal field will only strengthen the interest of a legal education for these students,” Duncan said. “Our faculty and students at the Ole Miss law school will work closely with these freshmen to introduce them to the law and foster their educational success.”

The School of Law LLC is one of four offered to Ole Miss students. Other LLCs include the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, School of Pharmacy and FASTrack.

The new program became a deciding factor for some students to attend UM.

Chatten researched colleges and universities for months to find one that offered something unique for undergraduate students who wanted to become attorneys.

“My search had been unsuccessful until one day, I was looking at Ole Miss housing and saw that there was a School of Law Living-Learning Community,” she said. “It was the exact thing that I had been searching for all along in the college process, and I felt extremely grateful to be accepted.”

Her interest in law began in high school through a U.S. government and politics course.

“I took the class looking to fulfill a required high school credit, not knowing that I would grow to love it so much that it would end up being my favorite class that I have ever taken,” she said. “I considered myself pretty studious in high school, but I had never read a textbook cover to cover until this class.”

Chatten’s interest in becoming an attorney was solidified when she participated in the Law and Advocacy National Student Leadership Conference at Yale University the following summer. She participated in mock trial at the conference, which prompted her to search for undergraduate programs related to law interests and become part of the LLC.

“I wanted to build a community of people around me with the same aspirations who will be going through the same things as me, like caring about good grades because law school is on the line and studying for the LSAT,” she said. “I was also so excited to see that the LLC pairs students up with law school mentors, which will be so impactful to have someone giving me advice since they were once in my position.”

Members of the LLC live among peers who are also interested in pursuing law school after graduation.

“We’re excited to offer the School of Law Living-Learning Community for the 2018-19 academic year,” said Jennifer McClure, student housing assistant director for marketing. “Living-learning communities enhance students’ residential experiences by connecting activities and events in their homes on campus to their academic lives.”

Faculty members and students from the law school will serve as community leaders and resources for these students.

“Through these partnerships with faculty, the Department of Student Housing supports student success by promoting engaged scholarship and responsible citizenship,” McClure said.

For more information, visit https://studenthousing.olemiss.edu/.

M Partner Deploying Volunteers Across Mississippi

Charleston, Lexington, New Albany focus of ambitious initiative

UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter speaks at the M Partner announcement in March 2018. The university will send 150 M Partner volunteers to work Saturday (Oct. 13) in Lexington, Charleston and New Albany. Photo by Photo by Thomas Graning/ Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – More than 150 volunteers will work Saturday in Charleston, Lexington and New Albany during M Partner Community Day to tackle some of each city’s major priorities. M Partner is the University of Mississippi’s hands-on new approach to addressing community needs in the state.

M Partner, which was unveiled in March, was outlined in the university’s comprehensive strategic plan, Flagship Forward. It is the result of a meeting of leaders from all UM campuses to create an ambitious new approach to the university’s longstanding commitment to improving quality of life in Mississippi.

M Partner Community Day engages students in the three partner cities through volunteer projects.

“This Community Day of Service embodies the tenets of M Partner and gets to the core of our university’s commitment to building healthy and vibrant communities,” Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter said. “It is extremely rewarding to see our students so overwhelmingly and enthusiastically embrace this tremendous opportunity.

“I am excited about this community collaboration and the experiences our students will gain as well as the measurable impact this M Partner event will have upon our partner communities.”

Besides the day of service on Saturday, business development forums are set for Tuesday and Wednesday (Oct. 16 and 17) in New Albany and Charleston. These forums are hosted in partnership with the Entrepreneur Center at the Mississippi Development Authority, as well as the university’s Insight Park and McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement.

Transportation and lunch will be provided at the business forums. To register, email mclean@olemiss.edu or mlcoope4@olemiss.edu.

Vitter laid out the vision for M Partner in his November 2016 inaugural address, noting the considerable potential in channeling the talents of the university to support towns and cities as they work together to improve community life. Service efforts such as M Partner Community Day will be complemented by faculty members teaching academic courses that align with priority projects identified by community members.

The work to this point is only the beginning. M Partner will act as a pilot program for up to two years. The Division of Diversity and Community Engagement has a lead role in M Partner, and administrators have been working to find community goals for the program through ongoing discussions in each of the three cities.

M Partner programs began over the summer, when students in the McLean Institute’s Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development initiative worked with youth from each M Partner city to help them understand how the entrepreneurial mindset can be used to address challenges. Faculty members from the Ole Miss departments of Sociology and Anthropology and Management; the School of Law; and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College worked with those students.

Community partners including the James C. Kennedy Wellness Center, Mississippi Development Authority – The Entrepreneur Center and the Mississippi Main Street Association have pitched in as well.

Locals have spoken passionately about what they love about their cities, as well as their economic development, education, community well-being and beautification ideas in meetings the institute has conducted with partner cities over the last few months, said Laura Martin, M Partner director and associate director of the McLean Institute.

“We are thrilled that M Partner Community Day will be an opportunity to contribute to the beautification projects identified by each community,” Martin said. “And we are excited for our student volunteers to see how their efforts in this day of service are connected to a much larger community-university initiative.”

Volunteers will be sent to each community to help with beautification and landscaping, and they will even work Charleston’s Gateway to the Delta Festival, said Michaela Cooper, the AmeriCorps VISTA supporting M Partner.

Some Ole Miss students from these towns will talk with volunteers and leaders about life in their towns and the importance of this day to them personally to provide perspective to the helpers, Cooper said.

“On days of service, it is vital that we constantly think about how to maintain the sustainability of these partnerships and how to bring lessons learned from our partner communities back to our campus,” Cooper said. “We plan to accomplish this by making this not just a day of community service, but also a day of reflection and a call to action.”

More information about the M Partner program is available at http://mpartner.olemiss.edu/.

Homecoming Week to Feature Variety of Fun Events

Activities begin Monday on campus

The Pride of the South leads the 2107 Homecoming Parade and Pep Rally. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Starting Monday (Oct. 1), the University of Mississippi’s homecoming week will be in full swing. For students, faculty and members of the greater Oxford community, the week will be an opportunity to show some school spirit.

Here’s a list of the events scheduled for homecoming week, highlighted by Saturday (Oct. 6) afternoon’s showdown between the Rebels and the University of Louisiana at Monroe Warhawks:

Monday (Oct. 1)             

Homecoming Art Market – 10 a.m.-2 p.m., the Circle – Come enjoy this open-air market brought to you by the Student Activities Association.

Silent Disco – 9-11 p.m., the Grove – This dance party is one the likes of which you’ve probably never experienced, so come by the Grove Monday night to dance like no one’s listening. In case of rain, the event will be held in the Student Union Ballroom.

Tuesday (Oct. 2)

Alumni Association Class Cab – 10 a.m.-1 p.m. – Catch a ride to class on the class cab. Departs from Triplett Alumni Center.

Wheel of Wow – 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Galtney-Lott Plaza – Come one, come all and spin the wheel for a chance to win various giveaways for students. This event is sponsored by the Student Activities Association.

Trivia Night – 6:30-7:30 p.m., Student Union Ballroom – A great chance to meet some new people over some trivia and free food. This event is sponsored by the Student Activities Association.

Wednesday (Oct. 3)

Alumni Association Class Cab – 10 a.m.-1 p.m. – Catch a ride to class on the class cab. Departs from Triplett Alumni Center.

Mechanical Shark and Popcorn – 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Galtney-Lott Plaza – Daring people are invited to come ride a mechanical shark. Be honest, how long have you been waiting to ride a Landshark?

Antonina and David: The Mentalists – 7-8 p.m., Student Union Ballroom – Prepare to have your mind blown in this extraordinary show of telepathy and mindreading. Skeptics welcome.

Thursday (Oct. 4)

Free Sno-Biz with SAA – 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Galtney-Lott Plaza – Stop by and get a snow cone.

Meet-and-Greet the Homecoming Court – Noon-1 p.m., the Circle – Come meet the ladies and gentlemen on the homecoming court.

Everybody’s Formal – 8 p.m.-midnight, The Jefferson – Come to the event where – get this – everybody’s invited. Dress in semiformal attire and get ready to dance the night away.

Friday (Oct. 5)

Coffee with a Cop – 7:30-9 a.m., Galtney Lott Plaza – Come enjoy free coffee, fruit juice, Shipley’s doughnuts and great conversation with local law enforcement.

Homecoming Parade and Pep Rally – 5:30 p.m. – Get ready to rally, folks. The parade begins at the Circle and continues to the Square for a pep rally.

Distinguished Alumni Awards Reception honoring the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Awards Recipients – 6 p.m., The Inn at Ole Miss – The Alumni Association hosts a reception honoring the winners of the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Awards.

Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony and Dinner (ticketed event) – 7 p.m., The Inn at Ole Miss – Following the reception is the ceremony and dinner in the Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom.

Saturday (Oct. 6)

Annual Meeting of the Alumni Association – 10 a.m., Triplett Alumni Center – Alumni and friends are encouraged to join the annual meeting. The Ole Miss Alumni Association will not be hosting Member Zone, but the building will be open 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. to enjoy coffee and fellowship.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Tailgate – Noon, the Grove – The undergraduate and graduate chapters of the organization will host a pre-game tailgate at Metcalf Lane and Walls Walk.

BSU, MOX, E.S.T.E.E.M., Gospel Choir, NAACP and Black Alumni Tailgate – Noon, the Grove – Join alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends for a pre-game tailgate.

English Department Alumni Tailgate – noon, Triplett Alumni Center lawn – Join English alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends for a pre-game tailgate.

School of Applied Sciences Alumni Tailgate – Noon, Yerby Center lawn – Join alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends for a pre-game tailgate.

School of Engineering Tailgate – Noon, Brevard Hall lawn ­­­– Join Engineering alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends for a pre-game tailgate.

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Tailgate – Noon, the Grove – The undergraduate and graduate chapters of the organization will host a pre-game tailgate at Metcalf Lane and Walls Walk.

Homecoming Game: Ole Miss vs. Louisiana-Monroe – 3 p.m., Vaught-Hemingway Stadium – Head over to the Vaught and check out the 2018 edition of the Ole Miss Rebels football team.

Halftime ceremonies – No ordinary halftime show; another reason why you should come cheer on the Rebels. The show will feature the introduction of the Alumni Awards Day recipients and the crowning of homecoming queen Hallie Gillam. Plus, a performance by the Pride of the South Marching Band.

Sunday (Oct. 7)

70th Annual Miss University Pageant – 5:30 p.m., Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts – This ticketed event will round out Homecoming week.

Seven UM Freshmen Named 2018 Stamps Scholars

Students exemplify best of scholarship, community service and leadership

The 2018 cohort of Stamps Scholars at UM is: (front row, from left) Grace Dragna, Grace Marion and Valerie Quach, and (back row) Shahbaz Gul, Jeffrey Wang, Gregory Vance and Richard Springer. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation

OXFORD, Miss. – Seven members of the 2018 freshman class at the University of Mississippi have the distinction of being Stamps Foundation Scholarship recipients.

The Stamps Scholarships at Ole Miss are the most comprehensive, full scholarship packages for in-state and out-of-state students.

This year’s cohort is: Shahbaz W. Gul and Qihang “Jeffrey” Wang, of Oxford; Gregory Vance, of Jackson; Melvin “Richard” Springer IV, of Biloxi; Grace Louise Dragna, of Mandeville, Louisiana; Grace Elizabeth Marion, of Levittown, Pennsylvania; and Valerie Quach, of Austin, Texas.

“This gifted class of UM Stamps Scholars contributes to our exceptional track record of attracting and retaining the best students from around the state and the nation,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “We’re very grateful for the generosity of the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation. Our partnership with them provides nationally competitive scholarships and enables extraordinary enrichment opportunities for high-achieving students.”

The 13th class of Stamps Scholars includes 230 top students from across the country at 30 partner universities. Selected from almost 300,000 applications, these scholars have diverse academic interests such as medicine, education, engineering, history, public policy, and visual and performing arts.

With its partner universities, the Stamps Foundation seeks students who demonstrate academic merit, strong leadership potential and exceptional character. Through the foundation, students have access to funding to engage in internships, undergraduate research or other professional development activities.

Potential Stamps scholars are invited to campus for a special weekend visit to get an in-depth look at the university’s academic programs as well as opportunities to interact with campus administrators and students.

An early entry pharmacy major, Gul is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Chancellor’s Leadership Class. His desire is to become a physician and work in pediatrics.

Gul said he is grateful to be considered for the scholarship.

“I plan to use the enrichment funds provided by the Stamps Scholarship to attend scientific conferences, present my research and make connections with others doing similar studies,” Gul said. “I’m really honored and excited to be a part of this program.”

Wang said he sees the Stamps Scholarship at Ole Miss as the perfect balance between a fantastic, focused education and a big public school experience.

“The Stamps Scholarship Program provides big opportunities for networking with other student scholars,” said the biochemistry major and a member of the Honors College, Global Ambassadors and the American Chemical Society. “The Stamps family is very kind, courteous and professional, and I am very appreciative for all they’ve done.”

Wang’s goals include doing research in both analytical chemistry and environmental sciences.

The Stamps Scholarship is an extraordinary opportunity, said Vance, a biomedical engineering major with a possible minor in neuroscience. He is a member of the Honors College and University Choir.

“The Stamps Scholarship is an incredible way to help students see beyond the classroom,” he said. “I know we’ll have experiences here that we may never have again. I’m excited about meeting new people and learning about their cultures, all of which will make me a better person.”

Vance said he plans to pursue either medical school or an advanced biomedical engineering degree after graduation. He particularly would like to help treat children with neurological diseases.

Springer said he appreciated the Stamps family for contributing so much energy and effort to help students further their education and pursue their dreams.

“This phenomenal opportunity really means the world to me,” said the mathematics major who also plays trumpet in the Pride of the South marching band. He is a member of the Honors College, Chancellor’s Leadership Class and the Associated Student Body.

Springer’s goals are to study abroad, observe math education techniques and curricula in other countries and then return to help improve instruction in Mississippi and around the United States.

“I’ve been fortunate to have had great teachers all of my life,” Springer said. “I’m not sure yet if I want to become one, but I most definitely want to contribute in some way to the next generation of student scholars.”

Double majoring in public policy leadership and economics, Dragna is a member of the Honors College, Trent Lott Leadership Institute, Rebels Against Sexual Assault, Big Event and the Associated Student Body. She is grateful for the Stamps Scholarship, which is allowing her to attend the university.

“I was really shocked and excited that the school that I love so much was also interested in me,” Dragna said. “It’s really difficult for me to comprehend all of the opportunities I’ve been presented with this honor.”

Dragna said she is passionate about developing public policy in the area of women’s health care in rural areas She aspires to one day become a public servant with the federal government, making decisions for women’s health issues.

“I never could have gone to college without the generosity afforded me by the Stamps Family Scholarship Program,” said Marion, a journalism major with a minor in Spanish. “I am really excited to have been selected and to study at one of the best universities for journalism in the nation.”

Marion is a member of the Honors College and the Daily Mississippian editorial staff. Her goals include studying abroad, volunteering in the local community and continuing to attend national professional journalism conferences. Following graduation, she plans to either become a journalist or attend law school.

“I wasn’t expecting to get the Stamps Scholarship, and was very shocked and happy when I did,” said Quach, an early entry pharmacy major beginning her pre-med requirements. She is also a member of the Honors College and Chancellor’s Leadership Class. “The Stamps Foundation Scholarship Program forms a big, widespread community of student scholars and alumni, both internally and externally. I’m very honored to have been chosen to join it.”

Quach’s focus is on discovering new medications and/or procedures to improve treatment of Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, dementia and other neurological diseases.

“I’ve always been interested in health care, particularly geriatrics,” Quach said. “It’s my passion and I really enjoy doing it. Hopefully, my research will make a difference.”

Launched in 2006 by Georgia native Roe Stamps and his wife, Penny, the program has grown to include nearly 40 partner schools throughout the country.

To learn more about the Stamps Foundation, visit http://www.stampsfoundation.org/.

Celebrated Dancers, Acclaimed Pianist Return to Ford Center

International artists to perform Sept. 20 at UM Honors Convocation

Alessandra Ferri (left) and Herman Cornejo dance during their previous appearance with Bruce Levingston at the Ford Center. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Legendary dancer Alessandra Ferri and Herman Cornejo, star principal of American Ballet Theater, return to the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts for the Fall Convocation of the University of Mississippi’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

They will be joined by longtime friend and musical partner Bruce Levingston, acclaimed concert pianist and holder of the prestigious Fant Chair and Chancellor’s Honors College Artist-in-Residence at the university. The performance will reunite three renowned artists for an evening of dance and music.

The performance, open to the public, is set for 7:30 p.m. Sept. 20. Tickets, priced from $25 to $35, can be purchased at the Ole Miss Box Office. Box office hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.

“Ferri and Cornejo are two of the most amazing and gifted artists on the planet,” Levingston said. “They each bring a depth of communication and artistry to the stage that is extraordinarily rare. It is a distinct honor and joy to perform with them here once more.”

Ferri, one of the world’s most celebrated dancers, holds the rare title of prima ballerina assoluta. She was recently awarded the coveted Olivier Award for a second time in London.

Cornejo, an Argentinian ballet star who, at 16, was the youngest winner of Moscow International Ballet Competition, is a virtuoso dancer in the American Ballet Theatre.

Levingston, who recently performed a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall, has been hailed by The New Yorker as “a force for new music” and The New York Times for his “mastery of colors and nuance.”

Ferri, Cornejo and Levingston will present a night of choreographed works, and Levingston will perform the music of Chopin, Debussy, Glass, Mozart, Rachmaninoff and Satie. Levingston also will be joined by other musicians from Ole Miss to create a musical ambiance that will highlight these illustrious dancers’ magical art.

The three performers have performed to critical acclaim throughout the world. One critic wrote of their New York City premiere performance together: “The combination of these three great artists is more than the sum of its parts. The Ferri-Cornejo partnership is as full of rapture and poetry as that legendary pairing of Fonteyn and Nureyev.

“For his part, pianist Bruce Levingston was the perfect third to bring in and elevate this into a true concert and dance performance. Levingston’s playing was sublime throughout.”

Ferri, Cornejo and Levingston will perform works together that have been created especially for them by such distinguished choreographers as Russell Maliphant and Wayne McGregor. Cornejo also will perform a tango that he choreographed, and Levingston will play a number of solo works from his most recent recording.

“We are excited and humbled to welcome back to our university Italy’s famed prima ballerina assoluta, Alessandra Ferri, and the great dancer Herman Cornejo, who will perform with our own renowned Honors College Artist-in-Residence, Bruce Levingston,” said Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, Honors College dean.

“These splendid artists will engage our students and the Oxford community with their graceful dance and music. Their performance three years ago was breathtaking and kicked off their world tour to famed venues. I expect their return will be a historic performance that will be the talk of the town for years to come.”

Ferri, born in Milan, trained at the school of the Teatro alla Scala opera house and attended the Royal Ballet School in London. Winner of the prestigious Prix de Lausanne in 1980, she joined the Royal Ballet that year and was soon made a principal dancer with the company.

In 1985, she was invited by Mikhail Baryshnikov to join American Ballet Theatre, where she danced as a principal until 2007. She has received numerous international awards, including the Sir Lawrence Oliver Award, the Dance Magazine Award and the Benois de la Danse Prix. She was presented the Cavaliere della Republica Honoris by Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, then-president of the Italian Republic, and holds the title of prima ballerina assoluta.

“We are so pleased to return to Mississippi and the beautiful town of Oxford,” Ferri said. “Performing with Bruce Levingston and Herman Cornejo is always a very special and moving occasion, and we look forward to once again sharing our art with the wonderful audience at the University of Mississippi’s Ford Center.”

Cornejo, a native of Argentina, began his training at Teatro Colon’s Instituto Superior de Arte in Buenos Aires and continued his studies at the School of American Ballet in New York. He performed as a guest artist with numerous ballet companies around the world and in 1997 won the Gold Medal at the VIII International Dance Competition in Moscow.

He joined the American Ballet Theater in 1999 and was promoted to principal dancer in 2003. Considered among the world’s greatest dancers, he has received many awards and distinctions, including the Benois del la Danse Prize and Dancer of the Year by The New York Times.

“Mississippi gave birth to our first magical trio performance,” Cornejo said. “I am so happy to return there and share this magic again with Bruce Levingston and Alessandra Ferri.”

For tickets or more information about the performance, call the Ford Center Box Office at 662-915-7411 or visit http://fordcenter.org/event/ferri-cornejo-levingston-an-evening-of-dance-and-music/.

Blair McElroy Named Senior International Officer at UM

Ole Miss alumna brings global perspective, experiences to role

Blair McElroy, UM senior international officer, signs a memorandum of agreement with the National University of Civil Engineering in Vietnam for student and faculty exchanges and research collaborations in May. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – During the 2017-18 academic year at the University of Mississippi, Blair McElroy watched over 877 international students as interim senior international officer.

In that position, she served as an advocate for those students, ensuring their education at UM went as smoothly as possible, while also championing international education on campus by organizing international collaboration agreements, assisting faculty in their teaching-abroad opportunities and creating new partnerships with international universities.

She even served as principal of the North Mississippi Japanese Supplementary School, a UM school where Japanese families and students settled in the area can maintain their education and culture.

This academic year, McElroy will continue her work in international education – while maintaining her concurrent role as director of the Study Abroad Office – but no longer with the interim tag. McElroy, a 2002 graduate of UM’s Croft Institute for International Studies and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, has been named senior international officer at UM after holding the interim title for about a year.

“I see the Office of Global Engagement as a resource for the university in expanding its already prominent global footprint,” McElroy said. “OGE’s faculty and staff are incredible resources for opportunities such as faculty exchange, student exchange, joint research projects, supporting international students on campus and leading study abroad programs.

“Our forthcoming new website will host opportunities for global engagement for constituents on campus and in the community.”

McElroy joined the Ole Miss staff in November 2006 as a study abroad adviser after graduating from the UM School of Law. She was named director of the Study Abroad Office in July 2015.

Blair McElroy

“Blair brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the position, which has enabled her to be a stabilizing force in the Office of Global Engagement,” Provost Noel Wilkin said. “For many years, she has demonstrated her ability to navigate the issues and advance the initiatives within the office.

“This background and experience prepared her well to work with faculty, staff and students to help us pursue a global Mississippi.”

A native of Jackson, Tennessee, McElroy majored in international studies, minoring in Chinese and French, at UM. She also studied abroad in Beijing for a semester, and at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.

She also worked in the Study Abroad Office as an undergraduate student worker and while in law school.

Don Dyer, co-director of UM’s Chinese Language Flagship Program and new Arabic Language Flagship Program, has known McElroy for about 15 years and worked with her in several capacities.

“I have great admiration for her as an administrator on this campus,” said Dyer, who also serves as associate dean for faculty and academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and distinguished professor of Russian and linguistics. “She is someone who sets her mind to a task and stays with it to its completion.”

In an effort to strengthen UM’s international bonds, McElroy spent two weeks this spring at an International Education Administrators seminar in South Korea. The trip was made possible through a Fulbright award.

While there, McElroy visited 12 South Korean universities on a whirlwind tour, learning about South Korean history and culture. Her visit also boosted the university’s program offerings in Korea by structuring strategic partnerships in academic areas and deepening institutional connections to Korea through meetings with faculty, administrators and government officials.

“It was an amazing experience,” she said. “Not only did I learn more about the Korean culture, history and people, but also how to better support Korean students on our campus. I can also happily and knowledgeably encourage study abroad in Korea.

“I would love to host information sessions focusing on study in Korea throughout the academic year and reach out to our Korean students. Having met many of their advisers during our visits, the connections will hopefully help them feel more at home here at UM.”

As director of the Study Abroad Office, McElroy oversees the recruitment of outgoing and incoming study abroad and exchange students – a task that includes being a risk and crisis manager, which can lead to some restless nights.

UM sent 685 students overseas in the 2017-18 academic year through its study abroad programs, a 22 percent increase from the previous year.

With so many students overseas – either for a year, a semester or a summer – crises arise, whether it is students eating bad street food or natural disasters or political unrest. Through it all, the Study Abroad Office is there for students.

Difficulties aside, the experience of studying overseas is invaluable, McElroy said.

“The things you learn about another country, another culture and yourself still resonate even 20 years later,” she said. “I still remember the uncertainty and excitement of traveling to another country for an extended period of time, and I want to make the transition to another country smooth, enjoyable and educational for our students.

“Having been an international student myself in China and the United Kingdom, I remember how it feels to know no one and learn to be resourceful and independent. But I also remember the kindness of people abroad who were hospitable and helpful, and I hope that we are fostering that kind of environment here on our campus for our international students.”

So McElroy’s advice when it comes to studying overseas? Do it.

The real world following graduation might not afford many opportunities for travel, and UM offers several programs for study abroad, she said. Plus, scholarships and financial aid apply, so students can often find a program that fits their budget and academic needs.

And if students cannot go abroad, opportunities are plentiful on campus to engage with international students through the Office of Global Engagement or by participating in UM’s International Education Week activities in early November.

“Regardless of how a student interacts with people from other cultures, the opportunity to do so creates global citizens, people who understand that there exists a world community and know their place within it,” McElroy said.

“People who use the tools they have learned by ‘walking in other people’s shoes’ to become more empathetic, learn intercultural communication skills, learn what they value and can contribute positively to a local, national and global community, and the effects of their experience resonate forever.”

Croft Institute Marks Two Decades of Preparing State for the World

More than 500 graduates have launched successful global careers

A degree from the Croft Institute for International Studies serves as a passport into the world economy. Here, the 2018 class celebrates its graduation. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Since its first class graduated in 2001, the Croft Institute for International Studies at the University of Mississippi has sent hundreds of students into the world.

A Croft Institute degree serves as a passport, a stamp of approval recognizable in the global marketplace of a student who is prepared for a career on the worldwide stage.

The first cohort entered Croft in 1998, and as of May, 520 UM students have graduated from the institute, going on to work in global fields with international expertise, working alongside people from various backgrounds.

Just as remarkable is what the institute has done at home – both on the Ole Miss campus and in the state of Mississippi. It has been at the forefront of internationalizing the university and the state. The institute, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this fall, is both raising the profile of the state through outreach programs and helping UM attract new initiatives.

“A major reason for the creation of the Croft Institute was to help bring an international outlook to the state of Mississippi,” said Oliver Dinius, Croft executive director and associate professor of history. “Part of that agenda was to offer outreach programs, especially for teachers at high schools, which would strengthen their ability to teach on international topics and to recruit talented students from the state of Mississippi for the Croft Institute, where they could receive the education to become global leaders.”

Besides offering outreach programs for Mississippi’s kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers (such as its National Consortium for Teaching about Asia-funded workshops), Croft has stimulated the internationalization of the state and university through study abroad for Ole Miss students, partnerships with the Department of Modern Languages and more.

Each of these initiatives tells a story of how Croft has moved beyond the walls of its beautifully restored Y Building home on campus and helped usher the university and Mississippi onto the global scene.

Douglass Sullivan-González, dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, served on the organizing team for the Croft Institute. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

When UM and the Joseph C. Bancroft Charitable and Educational Fund announced in September 1997 the $60 million donation from the fund that would create the institute, decisions were already being made on the focus of the international studies major offered at Croft.

The interdisciplinary major offered under the College of Liberal Arts would focus on politics, economics and culture in one of three regional concentrations – East Asia, Europe and Latin America – along with language courses every semester related to the regional concentration.

Students also were expected to study abroad – either for a semester or a whole year – in a country whose language they had been studying.

“The three regions were selected because of their dominance in Mississippi’s international trade,” said Michael Metcalf, who served as Croft’s executive director from 1998 to 2007. “The university had relative strength in European and Latin American studies, so the first new Croft faculty hires were made in 1998 and 1999 to initiate instruction in Chinese language and to start to build strength in East Asian history, society and religion.

“The importance of studying these three regions was for students who might work there with Mississippi firms to learn about their social, political and cultural backgrounds and thus be more effective.”

Choosing Latin America as one of the three initial regional concentrations was an opportunity to redefine what the South is and reshape it as a “global South,” said Douglass Sullivan-González, dean of the UM Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

In 1998, Sullivan-González was an assistant professor of history selected to teach in Croft and serve on the institute’s organizing team. Sullivan-González first became interested in Latin American studies as a freshman at Samford University during a trip to rural northern Mexico working on a water project.

He was part of a group of history professors who pushed for the inclusion of Latin America as a regional concentration.

“That conviction was: We know there is a growing immigration wave of people who are speaking Spanish who are coming from Mexico and Central America, and it is going to affect the culture,” he said. “It did. We’ve seen the change.”

During that first academic year of Croft, in 1998-99, Sullivan-González also taught a course that included a trip to Queretaro, Mexico – one of the early study abroad opportunities through Croft.

Since its first graduating class in 2001, 520 students have graduated from the Croft Institute for International Studies. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

“(Students) have to see how the questions that haunt us here come alive there,” he said. “You see how the questions come alive in Latin America and all of a sudden, you realize: They’re struggling with the same things we are, but it’s a very different path and a very different history, and it enriches the conversation today to look at which groups have made better strides, which groups have made weaker strides, and compare and contrast that.”

Other early study abroad opportunities included students visiting Europe and East Asia.

The benefits of studying abroad are numerous, said Kees Gispen, who served as executive director of Croft from 2007 to 2016. Gispen has taught in Croft since its inception.

“When students study (abroad), they become aware,” he said. “And when they live in it, when they study abroad, they see how it functions. They come back and more often than not, it helps them come up with new ideas of how to improve our own situation.

“Different cultures have different ways of doing things.”

While Croft students were heading abroad, the institute was quickly making a difference within Mississippi; for example, through early outreach programs such as the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia, which looks to increase teaching and learning about East Asia in elementary and secondary schools.

Peter Frost, who served as Croft’s interim director in 1997 and ’98, had been involved with the consortium’s director before coming to UM. Once at Ole Miss, Frost had offered NCTA workshops to Mississippi teachers even before Croft was started.

Understanding Asia is a crucial part of understanding the world, both for cultural understanding and politics, Frost said.

“NCTA aims to help K-12 teachers enrich their (often required) world history courses, develop the imagination and cultural understanding of younger students, and helps give older students and adults a better grasp of the many issues surrounding our relations with Asia,” he said. “Teachers enjoyed getting educational materials and references, educational credits, learning more and developing lesson plans with other teachers.”

Besides summer workshops and online continuing education units and professional development opportunities in East Asia, through courses such as “Sake, Sushi and Soft Power” and “Korea in the Modern World,” the Croft Institute during its first two decades also has offered outreach programs to Mississippi teachers in Latin American and European studies.

Oliver Dinius is executive director of the Croft Institute and an associate professor of history. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

With students going into the world, and Mississippi teachers coming to UM to learn more about the world, strengthening the opportunity for the study of foreign languages became an early mission of Croft, too, Dinius said.

“The institute made high levels of oral proficiency in at least one foreign language a requirement for the international studies major, and it supplemented the resources available in the Department of Modern Languages with three faculty positions: in Chinese, Spanish and Japanese,” he said. “The focus remained on the so-called critical languages, and Dr. Metcalf was instrumental in securing a grant to bring a Chinese Language Flagship Program to the university.”

Started in 2002, The Language Flagship programs are a federal initiative to graduate students who have a superior fluency level in foreign languages deemed critical to U.S. interests.

Work on attracting a Flagship program to Ole Miss began in 2000, Metcalf said, with the Croft Institute and Department of Modern Languages working in tandem to land a program in Chinese. UM received its Chinese Language Flagship Program in 2003.

The program is a tremendous resource for students who wish to become highly proficient in Chinese and pursue careers in such fields as business, government and journalism in which they will use Chinese to give themselves and their employers a professional advantage, Metcalf said.

Croft and the modern languages department also worked together to attract a second Language Flagship program, in Arabic, which was awarded in August. The department’s work on building a prestigious program in Arabic also enabled the Croft Institute to add the Middle East as a fourth geographical concentration, adding two Middle East faculty positions, when Gispen served as executive director.

“This is an area where we are constantly involved,” he said. “This is an area we can’t afford to ignore.”

Even as Croft has internationalized the Ole Miss campus and Mississippi, the institute’s purpose has remained the same: to give students the best possible preparation to launch successful global careers.

“I’ve always thought the strongest part of the Croft Institute was its really good students … and a good curriculum, a good plan,” Gispen said. “The core strength is these high-achieving students whom we can attract from all over the country who can make a real contribution.”

University Endowment Builds to All-time High of $715 Million

Strong investment returns, generosity of alumni and friends spurs growth

The University of Mississippi’s permanent endowment grew in its latest fiscal year to an all-time high, thanks to generous support from private donors. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s permanent endowment grew in its latest fiscal year to an all-time high of $715 million, thanks in part to the seventh consecutive year of new gifts of $100 million or more.

Private support totaled more than $115.8 million from 30,332 donors, giving the university essential resources to continue providing exceptional experiences for students, faculty, researchers, health care patients and providers, citizens served by outreach efforts, and visitors to all its campuses.

“Private investments are essential to fuel the work of our flagship university,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said.

“The generosity of our alumni and friends ensures the university has resources needed to sustain and expand nationally prominent programs, and it enables us to deliver on our Flagship Forward strategic plan to improve learning, health and the quality of life in Mississippi. We remain grateful and inspired by their support.”

Total private giving to the Oxford campus grew by 6.5 percent over the previous year. Private support for academics increased more than 10 percent. 

Eighty-seven percent of the private giving will provide current funding for donor-directed areas or directly affect those areas, while the remaining 13 percent was added to the university’s endowment, which also grew through returns on its investment strategies.

State support as a percentage of total revenues available for the university’s operations was 12.4 percent, making private support all the more crucial.

“Ole Miss alumni and friends are making major investments that transform students’ lives and continually enhance the quality of our programs,” said Charlotte Parks, vice chancellor for development. “Gifts to higher education also have a far-reaching impact on the economy of Mississippi and beyond, and the resources ultimately improve the quality of life for everyone.”

Healthy growth of the university’s endowment reflected the increase in funds invested and managed for the university, said Wendell Weakley, president and CEO of the UM Foundation. The endowment benefited from a 10 percent return on its investments.

Private giving helps UM maintain margins of excellence in a range of fields across all its campuses. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

“The endowment has now reached the historic high of $715 million, and we are on our way to realizing our long-range goal of a $1 billion endowment,” Weakley said. “We are extremely grateful to our donors who provide this permanent stable funding that can be counted on year after year and will advance the university’s mission for generations to come.”

Some of the largest gifts included: $5 million for the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College; $4.25 million for several programs including Bridge STEM, Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Initiative, College Ready Literacy, Center for Mathematics and Science Education, First Generation Scholars, Principal Corps, Upstart in the School of Dentistry and more; $4 million for new endowed chairs in geriatrics and palliative care at the Medical Center; $2 million for the College of Liberal Arts‘ departments of mathematics and sciences; $2 million for professorships in surgery and pulmonology at the Medical Center; $1.5 million for expansion of pediatric care at the Medical Center; and gifts of $1 million or more for a faculty chair in the Patterson School of Accountancy, the Flagship Constellations, Southern Foodways Alliance and the Forward Together campaign for Ole Miss athletics.

Likewise, the Medical Center’s Campaign for Children’s Hospital campaign enjoyed a third successful year with $10 million raised, which brings the total giving in the campaign to more than $66 million toward its ambitious $100 million goal. This campaign supports the construction and renovation of facilities and recruitment of 30-40 doctors and researchers.

Work has begun on a new seven-story, 340,000-square-foot tower adjacent to Batson Children’s Hospital that will also house the Children’s Heart Center.

Gifts to the campaign represent “an outpouring of love and support that runs deep and wide across all of Mississippi,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “We have outstanding physicians and the best staff, and they have a passion for caring for patients. What we need now are the facilities to match that quality of care.”

Financial resources provided by alumni and friends of the university ensure students will have the tools necessary to be successful. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Ole Miss athletics also enjoyed a successful FY 2018 both on the field and in investments made by alumni and friends. Cash gifts exceeded $30 million for the fourth consecutive year. The Forward Together campaign stands at $176 million, with plans to complete this $200 million campaign in FY 2019.

“Rebel Nation represents one of the most loyal fan bases in college sports,” said Keith Carter, deputy athletics director for development and resource acquisition. “The support shown year in and year out allows us to enhance our facilities to help our student-athletes compete at the highest level, while also providing a high-quality experience for our fans.

“We express our thanks to loyal donors and fans, and we look forward to the upcoming year as we close out the Forward Together campaign and begin new endeavors.”

To make gifts to the university, go to https://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift/ for academics, https://www.umc.edu/givenow/ for the UM Medical Center or http://givetoathletics.com/forward-together/ for Ole Miss athletics.

Honors College Welcomes 14 Freshman Scholars

Recipients awarded prestigious scholarships from numerous sources

Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez (right), dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, meets with Honors scholars (from left) Autumn Fortenberry, Britney Ngo, Ella Endorf, Ivy Li, deYampert Brame Garner II, Kayci Kimmons, Ajah Singleton, Emily Wright, Samuel Starr, Arabella Hamm, Kaden Spellmann, Hayden Williamson and Andrew Gardner. Photo by Thomas Graning/UM Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – One is a wedding violinist. Another is an award-winning broadcaster with a love of journalism. And one was a star lacrosse player.

These are just three of the 14 freshmen this fall at the University of Mississippi’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College who received a total of $434,000 from four of the university’s most distinguished scholarships.

Four of the freshmen earned McDonnell-Barksdale Scholarships, six were recipients of Doris Raymond Honors Scholarships, two were awarded Harold Parker Memorial Scholarships and two were honored with Annexstad Family Foundation Leaders for Tomorrow Scholarships.

“We are very proud of our students who have been awarded one of our prestigious SMBHC scholarships,” said Douglass Sullivan-González, Honors College dean. “These students have already lived the model of citizen and scholar at their high school, and bring this engaged ethic to our campus, and to the Honors College in particular.

“We look forward to their impressive track record, both academically and in our community. What an exciting year awaits us with these first-year SMBHC scholarship winners.”

Students receiving McDonnell-Barksdale Scholarships are Qing Yun Li, of Oxford; Kayci Bearden Kimmons, of Batesville; Britney V. Ngo, of Ridgeland; and Emily Christine Wright, of Gulfport.

Doris Raymond Honors Scholarship recipients are Martha Peyton Ford, of Brownsville, Tennessee; Ella Rose Endorf, of North Bend, Nebraska; Autumn Elizabeth Fortenberry, of Magnolia; Andrew Stephens Gardner, of Oxford; Samuel Patrick Starr, of St. Jacob, Illinois; and Claudia Hayden Williamson, of Ocean Springs.

Receiving Harold Parker Memorial Scholarships are deYampert Brame Garner II, of Batesville, and Lilly Arabella Hamm, of Germantown, Tennessee.

Kaden Seth Spellmann, of Amarillo, Texas, and Ajah Tiyanna Singleton, of Edwards, are recipients of Annexstad Family Foundation Leaders for Tomorrow Scholarships.

Li is a graduate of Oxford High School, where she was concert master of the OHS Orchestra, which she played in for four years, and received awards in AP chemistry, geography, and anatomy and physiology while being named to the National Honor Society, Beta Club, Anchor Club and LOU Orchestra. She also made the Principal’s List Honor Roll all four years and was a volunteer with the Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society, Oxford-Lafayette County Library and Memory Makers. She is majoring in chemistry.

A graduate of Mississippi School for Math and Science, Kimmons was a Regional Science Fair finalist; member of the marching band, Student Council, National Honor Society, Student Government Association and Technology Student Association (regional/state winner); and earned awards in Spanish, regional spelling bee, Honor Roll-All A’s, Beta Club (regional/state winner) and second-highest average. She also volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club and the Convoy of Hope and was a chemistry tutor. She is majoring in chemistry.

Ngo is a graduate of Ridgeland High School. An AP Scholar and STAR Student, she was a member of the National Honor Society and received highest average awards in AP calculus and language and composition. She is a percussionist, and she served as a volunteer at Grace Place Soup Kitchen, Salvation Army Angel Tree and as donor-director at the high school blood drive. She is majoring in pharmaceutical sciences.

Wright graduated from Harrison Central High School, where she had the highest average in AP chemistry, English II and English language. The student council president, her memberships included the National Honor Society (president), Spanish Honor Society, National Beta Club, Mu Alpha Theta (president) and Key Club International (Dist. 14B Lt. Gov.). A Mississippi Governor’s School and Trent Lott Leadership Institute for High School Students participant, she was a member of the varsity soccer team, along with the Interact Club and Students Against Destructive Decisions. She is majoring in biomedical engineering.

Ford, a graduate of Washington Lee High School, was in the Haywood County Schools Prodigy Program for Gifted Students for eight years and also made Academic First Honor Roll (all A’s over entire school career). She won a silver medal on the National Classical Etymology Exam and was chosen to represent Tennessee public schools at Washington Journalism and Media Conference. Her major is journalism.

A senior class vice president, Endorf set a record for the highest ACT score at North Bend Central High School. Her awards include Nebraska Academic All-State, National Society for High School Scholars, Nebraska representative at the Hugh O’Brien Youth World Leadership Conference and Pinnacle Bank Outstanding High School Leadership Award. She is majoring in public policy leadership.

Fortenberry won awards in Mississippi studies, AP Honors English, algebra, world geography, biology and economics during high school. She also was a member of the concert and marching band for three years and was president of the student council and DECA. She is majoring in public policy leadership.

An Oxford High School graduate, Gardner was a member of the school’s theater program, student council and broadcast program, and sang in his school and church choir. He also was a member of the National Honor Society, Beta Club and Oxford Young Life. He was a guitarist and wedding violinist for hire. He is majoring in integrated marketing communications.

Starr is a graduate of Triad High School, where he was a member of the National Honor Society, Student Government, Model United Nations and Madison County Youth Board. He was an Illinois State Scholar and won numerous awards at the University of McKendree Model United Nations. He is majoring in international studies.

An Ocean Springs High School graduate, Williamson was president of the Ocean Springs Mayor’s Youth Council, co-founder and secretary of the OSHS Debate Club, committee chair at the Mississippi Youth and Government’s Youth Legislature and chief justice at the Model UN. A National Honor Society member, she was on the principal’s list, 30+ ACT Club, American Legion Auxiliary’s Magnolia Girls State and Palazzo Youth Leadership Summit. She is majoring in international studies.

President of the Mu Alpha Theta chapter at South Panola High School, Garner was a member of the National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society, Beta Club and Technology Student Association. A football statistician and videographer, he also served as basketball manager-statistician. Garner also had the highest averages in AP physics, construction, U.S. history and dual-enrollment biology. He is majoring in accountancy.

Hamm graduated from St. Agnes Academy, where she was a member of the National Honor Society. She earned academic honors in world history, U.S. history and English, and was named “Most Valuable Player” of the varsity lacrosse team and editor of the yearbook. Hamm is majoring in integrated marketing communications and economics.

An Eagle Scout, Spellmann is a graduate of Amarillo High School, where he was a member of the National Honor Society and a Superintendent’s Scholar. Captain of his mock trial team, Spellmann served on the United Way Youth Cabinet, student council, Upwards Basketball, UIL Academics Speaking Events and Snak Pak 4 Kids. He is majoring in economics.

Singleton is a graduate of Raymond High School, where she made the principal’s list, honor roll and held the highest average in world history, U.S. history, physical science, algebra II, English II and Madrigals. She is majoring in biomedical engineering.

For more information about the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, visit http://www.honors.olemiss.edu/.