Alumnus Helps Connect UM Students to Luxury Travel Industry

Networking event brings global executives to recruit best and brightest hospitality management majors

James Strong (left), a 2015 graduate of the UM hospitality management program, reconnects with faculty and students, including lecturer Candis Varnell, at the 2018 Talent Engagement Pursui. UM photo by Sarah Sapp

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi hospitality management students recently spent a day making valuable connections with officials from the luxury travel industry, thanks to the efforts of a UM alumnus and his father, a prominent travel agency executive.

Jim Strong, president and owner of Strong Travel Services in Dallas, organized the 2018 Talent Engagement Pursuit, a networking and educational event at the Graduate Hotel, in partnership with the travel consortium firm Virtuoso. Strong Travel Services has been a member of Virtuoso for 30 years.

Some 50 students met with industry leaders from across the nation at the event, which provided information on internships and careers in the luxury travel industry. Jim Strong was on hand, along with son James Strong, who has worked for his father since graduating from the UM hospitality program in 2015.

“I believe this event was a huge success for us, the travel executives and the students,” James Strong said. “This was a great opportunity for students to come out and learn more about the travel industry, potential internships and job opportunities.”

The luxury travel industry provides fairly new and unique career opportunities in comparison to the typical travel industry, said Mary Roseman, professor and director of the Ole Miss hospitality management program. Luxury travel is more exotic and complex, she said, noting the importance of students experiencing networking events such as this to fully understand those benefits.

“We are very fortunate to have a premier company, such as Strong Travel, so invested in our hospitality management program and willing to provide special opportunities for our students,” Roseman said. “Today the hospitality industry, like many other industries, is all about networking.”

Cindy Choi, assistant professor of nutrition and hospitality management, advises students to focus on the uniqueness of the luxury travel industry.

“In order to find a career in luxury travel, students should understand the needs and wants of the luxury travelers, which are very different from regular travelers,” Choi said. “In order to gain the knowledge, taking classes related to luxury travel, such as Service Quality Management and Hospitality Marketing, would be a good idea.”

Virtuoso works with Strong Travel and other travel agencies to promote and market their services. Christy Green, regional sales director for Virtuoso in Fort Worth, Texas, was among the industry leaders who attended the 2018 Travel Engagement Pursuit.

Her firm, along with the entire industry, is actively seeking new talent, Green said. Every summer, Virtuoso hosts a networking event for students in Las Vegas called Virtuoso Travel Week, often relying on Strong and other industry leaders to bring new people to learn about the industry’s opportunities and programs.

Strong Travel sponsors a small group of Ole Miss students and a faculty member to attend Virtuoso Travel Week each year.

Claire McCraw, a senior hospitality management major at Ole Miss, attended last summer’s event.

“For four days we had the opportunity to interact with thousands of professionals who were helpful in giving us information about the travel industry,” McCraw said. “It was an unforgettable experience, and I am so thankful that I got to be a part of it.”

Strong Travel sells more than $50 million of travel services annually. The company’s employees constantly travel the world to build relationships and experience all aspects of trips they could potentially sell.

“The key to our success is matching the right client to the right product,” Jim Strong said. “Strong Travel takes several trips a year to go out and experience the products. I recently took four team members to London for about three days, and we saw 26 hotels.

“Being able to understand the hotel, products, ambiance, stature and location at the luxury level is huge when talking to the client making selections.”

James Strong decided to study hospitality management at UM after growing up in Dallas surrounded by the travel business. While earning his degree, he completed several internships around the world that helped prepare him for his career.

“I interned in London at the Corinthia Hotel as a junior butler for four months, which was great exposure to that side of the hotel industry,” James Strong said. He also interned at a tourism agency in Istanbul and later at the Courtyard by Marriott in Oxford.

Jim Strong said he continues to visit and support UM because is responsive to emphasizing and highlighting the sale and promotion of travel. He said he enjoys being a part of the campus life and feeds off the energy in the classrooms.

Many students are seeking internships and jobs related to luxury travel or travel agencies after being inspired by Strong’s networking events and class visits, Choi said.

For more information about the hospitality management program, email Mary Roseman at or visit

Well-Rounded Gift Assists UM Students from Lauderdale County

Couple's endowment honors family, helps graduates of their high school alma mater

James and Virginia McGinnis

OXFORD, Miss. – Three reasons inspired Jim and Cindy McGinnis, of Meridian, to make a major gift to the University of Mississippi: the desire to support the university that influenced many of their family members, to honor loved ones who served as mentors and to help offset college expenses for graduates of their high school alma mater.

The James M. McGinnis Jr. and Virginia D. McGinnis Scholarship Endowment is available to full-time students from Lauderdale County, with first preference given to graduates of Meridian High School.

“Designating the endowment to honor my parents was an acknowledgement of the important role they played in my life and that of my two older sisters, and to our extended family,” said Jim McGinnis, a 1980 UM graduate and president of McGinnis Lumber Co. in Meridian.

“A secondary, but significant, personal consideration was that my dad and I worked together for 35 years in our family business, founded by my grandfather in 1922,” he said. “The endowment was a way to honor him, in particular, for his role as not only my father but also my mentor in our business.”

McGinnis said the gift also serves as a tribute to his family’s strong ties to Ole Miss – the many relatives who attended, including his father, mother and sister; his wife’s parents and family members; two nephews and some cousins.

Two McGinnis children, Davis and Caroline, are also part of the UM family. Davis McGinnis graduated in 2014 with an exercise science degree from the School of Applied Sciences; Caroline McGinnis is a senior in the same program. Their oldest child, Menton M. Deweese, works for MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

All three McGinnis children, as well as Jim and Cindy McGinnis and his parents, also share the distinction of being Meridian High School graduates.

“Cindy and I have been deeply involved in public school issues since the early 1990s,” McGinnis said. “So, it was a natural and logical choice to have this scholarship benefit three generations of our family’s high school alma mater.

“Our hope is that the endowment will benefit students from Meridian High, and ultimately Ole Miss, indefinitely.”

Just as McGinnis did after graduating from Ole Miss, Davis McGinnis has joined his father in the family business, one of the nation’s oldest forest product wholesalers. The company employs 14 people in sales, clerical and management positions and boasts a sales territory that extends into 40 states and four foreign countries.

“Our market focus changed many times over the years as conditions dictated, but our primary function has always been to provide a quality product at a competitive price and to transact business with a high level of integrity and trust,” McGinnis said. “As a result of this philosophy, and many good people implementing it over the years, we enjoy an excellent reputation throughout the industry.”

In their free time, the McGinnises enjoy watching tennis – they hope to one day travel to all four grand slams. Additionally, they are active at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and Jim McGinnis enjoys an occasional round of golf.

“With their generous gift, Jim and Cindy honor their family while helping students achieve their goals,” said Denson Hollis, development director for the UM Office of Development. “It’s truly one of those gifts that will keep on giving.”

The James M. McGinnis Jr. and Virginia D. McGinnis Scholarship Endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the endowment name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; visit; or contact Hollis at or 662-915-5092.

Applied Sciences Welcomes Inaugural Visiting Research Scholar

Cecile Guin to provide expert grant and publication counsel, mentorship to faculty

Cecile Guin

OXFORD, Miss. – Cecile Guin, director of the Office of Social Service Research and Development at Louisiana State University’s School of Social Work, will serve as the inaugural visiting research scholar for the School of Applied Sciences.

The school launched the Visiting Research Scholars Forum this academic year to help enhance research productivity, bringing meritorious research scholars to campus to facilitate discussion on best practices in research publication and grantsmanship. Renowned for their presentations, strong research publication record and national competitive grant award record, these scholars will provide lectures, small-group discussions and individual meetings for any interested faculty.

Guin will be on campus Feb. 26-27. After presenting a session on “Writing Grants to Support Your Research Agenda” to a universitywide audience and a lecture on “Pathway to Funding: Finding Support for Your Research Career” to the School of Applied Sciences faculty, the visiting scholar will lead a panel discussion, hold individualized mentorship sessions with faculty and meet with doctoral students.

“Dr. Guin has an impressive publication and grantsmanship record,” said Daphne Cain, the school’s interim associate dean. “She is nationally recognized for her teaching, her history of high-impact publications and her extramural funding. We are thrilled to have her share her experience and advice with our faculty.”

Guin began working for LSU in 1995 as a funding consultant and associate professor of research. Before moving to Baton Rouge in 1996, she operated a private business that provided grant writing, evaluation and consultation to nonprofit and governmental agencies.

As director of the LSU Office of Social Service Research and Development, Guin focuses heavily upon external fund development and actively solicits opportunities for various grants and contracts that address many of the social problems inherent to Louisiana. In particular, she develops programs and seeks funding aimed at interrupting the pathway to delinquency, crime and other forms of nonproductivity that claim many Louisiana children and youth, especially those considered “at-risk.”

Additionally, she has become an expert in truancy and death penalty mitigation and is court-qualified in the areas of adult criminality, development of a criminal personality, juvenile delinquency social work and poverty.

Office of Social Service Research and Development also continues to engage in the acute post-Katrina and Rita problems of those with behavioral health problems. Guin is the lead author for the recent publication “Health Care and Disaster Planning: Understanding the Impact of Disasters on the Medical Community.”

While she has served as the office’s director, it has obtained more than $50 million in grants and contracts for the school, LSU and the agency partners of the School of Social Work. All the grants deal with some aspect of social problems faced by Louisiana’s citizens.

“We are so pleased that our first visiting research scholar will benefit such a broad constituency of researchers in our school and across campus,” said Teresa Carithers, UM interim dean of applied sciences. “I truly believe she can spark ideas of interdisciplinary and interprofessional investigation, which is a large part of our research mission.”

For more information about the Visiting Research Scholars Forum, visit

Social Work Conference Promotes Cultural Humility, Social Justice

Diversity event includes keynote on 'Using Truth, Bravery and Compassion to Heal the World'

Jennifer Stollman presents ‘Using Truth, Bravery and Compassion to Heal the World’ at the Department of Social Work’s recent Diversity Conference. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – “You risk nothing by standing up for what is right,” Jennifer Stollman told nearly 200 attendees at the recent 2018 Diversity Conference, presented by the University of Mississippi Department of Social Work. “You risk everything by staying silent.”

Stollman, academic director of for the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, served as keynote speaker. Attendees included Ole Miss students, faculty and staff from the Oxford, Tupelo and DeSoto campuses.

Carlyn Allen Conn, a master’s student in social work from Natchez, touted the conference’s focus on cultural humility in effective social work practice.

“The biggest take-away for me is the reminder that different is OK,” Conn said. “Diversity is what makes the world so beautiful, and we should not be threatened by the difference of others.

“It is so easy to see things through the lens of a white-male dominated society without even realizing that you are being arrogant or inconsiderate to another person’s cultural views and beliefs.”

The enthusiastic participation from students was a highlight of the conference for Desiree Stepteau-Watson, associate professor of social work and conference co-chair.

“Students were eager to learn, but not in a passive way,” Stepteau-Watson said. “They also contributed their own thoughts and experiences, which made this a lively and energetic exchange, from which all of us benefited.

“The students seemed to respond in a really positive way to this experiential learning. Information was being shared and learning taking place, but in this environment students, seemed more excited and engaged.”

Amy Fisher, assistant professor of social work and the other co-chair, said she hopes students learned the importance of their voices in the work they will do for the advancement of human rights.

“Social workers stand at the front line of not only racial equity, but other forms of equity such as gender, class, physical ability, sexual orientation and religion,” Fisher said.

“I was reminded that it is important for students to hear how critical their work is. We need to step back and think about the bigger picture, the social justice aspects of our work, on a regular basis.”

Andi Hannaford, a senior social work major from Senatobia, commended a presentation by Na Youn Lee, assistant professor of social work, on cultural competency and social workers’ code of ethics.

Desiree Stepteau-Watson, associate professor of social work and co-chair of the Department of Social Work’s Diversity Conference, welcomes a crowd of nearly 200 students and faculty from UM’s Oxford, Tupelo and DeSoto campuses, Rust College and the University of Southern Mississippi. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

“The code of ethics has actually amended the phrase ‘cultural competency’ to ‘cultural awareness,'” Hannaford said. “This, in turn, makes a huge difference in regards to how social workers should approach clients.

“By being competent, you are implying that you have knowledge of a subject, whereas ‘awareness’ promotes learning and starting where the client is – which is a topic discussed in every social work class. By showing humility and awareness, you can learn about diverse cultures and the individuals who practice them.”

The conference also included a presentation by Reginald Virgil, a University of Southern Mississippi social work student, on “Keep Calm and Discuss Racism” and a skit performed by the Rust College Department of Social Work.

“This conference provided students an opportunity to engage in discussion, network with students and faculty from other campuses and other programs in our state, and get inspiration as future social workers who will be on the front lines of working toward social justice,” said Daphne Cain, chair of the Department of Social Work.

Teresa Cartihers, interim dean of applied sciences, commended conference organizers for leading students in a thoughtful examination of diversity’s role in their practice.

“It always makes me very proud when the School of Applied Sciences provides leadership and opportunities for expanded dialogue on the broad scope of diversity,” Carithers said. “Our support for social work’s diversity conference continues that commitment.”

For more information about the Department of Social Work, visit or email

Applied Sciences Doctoral Student, Faculty Featured in TEDx

Emily Frith and Jandel Crutchfield present 'ideas worth spreading'

Emily Frith, a doctoral student in health and kinesiology, invites participants to consider the effect of exercise on the mind during the 2018 TEDxUniversityofMississippi event in the Ford Center. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Applied Sciences was well-represented at the recent TEDxUniversityofMississippi event at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Jandel Crutchfield, assistant professor of social work, and doctoral student Emily Frith presented “ideas worth spreading” about creativity and perspective to more than 500 attendees.

Frith is a second-year Ph.D. student in health and kinesiology, with an emphasis in health behavior, from Stanford, Kentucky. Her research focuses on the effects of health behavior on psychological parameters, primarily creativity-related cognitions, and she has published 37 peer-reviewed journal articles from her work.

She invited TEDx participants to consider the effect of exercise on the mind, specifically how it can improve creativity.

“Emily set a high bar for student participation,” said Marvin King, TEDx organizer and associate professor of political science and African American studies. “This is the first year that we had student speakers, and to see Emily’s thoughtful and polished talk come to fruition is really gratifying.”

Frith is a longtime fan of TED and its mission to spread ideas in the form of short, powerful talks. TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and has grown to cover almost all topics, from science to business to global issues.

Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events, such as the UM sessions, help share ideas in communities around the world.

“I am astounded by the ideas shared with the public on such a diverse range of topics, spanning academic disciplines, cultures and pervasive social issues,” Frith said. “It was a dream come true to be selected for such an iconic event and have the opportunity to represent my department and university.”

Frith credits the Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management and the School of Applied Sciences for helping her submit her application and prepare for TEDx.

“I was able to collaborate with experts in the School of Applied Sciences to visually bring my idea to life,” she said. “Integrating my passions into an accessible format for the public was such a cool experience. Faculty and students were willing to listen to me practice, and our department is always striving to reach new heights.

“HESRM and applied sciences are uniquely student-centered and really inspire us to challenge ourselves to reach beyond our ‘limits’ and set the bar high.”

Jandel Crutchfield, UM assistant professor of social work, uses her presentation at the 2018 TEDxUniversityofMississippi event to discuss creative ways to improve community discourse. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Crutchfield, a licensed social worker, found inspiration for her TEDx topic from workshops she co-hosted to help reunite communities after several highly publicized tragedies that resulted in the deaths of citizens and police officers in the summer of 2016.

“We thought we needed to answer our professional call to the community work of bringing people together to address difficult topics,” Crutchfield said. “My portion of the presentation helped people engage in reflecting on their own personal experiences that shape how they view the world and potentially divisive topics.

“By using the survey ‘what’s your number?’ they were not only able to see how their own experiences shape their standing and view of the world, but also how they compared to others’ views and standing. Understanding that early experiences in life shape how we and others view the world can help us start with acknowledging differences before tackling difficult topics.”

King praised Crutchfield’s focus on creative ways to improve community discourse.

“Jandel’s talk really opened eyes on how to problem-solve difficult and contentious issues,” King said. “Her talk identifies a new path forward to getting people to actually dialogue and not simply talk past each other.”

Like Frith, Crutchfield found colleagues in the School of Applied Sciences to be an integral part of her TEDx process.

“Many of my colleagues and department chair attended the original workshops on which my talk was based, Together Tupelo and Together Oxford,” she said. “The School of Applied Sciences also supported the workshops. Several of my colleagues nominated me for the TEDx competition and attended the event.”

Besides regularly providing community engagement like the workshops that shaped her TEDx, Crutchfield has presented numerous papers for a variety of constituents, including the American Council for School Social Work, the Society for Social Work Research Annual Conference and the Council on Social Work Education, as well as numerous guest lectures at universities nationwide.

“The School of Applied Sciences encourages our faculty and students to think outside of the box when it comes to their research and service endeavors,” said Teresa Carithers, the school’s interim dean. “These outstanding women truly exemplify that kind of creative thinking to approach problems and create healthier, more vibrant communities.”

For more information about the School of Applied Sciences, visit or email

Social Work to Host Diversity Conference

Sessions to focus on developing skills and experiences for working with varied populations

OXFORD, Miss. – The Department of Social Work at the University of Mississippi will host its 2018 Diversity Conference on Thursday (Feb. 1) at the Jackson Avenue Center, Room H02. Community members and students from any major are welcome to attend the sessions, set for 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

“The comprehensive elements of diversity encompass more than culture alone,” said Teresa Carithers, interim dean of applied sciences. “This event will focus closely on diversity’s role in effective social work practice.”

Desiree Stepteau-Watson, associate professor of social work, and Amy Fisher, assistant professor of social work, serve as co-chairs for the event.

“The goal of this conference is to further develop the knowledge, skills and experiences that students need and that are required for social work practice with diverse populations,” Stepteau-Watson said.

Jennifer Stollman, the university’s academic director for the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, will serve as keynote speaker for the event, presenting “Using truth, bravery and compassion to heal the world.”

Stollman is responsible for campus professional development, anti-oppression training, curricular and co-curricular development, and crisis management and is a consultant for detecting and eliminating institutional and interpersonal bias.

She spent 18 years in graduate and undergraduate classrooms as a professor of history and gender and women’s studies. She specializes in issues related to the construction, projections and deployment of individual and collective identities. Stollman is committed to equity work taking place across college campuses.

“Dr. Stollman has long been a good friend to the social work department,” Fisher said. “Her insight into matters of racial equity and diversity is invaluable to our students. In addition, her dynamic speaking style really engages students and staff.”

Reginald Virgil, a social work student at the University of Southern Mississippi, is slated to kick off the day’s events with his presentation, “Keep Calm and Discuss Racism.” Na Youn Lee, UM assistant professor of social work, will discuss cultural humility. The conference will conclude with a group presentation by the Rust College Department of Social Work.

Students who want to practice in the field must have a respect for cultural differences, said Daphne Cain, UM chair of social work.

“Being culturally competent is essential to social work practice,” Cain said. “Paying attention to environmental forces, including race, class and gender, among others, that create, contribute to and can exasperate difficulties for individuals to thrive and cope is fundamental to social work.”

Interested participants should RSVP by emailing Lunch will be provided during the event, and social work students are strongly encouraged to attend.

For more information, contact the Department of Social Work at 662-915-7336.

Criminal Justice Students Provide Gifts to Children in Need

Department of Legal Studies partners with Oxford Police to provide for local families

Oxford Police Department officers Rachel Ratcliffe (left) and Joshua Shipp (right), a recent graduate and student, respectively, in the criminal justice master’s program at UM, used money collected through the Alpha Phi Sigma criminal justice honor society to help the McGlown family (center) buy presents for Christmas.

OXFORD, Miss. – While most Oxford residents were shopping for friends and family over the holiday season, students from the Alpha Phi Sigma criminal justice honor society at the University of Mississippi made sure local needy families had plenty of presents under their trees.

Alpha Phi Sigma adopted two families from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree and sponsored a Shop with a Cop event for six additional families.

“Our Alpha Phi Sigma chapter partnered with the Salvation Army and Oxford Police Department on a crime prevention community service project to address the financial and emotional stress that fuels hopelessness and frustration within families living in poverty in Oxford,” said Linda Keena, the university’s interim chair of legal studies.

“Shop with a Cop provided a fun-filled day for a number of children in need while creating positive relationships with law enforcement. This promising December shopping experience assisted needy youth and helped foster a trusting relationship between the youth and cops.”

The participating children were identified by Oxford police officers, including Joshua Shipp and Rachel Ratcliffe.

Shipp, a graduate student and Alpha Phi Sigma member, and Ratcliffe, a recent graduate of UM’s criminal justice master’s program, met Oxford resident Cindy McGlown and her four children at the local Wal-Mart to help them shop for themselves and one other.

“They asked us to identify people in the community in need who would benefit from these services who we could help out and give back to the community,” Shipp said. “We were able to identify one family with four people through the Oxford Housing Authority.

“We were able to get them, and we came here to make this donation to them, help them shop and hopefully make their Christmas good.”

More than 280 Ole Miss students and criminal justice faculty contributed funds to the Angel Tree project by donating $5 to purchase a blank paper ornament. Each donor decorated an ornament, added a personal message and hung the ornament on a 6-foot Christmas tree.

With a portion of the funds, Alpha Phi Sigma members constructed police and fire-related stuffed animals at Build-A-Bear Workshop. Faculty members purchased shoes and coats, and community members donated law enforcement-related children’s books to accompany clothing and toys purchased by the honor society. Those items, totaling more than $1,500, were donated to the Salvation Army.

The Ole MissAlpha Phi Sigma chapter is an active campus organization that recognizes academic excellence of undergraduate and graduate students of criminal justice. Its goals are to honor and promote academic excellence, community service, educational leadership and unity.

It is the only criminal justice honor society certified as a member of the Association of College Honor Societies and affiliated with the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

For more information about criminal justice programs at UM, visit

UM Students and Faculty Help Children Develop to Their Potential

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders offers assessments and in-home services

Lauren Stantz, of Houston, a graduate student in communication sciences and disorders, conducts a play therapy session, which regularly helps address a variety of speech, language, cognitive or physical developmental delays for clients in the Early Intervention Program. UM photo by Sarah Sapp

OXFORD, Miss. – As children progress through infancy and early childhood, parents rely on health care professionals to determine if they are meeting normal developmental milestones. The earlier a delay is detected in cognitive, speech, language or physical development, the sooner practitioners and parents can implement strategies and therapies to help children achieve their potential.

Graduate students in the University of Mississippi’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders have an opportunity to see firsthand how critical early intervention can be.

Through the Mississippi Department of Health’s Early Intervention Program grant, CSD graduate students and certified speech and language pathologists provide in-home, individual assessment, evaluation and treatment for children with developmental delays or diagnosed physical or mental conditions.

“We will see anywhere from one to five evaluations in one day,” said Gina Keene, a certified speech and language pathologist and UM clinical supervisor. “We see such a variety of children – babies as young as less than a month old, up to toddlers – for a variety of reasons.

“Some aren’t talking yet, some with Down syndrome, swallowing problems, complicated medical histories or extreme prematurity.”

Participation in the program helps graduate students get the 400 clinical hours required to become a certified speech and language pathologist, including 25 observation hours and 375 hands-on hours, under the direction of Keene.

“They’re a part of a multidisciplinary team of speech pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and special education instructors that conducts in-home, individual assessments of the infants or toddlers and their families to develop an individualized family service plan,” said Michele Masterson, district coordinator for the Early Intervention Program.

Through an open referral system, cases of infants or toddlers with diagnosed physical or mental conditions, or those who exhibit a 33 percent delay in one area of cognitive, physical, social or communication development or a 25 percent delay in two or more areas of development, are routed to the Mississippi Department of Health, where district coordinators assign evaluation teams.

“Catching delays early can be critical,” Masterson said. “That is our purpose – catching it early – so when they begin Head Start or a preschool program, they’re caught up and their delays are being addressed.”

As service providers and evaluators for the Northwest Public Health District, Ole Miss students and certified speech and language pathologists serve 323 children across a nine-county district, Masterson said. The most successful interventions occur in a natural, home environment, so teams travel throughout the district to provide in-home services, she said.

Teams coordinate services including family-centered programming, nutrition counseling, behavioral services, vision and hearing assessment, physical therapy, occupational therapy and/or language development. The services are free for families, with payment being processed through insurance or Medicaid first, with the MSDH grant-funded program serving as payer of last resort.

“Not only are the Ole Miss students getting an understanding of the first piece of the intervention, they’re actually getting to see the services and carry out the services with the babies,” Masterson said. “They can see the changes in the child when they follow the case for year. They can see the difference in the child from the time they met them to the time they leave.”

Graduate student Lauren Stantz, of Houston, understands firsthand the importance of early intervention.

“It is really interesting to go into the homes and include the caregivers in the therapy session,” Stanz said. “They are able to see firsthand strategies they can use to continue progress when the SLP’s aren’t around.

“I also love getting to be in the child’s everyday environment and incorporating activities and toys they are familiar with. It is helpful in communicating with them and building language skills.

“I’ve had a few clients who I’ve seen make some really great progress in sessions, and it’s been very heartwarming. I have definitely learned things I feel like I wouldn’t have in any other setting. It has been wonderful, and I’m extremely thankful for this opportunity.”

Rebecca Lowe, CSD clinical assistant professor and coordinator of the Early Intervention Program, praised the program for providing service-learning opportunities for her students and providing job opportunities.

“We really look at this as a feeder program, since our graduate students who participate can become professional service providers in the state network after graduation and licensure,” Lowe said.

Lowe and Masterson are working to further develop the university’s involvement in the grant by tapping other disciplines across campus for help, such as education, exercise science and health professions.

“We want to eventually expand our work with other programs from the university,” said Masterson, indicating a need for special instructors in early childhood and special education, physical therapy and occupational therapy.

“We have a mission to improve human health and well-being, first and foremost, in Mississippi,” said Teresa Carithers, interim dean of the School of Applied Sciences. “Through research and service-learning, our departments seek to solve problems for individuals, families and communities in need, and children are chief among the most vulnerable populations.”

The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders within the School of Applied Sciences provides an accredited program to educate and train graduate students in the discipline of communication sciences and disorders specific to the field of speech-language pathology. The department also houses a Speech and Hearing Clinic for training students and for service to the community and university consumers.

Visit for more information about the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders or email For more information about the Early Intervention Program, visit

Legal Studies Offers 3+3 Option with School of Law

Paralegal studies enhances program, adds new fast-track to Juris Doctorate

Susan Duncan, UM law dean (center) and Macey Edmondson, interim assistant dean for admissions and scholarships (left) join Linda Keena, interim chair of legal studies, to announce the launch of the Bachelor of Paralegal Studies 3+3 emphasis. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi is offering a new fast-track to the School of Law through a Bachelor of Paralegal Studies 3+3 emphasis in the Department of Legal Studies, reducing the time and tuition dollars needed to complete a bachelor’s and law degree.

Under this new pre-law emphasis for paralegal studies majors, a student’s fourth-year requirements for the B.P.S. are satisfied by completing first-year law school classes. The student must meet the law school’s admissions requirements, which are established each year based on the previous year’s data on grade-point averages and Law School Admission Test scores for students admitted to the school.

While there is no guaranteed entry to law school, students who designate this new emphasis of study are signaling their passion for the field.

“The fact that they picked an undergraduate degree that closely aligns with the legal profession shows us they have a strong interest in law,” said Susan Duncan, UM law dean.

In their first three years of study, students take courses in legal research and writing, civil litigation, and criminal law and procedure, providing them with a critical understanding of the total system of justice and the society in which it functions. An extensive internship program enables students to link classroom learning with practical experience.

In their fourth year, students will begin taking classes offered to first-year law students, including contracts, torts, civil procedure, property and constitutional law.

“We have students tell us, ‘I’m interested in law school. What should I major in?'” said Linda Keena, interim chair of legal studies. “Paralegal studies, if you look at the curriculum, is a perfect entree to law school. If you look at how the curriculum is set up, the focus is on critical thinking in every course, which is so beneficial in law school.”

Recruiting the best and brightest students to law school is a priority for Duncan and Macey Edmondson, the school’s interim admissions director.

“This program allows us to get strong students from our own institution,” Edmondson said. “We can work with them earlier and help them map out their law school path.

“I think students who engage in the 3+3 program are a little ahead of the curve because they will have had some experience with law firms and different legal backgrounds, so we can meet them where they are and guide them on their path.”

A student who chooses this emphasis but does not meet law school admissions requirements or elects not to attend law school can switch to legal studies’ paralegal emphasis and complete a fourth year of undergraduate study to earn their B.P.S.

“If a student decides not to go to law school, they will still have the expertise to do most of the legal research and work done in a law office under the supervision of a licensed attorney,” said Whitman Smith, UM admissions director. “This will be a major attraction to students interested in the legal profession.”

Campus leaders concerned about overall affordability point out the program’s cost savings for students.

“I think we have an obligation to try and hold down student debt,” Duncan said. “This is really attractive, because the students can take a whole year off the process and get into the workforce faster.

“These people know what they want to do, so let’s help them get there quicker and eliminate part of the tuition burden.”

The new emphasis is the brainchild of now-retired legal studies professor, Robert Mongue, who recently returned to Ole Miss as an adjunct faculty in legal studies.

“Once I began discussing this type of program with faculty from other institutions, it became clear that we owed it to our students, the university and the state of Mississippi to implement a 3+3 option for qualified students,” he said.

Several similar programs exist across the nation and seem to being doing well, Mongue said. In fact, the 3+3 concept appears to be a trend in legal education.

“My alma mater, the University of Maine, has one initiated by the law school,” Mongue said. “It has agreements with three undergraduate educational institutions, so some of my initial investigation was based there.

“However, since our model is a UM undergraduate-to-UM School of Law only, it is closer in operation to those at Fordham University, University of Central Florida, Florida State University and the University of Iowa, a top-50 law school that started its program in 2013.”

Before his retirement, Mongue created a supervisory board, soliciting help from legal professionals, educators and alumni to modify the paralegal studies curriculum, get valuable input about trends in the field and promote the program. He worked to enrich the curriculum with more critical thinking by adding courses such as logic and LA 440: Access to Justice.

Heather Joyner, paralegal studies coordinator and instructor. Submitted photo

Students who take Access to Justice can work for legal organizations, such as North Mississippi Rural Legal Services, that help populations without appropriate access to legal representation or services, said Heather Joyner, paralegal studies coordinator and instructor. Students get hands-on experience doing intakes and writing legal document, such as wills, for people with financial need.

Program internships also are available, ranging anywhere from the U.S. Attorney’s Office to private law firms, during students’ junior or senior year of undergraduate study.

“If a student wants to have part-time employment while they’re in law school, these internships and classes that give them real-world experience open doors for jobs in the legal profession,” Joyner said.

Previously an adjunct professor at UM and Northwest Mississippi Community College, Joyner served as assistant district attorney for the 1st Judicial District from 2002 to 2011 and public defender for Lee County Youth Court in 2000-02. She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Alabama and her master’s degree in political science from Mississippi State University.

“The students entering higher level courses have shown marked improvement in being able to apply foundational knowledge in the upper-level courses since Heather started teaching,” Keena said. “Her contacts in law offices, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, state prosecutors’ offices and the like strengthen her credentials. We are very excited to have her join our faculty on a full-time basis.”

Stakeholders are optimistic that compressing the amount of time and money involved will provide opportunities for students to earn law degrees and apply that knowledge in a variety of fields outside of the courtroom.

“There is so much more you can do with a law degree other than being a litigator,” Keena said. “Many of our students are interested in homeland security, and there are things they can do with a law degree in that capacity.

“Entrepreneurially thinking, it is so helpful to have that law degree, so if at this stage, as freshmen and sophomores, they can start to see that there are options for them beyond being a litigator, I think we’ll see this 3+3 program blossom.”

For more information about the Bachelor of Paralegal Studies 3+3 emphasis, email

Applied Sciences Honors Students of the Month

Quitley Lee and Jangwoo Jo recognized for academic excellence

The UM School of Applied Sciences has named Jangwoo Jo (left) as its Graduate Student of the Month and Quitley Lee as Undergraduate Student of the Month for November. UM photo by Sarah Sapp

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Applied Sciences has named Jangwoo Jo of Seoul, South Korea, as its Graduate Student of the Month and Quitley Lee of Tupelo as Undergraduate Student of the Month for November.

Jo is pursuing a doctorate in nutrition and hospitality management. After completing his undergraduate degree at Seoul National University in fashion, clothing and textiles and working for six years in the fashion industry, he earned his master’s degree in hospitality and retail management at Texas Tech.

He joined the UM doctoral program after working for an international grocery store chain in Memphis.

“Every time I ask Jangwoo to do anything related to his field or not, he handles the responsibility beautifully,” said Georgianna Mann, assistant professor of nutrition and hospitality management. “If there is something he does not know about, he is more than willing to go out of his way to learn and is so appreciative of the learning experience.”

Among his many scholarly interests, Jo is focused on bringing analytical techniques from other disciplines to the hospitality industry, including application of data envelopment analysis and activity-based costing to restaurant menu analysis. He also is researching the application of text-based, big-data analytics to online reviews for the medical tourism industry.

Ultimately, Jo wants to continue a career in research and teaching when he completes his terminal degree.

Lee is in her final year of undergraduate studies in social work at the university’s Tupelo regional campus, having completed her associate degree in psychology at Itawamba Community College.

“Quitley was elected by her peers to serve on the Student Social Work Organization both her junior and senior year and currently serves on as president,” said Shane Robbins, UM instructor in social work. “She also serves as a student representative on the community Stop-the-Hurt Committee and is helping lead a silent auction at their April conference to raise money for child abuse prevention

“As the president of SSWO, she led an effort to raise over $1,300 through several fundraisers. She is leading and organizing efforts to help fund four outreach events this fall, including gift baskets for the elderly at a nursing home neighboring the Tupelo campus and community service projects for the Mississippi Department of Child Protective Services in Lee County, the local domestic violence shelter and blankets for the area homeless population.”

Lee, a nontraditional student, has maintained a 4.0 grade-point average throughout her academic career at Ole Miss and plans to begin work next fall on a graduate degree in social work at Union University.

The School of Applied Sciences calls for nominations by faculty and staff throughout the school to recognize students for extraordinary scholarship, leadership and service. Nominations should be emailed, along with a nomination form, by the fifth of each month to

For more information about the School of Applied Sciences, visit