UM-Grenada, BGS Student Changes Career Plans and Excels

Bethany Miller earns UM's Taylor Medal for academic achievement

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter congratulates Bethany Miller on being awarded a Taylor Medal. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

GRENADA, Miss.­­­ – After graduating from Grenada High School in 2011, Bethany Miller enrolled at Holmes Community College’s Grenada Center, where she served as a student ambassador and a student worker in the vice president’s office.

She graduated with an associate’s degree in social work in 2013 and started classes in the nursing program the following fall. But after a year in the program, Miller’s career path seemed less clear and she withdrew from the program.

“I tried the clinical practice and nursing classes, and I decided that this was not the direction for my life,” Miller said. “I wasn’t sure what was next for me, so I took some time off from school to think about what I might want to do careerwise.”

Just a few short years later, Miller seems to have found her calling in higher education and looks to help others in her community pursue their educational goals. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Mississippi this spring and was awarded the university’s highest academic award, the Taylor Medal.

Before she enrolled at UM, Bethany was working full-time at an urgent care clinic in Grenada, but she truly missed working at a college. So when she saw an opening in the financial aid office at Holmes-Grenada, she jumped at the opportunity.

“I missed the college environment and working with students,” Miller said. “Financial aid is such a crucial part of students getting the opportunity to pursue their dreams.

“I still wanted to help people, just not in the medical field anymore, and this job was the perfect way for me to do that.”

During her time in this position, Miller realized that she wanted to start taking classes again to complete her bachelor’s degree and pursue her own career goals. She already knew about the University of Mississippi at Grenada, housed on the Holmes-Grenada campus, because her husband, Trey Miller, had completed his Ole Miss degree there in 2013.

Bethany Miller of Grenada was honored during UM Commencement exercises in Oxford. Miller served as the student speaker for the Bachelor of General Studies graduation ceremony as well as the program’s banner bearer for the day’s events.Submitted photo

Trey, who works as an assistant program manager with Effex Management Solutions, has since completed his Master of Arts degree in human services counseling online. The Millers met while helping cater an event at Holmes-Grenada and were married in July 2014.

 

After receiving several scholarships, including the Community College Excellence and First Generation College Student scholarships, Bethany enrolled in the Bachelor of General Studies program at the Grenada campus in fall 2015.

“I loved the diversity of this degree program,” Miller said. “I was leaning toward going into education, but I still had a lot of interests. This program let me study subjects I am really interested in.

“It feels like it’s three degrees all wrapped up into one.”

Miller minored in education, English and sociology while at UM-Grenada. One of her favorite classes, she said, was the Transfer Student Experience, taught by UM instructor and Carrollton native Matthew Deloach.

“I just loved the opportunity to get some of the same experiences as Oxford campus students,” Miller said. “Mr. Deloach shared the journey with us and gave us ideas for being successful in our path to complete our degree.”

Deloach said he admired Miller’s work ethic as she worked full-time and maintained a full-time college course load. He also mentioned her drive to help others and take on leadership roles.

“In class, Bethany would share experiences from her life and her work at Holmes to help other students,” Deloach said. “She seems to enjoy supporting and encouraging her classmates. I think she is positioned well to make a positive impact in her community.”

In late 2016, Miller moved into a new position at Holmes as assistant to the vice president and the academic dean at Holmes-Grenada.

“I have really enjoyed new challenges in this position as well as continuing to work with students, faculty and staff,” Miller said. “I get to help with events, help students build schedules and work with area businesses.”

Miller hopes that she can share her experiences to inspire students even further as she looks to pursue graduate classes in the hopes of one day teaching at the college level.

As one of the top students in UM’s Bachelor of General Studies 2017 graduating class, Miller was asked to serve as the banner barrier during Commencement exercises earlier this month in Oxford. She also was nominated to address her fellow graduates during the program’s graduation ceremony.

“I wanted to encourage everyone to enjoy the journey of education and life,” Miller said. “Looking at the blank pages of our future after graduation can be a bit intimidating at first. I believe that once we get started, it will all come together, just like it has for me.

“I hope I don’t forget to enjoy the ride, even as it takes me around different corners in my career and life.”

UM-Booneville Student Earns University’s Highest Academic Award

Christy Grissom follows winding career path to a Taylor Medal

Chancellor Jeff Vitter with Barbara ‘Christy’ Grissom. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

BOONEVILLE, Miss.­­­ – Growing up, Barbara “Christy” Grissom of Iuka never really thought much about going to college after high school. She went to work at a local restaurant and then a local furniture manufacturing plant before events beyond her control changed the course of her future.

Grissom had worked her way up to a lead position with Bauhaus USA, a furniture manufacturer in Iuka, before the company shut down the plant in 2007. It was then that she learned about a grant with the local Workforce Investment Act that was available to help employees go to college and train for new jobs.

“College was not on my radar before this happened,” Grissom said. “Growing up, I didn’t even think going to college was possible. My parents were not in a position financially to send me or my siblings to college, so it just wasn’t something I had considered.”

This life-altering change back in 2007, however, set events in motion that have led to Grissom being honored last month as a 2017 Taylor Medalist at the University of Mississippi.

Only the top 1 percent of all Ole Miss students receives this award each year. Recipients must have at least a 3.90 grade-point average to be considered.

“She’s quite simply superwoman,” said Tam Salter, bachelor of general studies adviser and instructor at the university’s Booneville regional campus. “She’s a full-time wife, mom, employee, teacher and student. Even with her many duties, she still found time to encourage her own students and her Ole Miss peers as they were working hard to earn their degrees.

“In class, she always had a helpful attitude and encouraging word for her classmates. She just made the classes better because of her life experiences and her drive.”

Grissom graduated from Iuka Christian Academy in 1987, married and started a family 10 years later. She and her husband have three boys, two of whom they adopted.

“It was intimidating going back to school, and I wondered if it was the best thing with three kids at home,” Grissom said. “I think I made the right choice.”

She started at Northeast Mississippi Community College in 2007 and graduated with associate’s degrees in both culinary arts and hospitality management.

“At that time, I had a pretty busy catering company that I was running on the weekends and evenings,” Grissom said. “We catered Caterpillar’s 25th anniversary event for 700 people, plus many weddings and other corporate events.”

Grissom credits academic adviser and mentor Tim Gilmore at Northeast with encouraging her to start teaching. He asked her about becoming certified to teach ServSafe training courses to other food service workers in north Mississippi.

“This experience helped me to realize how much I enjoyed teaching and sharing my experiences from working in the industry,” Grissom said.

In spring 2013, Gilmore became ill and officials at Northeast asked Grissom to cover his classes for the remainder of the semester.

UM-Booneville senior Christy Grissom (middle) was awarded a 2017 Taylor Medal for highest academic achievement. Grissom is congratulated by Derek Markley, (left) executive director of the university’s Tupelo and Booneville campuses and Ricky Ford, president of Northeast Mississippi Community College. Submitted photo

“After Mr. Gilmore passed away, I had to pray and consider the next step in my career,” Grissom said. “He was always so encouraging to me, and I thought that I could do the same for others by applying for his position at Northeast.”

Grissom began teaching full-time in the culinary arts and hospitality management programs at Northeast that fall and was encouraged by her supervisors to work toward completing her bachelor’s degree.

She enrolled in her prerequisite classes at Northeast before transferring into the Bachelor of General Studies program at the University of Mississippi at Booneville campus in fall 2015.

“I chose education, English and psychology classes to make up this specialized degree,” Grissom said. “They were such a good combination for me. These minors correlated with my interests, and I was able to use what I was learning and take it into my actual classroom.”

Grissom said her favorite classes included the English language classes Descriptive Grammar and History of the English Language.

“I enjoy a challenge, and these classes were challenging, but they were so interesting to me,” she said.

Grissom said that writing is a special hobby. She has written an unpublished novel and would one day like to pursue writing nonfiction.

“I think I may want to write about my experiences raising children in a family blended with biological and adopted children,” Grissom said. “And maybe write about raising a child with autism.”

Through her teaching and advising role in Northeast’s hospitality management program, she helps plan numerous catered events on the Booneville campus each year. These events also serve as hands-on training experiences for her students.

 “It’s great to see a student gain confidence during the planning process,” Grissom said. “They are usually nervous at the beginning, but by the end of the event they are excited to see it all come together.

“I enjoy helping my students use what they are learning in class and putting it into practice. I like being a part of the education that gives them the tools they need to be successful in management positions.”

Grissom will be setting an example for her children as well as her students when she is honored at the UM Commencement this weekend. She will be recognized as one of the top of her class and seated on stage in the Grove with BGS Dean Tony Ammeter.

Grissom said she hopes that by meeting her own educational goals, she will inspire her children to follow their own dreams.

“I hope that they will go to college and learn more about what they are interested in,” she said. “I want them to do what they want to, and know that they can overcome any obstacle to make that happen.”

With plans to earn a master’s degree, Grissom is researching graduate programs in higher education, human and environmental services, and English.

UM-Tupelo Students Hit Top 10 in Bloomberg Stock Trading Challenge

Class project yields solid investing experience for group

Finance students at the UM-Tupelo campus placed in the top 10 among 265 teams from colleges around the country in the Bloomberg Business Stock Trading Challenge. The winning team includes (from left) Daniel Patterson, Zack Marcinek, faculty adviser Ivonne Liebenberg, Candy McDonald and Heather Couture. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – Managerial finance students at the University of Mississippi at Tupelo regional campus have been busy this spring managing a $10 million investment for the Bloomberg Business Corp.

Although the money existed only in theory, the students who participated in the 2017 Bloomberg Trading Challenge gained a real-world knowledge of financial trading principles that helped them bridge classroom theory with actual stock marketing trading.

“I had never participated in anything like this before,” said Zack Marcinek, a senior at UM-Tupelo from Corinth. “I enjoyed it so much that I’ve switched my career goals a bit from wanting to be a financial adviser specifically for individuals to now being more interested in becoming a corporate financial analyst for a larger corporation.”

Ivonne Liebenberg, UM instructional assistant professor of finance, said that when Bloomberg representatives reached out to her in fall 2016 about participating in their new collegiate stock market competition, she jumped at the opportunity for her students to garner investing experience.

“I knew this would be an exciting, interactive way for students to apply what they were learning in class,” she said. “They had the opportunity to learn more about how the stock market works, handling orders, learning about transaction costs and analyzing the outcomes.”

The Tupelo students named their trading team “I. Liebenberg & Co.” in honor of their instructor. Team members included Heather Couture of Mooreville, Zack Marcinek of Corinth, Candy McDonald of Guntown, Daniel Patterson of Pontotoc and Katie Watson of Shannon.

“We started out letting the students pitch their stock ideas,” Liebenberg said. “They had to give me a good reason to add their stock pick to the portfolio. Once we made our decisions, the students began analyzing and following their investments.”

To diversify their portfolio, each student focused on different stock areas to create a balanced investment. Marcinek said he focused on technology stocks and ultimately recommended Netflix and Adobe Connect.

“Both companies are tried-and-true,” Marcinek said. “Most of my friends use Netflix. It seems to be cannibalizing regular television.

“The university uses Adobe Connect in several of my classes. I think it’s only going to progress.”

Both his stock picks recorded gains during the competition.

The trading challenge introduced students to Bloomberg’s Stock Terminal, which is used to define market assumptions, develop a return-generating strategy and execute trades over a closed network.

“It was interesting seeing all of the tools that were part of the trading terminal and how they helped you assess your trades,” Marcinek said. “It wasn’t too complicated and coached us through.”

The competition continued for eight weeks, with students having opportunities to buy and sell stocks throughout that timeframe. The teams that generated the highest return and presented the best investment methodology at the end of the challenge were named among the top 10 finalists.

“We decided to go invest Warren Buffett-style, that is, to buy and hold,” Marcinek said. “We thought by diversifying well and staying patient, our strategy would pay off.”

The students had to keep a close eye on their stocks, but Liebenberg said she felt that trading too much might not garner the greatest return in the competition’s short eight-week timeframe.

In mid-April, Bloomberg representatives informed Liebenberg that the team was came in ninth among the 265 competing teams from 81 colleges around the country.

“I’m very proud of the students’ work, especially since this was their first time competing,” Liebenberg said. “I think they learned a great deal and came up with solid strategies to guide their trading.”

Street Awarded UM Online Teaching Award

Journalism instructor honored for innovation in online instruction

The Ole Miss Online office recently announced that Robin Street, center, is this year’s winner of the annual Paragon Award for Excellence in Distance Learning. Blair McElroy, left, UM director of study abroad and adjunct instructor in the legal studies department, and Jason Solinger, associate professor of English, were named as runners-up. UM photo by Pam Starling

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – Adjusting to the ever-changing world of public relations has been a constant in Robin Street’s career. Although she has taught at the University of Mississippi for more than 25 years, the courses she teaches and her teaching style are parts of that continual evolution.

Her efforts were recognized this month when she was awarded the eighth annual UM Paragon Award for Excellence in Distance Teaching.

“In some classes, such as history or math, the materials taught pretty much remain the same each semester,” Street said. “But this class looks at current public relations cases and situations. You never know when a situation will occur that creates a public relations nightmare for an organization.”

Last year, Street, a senior lecturer in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, worked to translate her Journalism 492: Public Relations Case Problems course into an online format. She credits her success in creating this course to looking at online course creation in a different way.

“I once attended a workshop on good writing called ‘Think Like a Fish,'” Street said. “The speaker, a renowned writing coach, explained the title. Her father was an excellent fisherman. When asked what his secret was, he replied, ‘I think like a fish.’

“In designing the online JOUR 492 class, I decided to think like a student. Today’s students have short attention spans and are very visual. They do not read lengthy documents, but prefer to skim instead. I thought about what would attract their attention in the class and filled the online class with folders, icons, charts, to-do lists and other visual reminders of what to do next.”

Each year, the UM Office of Online Design and eLearning recognizes a UM faculty member who has excelled in online teaching through the annual Paragon Award. The nominee must exhibit good practice in course design and innovative use of technologies. Nominees’ efforts are acknowledged for engaging students as well as their commitment to providing students with a quality education.

“While I expect that there will always be a need for an on-campus educational experience, the digital-immersive, online learning environment is growing and evolving,” said Noel Wilkin, UM acting provost, during the Paragon Award presentation April 7 in the Lyceum.

“In that realm, design and innovation enhance the educational experience. It is inspiring to see our faculty members dedicate considerable effort to innovate on this evolving platform.”

When asked about developing a successful online class, Street said that organization is key.

“The layout of the class was easy to follow and keep up with,” said Kailee Wilson, a December graduate from Allen, Texas. “The lesson folders were so convenient.

“We had everything for that week laid out so there was no reason or excuse for not knowing what to do. I especially loved the to-do lists that were posted each week.”

Street created a private Facebook page account where students were required to take part in weekly discussions about the class topics.

“I chose to use Facebook because the students were already comfortable with this medium,” Street said. “They were able to see photos and learn about each other from the very first post where they introduced themselves.

“They also responded and reacted to each other’s posts. Student comments about that experience were very positive.”

YouTube and other popular social sites also were used to give students a greater grasp on current PR situations and campaigns to discuss what strategies might be best for a PR professional in certain situations.

“Students are not just reading a text and listening to a lecture, but observing public relations at work,” Street said. “They can watch PR events take place in real time while visiting the sites of the organization being studied.

“Students are asked to watch videos to learn not just theory from the text, but realities of public relations practice and careers today.”

Sydney Rubin, a senior marketing and corporate relations major from Raleigh, North Carolina, said her favorite part of the class was creating PR plans.

“I am currently applying for jobs in public relations and companies are asking me for writing samples, “Rubin said. “Now, I have lengthy campaigns that I was able to create on my own and get feedback on as a part of this class. I now feel more confident applying for these jobs and submitting my work.”

By using multiple forms of media in the course, Street maximized student engagement and maintained their interests, said Wan Latartara, instructional designer and training specialist.

“Her course design did more than meet the eye,” Latartara said. “She strategically placed elements so to catch students’ attention and guide them through the course right from the beginning.

“By thinking like a student, Robin made a commitment to meet students where they are.”

This year’s runner-up category for the Paragon Award featured two online courses taught by Blair McElroy, UM director of Study Abroad and adjunct instructor in the UM legal studies department, and Jason Solinger, associate professor of English.

UM Summer Camps Help Students Explore Conservation and Ecology

Leadership program, day camps offer variety of experiences combined with fun activities

Second- through 12th-grade students are invited to learn more about environmental conservation and local ecology during special camps taking place at the UM Field Station this summer. The Ecology Day Camps run weekly from June 5 to July 14, and the Environmental Conservation Leadership Program is scheduled for June 4-9. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss.­­ ­– Students in second through 12th grades can participate in special camps this summer that focus on environmental conservation and exploration, offered by the University of Mississippi Field Station and the UM Office of Pre-College Programs.

Rising 11th- through 12th-grade students have an opportunity to explore environmental challenges facing Mississippi and the world as part of the Environmental Conservation Leadership Program scheduled for June 4-9.

Field Station Director Scott Knight says that he hopes this program can help students connect with nature and gain a better understanding of how our intertwined ecosystem functions.

“The camp provides a hands-on learning experience that teaches students more about how the planet works, how it heals, how it sustains all life and how we can live in balance with it,” Knight said. “If nothing else, I hope the participants will learn that their food doesn’t come from a grocery store but (from) a viable, living ecosystem.”

Participants will work with UM professors conducting research on issues associated with conservation, pollution control, water quality, ecosystem services and environmental stewardship.

The cost for residential students who would like to stay on campus during the camp is $500. The cost for commuter students is $350. Varying scholarships funds are available for participants, including Toyota Wellspring full funding for students who attend a public high school in Lee, Pontotoc or Union counties.

Younger campers can explore aspects of biology and environmental science during the 2017 Ecology Day Camps, also held at the UM Field Station. Students will participate in activities to identify species, learn about water quality, build bird nests, catch dragonflies and much more.

“I believe that one reason Ecology Day Camp is so popular is because of our great teachers and counselors,” Knight said. “And while they are teaching great lessons, our leaders never forget that it is summer and summer is a time for fun.”

Rising second- through fourth-graders can attend either June 5-9 or June 12-16. Rising fifth- and sixth-grade students will be attending June 19-23 and June 26-30. A special camp for older students, rising seventh- and eighth-graders, is set for July 10-14.

The camp runs 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily and the cost is $175. Scholarship funds are available for children of UM faculty and staff.

Faculty member Melissa Dennis enrolled her son in Ecology Day Camp last summer for the first time.

“My son really enjoyed being outside and participating in activities with friends at the camp,” Dennis said. “I think one of his favorite activities was the parent-student cookout. I know I enjoyed it.”

For more information on these and other UM academic summer camp opportunities, visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/pre_college.

UM Catapult Competition Draws Top Guns

Tishomingo County High School teams defeated 16 others to take home top honors

Members of the Hot-N-Spicy team from Desoto Central High School experience the joy of victory during the Siege the Castle event at UM’s annual Catapult Competition. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Normally, tennis balls volley back and forth on the tennis court, but Wednesday afternoon (April 12), the fluorescent yellow balls were being catapulted in the C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum at the University of Mississippi.

The School of Engineering, Center for Math and Science Education and Division of Outreach and Continuing Education hosted the 11th annual Catapult Competition. Middle and high school students from across Mississippi designed and constructed catapults and brought them to campus to test their engineering skills.

Catapults, which originated as ancient engines of war, hurl projectiles at targets. Among the most powerful medieval weapons, catapults known as trebuchets use a counterweight to propel their payload. Modern catapults use tension, such as a spring or elastic band, that is suddenly released to fling a projectile.

“This is the 11th annual Catapult Competition, formerly Trebuchet Competition,” said Tiffany Gray, research associate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and co-coordinator of the event. “We changed the rules on what the students were building last year, so last year we changed the name to reflect this.”

In the UM competition, students designed and constructed catapults of metal, wood and PVC to hurl tennis balls across the field. Registering for the event were 17 teams representing eight schools: Central Hinds Academy, Desoto Central High School, Guntown Middle School, Lafayette Middle School, Oxford High School, Tishomingo County High School, Water Valley High School and West Jones High School.

UM engineering graduate students weighed and measured the catapults to make sure specifications were met. Catapults not meeting specs either had to be modified or were penalized points for not meeting the criteria.

Teams competed in Design, Pop-A-Shot, Humpty Dumpty and Siege the Castle categories. Catapults were scored on their design process, safety features, construction, creativity and originality, and team interviews.

First place overall went to America’s Mitochondria from Tishomingo County High School. Second and third places overall went to Sojourn, also from TCHS, and Memengineers from Oxford High School.

Students on the Enduring Frustration team from Tishomingo County High School are in the zone during the Siege the Castle event at the annual UM Catapult Competition.Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Winners in Pop-A-Shot were America’s Mitochondria (first), Indeed from Lafayette Middle (second) and Ultimus from Guntown Middle (third). In Humpty Dumpty, winners were America’s Mitochondria (first), Shorts from Central Hinds Academy (second) and Enduring Frustration from Tishomingo County (third). Siege the Castle winners were America’s Mitochondra (first), Hot-N-Spicy from Desoto Central (second) and Memengineers (third). In Design, Sojourn placed first, America’s Mitochondria took second and B.L.A.G.H. from Desoto Central came in third.

The Pop-A-Shot required teams to launch four shots from three different locations at a regulation basketball hoop. The Humpty Dumpty event called for teams to launch tennis balls in attempts to knock three cardboard boxes off a wall of blocks without disturbing the wall. The Siege the Castle competition required teams to use catapults to knock down a cardboard brick wall.

The Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence created 3-D-printed desktop catapults for the overall winners. Plaques made in the Mechanical Engineering Machine Shop were presented for each category. The overall winner was the team with the highest total score.

Six Ole Miss graduate students judged the entries: mechanical engineering majors Damian Stoddard of St. Louis, Cody Berrey of Meridian and Zach Wallace of Batesville; civil engineering major Grace McMahen of Union; geology and geological engineering major Alex Weatherwax of Williamsburg, Virginia; and physics major Sunethra Dayavansha of Kandy, Sri Lanka.

The Sojourn team intentionally went for a more creative design for its catapult, said Samuel Zafic, a senior at Tishomingo County High School.

“Most everyone goes for the traditional arm and bar design,” he said. “Going a different route allowed me to experience some of what it’s like to be in the engineering profession.”

Davis Powell, a junior also from TCHS, described the annual Division of Outreach program as “amazing.”

“I entered the competition last year because it looked like it would be fun,” said Powell, who hinted he might return to the university as a biochemical engineering major after he graduates in 2018. “It is fun, but it is also challenging. I definitely plan on coming back for next year’s competition.”

Middle and high school students from across the state of Mississippi participate in the 11th annual Catapult Competition at Tad Smith Coliseum. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Before the day’s final competitive event, participants faced off in preliminaries and made adjustments to their catapults. Sometimes, the machines broke during this process.

“It is impressive to see the tools come out and students making repairs to get their machine up and hurling again,” Gray said. “That is what the engineering experience is all about.”

The catapult project encourages students to think and use the engineering design process, engineering school staff members said.

“Each year, I see familiar faces from previous competitions,” said Matt Nelms of Oxford, a UM staff member who serves as the event’s co-coordinator. “It’s very meaningful to see these high school and middle school students mature and the extremely impressive engineering solutions they come up with at such young ages. Their intelligence always exceeds our expectations.”

In medieval times, trebuchets were more accurate than other catapults, which use tension or torsion to fire projectiles. In modern times, trebuchets have become popular devices for hurling pumpkins, frozen turkeys or even junk cars in light-spirited competitions.

For more information about the School of Engineering, visit http://engineering.olemiss.edu/.

For more about the Center for Math and Science Education, go to http://umcmse.com/. For more about the Division of Outreach, visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/.

Toyota Wellspring Scholarships Available for UM Summer Camp Programs

Middle and high school students in Lee, Pontotoc and Union counties encouraged to apply

Several UM summer camps for middle and high school students, including ones focusing on engineering and STEM fields, have been chosen for the 2017 Toyota Wellspring Education Scholarship fund. The scholarships will pay full costs for select academic summer camps on the Oxford campus for students who attend public schools in Lee, Pontotoc and Union counties. UM photo by Bobby Steele

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – Sixth- through 12th-grade students who attend public schools in Lee, Pontotoc and Union counties can take advantage of special scholarships that will pay all costs associated with attending select University of Mississippi summer camps this year.

“We are so happy to see local students receive scholarships that will help them expand their knowledge and future opportunities during these various summer camps,” said Ellen Shelton, UM director of pre-college programs.

Numerous weeklong camps offered on the Oxford campus by the Office of Pre-College Program have been approved for 2017 funding by the Toyota Wellspring Education Scholarship Committee at the Northeast Mississippi CREATE Foundation.

“The Toyota Wellspring Committee believes that summer camps can provide important enhancement in the educational process,” CREATE President Mike Clayborne said.

Interested students can use the funding to attend one-week overnight camps on the Ole Miss campus. Some programs have an application fee of $25.

The scholarship will provide full funding for students interested in attending the university’s Engineering Camp, STEM Camp for Girls, “Summer Days of Intrigue” Intelligence Studies Camp, Environmental Leadership Camp, CSI Camp, “Code Monkeys” Camp, Rebel Chefs Cooking Camp and Theatre Camp.

Students also can receive the scholarship if they choose to attend the UM Summer Academy ACT Prep, Debate or Introduction to Engineering sessions. Summer Academy is a two-week residential experience on campus.

These particular camps where chosen for scholarship funds because the special emphasis areas can help students master areas such as career exploration, science, creativity, presenting, time management, design and problem solving

“The Toyota Wellspring funding will allow students to learn more about an area that they might not have access to at their schools,” Shelton said. “These scholarships help cover costs for families and provide students with an academic experience on the University campus that is fun and enriching.”

Interested students can visit the pre-college programs summer camps website at http://www.olemiss.edu/precollege for camp dates and more information. Students are asked to complete a program scholarship application and indicate Toyota Wellspring Scholarship on that form.

Faculty, Students Prepare for Learning Adventures Across the Country

StudyUSA program participants take courses in a variety of cities this summer

University of Mississippi students joined biology professor Erik Hom and education professor Renee Cunningham for a StudyUSA Biology course taught in Hawaii over the 2017 Wintersession. The StudyUSA program has a full course schedule of travel learning experiences for UM students and faculty members coming up this summer. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss.­­ – This summer, University of Mississippi students will be eyewitnesses to the raising of Tappan Zee bridge in New York City, meeting with Pulitzer Prize-winning staff at The Washington Post and visiting Google’s headquarters in California.

These are just a few of the learning adventures that students have opportunities to experience when they enroll in a StudyUSA course during UM summer school sessions.

“My StudyUSA experience is hands-down one of the best things I have ever been a part of,” said Jontae Warren, a UM junior majoring in pharmacy. “I never would have thought I would get a chance to do scientific research in Hawaii with my professors.”

Warren, of Booneville, took part in Biology 380: Hawaiian STEAM: Microbes, Symbiosis and Culture in Honolulu during the recent Wintersession. Led by Erik Hom, UM assistant professor of biology, and Renee Cunningham, assistant professor of education, the class journeyed throughout the island of Oahu collecting and processing samples in hopes of finding new species and developments.

“It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do something like this,” Warren said.

Housed in the UM Division of Outreach and Continuing Studies, the StudyUSA program is designed to give faculty and students opportunities to learn about an academic subject firsthand outside the traditional classroom setting. These short-term domestic travel classes are typically offered during the university’s summer, winter and intersession terms. Ole Miss students can explore the United States while earning college course credit to use toward graduation requirements.

Several new classes are on the StudyUSA schedule for summer 2017. During May intersession, Chris Mullen, associate professor of civil engineering, will lead Engineering 497 to study bridge structures in New York City.

The class will meet on the Oxford campus May 17-19 and then travel to New York May 21-26. While there, students will meet with experts concerning the art and science of bridge design. They will also learn about construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of the Big Apple’s most famous bridges when they visit the Brooklyn Bridge, the George Washington Bridge and the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

The 2016 election cycle and inauguration of a new president provides plenty of material for Marvin King’s StudyUSA course POL 389: Political Media, taking place May 21-26 in Washington, D.C.

“I’m hoping this class will help students gain a better understanding of how politics and journalism intersect,” said King, associate professor of political science. “They will have the opportunity to meet with media who cover our government in real time.

“Students can gain a greater understanding of the pressure journalists and politicians are both under when dealing with the public.”

Jontae Warren (left), from Booneville, combed the island of Oahu, Hawaii, collecting and processing plant and animal samples during UM’s 2017 Wintersession as part of the StudyUSA program. Submitted photo

In June, Jennifer Sadler will lead the new course IMC 353: Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley. Students will learn about digital marketing tools and strategies while meeting with entrepreneurs and start-up business leaders to explore business development and digital marketing.

This program is for students majoring in integrated marketing communications, journalism or business, those minoring in entrepreneurship, and anyone interested in these fields.

“I hope this class will give students a broad worldview and help them to expand their network,” said Sadler, an instructor in integrated marketing communications. “We are planning visits to Google and Facebook headquarters and will be learning more about community action plans and partnerships.”

Also new this summer in the StudyUSA program lineup will be Writing 399: Travel Writing in Austin, Texas, set for Aug. 1-7. While visiting some of the city’s popular and off-the-beaten-path attractions, writing and rhetoric instructor Jeanine Rauch will teach students to apply a range of rhetorical methods for conveying their travels through the written word. Students will spend time gathering ideas, writing and recording their experiences.

A variety of courses for various majors and interests are being offered this summer. The full summer 2017 UM StudyUSA course listing can be found at http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/studyusa.

Scholarships are available. The application deadline for summer 2017 classes is April 6.

UM-DeSoto Graduate’s Career Soars

Alumna manages inventory accounting for Endeavor Air

Heather Gatzke

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – After earning her degree in finance from the University of Mississippi at DeSoto Center-Southaven, Heather Gatzke’s career has reached great heights.

The 2011 graduate works for Endeavor Air as a manager of inventory accounting. Her journey with the airline began while she was still in school at UM-DeSoto.

“While I attended UM-DeSoto, I worked for Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines as an aircraft parts buyer,” Gatzke said. “About six weeks before I graduated, a financial analyst position opened and I applied. I was offered the position and started in early September of 2011.”

From there, Gatzke began to climb the corporate ladder at Pinnacle, which became Endeavor Air after being purchased by Delta Air Lines.

“In May 2013, Delta relocated our corporate offices to Minneapolis,” she said. “Prior to the relocation, I was offered the position of manager of revenue, which I held until January of 2016, when I transitioned to the manager of inventory accounting.”

With initial plans to attend pharmacy school, Gatzke hadn’t always considered a degree in finance. After receiving her associate degree in business from Northwest Mississippi Community College, she experienced the deaths of two grandparents and an uncle.

Gatzke made the difficult decision to take a break from school and reevaluate her goals.

By the time she was ready to go back to school, UM-DeSoto officially offered the finance program. She was able to take advantage of the 2+2 partnership with NWCC.

“Through research and lengthy discussions with friends, I decided that the degree in finance from Ole Miss was the best fit for me,” Gatzke said.

Gatzke thrived in the finance program. She said the material she learned was excellent in terms of its application to the real world. She became close to faculty mentors, one of which was clinical assistant professor of finance Lynn Kugele.

Her professors had “very high expectations” and were “eager to share their knowledge,” she said.

Gatzke said she was honored to earn the Outstanding Graduate in Finance designation that year.

“My entire academic career was as a nontraditional student, attending classes at night, on weekends and online,” she said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to obtain a certain GPA. All I did for three years was go to work during the day and go to class at night. If I wasn’t at class I was studying or doing homework.

“Graduating summa cum laude was already enough of an honor. It just proves how hard work and dedication can pay off.”

Kugele applauds both Gatzke’s academic and career successes.

“Heather is easily one of the most outstanding finance students we have had at Ole Miss-DeSoto,” she said. “Her career path upon graduating is exactly what we hope will happen for our graduates: a move into the field of their choice and continued opportunities to move up.

“The combination of Heather’s work ethic and an Ole Miss finance degree gave her the credentials she needed to start that move up the corporate ladder. Though Heather is in Minneapolis now, we have kept in touch and get to visit in person when she comes home to visit family.”

Gatzke encourages other students to consider pursuing a finance degree and a “quality education” at UM-DeSoto. She plans to further her education by pursuing an MBA in the future.

For more information about finance and the University of Mississippi’s regional campus in Southaven, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/desoto.

UM-DeSoto to Host Informational Events for NWCC Students

Regional campus staff aims to assist students with enrollment in a bachelor's degree program

UM-DeSoto partners with Northwest Mississippi Community College to help students finish their bachelor’s degrees. The campus is hosting two events in March to assist students with the enrollment process. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – Northwest Mississippi Community College students who plan to transfer into a University of Mississippi bachelor’s degree-completion program are invited to two upcoming events at the university’s Southaven regional campus.

The first event, 2+2 Transfer Day, is slated for 10 a.m.-noon and 3-5 p.m. March 8 in the lobby of the NWCC DeSoto Center at 5197 W.E. Ross Parkway. Students will have a chance to sit down with advisers from all the campus’ degree programs, visit with financial aid and admissions staff, and enjoy refreshments while they are helped through the enrollment process.

“Transferring can be overwhelming, and 2+2 Transfer Day aims to simplify it,” said Blake Bostick, admissions counselor for the regional campus. “The event is a ‘one-stop shop’ for students to learn about degree programs, financial aid, admissions and anything else they need to know about transferring to the University of Mississippi-DeSoto.”

Additionally, during NWCC’s spring break, students can take advantage of “Catch a Break.” For one week only, application fees are waived for students who complete an admissions application for the UM-DeSoto campus.

To participate in Catch a Break, students should visit the main office at the DeSoto Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week of March 13-17, meet with an admissions counselor to go over their transcript, and complete an application for summer or fall 2017.

“By attending these events, we hope students will gain a better understanding of the opportunities available at Ole Miss-DeSoto,” Bostick said.

NWCC graduating sophomores, as well as freshmen, are encouraged to attend both events. For more details or for general information about UM-DeSoto, visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/desoto/.