MOST Conference Offers Unique Insight into College Life

More than 400 high school seniors participate in UM recruiting, empowerment event

High school participants in the 2019 Mississippi Outreach to Scholastic Talent Conference at the University of Mississippi prepare for a team-building exercise. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – As the University of Mississippi‘s 2019 Mississippi Outreach to Scholastic Talent Conference came to a close Tuesday (July 17), high school seniors in attendance raved about their three days of pre-college experiences.

The goal of the conference is to expose prospective African American students from Mississippi to leadership activities, academic offerings, campus resources, faculty, staff and student leaders.

“With 425 prospective students here in spite of the bad weather that affected many areas of Mississippi, I’ve seen a commitment to lifelong development that is mind-blowing,” said Tonika Ingram, MOST program coordinator. “The responses, both internally from participating students and externally from their parents and others following the conference on social media, have been so positive.”

Several participants said that being on campus transformed them in unexpected ways.

Aadijah Williams, a senior at Noxubee County High School in Macon, said she was pleasantly surprised by the inclusive atmosphere she experienced.

“I’ve met some great people this week,” Williams said. “They’ve been honest with us, nice and very helpful. I’ve had a wonderful time.”

Participants in the 2019 Mississippi Outreach to Scholastic Talent Conference play dodge ball as part of a team-building exercise. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The attention of MOST mentors was appreciated by their mentees and has provided helpful information for students as they begin their college search-and-selection process.

“Since I’ve been here, Ole Miss has definitely moved up on my list,” said Frederick Walker, a senior from Coahoma County who has interest in pre-med, criminal justice and business administration.

“The mentors helped us a lot by letting us ask questions and giving us real answers. Because of them, I’m planning to stay focused and be responsible wherever I decide to go to college.”

Activities during the event included informational sessions, panel discussions, a talent show, Greek and campus organization presentations, small group meetings and a closing awards ceremony. For the attendees, the conference is far more than just “fun and games.”

“There is definitely real value in coming to the conference,” said Emmanuel Johnson, a senior from Oxford who attended his first MOST Conference. “I came wanting to discover what the college experience is like. Everything’s just been perfectly constructed for the maximum pre-college experience.”

A MOST Conference Reunion is scheduled for Nov. 19, and several students said they are looking forward to that meeting.

Preparations have already begun for the 2020 MOST Conference, Ingram said.

“We send out a post-conference survey as soon as they return home,” she said. “Our committee members have been busy observing and providing meaningful feedback. Based on these, we’ll make improvements and tweaks so that next year’s MOST conference will be even bigger and better.”

A partnership between the Office of Admissions and Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement, the conference is made possible through the support of Fed Ex Corp., the Office of the Provost, Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, FASTtrack, Honors College, Office of Fraternal Leadership and Learning, LuckyDay Residential College, Ole Miss Student Union and a collection of other university sponsors.