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College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

College Alumni Are Working in Every Sector of the Economy

They have the capabilities that are in demand by employers today: clear communication in writing and speaking, critical thinking and analytical skills, leadership, ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds, and understanding the world around us. Studying liberal arts isn’t learning a trade. It’s trading on what you’ve learned to launch a career that inspires you.

Our graduates are successful in establishing a wide range of careers and becoming leaders of their organizations because of the core set of skills at the heart of our liberal arts education. It’s all well and good to discuss the broad values of a liberal arts education, but where are our alumni working?

Of the ~30,000 living undergraduate alumni of the College of Liberal Arts, we have identified the occupation information for 70% of them. This infographic (right) shows that occupation information by identifying the sector of the economy for their employer.

We’ve provided a few alumni examples here to showcase that variety of career paths.

Ashley McGeheeAshley Chaffin McGehee (Art History ’11)
Senior Master Planner, Walt Disney Imagineering

“My foundation in art history and liberal arts is invaluable. The core of art history is communicating ideas, history, theories, and vision of a culture—skills applicable in all professions and daily life.”

During graduate studies in historic preservation and urban/regional planning at U. of Florida, McGehee chose internships and projects to explore all facets of city planning. As a Senior Master Planner with Walt Disney Imagineering, she focuses on predevelopment and real estate efforts for Walt Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products.

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When and why did you originally decide to study art history?
I decided to study art history during my junior year of high school. I’m a very visual person and love to create, decorate and design anything, but I had never taken any art classes during high school. I chose AP Art History as an elective my junior year at Tupelo High School just thinking it would be interesting. The class blew me away – it was challenging and engaging and I found myself getting lost in the stories behind the artists, the boldness and risks of their artwork and the history and drama they illuminated.

Looking back, art history was the perfect field for my academic strengths and personal interests to grow. I was able to combine my writing skills, love of history and nostalgia, strong sense of empathy, and desire to be surrounded by beautiful things. While I didn’t know what career path art history would take me on, I think it provided a great foundation.

Please discuss a few highlights of your undergraduate experience at UM.
I really enjoyed living in Oxford during my time at Ole Miss. Oxford is such a welcoming and artistic town. Through my internship with the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and job at the UM Museum, I met so many fantastic people and really experienced the power of the arts to build a sense of community. Working at the UM Museum was my first taste of a career in art history and definitely a highlight of my undergraduate experience.

Outline your educational/career path since graduation from UM.
During  college, I was an intern at the University of Mississippi Museum and then was hired as the program coordinator until graduation. After graduating UM in 2011, I started graduate school at the University of Florida College of Design, Construction, and Planning studying Historic Preservation. I spent the summer of 2011 in Nantucket at a preservation field school conducting research on historic homes and learning traditional building methods. This once-in-a-lifetime experience made me realize my interest in preserving the built environment was much broader than Historic Preservation alone – I wanted to understand what makes cities thrive and be a part of the solutions to our cities’ problems.

As soon as I moved to Gainesville, I transitioned to studying Urban and Regional Planning with a focus on historic preservation. I made a point to choose internships and research projects that allowed me to explore all facets of city planning- Historic Preservation planning with the City of Fernandina Beach, Design as an Anthony K. Baker Intern at the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach, and community resilience planning as a graduate assistant working to create a plan for civic engagement in rural coastal regions regarding the impacts of sea level rise. The internship that impacted me the most was with Walt Disney Imagineering, working on a new community they were developing, Golden Oak. This was my first exposure to land and real estate development and while it was a steep learning curve, I realized that this complex field was where I wanted to focus my career.

I’m now a Senior Master Planner with Walt Disney Imagineering, focusing on pre-development and real estate efforts for Walt Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. I currently divide my time between working on sustainment and design review and managing master planning work streams. My role allows me to express my creativity most often by organizing complex processes and managing projects, and our studio is very visually driven! We design graphic exhibits and maps, communicating key data in a concise, compelling visual way.


WHERE ARE OUR ALUMNI WORKING?

Alumni Infographic

Business & Finance 17%

Healthcare 13%

Higher Education 13%

Law 10%

STEM 9%

Government, Military, & 1st Responders 9%

Community Services & Non-Profit 9%

K–12 Education 8%

Arts, Culture, & Media 6%

Hospitality & Personal Care 4%

Trades, Agriculture, & Transport 2%

David FreemanDavid Freeman (BA History ’01)
Foreign Service Officer, US Department of State

“In many countries around the world, history is not an abstraction, but an ever-present force working on society, and understanding local history is a crucial part of operating effectively as a diplomat.”

During his junior year abroad in France, Freeman discovered a love of travel, an affinity for languages (he studied French, Spanish, and Japanese), and foreign affairs. He taught English in China and worked in sales with a Taiwanese trading company before joining the State Department in 2011. Freeman has worked in Mexico, China, Iraq, the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs in Washington, DC, and is preparing for a post to Berlin.

Why did choose the history major?
My father is a huge history buff, and I grew up listening to stories from history. It was always my favorite subject in school, and in high school I decided I wanted to be a history professor.

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Significant accomplishments and memories from undergraduate days? 
My time at Ole Miss, together with my exchange year in France, had a profound effect on my life, without which my career at State [Dept] would not have been possible.

In undergrad (1997-December 2001) I was a part of the Honors College, and I was in Phi Alpha Theta. I won the award for best undergrad history paper of the year for the 2000-2001 academic year with a paper on Reformation-era France I wrote for Dr. Jeff Watt (my favorite history professor at Ole Miss).

I spent junior year at the University of Caen in Normandy, France (1999-2000) and backpacked around Europe the summers before and after. That year I discovered a love of travel and that I had an affinity for languages. The political discussions I had with my peers, in which I often found myself defending US policies to skeptic Europeans, sparked an interest in foreign affairs.

I ended up with a double major in French and history due to the number of French language credit hours I earned in France. I also studied Spanish and Japanese at Ole Miss.

Your educational/career path since graduation from UM?
After returning from abroad, I realized I wanted to work internationally. I got a job as an English teacher in a middle school in Shenzhen, China where a friend from Ole Miss also worked. After a year and a half teaching English and learning Chinese, I was offered a sales job with a Taiwanese trading company selling Chinese-made lighting and home decor products to Walmart, Costco, and other US retailers. I worked in that industry for the next five years, first in Shenzhen and then in Dallas.

In 2010 I took the Foreign Service exam and joined the State Department in January 2011 as a political officer. I have since worked in Guadalajara, Mexico; Chengdu, China; in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs in Washington, DC; and Erbil, Iraq. I am currently preparing for my next posting to Berlin in August 2020.

Words of advice for students considering the history major or wanting to work for the government? 
History is a fairly common and very useful major for future Foreign Service Officers (FSOs). In many countries around the world, history is not an abstraction, but an ever-present force working on society, and understanding local history is a crucial part of operating effectively as a diplomat. Many FSOs with a history major go on to pursue graduate degrees in international relations or related fields. Others, like me, have business or other private sector backgrounds. The latter approach has many advantages, not least of which is a lack of grad-school debt! While I had less grounding in the theoretical side of diplomacy than some colleagues, my private sector background provided a lot of practical experience that my colleagues coming straight from academia had to learn the hard way, such as how to navigate office dynamics and hierarchy, performing in high-pressure situations, public speaking, etc.

I would note that, while the State Department Foreign Service requires only a high school diploma, many other jobs in the realm of foreign affairs require a master’s degree in a related field, including the USAID Foreign Service, as well as most policy civil service jobs at State.


Demondes HaynesDemondes Haynes, MD, FCCP, BA Biological Science ’95
Associate Dean for Admissions, School of Medicine; Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care, The University of Mississippi Medical Center

After completing medical school, an internal medicine residency, and a pulmonary and critical care medicine fellowship at UM Medical Center, Haynes joined a private practice with Jackson Pulmonary Associates. However, he returned to his first love of academia as a faculty member in medicine at UMMC. Beyond his work as a practicing pulmonary and critical care physician, his role with medical school admissions gives Haynes a profound impact on the future of healthcare in Mississippi.

How, when, and why did you decide to study biology?
I decided to study biology when I was in high school. I was always fascinated by the human body and how it functions so it seemed to me that biology was a natural fit for my college major.

Discuss the highlights of your undergraduate experience.
I have many fond memories from my undergraduate days. Of course, the beautiful campus at Ole Miss was just one of those experiences as was the Grove on game day. More importantly though were the many friendships that were formed that last until this day. Many of those friendships were formed with other students who were also biology and/or premed or pre-pharmacy majors at Ole Miss. One class of particular fondness was comparative anatomy. I found this class exciting because we were able to perform animal dissections, and this put my mind in overdrive as I thought about the future and cadaver dissection in medical school.

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Talk about your path since graduation and career goals at this point.
After graduating Ole Miss, I completed medical school at the School of Medicine at The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson, MS. I then completed a 3-year Internal Medicine residency at UMMC and a 1-year stint as chief resident in Internal Medicine at UMMC. After my chief resident year, I completed fellowship training for 3 years in pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at UMMC. I then spent 1 year in private practice with Jackson Pulmonary Associates in Jackson, MS, but I returned to my first love of academia after this year of private practice. I returned to UMMC as an Assistant Professor of Medicine, was promoted to Associate Professor of Medicine, and subsequently to Professor of Medicine. I served as the Fellowship Program Director for Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine until I became the Executive Vice Chair for the Department of Medicine. Currently, I serve as The Associate Dean for Admissions for the School of Medicine at UMMC, and I remain a practicing pulmonary and critical care physician although my clinical practice is less since taking on the role in admissions. I have a passion for medical school admissions and have served on the medical school admissions executive committee for the past 10 years. My future career goals definitely involve a continued career in academic medicine.


Melanie FriersonMelody Frierson, BA African American Studies and Psychology ’11
Special Assistant to President and COO, New America

“I found incredible diversity in my double major. In psychology I learned from and worked with clinicians and behavioral scientists while digging deep into social and multicultural psychology. My African American Studies major made sure I knew how to dig deep into the historical archive, understand Black feminist theory, and think like a social scientist.”

Since earning her master’s degree in African American Studies from UCLA, Frierson has been working in the world of nonprofi ts. She created programming around social justice and leadership for young people across Mississippi with the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at UM and has moved to the national stage with New America, a nonprofit think tank dedicated to public problem solving, located in in Washington, DC.

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Why/when did you decide on your undergraduate majors of African American Studies and psychology?
I absolutely love this question! Like many, many young people, I began my first semester of college in 2007 firmly believing that I would go the pre-med route and one day become a doctor. I signed up for the biggest and hardest biology course available and, unsurprisingly, bombed spectacularly. No matter how much I studied or how many office hours and tutoring sessions I attended, I just could not understand the material. While I was struggling with biology, I excelled in my smaller-sized honors college courses, especially my intro honors, gender studies, and psychology classes. And though they were all challenging, the materials and theories clicked for me. I still didn’t want to disappoint my parents by not becoming a doctor of some sort, so I decided to focus on psychology (I could still become a psychiatrist!), and by the time I took my first African American studies course I knew the double major liberal arts life was for me. Because I took classes every intersession and summer, I had the space to take all the courses that interested me and probably could have picked up a few more majors!

Please provide some of your proudest academic accomplishments at UM. What are some of your favorite memories?
My proudest academic accomplishments at UM are inextricably linked to the work I did on campus as a student leader and intern at the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, a nonprofit that was then housed at UM. Though it was lovely to be recognized as a Who’s Who scholar and make the Dean and Chancellor’s list each semester, I’m most proud of the work my fellow interns and I did at the Winter Institute and two awards my peers gave me: the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies Georgia Nix Miller Activism Award and the UM Black & White Diversity Affair Social Equality Award. The texts I closely read and theories I was exposed to in my psychology, gender studies, and African American studies classes, which were all so cross-cutting, gave me the frameworks through which I could ground the work my classmates and I were doing around issues of equity, inclusion, and justice.

What has been your education and professional journey since graduation from UM?
Well, much to the dismay of my parents, I did not become a doctor of any sort! Because I was so profoundly impacted by my African American studies professors and courses at UM, when I found out I could continue my studies at a higher level I jumped at the opportunity. I applied to and was accepted into several M.A. programs in Black studies and ultimately chose UCLA’s African American studies program. Though I had every intention of pursuing a Ph.D. once I finished my M.A. program, I realized that the work I was called to do involved capacity and community building back home in Mississippi at the Winter Institute. For almost four years, I served as a youth engagement coordinator at the Winter Institute creating programming around social justice and leadership for young people across the state. In 2017, I moved to Washington, D.C. to work with young millennials at New America, a non-profit think tank dedicated to public problem solving. I created programming for and managed the Millennial Public Policy Fellowship, a fellowship that created opportunities for underrepresented young folks passionate about examining the public policy challenges facing their generation. I now support New America’s President and COO and manage special projects across the policy spectrum with an emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Why study African American Studies/psychology at UM?
What I loved most about being a Psychology-African American studies double major at UM was the incredible diversity I found within both fields. In the Psychology Department I learned from and worked with clinicians and behavioral scientists while also digging deep into social and multicultural psychology. Similarly, my African American studies degree made sure I knew how to dig deep into the historical archive, understand Black feminist theory, and trained me to think like a social scientist. As someone who loves variety and has broad interests, I was thrilled that I could sample a little bit of everything before finding what really excited me from both fields. There’s no way that I could do the nonprofit work that I do around diversity, equity, and inclusion if I didn’t have the foundation laid by both of my degrees or the support from the incredible professors at UM.


Ronny FrithRonny Frith, BA English ’74
Attorney, Legislative Services Office, Mississippi House of Representatives

“Use your time as an undergraduate to develop your writing skills and vocabulary, and take as wide a variety of courses as you can to expand your knowledge.”

As a lawyer for the Legislative Services Office of the Mississippi House of Representatives, Frith drafts the bills and amendments that will be presented during each legislative session. Every word and punctuation mark come under his scrutiny. He prepares and scours documents, checking ambiguity and potential loopholes, all the while ensuring that the writing is accessible to his audience—from the state’s highest judges to county clerks, police officers, and the general public. Frith credits his English major as laying the groundwork for a lifetime of skill in writing: from college to law school to the legislature.

Write clearly. Write concisely. Write for your audience.

For Frith, these are words to live by.

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“A bill could become a law and be on our books for 100 years, so writing clearly and concisely is important,” he said.

Frith credits his English major as laying the groundwork for a lifetime of skill in writing: from college to law school to the legislature.

“Unlike prose or poetry, you have to make sure that the words cannot be subject to different interpretations, that they’re being used in the same way from the first sentence through the last,” Frith said.

Throughout his long career—he joined the Legislative Services Office right after graduating from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1977—Frith has guarded against the unintended consequences of imprecise language.

“Take the word ‘municipality,’ that term can include a city and a town, so you have to make sure you understand exactly what that word means before using it in a bill draft,” he said.

Frith initially choose to study English because a high school teacher recommended it a good preparation for law school.

“Law school built on what I learned in college,” he said. “When you have four hours to write an exam that will be your entire grade, your skills in analysis, as well as clarity, are paramount. You have to distill what’s important and what’s not so that you can quickly organize your paper and clearly express ideas.”

When he entered law school, Frith noticed a difference between himself and those students who had little writing experience and struggled to put their ideas to paper.

“Writing didn’t intimidate me,” he said. “I’d written so many papers as an English major that I had confidence in what I was doing.”

Neither does rigorous editing—woe to the comma that gets in his way.

“If you take a comma out or put one where it doesn’t belong, it can make or break a case,” he said. “Sometimes I circle a comma in a bill draft and write a note to the proofreaders: ‘Do not remove.’”

He cites an infamous (in legal circles) case of an errant comma. In a Colorado criminal case, the state Attorney General argued that because of the placement of a single comma in a sentence of a statute, the defendant was not exempt from criminal prosecution. The judge did not agree, however, and the case was dismissed, freeing the defendant. His ultimate fate was determined by the punctuation of the sentence.

“Studying English was not just a way to get into law school,” he said. “I wanted to be a good lawyer, and English was a solid foundation for that.”


Stephen GentStephen Gent, BA Political Science ’99
Associate Professor of Political Science; Director of Undergraduate Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

“One of the things that I most valued at Ole Miss was the opportunity to make connections with top-notch faculty members who were dedicated to getting to know you as a student and as a person. Ole Miss really felt like a community.”

Gent earned his MA and PhD in political science from the University of Rochester, then became a faculty member at UNC-Chapel Hill with a specialization in international conflict.

“Understanding how political processes work is essential for citizens to be able to navigate the world. In addition to being a better-informed citizen, studying political science provides you with valuable analytical and writing skills that are useful in a wide range of career paths.”

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Professional profile that shows your educational/career path since graduation in 1999.
After graduating from Ole Miss in 1999, I went on to pursue graduate studies at the University of Rochester, where I received an MA and a PhD in political science. Since 2005, I have been a faculty member in the Department of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I teach courses in international relations and quantitative research methods. My research mainly focuses on the study of international conflict processes, and I have published articles on topics such as military intervention, conflict mediation, and international arbitration. Currently, I am working on a book project that explores how economic competition drives the expansionist activities of countries like Russia and China.

What shaped your choice of political science and Spanish?  Where did those interests originate? 
Growing up, I was always interested in geography and global cultures. When I came to Ole Miss, I wanted to studying international affairs. At that time, the Croft Institute didn’t exist, so chose to study political science, which offered courses in international relations. As I learned more about quantitative social science research, I decided that political science was a great way for me to combine a love of math with my interests in international affairs.

As for majoring in Spanish, this was largely related to my study abroad experiences. I had three years of Spanish in high school and decided to enroll in two honors courses in Spanish during my first year at Ole Miss. I then participated in the UM summer program in Salamanca, Spain, and later spent a semester studying in Queretaro, Mexico. At that point, I decided to add a second major in Spanish to gain a better understanding of the Spanish language and literature.

Tell us a little bit about what you were involved in while at UM.  What experiences do you remember fondly or think were particularly valuable to you later?
As a student, I was involved in several student organizations, including Ole Miss Ambassadors, and I remember having to learn all about the university’s history to give campus tours. It was always fun to introduce new people to the campus.

Looking back on my years at UM, one of the things that I most value was the opportunity to make connections with top-notch faculty members. In particular, honors classes provided interactive small-class experiences with motivated students from a wide range of backgrounds. I found that faculty in all of my classes were dedicated to getting to know you as a student and as a person. Ole Miss really felt like a community. Perhaps most critically for my future career path, I was also able to work one-on-one with a faculty member on a research project, which help prepared me to succeed in graduate school. I also had the opportunity to participate in UM-sponsored study abroad programs in Spain and Mexico, which helped to provide a more global perspective to my experience at Ole Miss.

Speaking directly to students (prospective and current) – why should they study political science and/or Spanish? 
Whenever I tell someone that I teach political science, year in and year out, they almost always reply with something along the lines of “It must be a really interesting time to teach that.” I think that is because people recognize how politics shapes our day-to-day lives in so many ways. Understanding of how political processes work is essential for citizens to be able to navigate the world that we live in. As a social science, political science teaches you how to use the systematic approach of the scientific method to understand the complexities of human interactions. Thus, in addition to helping to make you a better-informed citizen, studying political science provides you with valuable analytical and writing skills that will be useful in a wide range of career paths.


Adrian Wilson CartierAdrian Wilson Cartier, BA ’02, MS ’04, PhD Mathematics ’06
Vice president of data science, Ocelot consulting

Cartier is an expert in data science, with a career that has included mathematics faculty at the University of Montevallo, founder and principal of WEC Analytics Group, Geospatial Analytics Lead at Monsanto, Data Science and Engineering Director at Bayer, Assistant VP of Data Science at Enterprise Holdings, and now VP of Data Science at Ocelot Consulting.

“The advantage of studying at Ole Miss is the close relationships with faculty and peers. Often, at large universities, you are just a number amongst a sea of other students. At Ole Miss, you have the opportunity to develop personalized relationships with the teachers and the content that makes for a more intimate experience with mathematics.”

Why did you major in mathematics?
As many students do, I entered university choosing my major based on what I thought my parents and society wanted. I started as a premed chemistry and biology major with a minor in mathematics. While I had the aptitude and requisite knowledge gained from my high school (MSMS), deep down that wasn’t my true passion.

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I’ve loved mathematics from a young age. Relating numbers to the world is something that I always found beautiful, but I didn’t think of it as an occupation or career. My decision to ultimately major in mathematics was from the guidance of my parents. They told me to pursue things that brings me happiness.

At Ole Miss I looked at mathematics as filler courses—something fun to do; like 3 hours of brain teasers (I love those by the way!!!). I knew taking math courses could keep my grades up. It wasn’t until senior year that Professor James Reid (Math 555/556) made me ask the tough questions of myself. It was he who suggested I pursue mathematics as the focus of my life. I am glad that he did.

Fond memories of UM?
The Grove, football games, fraternity parties, late-night cramming sessions for exams (and PhD qualifiers)—I will always remember. My college roommates and I get together once a year and reminisce about our times at Ole Miss. I try to visit the Grove and math department whenever I can.

I will never forget finishing my PhD in 2006 and being asked to give a speech on diversity at the 2007 graduate hooding ceremony. Fellow students Carla Cotwright (Williams), Bryan Williams, Joe Anderson, and I made history by being a part of the largest number of African American PhDs to graduate in mathematics at one time. As a result, I was asked to speak about the importance of diversity in academics and society as a whole.

Describe your professional journey since graduation.
Prior to my industry work, I held a tenure-track position as a mathematics professor at the University of Montevallo and operated my own analytics consulting firm.

Since graduating Ole Miss (you never leave you just graduate), I have had an amazing journey ranging from building mathematical models in agriculture and leading data science and engineering teams to being awarded the prestigious science fellow distinction at my company. I have had the privilege of being recognized nationally as an invited speaker at data science conferences and receiving national awards for my teams’ work. These days, in my spare time I am a guest lecturer at Washington University in Saint Louis’ data science graduate program.

What is the value of studying mathematics at UM?
The advantage of studying at Ole Miss is the close relationships with faculty and peers. Often, at large universities, you are just a number amongst a sea of other students. At Ole Miss, you have the opportunity to develop personalized relationships with the teachers and the content which makes for a more intimate experience with mathematics. I use experience purposefully. Mathematics is not meant to be done but rather experienced. Through that experience, you will gain a deeper understanding of the world around you and quite possibly yourself, too.


Jamie YoungJamie Young, BM Music ’94 and MM Music ’97
Director of Bands Lake Cormorant High School

A transfer student from Holmes Community College, Young played baritone saxophone in the wind ensemble under the direction of David Willson and performed with the Mississippians Jazz Band under the direction of John McCauley when the group won most outstanding ensemble at a national jazz festival in New Orleans.

“I received a quality education with topnotch educators whose main goal is for students to succeed and reach their full potential. I am thankful for my years at Ole Miss and the bridges I built with friends and teachers. I still call on those mentors for help and advice.”

Why and when did you decide the choose music as your major in college?
During high school I was under the direction of some fantastic band directors. They quickly became my mentors in music and I wanted to follow in their footsteps. I admired their work ethic as well as their passion for music.

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Tell us about some of your proudest accomplishments while at UM.
I came to Ole Miss as a transfer student and played baritone saxophone in the wind ensemble under the direction of David Willson. I also performed with the “Mississippians” Jazz Band under the direction of Dr. John McCaulley. While performing with the “Mississippians” the group won the most outstanding ensemble at a national jazz festival in New Orleans. I also had the opportunity to be a member of the 1st winter guard at the university led by Mrs. Christy Colburn.

During the 1991 and 92 school year I became the women’s billiard representative from the university. I competed all over the country while achieving 1st place Amateur Women’s 8 Ball Champion in the Southeast Region for 2 years as well as 5th in the nation and the Outstanding Sportsmanship Award as part of the ACUI Collegiate Pocket Billiards National Championship.

My time at Ole Miss was priceless and so special. I even met my husband, Jon there (also a band director) and we loved our school so much we were married in the old band hall when it was in the Johnson B. Commons building.

Please describe your educational/professional journey after the undergraduate degree.
After one year into my master’s degree, I was offered the band director position at Nettleton High School in Nettleton, MS. I felt it was important to continue the path to attaining my master’s degree even though I had a full time job. I continued classes during the summer and finished my degree that following summer. The education that I received while pursuing my master’s degree was extremely helpful in developing a depth of knowledge in music/education along with more effective and efficient teaching practices. During this time, I was also able to surround myself with successful teachers and mentors that could help guide me along the way.  I still call on those mentors when needing help or advice.

I would definitely encourage students to continue on for an advanced degree. Not only will it help you as a teacher/music educator but the experience will also guide you in improving organizational and social skills that you will need to be successful in this area of expertise. The importance is to make sure that you listen and learn.  Find mentors that will be there for you to help you along the way.

Considering I was the only band director in my first job teaching beginner band, middle school band high school concert and marching band, color guard and percussion I know if I had not had this help from my mentors I would not have been as successful as a teacher. The job was overwhelming and with a very limited budget I had to come up with creative ways to provide for the program. Fortunately, Nettleton was a good fit and I’m proud to say that the band received superior ratings in concert and marching—the first time in the history of the school.

Speaking directly to young people today, what’s the value of pursuing a degree in music at UM?
By pursuing a degree in music at the University of Mississippi you will have the opportunity to receive a quality education with knowledgeable and top notch educators whose main goal is for you to succeed and reach your full potential. I am so thankful for my years at Ole Miss and the bridges I built with friends and instructors.