All posts in Current Students

Jim Coll

When you peel back the layers of USM’s personality, you find grit

South Mississippians are a tough bunch. I admit there are others bigger and stronger who are better resourced—and who many would argue have better pedigrees. In many cases, they’d be right.

But not tougher. If you have been around us for any length of time you understand if we are defined by one characteristic, as Southern Miss alumnus Rodney Richardson and branding expert likes to say, it is grit.

If you’re not familiar with south Mississippi or the University that calls that region home, here’s some recent history. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit us—hard. Without complaint, and with the help of many others, we picked up the pieces and moved forward. That meant many University of Southern Mississippi faculty, staff and students got back to work within days of the storm, even as their own homes were uninhabitable or no longer existed. Today, our Gulf Park Campus is fully restored and exceeding pre-Katrina numbers in enrollment and prestige. In 2013, a tornado hit our Hattiesburg campus, and hundreds of us could not wait to get to work as our new president, Rodney Bennett, reacted as though he had been here for years when he said this:

Like many have said, character is not created in times of great difficultly, it is revealed. And when you peel back the layers of south Mississippi and USM’s personality—and when we are at our most vulnerable—what’s left is grit. It’s an ability to get the job done no matter the circumstances. Perhaps even more accurately defined, it’s an ability to get the job done especially when circumstances are challenging, or even appear impossible. It is defined by men like former basketball coach M.K. Turk, who upon his death Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari said of him, “He recruited without the advantages of the other schools in his region and never complained.  He just went out and won.”

And it is also perhaps best explained by the famous words of Jackson sportswriter Mickey Spagnola who wrote after our Golden Eagles had just defeated Bear Bryant’s Alabama football team in 1982, “Always choose Southern Mississippi. Don’t fight Southern Mississippi. No matter how hard you fight, these folks will fight harder. These people know sweat. They know hard work and they know nothing ever comes easy. They are hard, I’m telling you, they are hard.”

USM grit is deep-rooted as well, going back to the early 1900s and the founding of the institution, which happened only after years of debate in the legislature, and without identification of suitable funding for operation. And it is evident today in nursing student Corey Auerswald, who by all accounts is kind, determined—and gritty. If you don’t know her story, I encourage you to read USM student Julius Kizzee’s story in the Student Printz. Corey is a wife, a mother, a nursing student and a breast cancer survivor. She has completed rigorous coursework in USM’s nurse anesthesia program while enduring chemotherapy. She is an inspiration to many.

Corey Auerswald

Yes, south Mississippians are defined in many ways, but if I have to pick one word to do that I go back to grit. As we’ve learned the journey to the top is not a straight and smooth path. But if that is the case, it is also true that no one gets back up as frequently as USM and south Mississippi does—that’s the thing about grit as a defining quality. And like Corey Auerswald, you don’t quit. You don’t complain. You get back up. You press forward. And eventually, you win.

Jim Coll

Top Stories – May 2015

Here is what I shared for May 2015. SMTTT!

The University’s “military-friendly” commitment is continuing with the establishment of a Coast Guard Auxiliary Program at the Gulf Park Campus.

The University, in collaboration with the United States Coast Guard, recently announced the establishment of a Coast Guard Auxiliary University Program located on the University’s Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach.

As the official college-level program of the U.S. Coast Guard, the program is specifically designed to provide a quality education to undergraduate and graduate students in developing their leadership and technical talents for service to the U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, emergency response, maritime and public service communities.

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The academy continues to produce top scholars and programs.

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has earned accreditation through the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) – indicating that it meets or exceeds professional standards, giving students an advantage with prospective employers and graduate schools.

The department is the first in Mississippi to receive accreditation by ASBMB for its Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with emphases in Biochemistry and American Chemical Society-certified Biochemistry.

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Southern Miss Graduate Nursing Programs Ranked as State’s Best by U.S. News & World Report

The graduate nursing programs at The University of Southern Mississippi have been ranked as the state’s best and also included among the top programs nationwide in a recent assessment by U.S. News & World Report.

A total of 503 nursing schools with master’s or doctoral programs accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing were surveyed. The newly expanded rankings mark the first time U.S. News has rated graduate nursing programs. Of the programs surveyed, 246 were eligible for inclusion in the publication’s rankings of master’s programs. Of the six graduate nursing programs in Mississippi, Southern Miss ranked the highest nationwide at No. 102.

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Southern Miss Students Receive National Science Foundation Fellowships

Four University of Southern Mississippi students have been awarded prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, marking the first time the University has produced this many winners in a single year.

Laken Kendrick, of Hattiesburg, Miss.; Abagail Williams, of Independence, Mo.; Dexter Dean of Clinton, Ala.; and Cassandra Reese, of San Diego, Calif., were granted the fellowships from a pool of 16,500 applicants. No other Mississippi college or university matched Southern Miss in NSF Fellowship winners for 2015. Southern Miss student Lisa Lauderdale received honorable mention recognition, while two alumni – Michael Sims and Travis Thornell – also earned fellowships at the University of Florida and Purdue University, respectively.

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GCRL Oil Spill Seminar Series coincides with Deepwater Horizon Fifth Anniversary

The University‘s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory is hosting a seminar series, Deepwater Horizon: A Scientist’s Perspective,” throughout the summer.

The seminar series offers a retrospective exploration of the spill through presentations by research staff and discussions among speakers, education staff and attendees to answer pressing questions.

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Southern Miss baseball enters the Conference USA Tournament on an unprecedented run. Our Golden Eagles take a school record-tying, 13-game winning streak into the Conference USA Tournament, which is being played at Pete Taylor Park.

The Golden Eagles (35-16-1) equaled the best consecutive game win streak mark originally accomplished in 1995 as that squad won the first 13 games to start the season. The Golden Eagle hosts the eight-team Conference USA Tournament beginning Wednesday, May 20, at Pete Taylor Park.

On Monday, pitcher James McMahon won the C-Spire Ferriss Award, which is presented to the top baseball player in the state. James has a record of 11-1 this year and is also a top candidate for conference pitcher of the year award.

Read more:

Jim Coll

Top Stories – March 2015

Each month I share a brief summary of some of the top Southern Miss stories with University leaders for their use as they interact with various stakeholders. The compilation of that short list is always a good reminder for me of all the amazing people and activities taking place on our campuses.

Here is what I shared for March. SMTTT!

Our commitment to student success and well-being continues…

On March 16, the new Moffitt Health Center opened on the Hattiesburg campus. The Moffitt Health Center replaces the Beedie Smith Health Clinic, a freestanding building that opened on the Hattiesburg campus in 1962. The new center increases the square footage dedicated to Student Health Services by 30 percent, providing much-needed space for more efficient laboratory and X-ray activity, larger health care provider work areas, a more accessible pharmacy and a dental care area.

The clinic was in part funded by $1 million in private donations, including the lead gift from the family of Dr. Virginia Moffitt Crawford, director of Student Health Services.

For more:

On March 17, we cut ribbons on three facilities on our Gulf Park campus, including a new health center, a fitness center and a new building for our School of Social Work. The facilities will provide high-quality classroom and academic space for social work students and a number of on-campus health and fitness services previously unavailable to Gulf Park students on that campus.

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One of the University’s greatest ambassadors, The Pride, excelled on an international stage…

The Pride of Mississippi Marching Band represented the University and the state of Mississippi well in a trip to Ireland. Select members of the band performed in two parades in Ireland on March 15 and 17, taking top honors in each.

On March 15, The Pride was named overall winner of the International Band Parade in Limerick, Ireland. Twenty-four marching bands featuring 1,100 musicians from across Ireland, Europe and the United States performed in the 45th annual parade.

On March 17, The Pride was named top band in the adult band, 18 and over, category at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin.

About 130 band members traveled to Ireland to march in the parades. The band also marched in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the late 1990s.

We’re increasing our commitment to researching and understanding the Gulf of Mexico…

University officials, including President Bennett and Vice President for Research Gordon Cannon, as well as members of the media, are on their way to Panama to get a closer look at the research vessel, Point Sur. The University, using funds from a Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality grant, purchased the Point Sur from San Jose State University, last month. The vessel is making its way through the Panama Canal on its way from California to the Port of Gulfport.

The 135-foot Point Sur vessel was built in 1980. It can accommodate 13 researchers and technicians, and a crew of eight. For day cruises, it has a capacity of 40 researchers.

The purchase agreement provides Southern Miss with a vessel that can be utilized by the University and other interested parties to explore the Gulf of Mexico, including further research on the BP oil spill of 2010. The vessel will help Southern Miss enhance education and research opportunities for students and faculty who will have access to Point Sur’s sophisticated technology and equipment.

An event will be held on April 24 on the Gulf Coast so that the general public might tour the vessel and gain a greater understanding of the impact it will have on Gulf research.

Our students continue to excel…

Tanner Shaw, a senior finance major, was awarded the prestigious Orrin W. Swayze Scholarship by the Mississippi Young Bankers Association during the group’s annual conference.

The $5,000 award is presented annually to the top Mississippi university major in banking and finance who best represents the tradition of banking excellence exemplified by Swayze, a senior officer for Trustmark until his retirement in 1967.

A 4.0 student, Shaw is a Southern Miss Presidential Scholar and member of the Honors College.

For more:

Katherine Nugent

Kudos to the Nursing Programs in the State of Mississippi

The 2012 Annual Report for the Mississippi Nursing Degree Programs reported that nursing enrollment in all programs of nursing in Mississippi has increased by 15.9 percent from Fall 2008.  The report further documented that the highest percentage of growth occurred in the enrollment of students in the baccalaureate and higher degree programs of nursing.  There was a 38.7% increase in the number of students enrolled in bachelor programs, a 35.7% increase enrollment in masters programs and a 359.3% increase of students enrolled in doctoral programs.

The deans and directors of the programs of nursing in the state of Mississippi have worked diligently to address the recommendations of the Institutes of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson  Foundation report on the Future of Nursing : Leading Change, Advancing Healthcare  Those recommendations include:

  • Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training.
  • Nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression.
  • Nurses should be full partners, with physicians and other health professionals
  • Effective workforce planning and policy making require better data collection and information infrastructure.

One important initiative in Mississippi is creating “seamless transitions” between academic programs that will help create a more highly educated nursing workforce, which will improve patient care and help fill faculty and advanced practice nursing roles, as well as graduate competent future nurses.  The data from the 2012 annual report documents our progress.

This data shows that quality patient care hinges on having a well-educated nursing workforce.  Research has shown that lower mortality rates, fewer medication errors, and positive outcomes are all linked to nurses prepared at the baccalaureate and graduate degree levels (American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2012).

Dr. Joe Whitehead

CoST Students Sims & Roberts Capture Goldwater Scholarships

Congratulations to University of Southern Mississippi students Michael Sims of Hattiesburg, Miss., and Hannah Roberts of Mount Olive, Miss., who have been awarded Goldwater Scholarships. The scholarships recognize the “nation’s next generation of top research scientists.”

Sims is a junior majoring in polymer science and chemistry, while Roberts is a sophomore chemistry major.

Congratulations to both Michael and Hannah. All of us in the College of Science and Technology are proud of you.

Read more about the scholarships at Southern Miss Now.