My name is Shelby Auer, and I am a Kinesiotherapy Major. I was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, but most of my family is in either New Jersey or Australia. My passions include horseback riding, dancing, reading, and playing with my wonderful black Lab. I chose Southern Miss and the Honors College after I witnessed my older sister experience the best four years of her life here. I have known I wanted to be an Occupational Therapist since I was in the fifth grade and an Honors College Ambassador at Southern Miss since I was in the ninth grade. I also know that the students, faculty, and staff in the Honors College are some of the best people I will ever get to know, and there is nothing I would rather be than a Golden Eagle!
Hometown: Mobile, AL
My name is Samantha Bull, and I am an International Business major with a Spanish minor. I was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, but I attended high school in Wiggins, MS. I am currently involved in multiple groups on campus, such as Honors Ambassadors and Stage Monkeys Hattiesburg, and I am a Resident Assistant in Wilber Hall (#WilberTTT). I enjoy singing, dancing, traveling, going to music concerts/festivals, playing the ukulele, and being very, very busy. The Honors College at the University of Southern Mississippi has allowed me to travel to New York City, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C. this October. It has also provided me with multiple opportunities to grow as a student and become a leader within the USM community. I hope to spend a semester abroad during the fall of the 2015-2016 school year to work on my minor and do research for my ever-looming thesis. My long term goal is to attend graduate school at GWU and receive my MBA and JD in three years, and I know that the Southern Miss Honors College will help me get there!
Major: International Business
Hometown: Kenosha, WI
My name is Yolanda Cruz, and I am a senior News Editorial Journalism major from Biloxi, MS. I have loved Southern Miss from my first campus visit, and I am so happy to call this my second home. I am currently an editor for The Student Printz and involved in Greek Life. During my tenure here I have also been involved in numerous honors societies as well as the Student Government Association. I chose the Southern Miss Honors College because they are life family to me. My closest friends are in the Honors College, and I know they, as well as the staff, are my biggest support system in anything I do. I feel our Honors College is just so much more personal and we really get to know each other in and out of the classroom. It has been a truly unique experience that I am so grateful for. My advice to any incoming students is just not to get overwhelmed. College can be a really scary and stressful time, and you might get down on yourself. Just reach out to your friends, because they are there for you, and you are going to make it through anything as long as you set your mind to it. Make sure you make time for fun to get yourself out of the dumps, and just remember life is too short not to enjoy it. College is a unique time, so make the most of it while you are here.
Major: News Editorial Journalism
Minors: Political Science and Philosophy
Hometown: Biloxi, MS
Born in Lake Charles, LA, John moved to Poplarville, MS where he spent most of his childhood. Although he was home schooled, John became very active in local fitness groups and community theatre, both of which influenced his decision to major in Exercise Science and to minor in Dance. He chose to pursue these passions at USM mostly because of the Honors College and the opportunities he knew HC could offer. Being a member of the Honors College has allowed him to visit a hippie commune, study religion in San Francisco, explore the culture of London, challenge himself academically, and make some of the best friends of his life. The mentors he has had in HC have helped him learn so much about college life, and he hopes to pass on that knowledge to other upcoming students. In addition to being a HC Ambassador, John is also Secretary of the Southern Miss Activities Council, Media Consultant for the SGA Judicial Board, a Lambda Sigma honor society member, a Phi Eta Sigma honor society member, and a group exercise instructor at the Payne Center.
Major: Exercise Science
Hometown: Poplarville, MS
My name is Taylor Herring, and I'm a senior History major and French minor. I've lived in Hattiesburg my entire life, but USM has given me the opportunity to spend 4 months living in France, on two different study abroad programs. The best thing about the Honors College? The people. Not only do we have top notch students, but our professors are unprecedented and our faculty is beyond devoted. All of the HoCo faculty is hand-picked, and it shows. They have pushed both me and my peers to become as academically competitive as possible. Aside from the obvious academic boost, Honors College has also pushed me socially. I've become really close to a lot of students whom I never would have met otherwise, which is a huge reason I decided to become an ambassador. My advice for incoming students is simple: don't be afraid to ask your professors questions! Not only are they totally willing to help you out, but this also shows them that you care about the class. You'll quickly find that Honors College isn't just another facet of our university; it's a community of tight-knit students and faculty unlike any other.
Hometown: Hattiesburg, MS
Mary Ryan Karnes
Myka Murphy is a Junior Vocal Performance major from Roswell, GA. She is a member of Lambda SIgma Honors Society and many others. She sings in the Southern Chorale and has been a part of many of USM's opera productions. When she first walked into the Honors College house, she knew it was where she wanted to be. She wanted to become an Honors College ambassador so that others can feel the love and camaraderie that the Honors college has given her. The smaller classes allow for a sense of academic camaraderie and friendships. She loved forum because it allowed her to expand not only her cultural awareness but also made her aware of how many talented and intelligent people are a part of USM. She knows that when she graduates in the next couple of years that she will have great friends and great memories from being in the Honors College. Speaking of graduation, after she graduates, she plans on pursuing some form of a Master's degree in Vocal Performance. The end goal is to perform opera around the world. She loves the feeling of connecting with the audience and people, which is why she wanted to be an Honors College ambassador. Even though she has big plans, she knows that Southern Miss and the honors college will always have a piece of her heart.
Major: Vocal Performance
Hometown: Roswell, GA
My name is Natalya Ortolano and I am a senior Biological Sciences Major with a concentration in Microbiology from Mandeville, LA. To be honest, I didn’t even know Southern Miss existed prior to applying here. However, when I came to do my first on campus tour, I fell in love with the small and scenic campus. I also loved how friendly all the faculty seemed, especially at the Honors College. From the very beginning, the Honors College has made me feel like an individual rather than just a number. I remember during the first week of my freshman year, the dean of the Honors College texting me asking me if my classes were going okay. Throughout my undergraduate career, I have developed close relationships with many of my professors, participated in research opportunities early in my undergraduate career, and become close with many other Honors college students with the same passion for learning that I have. This is what makes the Honors College experience so unique. It is the idea that you can go to a school with 16,000 undergraduates, but still feel like an individual. This personalized experience is what makes the Southern Miss Honors College so fantastic.
Major: Biological Sciences
Hometown: Mandeville, LA
I chose USM for many reasons. Both my father and my grandfather attended Southern Miss, and so growing up, I spent a lot of time at Southern. By the time I had to apply to schools, this place already felt like my home away from home. As a high school junior, I went to Black and Gold Day and learned a lot about the Honors Program. I knew that being in Honors would be great experience and it certainly has not disappointed me. I have traveled to great places with my honors classes, gotten to know many of my professors on a personal level, and most importantly, met some great friends along my journey. The Honors College has done so much for and my experience at Southern! My best advice for those considering Honors is just to do it. No matter how hard it gets you will never regret the experiences and friends you will gain.
Majors: Political Science and Spanish
Hometown: Navarre, FL
My name is Madison Ralph, and I am going into my junior year at The University of Southern Mississippi. I am a Special Education major hoping to pursue Occupational Therapy graduate school after my time at Southern Miss. I have a particular passion in helping autistic kids further develop social, learning, and physical abilities. Going into my senior year at Spanish Fort High School, I had little knowledge of Mississippi and even less of Southern Miss. One campus tour was all it took for me to fall in love with the small campus atmosphere and the welcoming staff. I became even more in awe of the campus as I began attending Honors College events. The Southern Miss Honors College is truly like no other. The professors become your best friends, your education is enriched through extensive research, your life experiences broaden as you participate in active learning courses, and you make the most diverse and supportive friends you could imagine. My time at Southern Miss would not be nearly as memorable without the Honors College. Serving as an ambassador has been the most valuable experience I've obtained thus far, and I cannot wait to see what it will bring me these last two years.
Major: Special Education
Hometown: Daphne, AL
Alisha Randall DeFatta
Growing up in Hattiesburg, I always wanted to attend USM because it felt like home. I never realized as a freshman how much more Southern had to offer than just a comfortable feeling. Coming in as a freshman honors student, I was given so many opportunities and ways to be involved. Throughout my time at Southern Miss, I have become involved in greek life, honors societies, a professional fraternity, and various student organizations. Honors College gave me the confidence and connections that I needed to become successful during my short time as an undergraduate. I have learned so much these past few years, and I am always happy to answer any questions about HC or Southern Miss in general. I am looking forward to another great year with the best Honors College there is. HCTTT!!
Hometown: Hattiesburg, MS
My name is Emma Reeves, and I am in my second year at USM. I am majoring in English w/ Licensure and minoring in Spanish. I am from Meridian, MS, and I graduated in 2013 from Meridian High School. I love USM; coming here has been a tremendous blessing for me. Originally, USM was not even on my radar as a potential college, but after the Honors College contacted me, I learned about the Honors College and all the opportunities offered at USM. Then I knew it was the place for me. Therefore, I like to say that I did not choose USM...it chose me. Since coming here, I have grown so much as a person. I have become more confident, calm, and collected. The Honors College specifically has reinvigorated my love of learning with classes and fellow students that are personal and stimulating. I love Southern Miss and the Honors College because as they go to the top, they pull me and encourage me to rise to the top, too.
Major: English (Licensure)
Hometown: Meridian, MS
A native Hattiesburgian, I love going to college in my hometown. I am double majoring in Nutrition and Journalism (PR) and will hopefully work as a dietitian and write free-lance health-related articles when I graduate. I chose USM because of my family heritage here. My grandparents and both my parents attended USM, and therefore, I love the idea of leaving USM better than I found it because I know that generations before me have done the same. Southern Miss is not huge, but there are still a lot of students on campus every day. Being in the Honors College has given me a community of scholars to turn to in classes and company in misery at the library late at night. The privilege of being in the Honors College also comes with more responsibility. The expectation is higher from both professors and fellow students. I have loved my experience at Southern Miss, and it has only been enhanced by begin a part of the Honors College.
Majors: Nutrition and Journalism (PR)
Hometown: Hattiesburg, MS
My name is Rachel Rogers, and I am from Shreveport, Louisiana. Also, I am currently a sophomore and a speech pathology major. Since I have always had a passion for working with kids, I hope to one day use this major to work in the school system and to help children with their speech development. One of the main reasons that I chose to come to Southern Miss was because I wanted to go to a school that was far enough away from home but still had a homey atmosphere. And, when I first came to visit USM, everyone was so welcoming, and it really did feel like a place that I could call home. After deciding to come to Southern Miss, I then chose to join the Honors College. I joined not only because of the unique opportunities that it provides, such as smaller class sizes and the opportunity for active learning classes, but also because everyone in the Honors College truly wanted to help me to succeed. By joining the Honors College, I feel like I am a part of a close-knit community that has provided me with me leadership opportunities and life-long friendships. On campus, not only am I a part of the Honors College, but I am also involved in Chi Omega sorority and Lambda Sigma Honor Society. Overall, I am so thankful for all of the opportunities that Southern Miss has provided me with, and I can’t wait to see what the next three years have in store!
Major: Speech Pathology
Hometown: Speech Pathology
Kay Ann Simmons
My name is Mary Spooner, and I’m a sophomore English major at Southern Miss. I’m from Jackson, Mississippi, and my interests include literature, film, creative writing, and visual arts. I also love vegetarian cooking, horseback riding, rap music, thrift shopping, and hanging out with my favorite fifth graders at Hawkins Elementary. In the future I hope to work in film production and continue writing poetry and fiction.
I chose The University of Southern Mississippi because of the eclectic student body, the generous scholarship opportunities, and the supportive nature of the Southern Miss community. I wanted a challenging, engaging, and stimulating academic experience, so I chose to be a member of the Honors College; however, I received so much more. By being part of the Honors College I have access to small, discussion based classes with passionate professors, active learning classes, a close community with similar goals and ambitions, and genuine support from faculty and fellow students. Now, as an Honors Ambassador I am able to share my experience potential students and mentor current, new students.
Outside of the Honors College I am the Associate Director of Public Relations for the Student Government Association, Activities Chair and Assistant to Sponsorship Chair for Delta Delta Delta sorority, a member of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, and a tutor at Hawkins Elementary in Hattiesburg.
I am incredibly grateful for the Honors College and Southern Miss, and I am excited for the experiences and memories to come!
Hometown: Jackson, MS
Hi, the name's Lakelyn. Lakelyn Taylor. I’m from the landmass between Louisiana and Alabama in a small town called Long Beach. This is my second year at Southern Miss …and I mean…I’m still here. I decided to double major in communication studies and Spanish because it’s pretty hard to shut me up and why not learn another language while I’m at it. I chose USM because I discovered that college should be a place where you feel you can belong, and that is exactly what the University of Southern Miss gave me. USM allowed me to feel like I could achieve anything, and it has pushed me to do exactly that. But, USM has given me more than just personal achievement: it has privileged me with an opportunity to experience the Honors College. I decided to join USM’s Honors College because I wanted more than just the average college experience. The Honors College has surrounded me with people who challenge me and then walk beside me as I face those challenges. I wouldn’t be able to find a more capable place to better myself. That is all I hope to gain and all I believe that I will receive as I walk through this college journey with HC supporting me every step of the way.
Majors: Communication Studies and Spanish
Hometown: Long Beach, MS
My name is Drako Wells and I'm a senior English major from Jackson, MS. I graduated from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in 2011.I'm a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and very involved with residence life here at Southern Miss where I serve as a resident assistant and a student academic mentor. I chose Southern Miss and the Honors College because from the first time I stepped foot on this campus to visit, I felt at home. I truly believe USM offers a unique Honors College experience unlike any other in the country. I am grateful to have met many lifelong friends through the Honors College as well as many devoted instructors who are willing to take time out to help me develop individually as a scholar. My advice to incoming students would be to take college seriously, but to still have fun. Finding balance is key! SMTTT!
Hometown: Jackson, MS
Joshua von Hermann