For University of Southern Mississippi professor Kathy Yadrick and senior dance major Kellis McSparrin, a year of academic achievement has led to important state recognition.
Dr. Yadrick, chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Systems, joined McSparrin in accepting the prestigious Higher Education Appreciation Day – Working for Academic Excellence (HEADWAE) award during ceremonies held Feb. 24 in Jackson, Miss.
Since 1988, the Mississippi Legislature has honored one student and one faculty member from each of the state’s 35 public and private universities and colleges (which includes two-year colleges) during the annual HEADWAE program.
“It was a privilege to be in the company of accomplished faculty and students from each Mississippi college and university to receive such important recognition from our State Legislature,” said Yadrick. “I’m proud to be a part of higher education in Mississippi helping to prepare a capable healthcare workforce to address Mississippi’s challenges with health and obesity.”
Yadrick has been a member of the Southern Miss faculty since 1986. Prior to that she served as Public Health Nutritionist with the Oklahoma State Department of Health. In 2009 Yadrick helped secure a $2 million federal grant to create a walking program for Hattiesburg area residents. Called H.U.B. City Steps, the project involves a collaboration between the city of Hattiesburg and the Department of Nutrition and Food Systems to promote and engage residents in physical activity and healthy food choices.
“Dr. Yadrick is an exceptional educator and researcher who epitomizes those qualities that the State Legislature means to honor with this award,” said Dr. Mike Forster, dean of the College of Health at Southern Miss. “Moreover, as chair, she has built the Department of Nutrition and Food Systems into an exemplary teaching and research unit within the College of Health and the university as a whole.”
McSparrin, who is set to graduate in May, has maintained a 4.0 grade point average while pursuing a degree is dance performance and choreography. The Clinton, Miss., native said she has been performing in dance recitals and other related events since childhood but only began studying dance seriously after enrolling at Southern Miss.
Among her many extracurricular activities, McSparrin is a member of Delta Delta Delta Sorority, peer adviser for the International Studies program, a member of the Honors College and vice-president of the dance fraternity, Chi Tau Epsilon.
Humbled by the HEADWAE recognition, McSparrin considers the honor an extension of her natural curiosity. “Throughout my high school and college career I have always tried to get the most out of each and every class I’ve taken,” she said. “I just love learning about new things and I’ve dedicated much of my time and effort to education.”
McSparrin, the daughter of Mike and T.J. McSparrin, has applied to the graduate program at New York University. “I went up there about a month ago and fell in love with New York,” she said. “The city is so alive and represents the heart of dance and theater in this country. I look forward to living and studying there for the next several years.”
Dr. Stacy Reischman, director of Dance at Southern Miss, said McSparrin’s honor did not come as a surprise to any of her instructors or peers. “Kellis has been a model student for her entire undergraduate studies in the dance program,” said Reischman. “She is truly exemplary as an artist, scholar and young woman. She has set the bar for our program.”
For a complete list of the 2009-10 HEADWAE honorees visit www.mississippi.edu/headwae/downloads/headwaehonorees2010.pdf
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.