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Released April 19, 2004



HATTIESBURG - The University of Southern Mississippi will depart from custom at its 2003 spring commencement ceremonies when one of its top seniors will address the school's graduates.

Blake Hamm, outgoing Student Government Association president, will give the keynote address to more than 1,500 students in two separate graduation ceremonies May 9 at 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at Southern Miss' Reed Green Coliseum.

"The angle on my address is going to be on encouragement and the qualities they (graduates) will need to develop and the initiative they will need to take to be successful," Hamm said.

Hamm, a marketing major from Stringer, will graduate with a 3.94 GPA during the day's commencement ceremonies. He is a member of Golden Key International, was elected Mr. Southern Miss in 2002 and was recently inducted into the school's Hall of Fame during Student Awards Day ceremonies. He was also selected Outstanding Freshman Male and has served on the University Police Advisory Board.

Customarily, a guest speaker is invited to address graduates at the ceremony. Dr. Bill Smith, one of Hamm's professors in the Southern Miss Department of Management and Marketing, said he's pleased to see the change and believes Hamm is an excellent choice for speaker.

"I don't think you could have a better person to represent the student body than Blake Hamm," said Smith, who also serves as assistant dean for corporate relations for the College of Business Administration. "He's an outstanding person as well as an outstanding student. I'm proud he'll represent our department and college the rest of his life."

Southern Miss President Dr. Shelby Thames will address more than 150 graduates of Southern Miss Gulf Coast the following day, May 10, at 9 a.m. at the Long Beach campus. Thames also praised the selection of Hamm to speak during the two Hattiesburg commencement events.

"It's fitting that Blake address the graduates and their families and friends," Dr. Thames said. "He's been an outstanding student, a leader among his peers and a fine representative of the excellence in academic products from Southern Miss. I'm sure his words will inspire his classmates at both ceremonies."


OCEAN SPRINGS -- Award-winning wildlife photographer Tom Ulrich will lead two photographic events at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory on Wednesday, March 10.

He will present a nature photography workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and then a talk and slide show called "Wildlife Images 2003" at 7 p.m., both at The University of Southern Mississippi GCRL.

Admission to the evening event is free and will be held in the Caylor Auditorium at GCRL. The veteran photographer will feature photos from his 2003 photographic safaris abroad and in North America. He will answer questions and sign his books during the reception following his slide show.

The registration fee for the all-day workshop is $50 per person, payable to GCRL. Registration includes a continental breakfast, light lunch and snacks. Participation is limited to 20. Though the workshop is geared toward beginners, Ulrich tailors the experience to meet needs for all degrees of skill.

"The beginners will definitely benefit from the workshop, but I always help the more advanced get something out of it also," Ulrich said. "I lead many photo trips and always find a wide range of levels."

Ulrich said participants do not need to bring their photographic equipment unless they need an explanation about some aspect of their equipment.

Topics include a brief review of the principles of photography, relationships between shutter and aperture settings, fundamental elements of composition, use and timing of fill-in flash, digital versus film photography, techniques of close-up photography, and a brief discussion of slide etiquette, the photography business and marketing.

Ulrich grew up in South Chicago, graduated with a degree in biology from Southern Illinois University and taught for four years before launching his career as a freelance photographer. He has supported himself with nature photography for the past 29 years.

His library of more than 300,000 transparencies includes birds and mammals from all over the world. His photographs have been featured in publications such as National Wildlife, Audubon, National Geographic, Montana Outdoors and Life.

He has published six nature books, including Mammals of the Rockies, Birds of the Northern Rockies, Once Upon a Frame and his 2002 release, Photo Pantanal. Dr. William E. Hawkins, GCRL executive director, said Ulrich brings the scientific and artistic worlds together.

"Tom earns his living photographing wildlife all over the world," Hawkins sad. "He is an outstanding observer and a biologist. His approach to photography is to capture his subjects exhibiting their natural behavior."

The GCRL is home to the university's Department of Coastal Sciences, the Center for Fisheries Research and Development, and the Gulf Coast Geospatial Center. The J.L. Scott Marine Education Center and Aquarium is also a unit of the laboratory. The GCRL is part of the Southern Miss College of Science and Technology. For more information, call the laboratory at (228) 872-4200.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM