HATTIESBURG -- The
University of Southern Mississippi Student Support Services Program
received good news from the U.S. Department of Education with the
announcement that its federal funding has been renewed for four
The nearly $979,000 grant, awarded in March, will
aid the program’s efforts to help first-generation students
from low-income families and students battling physical or learning
disabilities excel in college and beyond.
“Our mission is to provide assistance—both
academic and personal—to students who need a little extra
help negotiating university life,” said Susan Bourland, student
support services director.
“We want students to be successful in
their classes and to graduate. Then, they can go on to be productive
members of the community.”
To land the grant, SSS had to prove the need for
its program, showcase its long-term objectives and institutional
commitment—a commitment that freshman Christina Downs says
is paying off for her.
“It’s (SSS) been a great help to
me; everyone is very friendly,” said Downs, who looks to become
the first college graduate in her family and is one of 165 participants
of the program. “I am learning a lot, including how to manage
my study time.”
Since the program’s 1997 debut, it has provided
an array of services to students, including direct financial assistance
to undergraduates receiving Federal Pell Grants, academic and personal
counseling, tutorials, leadership workshops, cultural enrichment,
supplemental instruction and much more. SSS also hands out twenty
$510 scholarships each year to active freshman and sophomore participants.
Bourland said none of this would be possible without
help from the federal government. “Without federal funding,
the program and our ability to continue in our present form would
be in jeopardy,” she said.
SSS’ first grant was written by retired dean
of student services, Dr. Joanne Stevens. The grant issued by the
U.S. Department of Education will be disbursed over a period of
four years with the first year’s handout totaling $244,735.
Continuation of the grant is determined upon submission of a yearly
performance report to the Department of Education.
For more information about the grant or the services
provided by Southern Miss’ Student Support Services Program,
please contact Director Susan Bourland at (601) 266-6910.