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Released March 10, 2004

By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG - Prior to being elected president of The University of Southern Mississippi Student Government Association, Walt Cain was envisioning the needs of students at the growing university.

As head of the SGA's Student Activities Committee, Cain began to develop a strategy to help the university's student government become more effective in serving the student body, including the implementation of a multifaceted communication system to inform students about campus events, organizations and services that could enrich their experience at Southern Miss.

"It was a natural transition (from committee member to president)," he said. "While serving on the committee, I began to see things that I thought we could do better to serve students."

Now as president, he says he intends to work with other student government leaders to make that vision a reality for the fall 2004 semester.

"The creation of a communications system, one that involves increased levels of phone, print, and Internet, and using that to get out information to the students, that's one of my primary goals for our student government," said Cain, an international relations major from Madison. "We're not here to lobby for any one group, but to provide accurate information to our students that can aid them in making effective decisions." Cain expects the new communications system to be in place by August.

Cain's leadership potential may have been what earned him a Southern Miss Leadership Scholarship, but what led him to choose the university to continue his academic career after high school was a combination of factors.

"The Leadership Scholarship program is what initially attracted me to Southern Miss, what got me in the door, so to speak, but what made me love the university was its atmosphere, the feeling of growth, and the hospitality that I found when I visited here.

"There were other places, other universities that were attractive, but the substance of Southern Miss is its people, and that's what sold me - nothing rivals the people at this university."

Well-known throughout campus through his service on the SGA Student Activities Committee and involvement in other campus organizations, Cain came to know even more of his fellow students while campaigning for the student government's top post. "It's really neat to have been able to meet more people through the campaign, and that's good because that makes me more accountable to the student body."

Cain credited a dedicated campaign staff for his victory, including former SGA vice president Toby Barker, who managed his campaign and will serve as his executive adviser. "I was really lucky," Cain said of his campaign. "I had a very dedicated group of friends who believed in me, who worked hard to get the word out about me and talk me up to other students . . . no way I would have made it without them."

Southern Miss Assistant Dean of Students Mike Mitchell and Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Joe Paul believe Cain has what it takes to be an effective student leader.

"He's been a longtime member of SGA, since the day he landed on campus," Mitchell said. "He has drive and enthusiasm, and he's well respected by his peers. I think he's going to have a good year."

"He's really committed to advancing the best interests of the students," Dr. Paul said.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM