A convincing sales pitch from her stepfather helped freshman Hilary Stanfield make the decision to attend The University of Southern Mississippi.
“He kept talking about how great it was here and how much fun he had as a student,” said Stanfield, a Columbia, Mo., native. “So I decided to come check it out, and I would have to agree that this is the place for me.”
Stanfield joined thousands of students bright and early on Wednesday, Aug. 18 for the first day of classes for the Fall 2010 semester as the university continues to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its legislative founding.
Intermittent showers greeted the large throng that scurried to find the right building and classrooms. By 11 a.m., junior transfer student Christopher Kingston had already made it through two classes.
“It’s been great, all except for the rain,” said Kingston, who transferred from Hinds Community College in Raymond, Miss. “I’m taking 15 hours this semester and I’ve got one more class today.”
Kingston plans to major in political science but has his long-range sights set on a military career. “I have no interest really in a political career at all,” he said. “But I’m majoring in political science to learn more about how government works. I figure that will be a big asset when I graduate and begin my military training.”
Dr. Joe Paul, vice president for student affairs, has seen his share of semesters come and go after 34 years as an employee and four previous to that as a student at Southern Miss. A new academic year always brings a wider smile to his face.
“This is an exciting time of year. I challenged an energetic group of freshmen at their convocation yesterday to step boldly into the second century for Southern Miss and help us seize a golden future as we celebrate a treasured past,” said Paul.
Sophomore Alisha Strickland of Heidelberg, Miss, said the first day of classes included a lot less stress this time around “because I know where everything is and where I need to be.”
A social work major, Strickland sympathizes with the flock of freshmen trying to navigate their way around campus.
“That first semester can be very stressful. I didn’t know what to expect when I first got here and it took me a while to get comfortable with my classes, instructors and the grades I really needed to make,” she said.
Although living hundreds of miles away from her hometown, Stanfield said she has already bonded with her new campus family.
“This people here are so friendly. You can walk up to anybody and they’re willing to help,” she said. “It already feels a lot like home.”