Meet Our Alums
Early on, Cathy Campbell had an internal drive to enhance her education. Graduating from high school one year early so as to attend college, Campbell was well on her way working through her bachelor’s degree in Columbus, Miss. Earning her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and mathematics, Campbell graduated summa cum laude at the age of 19. While working on her graduate school studies, she was offered a job with the Chevron Corporation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Campbell, disappointed she never completed her graduate degree, finally reached a point in her life where she was ready to return to academia. With the support of her employer, Campbell found the workforce training and development master’s degree program at Southern Miss Gulf Coast. The program, delivered in an executive format, was what she needed in order to complete her degree while continuing her professional career.
Even after completing her master’s degree, Campbell returned to Southern Miss Gulf Coast to work on her doctoral degree. “My master’s degree in workforce training and development and my involvement in the human capital development Ph.D. program have provided some of the most rewarding experiences in my professional development. I learned more than I could imagine through the curriculum and instruction at Southern Miss. I have been able to apply what I learned to my job responsibilities and enhance my career. I also have an expansive network of like-minded professionals in related careers to use as resources for my work.”
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S. Alice Duggan
When her academic career began in community college, Alice Duggan knew exactly where she wanted her path to take her. Before the university and community college’s 2+2 program became popular, Duggan envisioned her own plan for college courses that would lead her directly to a degree in education.
“I was fortunate to determine that I wanted to become a teacher before completing high school. The educational program at The University of Southern Mississippi was then, and remains today, one of the best in the state of Mississippi. Based on my 2+2 plan, it made the transition very easy.”
Duggan relied on Southern Miss Gulf Coast for her higher education needs through her undergraduate degree and two graduate degrees. She feels several features attracted her to Southern Miss Gulf Coast. One of these features included the size of the Gulf Park campus, which she described as having an atmosphere of warmth and ease which allowed her to become familiar with other students and faculty members. Another feature was the interest professors showed their students. “They knew me on a first name basis and were always available to advise me about course work, review and critique my work or just be supportive.”
With the extensive research she underwent for her doctoral degree, Duggan was able to research an area that was both meaningful and beneficial to the students of the alternative school where she serves as principal. “Through my research, I was able to design an alternative school program that offered a curriculum geared toward meeting the academic, emotional and behavioral needs of at-risk students.”
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Always wanting to remain close to home, Dr. Tori Holloway strayed only as far as New Orleans, La., and Columbus, Miss., for his undergraduate studies. After completing his bachelor’s degree, he returned home to Gulfport and began his career teaching and coaching basketball for the local school district.
Holloway loved teaching and coaching, but he wanted to impact the lives of more students than what those two responsibilities allowed. It was then Holloway heard about the new cohort program for educational administration at Southern Miss Gulf Coast.
“Southern Miss had a great reputation for producing quality graduates from their educational leadership program – which is why I chose to attend. After entering the program, I loved the cohort format and classes. The faculty was personable and taught us a great deal beyond what was expected.”
After earning his master’s degree, Holloway felt he had such a great experience that he wanted to continue his graduate school studies by earning his doctorate. “The quality education provided, the convenience, and great staff makes it a great choice for any student looking to further their education without incurring a large debt for out-of-state fees and travel expenses.”
Holloway said the knowledge gained through his graduate studies was invaluable. “The instructors not only imparted theory in us, but afforded us the opportunity to apply what we learned through real-world experiences. It has definitely contributed to my success as a school administrator.
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Determination and a good education is what drove retail clothing store owner, Steve Johnson, to pursue his dream. Johnson, who worked in retail to pay for his education, first attended school at the local community college. After three years at the community college, Johnson realized he needed to take the next step and complete his degree. To avoid relocating and getting a new job, he decided to continue his education at Southern Miss by taking classes at the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach.
Johnson, who offers his best advice, says that if you live on the coast, then you have a university campus here for your needs. “It makes the best sense to stay here and finish your degree without going to another campus far away. You will save costs locally and there's not an adjustment of lifestyle as there would be if you were to pack up and move.”
While at Southern Miss Gulf Coast, Johnson said he learned both basic and advanced skills for his business degree. In addition to academic knowledge, Johnson said he also learned more about himself. By growing and maturing at the university level, he was able to learn more about his character and how to best utilize his assets in the professional environment.
“My higher education experience was intended to provide me with a great job out of college, but in all actuality it fueled an inner fire in me to follow my dreams and to never, ever give up.”
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Kendrick Kennedy, whose academic career began at the community college and Southern Miss Gulf Coast, believes these institutions laid the foundation for his journey to becoming an attorney at law. Through the 2+2 program, where students begin at the community college and complete their degree at Southern Miss, Kennedy had an opportunity to stay home on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and still earn a university degree.
During his academic career at the university, Kennedy served as president for both the Southern Miss Gulf Coast Student Government Association and the National Federation of the Blind’s Gulf Coast chapter. Despite his visual impairment, it seems no challenge is too great for Kennedy. Most recently, this Southern Miss Gulf Coast graduate accomplished the difficult task of passing the Mississippi Bar Exam on his first attempt.
Kennedy, a major advocate for the visually impaired, has relocated back to his home on the Mississippi Gulf Coast after graduating law school. Despite the legal community centered in Jackson, Kennedy hopes to establish his career on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
“Most would say they could not do what I have done because of the challenges I have faced. But my challenges became opportunities and the Southern Miss Gulf Coast provided the foundation for me to become an attorney. This dream of being an attorney would not have come true without the professors and staff of Southern Miss Gulf Coast.”
Flexibility is what attracted elementary school teacher Jamie Lee to Southern Miss Gulf Coast. After being a student at the university’s Hattiesburg campus, Lee’s busy work schedule led her to evaluate her educational needs. With Southern Miss Gulf Coast, Lee was able to transfer to the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach and complete her degree closer to home in Biloxi.
“I would definitely recommend Southern Miss Gulf Coast to anyone looking for a degree. The small class size and flexible schedule makes going to school easy.”
Lee found that the educational program provided practical, hands-on experience that really helped prepare her for a job in the field of elementary education. With a variety of courses offered during the evening and summer, she found that the flexible class schedules allowed her to work and stay on track for completing her bachelor’s degree.
Currently working as a fourth grade teacher, Lee has experience in both public and private schools. “Southern Miss Gulf Coast provided me with the cutting edge education I needed to get a degree and secure a job that I love – all in today’s tough job market and economy."
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Lifelong Gulfport resident, Pam Meinzinger, has always enjoyed the Mississippi Gulf Coast and what it has to offer. In keeping close to the coast, Meinzinger stayed close to home while working on her higher education. After graduating from community college, she attended The University of Southern Mississippi’s Hattiesburg campus. With the university’s Gulf Park campus, she was able to come home for the summer semester and continue her studies.
After graduating from Hattiesburg with her bachelor’s degree, Meinzinger decided to continue her graduate studies at the Gulf Park campus. Her advice to anyone interested in earning their degree is to not stop taking classes until the degree is completed. “Your degree will set you apart from the rest of the crowd when applying for jobs.”
Meinzinger, who earned her MBA while attending Southern Miss Gulf Coast, liked the convenience of attending classes for her graduate degree while working full-time. She credits flexible schedules and multiple locations for being helpful.
“My time at Southern Miss were outstanding years. The friends you make will become lifelong friends. Obtaining your degree will start you on a challenging path of discovering your God given gifts and career ambitions.”
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Julia Robinson always knew she wanted to be a Golden Eagle before she knew where her career path would take her. Robinson valued her education, but always felt that Southern Miss Gulf Coast would be her university of choice. Only two days into her first semester at Southern Miss, she faced several setbacks following Hurricane Katrina. Despite losing her home, Robinson continued on her academic path while the university. relocated to its temporary facility behind Memorial Hospital at Gulfport.
Robinson, crediting her parents for her strength and resilience, was raised with the freedom of being whoever she wanted to be, so long as she made a decent living to support her family. After attending community college, Robinson transferred to Southern Miss Gulf Coast where she found her instructors, like her family, were supportive and encouraged her success. “They made me feel like I could accomplish anything I put my mind to - which is why I decided to go back to school and pursue my graduate degree in 2010.”
Currently working as a family nurse practitioner, Robinson is appreciative to have Southern Miss so close while earning her undergraduate and graduate degrees – all while supporting her husband and two children. “Southern Miss Gulf Coast gives you confidence so you don’t have to leave home or relocate your family in order to advance your knowledge and skills. I felt truly blessed to be able to earn my degree right in my own backyard.”
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Windy Swetman is a man who wears many hats. Raised in Biloxi, Swetman’s multiple hats began at a young age when he played sports, served on student council, and worked during the summer and weekends at both the Hilton Hotel and for his parents’ security company. Swetman’s education began with a leadership scholarship to the local community college. Through the 2+2 program, a method for easier transfer between the community college and Southern Miss, Swetman was able to continue working while attending school.
While at Southern Miss Gulf Coast, Swetman benefitted from the small class sizes. “You are not just a face in the crowd on the Gulf Park Campus. There is a real personal and caring feeling on the campus.”
Swetman describes Southern Miss Gulf Coast as “user friendly” for its great faculty and accessible resources. He also credits the university as a great educational foundation, which afforded him higher learning and the opportunity to meet and work with a variety of professionals along the coast.
“If not for the Gulf Park Campus, I would not be a college graduate today. I was able to work and get a college degree. This allowed me a head start in the ‘real’ world. I had a degree and work history that jump started my career.”
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Many people on the Mississippi Gulf Coast are familiar with Dave Vincent from seeing him on WLOX, but many people may not know that his childhood started out on a farm in Fredericktown, Missouri. As a child, Vincent enjoyed life in the country exploring nature, but what planted the seed for him to explore the world was his discovery of the public library.
Vincent first attended college at the School of the Ozarks. His first job in broadcasting was for an educational radio station at the college. In 1977, Vincent’s career began at WLOX, the television station for south Mississippi. Wanting to earn his master’s degree, Vincent, in his 40s, decided he would enroll at Southern Miss Gulf Coast to earn his master’s degree in public relations to round out his degree and experience in journalism.
“Since I worked all day, it was impossible for me to try and take any courses during the day in Hattiesburg. When I found out I could take night classes at Gulf Park campus, I was excited. I took one class each semester for three years to obtain my master’s degree and I found it was the best way to balance my work load along with the academic requirements.”
For working professionals, Vincent recommends pursuing a higher education at Southern Miss Gulf Coast. With a variety of degree programs and a convenient location, Southern Miss offers “a great educational value.”
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Not many people say to themselves, “Self, if you live through this you should go to college.” Then again, not many people are Liz Zimmerman. The high school dropout and single mom was facing her toughest challenge yet – cancer. So while one day receiving her chemotherapy treatment, Zimmerman made a promise to herself that if she beat her cancer, she would then attend Southern Miss Gulf Coast. Zimmerman fulfilled her promise in May 2011 when she walked across the stage to receive her bachelor’s degree in social work. “Southern Miss Gulf Coast prepared me for a career in social work with a firm grasp of what I would need to be an asset to my employer.”
Zimmerman says she chose Southern Miss Gulf Coast because of its convenient location, but there are many other reasons she loves having attended the university. From admissions to advisors and everyone in between, Zimmerman feels the staff and faculty at Southern Miss are all outstanding.
“I’m proud of my work as a social worker and proud to be a Southern Miss alum. This university is conducive to a working person’s schedule, the instructors are approachable and the class sizes are reasonable. Most of all, the majority of classes are filled with people just like you!”
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