Summer Experience

We asked our Honors College students to share with us what they have been up to during the Summer 2012 break. Take a look through their variety of experiences!


I participated in a research program called the Student Training and Research Program (STAR) at Georgia Health Sciences University.  I performed research for my own research project and presented it and the end of the summer.  My mentor from GHSU was Dr. Dan Rudic, and my topic was titled "The circadian clock controls the transcription factor NR2F2 (COUP-TF2). -Jacob Barry




I went to Boston on a mission trip with my home church in June.  Our group of 15 helped a new church run an artist camp and organize a "Party at the Park" for kids in the area where a few Boston Red Sox players came out.  The picture attached is of Red Sox player Adrian Gonzalez and me. -Erica Bloor


The G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center is where I spent my summer. I developed leadership, communication, organizational and other work-related skills. Working at the VA Medical Center has been an amazing experience. At the age of fourteen, I was assigned to work in Nursing Services as a student volunteer.  As a student volunteer my duties included delivering mail, answering telephones, and filing documents. I also worked hands on with Veterans by assisting with feeding and special activities.  Eventually, volunteering at the VA became more than just a summer program, it became a hobby.  Over the past 5 years, I’ve accumulated over 500 hours of volunteer experience.  This year I was hired as a student trainee and was more than excited to spend another summer at the VA. I was assigned to work in MAS, one of the largest and busiest services at the VA.  My primary duties included assisting with updating the New Patient Orientation Handbook, responding to and mailing letters regarding beneficiary travel for Veterans. I was nervous and anxious since this was my first “paid” work experience, but the great employees in MAS welcomed me as a part of their team. They were always very responsive to my needs and concerns. My experience working at the VA will always be memorable, thanks to the people and friends that I have met through the years. -Yasmin Cunningham


I spent my summer cycling across the country from Seattle to Washington, D.C. to raise money and awareness for people with disabilities in an event called the Journey of Hope. This is with Push America, the philanthropy owned and operated by Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. -Johnathan Faler



Myself and Rachael Luckett, both honors college sophomores, spent part of our summer as staff at Mississippi Governor's School, a three week summer program for gifted high school seniors and juniors. The program is a residential one at the Mississippi University for Women in Columbus and is run by the state. As staff we helped run and prepare for planned activities and supervise the scholars as they made their way on an amazing educational, leadership and personal experience that culminates in three college credit hours.
However, for the staff, the reward is in helping the young scholars of today become Mississippi's leaders tomorrow. (And there are some pretty fun activities!)  -Shelby Gable




Last summer I attended the People to People International Leadership Summit at Harvard. One of the delegates was from Namibia, Africa. We became close friends during the conference and have stayed in touch. He and his family invited me to visit their country this summer! I spent two weeks traveling with them through Namibia. On our travels, we stayed at a watering hole in a national park where we saw animals that in the U.S. we would only see in the zoo -- elephants, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, rhinoceroses, lions, leopards, and many more! We had a braii (barbecue) under the stars and full moon while listening to the jackals howl in the distance! We visited the Bushman tribe on the land that was set aside for them after the independence war in which they lost their original homeland. We travelled to the coast of Namibia where we went on a catamaran cruise and saw seals, dolphins, humpback whales, and flamingos! We rode motor bikes through the sand dunes and even rode camels into the desert! In addition to our travels, I experienced the Namibian culture -- music, language, food, and native customs! It was truly a trip of a lifetime!!! I'm glad I could share my amazing experience with other Honors students! -Anna Gilg




This summer I was a participant of the British Studies Program, and it was a phenomenal experience that I'll cherish for the rest of my life. As a member of the Journalism class the program was academically challenging, but more importantly, learning about other cultures through experiential learning was one of the most rewarding opportunities of my life. I was able to set foot in a total of six countries in my thirty-one days abroad, and those countries include England, Wales, Ireland, France, Italy, and Switzerland. Highlights of my trip abroad include attending a Court 1 match at Wimbledon, touring Wembley Stadium, visiting the BBC, seeing the Eifel Tower lit up at night in Paris, setting foot inside the Colosseum in Rome, canyoning in the beautiful sites of Interlaken, Switzerland, touring the Guiness Storehouse as well as the Jameson Distillery in Dublin, taking a private ride on the London Eye with 22 other members of the British Studies Program, and not to mention being in London for the hype of the 2012 Olympic Games. It was the trip of a lifetime, and I can't wait to go back again one day! -Jeffrey Haeger



For the summer of 2012, I spent ten weeks at Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado, just outside of Denver, doing a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. At Mines, I worked in a laboratory researching fuel cells. -Alex Jarriel



92 people applied for the Go Greenville Summer Internship Program. Only 29 people were chosen and I happened to be one of them. I am in my 9th week of the internship and I am stationed at the Greater Greenville Development Foundation. The Greater Greenville Development Foundation has two departments: Main Street Greenville and Greater Greenville Housing. Main Street Greenville is responsible for downtown revitalization, hosting city functions such as the 4th of July Celebration, Farmer's Market, the Main Street Arts & Crafts Festival, the Hot Tamale Festival, and much more. Greater Greenville Housing gives out grants to senior citizens who need help repairing their homes, along with a lot of other great things for the community. As an intern, I have been granted the opportunity to work with city officials, plan for different events, learn a few accounting skills, research the housing market in my hometown, and complete daily functions in the office. Also as a part of the internship, I am a part of a team who is working on a project to improve youth engagement around town. At the end of the program, my group will be presenting the project to city council, business owners, and citizens of Greenville, MS. This has been a great opportunity and I am enjoying every bit of it! -Erinisha Johnson



This summer I studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. My classes during the week helped me learn more Spanish, and my weekend trips to Valencia, Barcelona, Granada, and Rome helped me to see the world. This was a learning experience of a lifetime, where I learned so much about the world around me and even more about myself as well. I fell in love with the Spanish culture, lifestyle, and people while I was there for five weeks, and that's why I'm going back to Spain to study abroad spring semester!  -Ashleigh Ladner



This summer I volunteered at The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, MS where I assisted in removing fishing hooks from Kemp's Riley sea turtles. After caring for these turtles and rehabilitating them, it was a great feeling to be able to release them back into the Gulf. While helping with IMMS's research divison, I learned to tell bottlenose dolphins apart by recognizing notches in the dorsal fins and by recognizing different behaviors of dolphins in their natural habitat. I also volunteered with the animal trainers and learned to prepare the resident dolphins' diets and assist the trainers with hydration behaviors and other veterinary procedures. The photo I included is of myself and Rocky, a Kemp's Ridley turtle whom IMMS rescued after he was hit by a boat. My time volunteering for IMMS taught me so much about these amazng animals and was an experience I'll never forget. -Crysta Lorenz



This summer I served as a volunteer intern with the Assistant District Attorney at the Child Advocacy Center in Mobile, Alabama. The Child Advocacy Center is a fantastic place. Essentially, it is one building that houses representatives from every organization that a child might need, including the Department of Human Resources, the police and sheriff's offices, free counseling services, and an Assistant District Attorney. Funded by grants and donations, the Child Advocacy Center serves children, usually victims of abuse. I aspire to become a lawyer, specifically a prosecutor, and this has been a fantastic opportunity to learn more about criminal law in a practical setting. -Meredith McPhail



Among some of the many things I did this summer, I think one of the more interesting experiences that came my way was helping Germantown High School with their band camp. They had 12 hour days, Monday-Friday for two solid weeks, and this is the high school and band's second year in existence coming up. They work harder than just about any other high school band in the state, if not the region. The music is challenging, the drill is intense, but we could already tell by the end of camp that this is going to be an exciting marching season coming up. The kids work hard, and they play hard, and they'll continue to do both throughout the year. I really felt like I was able to help and make some kind of impact on these kids during band camp. It was an awesome opportunity, and hopefully I'll be able to help again next year. -Kyle Moore



I spent my summer working on staff with CentriKid Camps, one of LifeWay Christian Resources' student camps.  My team and I worked 10 cycles of camp, 6 at Ridgecrest Conference Center in Black Mountain, North Carolina and 4 at Georgia Baptist Conference Center in Norman Park, Georgia.  This was my third summer working with CentriKid Camps and my second summer serving as the Production Leader for my team. -Dalton Newell


My sister (Amanda Paris) and I are backpacking across Europe this summer! We started our journey in Naples, Italy and are two weeks into our five-week trip! After visiting Naples, Rome, Florence and other beautiful European cities, I feel we have become more cultured and have a better appreciation for our lives back in America. My sister will be leaving me in August to return home to Hattiesburg and USM but I'll be staying for a semester in Spain. I can only hope my adventures abroad will only get better! -Carrie Paris


This past summer, after graduating with my associates degree, I was awarded a MS-INBRE grant that allowed me the opportunity to intern at the stem cell research lab at the University of Southern Mississippi. I worked with Dr. Guo and several PhD students studying the immune response of stem cells at different stages. This was especially meaningful to me as I am pursuing a career in regenerative medicine. I hope to continue working in Dr. Guo's lab for my senior research project. It was an exciting opportunity that gave me first hand experience in an amazing field.



This summer, I went on a mission trip to Costa Rica with my church, First Baptist Vancleave. We ministered to the city of Alajuelita, located just outside of San Jose. We reached out to the children of the local neighborhoods by playing soccer or other games with them. Then we'd have a bible study and create crafts together. We also went into three schools and helped teach the children English. Later in the summer, I went on a mission trip to Queens, New York, with Patrick's church. We led Vacation Bible School at Ebenezer Baptist Church, a very poor church located in a large Spanish-speaking community. I taught the eight and nine year old bible study. I felt so blessed to have the opportunity to teach those kids about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and about what He has done for them. It was truly was a life-changing experience. This summer has been filled with wonderful memories that I will treasure forever. -Emilee Randall


This summer, I studied abroad in Spain.  My Spanish is the best it has ever been, and I got to see so many things I had only seen on television. -Samantha Rayborn



I attended the Compass study abroad program this summer from May 24 to June 28, which included classes in Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, and London. We had two independent travel periods and I explored Brussels, Cologne (Germany), and Prague during these periods. I visited these cities while being instructed in a political science class, and I was amazed at the different cultures, art, history, and architecture that I experienced abroad. -Haddy Rikabi


This summer I have had the honor of serving as an intern in Senator Roger Wicker's office from July to August, and prior to that, I served in the office Congressman Steven Palazzo (a USM grad). These two internships have been such an amazing experience for me because I've always been very interested in the governmental process, and this has given me a first-hand look.  It's been an honor to serve the people of Mississippi in this capacity.  I have had the opportunity to explore an amazing city for the whole summer, and I feel extremely blessed and honored to have been given this opportunity. -Caitlin Seale


For eight weeks this summer I served as an account executive intern in Hattiesburg for the Greek Lifestyle Guide, a subsidiary of LTE Media Group based out of Los Angeles, California. The guide, which also serves as a chapter directory, is distributed to the approximately 2,500 students involved in Greek Life at Southern Miss and also comprises another online publication and social media blasts.  I was responsible for marketing and advertising the guide to local businesses in order to encourage involvement with the Greek community and USM campus as a whole.  I gained many valuable skills in personal communication and marketing that will certainly carry over to my future endeavors. -Stormy Speaks



Since I changed my major to history freshman year, my parents have become extremely involved in my research and interest areas. As a result, each year since we have taken a summer vacation to various historical locations in the U.S., mostly on the East Coast. This summer we traveled to Boston and the surrounding area for a week. During our stay we visited the homes of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, Plymouth Rock, the battle sites of Lexington and Concord, the historical city of Salem, as well as historical downtown Boston itself. Also, in preparation of my time in Boston, I contacted various libraries in and around the Boston area and had the pleasure of securing visiting researcher access to the the Widener and Law Libraries at Harvard to collect some valuable primary material for my thesis on colonial sex laws. I have also recently began volunteering at McCain Archives on campus working with early 20th century newspapers that merged to create today's Hattiesburg American in order to gain experience working with historic documents. -Anna Todd 


This summer I served as a missionary in eastern Washington and Oregon. My teammates and I worked with the Columbia Basin Baptist Association assisting with (and sometimes running) Vacation Bible Schools at the association's churches. (Most of the churches are very small and in rural areas.) We also got to serve as counselors at the association's Girls Camp and Youth Camp. It was an incredible summer getting to serve others and to get to see how God broke my heart for the people of the Northwest and how I fell in love with the people and the region. -Kristen Walker