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Gulf Park Political Science Students to Present at SPSA Conference in January

Fri, 10/31/2014 - 14:27pm | By: Jenny Tate

Ashley McKnight and Kelly Roberts, political science students at The University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Park campus, have been selected to present at the upcoming 86th Annual Southern Political Science Association (SPSA) Conference set for January 2015 in New Orleans.

McKnight, an Honor's College student from Philadelphia, Pa., will present “The Effectiveness of the Disproportionate Minority Contact Initiative in Mississippi: An Empirical Test for Overrepresentation.”

"I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to present research I am so passionate about,” McKnight says. “I am very excited to meet other researchers and learn from the research they have conducted."

In addition to being an Honor's College student, McKnight is a member of Gamma Beta Phi and Sigma Tau Delta at Southern Miss Gulf Park, and is also a member of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars.  

Roberts, a graduate student from New Orleans, will present her paper titled, “Black is the New Black: African Americans and Symbolic Representation” at the upcoming conference.

At Southern Miss Gulf Park, Roberts serves as a Student Representative for the Academic Deans Advisory Council. She is a member of the Women's and Gender Studies Student Organization, Student Government Association, Southern Miss Alumni Association, and Delta Sigma Theta.

“Being selected to present your research at any conference is the goal of most graduate students, with hard work, dedication, and constantly bothering Dr. Phan, I'm ecstatic that I was chosen to present my research at the SPSA Conference in January.”  

Dr. Ngoc Phan, assistant professor of political science in the College of Arts and Letters, has worked very closely with both students on their research projects; she will also present at the 2015 conference. All three are members of the Southern Political Science Association.

For more information about the Department of Political Science at The University of Southern Mississippi, visit