Skip navigation

USM, Hattiesburg High Partner on Unique Program for Students

Thu, 02/22/2024 - 09:26am | By: Van Arnold


Students at Hattiesburg High School (HHS) were treated to insights provided by a multidisciplinary group of faculty members from The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) during a special “Eagle Tiger Talk Day” held Feb. 21 at the HHS campus.

The students are participants in the school’s Career Technical Education program, which was designed to help them gain a better understanding of what college life might be like.

“Some students may not have family members that they can learn from regarding a college experience,” said Jasmin Baxter, Communications and Engagement Coordinator for Hattiesburg Public Schools. “By participating in the Eagle Tiger Talk, students were able to attend two classes taught by USM instructors. Hopefully, this college simulation event will help students get a glimpse of what college will be like.”

Dr. Gallayanee Yaoyuneyong, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and a professor in the School of Marketing at USM, helped coordinate the event. She noted that the collaboration’s benefits for the University and Hattiesburg High cannot be overstated.

“Participating students potentially consider USM for their college of choice, increasing our applicant pool and attracting promising future students,” said Yaoyuneyong. “Collaboration between USM faculty and Hattiesburg High School instructors facilitates ongoing communication and builds rapport, potentially leading to future partnerships and guest lectures. Favorable impressions of our faculty can influence Hattiesburg High School’s instructors’ recommendations and guidance to students, impacting their college and major choices.”



Representatives from USM’s Office of Admissions were also on hand to provide information about the application process to enroll at the University.

USM and Hattiesburg High teamed up for the inaugural Eagle Tiger Talk in 2018. Changes at the high school combined with the protracted COVID-19 pandemic forced suspension of the event until this year.

Jennie Noonkester, Student Services Coordinator for Career and Technical Education, explains that the CTE program is comprised of three groups: Year 1 CTE students (121 currently); Year 2 CTE students (109 currently), and Work-Based Learning and Dual Credit CTE students (107 currently). Second-year students participated in the Eagle Tiger Talk Day presentations.

Prior to the event, HHS students were asked two key questions:

  1. If you could learn anything in an hour, what would you want to learn?
  2. What fears do you have about college?

“Dr. Yaoyuneyong and I took the student surveys and created the lectures in alignment with the career pathways,” said Baxter. “We were able to incorporate many lectures that the students were interested in. “In addition to relieving fear about college, our hope is to boost students’ love for learning, create new advisory networks and gain access to the latest research and technology in these academic fields.”

The faculty presentations were divided into two categories: CTE-program specific topics and broader student needs. These topics included such areas as:

Juveniles in the Legal System

Robotics & Artificial Intelligence

Treating Obesity and Diabetes: What’s a dietitian got to do with it?

Spanish for Health and Safety in the Workplace

Sport Management and Security

Money Management Basics

Testing Anxiety: Approaches to Help Students

Your Mental Health and Why it Matters

“We carefully selected faculty presenters based on their expertise and ability to connect with high school students,” said Yaoyuneyong. “While some instructors participated in the 2018 Eagle Tiger Talk, we collaborated with school directors and program coordinators to identify new talent across various colleges.”

USM faculty members who delivered presentations included:

  • Keith (Jared) Hollingsworth – Lecturer, School of Communication, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Dr. Chris Croft – Assistant Professor of Sport Management, School of Marketing
  • Dr. Chao Meng – Assistant Professor of Supply Chain Management, School of Marketing
  • Dr. Kimberly Goodwin – Professor and School of Finance Director
  • Dr. Jeanne Gillespie - Professor of Spanish, Co-Director of the Center for American Indian Research and Studies – College of Arts and Sciences
  • Dr. Jennifer L. Lemacks – Associate Dean for Research and Professor – College of Nursing and Health Profession
  • Dr. Lisa S. Nored, J.D., Ph.D., Professor and Pre-Law Pathways Coordinator, School of Criminal Justice, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Julie Hammond, Professor of Dance, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Dr. Michelle McLeese, Teaching Assistant Professor of Sociology, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Dr. Jose Martinez, Teaching Assistant Professor of Computing Science & Computer Engineering, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Dr. Mohsen Foroughi, Assistant Professor of Construction Management, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Dr. Mirsalar Kamari, Assistant Professor of Construction Management, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Dr. Anna Wan, Associate Professor of Mathematics Education, College of Arts and Sciences

Yaoyuneyong hopes to broaden the lecture series to other high schools in the Hattiesburg area, with the ultimate goal of creating a city-wide event at the University.

“By expanding Eagle Tiger Talk, we envision building stronger connections with Hattiesburg’s future generation, showcasing the diverse academic offerings and vibrant campus life at Southern Miss, and ultimately contributing to a wider, more engaged pool of future students,” she said.

To learn more about the USM School of Marketing, call 601.266.4627.

To learn more about Hattiesburg High School, call 601.544.9811.