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Division of Student Affairs

New Employee Spotlight Bios

Fall 2019

Geneal Washam is a native of Waynesboro, MS; having residency in Hattiesburg for nine years. She started her tenure at The University of Southern Mississippi/ Division of Student Affairs/ Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life in September 2019. She was previously employed at Ellisville State School for 16.5 years. There she was employed in the Reimbursement Department as an Accountant Auditor; generating billing and managing the accounts receivables. She will truly be an asset to the division having extensive knowledge and experience of finance and budgeting. Geneal enjoys spending time with her three kids, traveling, sports and being a servant in different ministries of her church. She loves to inspire, motivate, and encourage others to make the best out of their life because “you only get one”. Her favorite scripture is “ I Can do all things through Christ Jesus which strengthens me” Philippians 4:13. Geneal is excited to be at The University of Southern Mississippi. Welcome Geneal!

Sirena Cantrell, Dean of Students/ Associate VP of Student Affairs, has extensive experience in higher education, serving in a variety of roles throughout her career in Student Affairs. Her expertise in student conduct, student crisis management, counseling services, and student support services will be critical as we continue our efforts to develop healthy, connected, learning-focused students and communities. She holds a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in Psychology from Millsaps College, a Master of Science in Counselor Education from Mississippi State University, and is nearing completion of her Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education at Mississippi State University. Ms. Cantrell currently serves as Dean of Students at Mississippi University for Women. Ms. Cantrell will be responsible for supervisory oversight of the Dean of Students office; Office of Disability Accommodations; Student Counseling Services; Student Health Services; Center for Military Veterans, Service Members, and Families; and Student Support and Outreach. 

Amanda Jo Ladner, Office of Leadership and Student Involvement Coordinator, Leadership and SGA, is a 2x Southern Miss graduate with an undergraduate degree in Entertainment Industries (Media Production) and a graduate degree in Mass Communications. Her hobbies include playing music, cycling, baking, and judging your favorite TV show using Mass Communication theories. Although she still loves to do some media work on the side, Amanda Jo chose to pursue Higher Education because of the mentors and the community she met during her time as a student at Southern Miss. “They saw potential in me, built me up, and gave me opportunities to serve and lead my peers. I am thrilled I get to wake up and do the same for our current students every day. SMTTT!” Welcome Amanda Jo!

Amber Travis, Conference and Event Services Coordinator, graduated from The University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Journalism. She worked at WDAM for a little over a year as a Production Assistant and Reporter. She loves spending time with her family, traveling and volunteering at the VA when time allows. Welcome Amber!

Tuyetnhi Nguyen is the new Residence Life Coordinator for Scott Hall, and has been at Southern Miss for over six years, receiving both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from this institution. Her passion to work and be with students derives from her experience working in Housing and Residence Life. She looks forward to continuing her journey at Southern Miss as a Student Affairs Professional. Welcome Tuyetnhi!

Spring 2019

Sarah Bienvenu, Licensed Master Social Worker with Student Counseling Services, is a native of New Orleans and an Alumni of the USM School of Social Work. Sarah has been a resident of the Hattiesburg area for 25 years and enjoys gardening, creating and finding new ways to practice self-care. Her favorite quote is “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived - that is to have succeeded.”  - Ralph Waldo Emerson. Welcome Sarah!

Mara Chitic-Holmes, USM Center for Military Veterans, VA Certifying Official, was born in Romania and moved to Germany where she completed two diplomas in Technical Engineering & Construction and Foreign Languages. She then relocated to Aloha State, Hawaii, where she got the opportunity to volunteer with the U.S. Army 25th Infantry Division 2nd Striker Brigade with several assignments. Mara graduated with honors from The University of Southern Mississippi with a BA in Foreign Languages, German and Spanish, and a minor in Forensic Science. She continues her educational pursuit as a graduate in the field of Criminal Justice. She has affiliations with The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, German Honor Society, Forensic Science Society and the Mississippi Division of The International Association for Identification. Welcome Mara!

Chelsea Clifton, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, started as a Mental Wellness Counselor in March of 2019. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology at The University of Evansville in Evansville, IN and her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at The University of Southern Mississippi. Chelsea is currently a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Chelsea enjoys reading, health and wellness, spending time with friends and family, traveling, and going to the movies. Chelsea is passionate about helping others reach their full potential. Her favorite quote is “It is easier to go down a hill than up, but the view is best from the top.” – Arnold Bennett. Welcome Chelsea!

Casey E. Johnson, Licensed Master Social Worker with Student Counseling Services, started as a Mental Wellness Counselor in January 2019. As a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) Casey is currently on the path to become a Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) through the supervisory process. He earned both a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Master of Social Work from The University of Southern Mississippi. He is passionate about helping college students realize their full potential. Casey is married with three children; he enjoys traveling with his wife, hanging out with his kids and outdoor activities. Welcome Casey!

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