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Division of Student Affairs

Student Awards 2020

We are committed to developing HEALTHY, CONNECTED, and LEARNING-FOCUSED students and communities.


Who's Who at Southern Miss

Who’s Who is considered the highest leadership honor for Southern Miss students. These outstanding seniors have exhibited campus leadership, academic achievement and service to Southern Miss.

 Tiffany Alsbury
Angela Armit
Mariam Atobiloye
Christiana Ayegbaroju
Tyler Barnett
Cailyn Bobo
Julia Brechtel
Ashley N. Chapman
Madison Crimm
Sabria Green
McKenzie Hargis
Verkilya Hogan
Madison Holder
Molly Hunter
Ja'Len Husband
Ryan Johnson
Tyler Jones
Sudiksha Rathan Kumar
Caleb Mack
Michael Matrick
Cortlandt McCullough
Meridian McDaniel
Allison McGrew
Ahmed Mohamed
 Asia Montgomery
Alexander Nelms
Emily Pavolini
Kate Phelps
Caleb Plott
Ceili Rassier
Tony Reimonenq III
Caroline Rhett
Kathryn Roberts
Kayley Safley
Madison Seymour
Harley Sims 
Holly Stringfellow
Eric Thrasher
Amit Tripathi
Ian Vowell


Southern Miss Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame represents the highest distinction a student may achieve at Southern Miss. The Hall of Fame designation has been in existence at the University since 1945 and represents our longest standing student award. These students have exhibited the highest levels of scholarship, leadership and campus involvement, all while making a meaningful impact on the quality of life at Southern Miss. Indeed, they have brought distinction to the University by their good works. For these accomplishments they have well earned induction into our student Hall of Fame.

Mariam Atobiloye

Mariam Atobiloye

Mariam Atobiloye is an Honors College Scholar majoring in Biological Sciences with a double minor in Women's & Gender Studies and Chemistry. Mariam is from Kwara State in Nigeria . Throughout her time at Southern Miss, she has worked with Eagle Dining, the International Office, and the Department of Housing and Residence Life as a resident assistant and a senior resident assistant. In addition to this, Mariam has also been involved with different organizations ranging from the Student Government Association, to the Women in Science and Engineering Club, the Honors College, the Muslim Students Association. She co-founded the African Caribbean Society at Southern Miss. During her freshman year, she was awarded the Most Outstanding Female Freshman of the Year Award. She is a strong believer in making an impact, no matter how small, wherever one goes, and this has inspired her past and future intentions. Her long term goal is to become a physician as she would like to be a part of the force that tackles the problem of health disparities and inequities in developing countries. After graduation, she is planning on completing her Master's degree in Public Health first. She is passionate about educating and empowering people on health issues. Mariam is the daughter of Tinuke Atobiloye.

Madison Crimm

Madison Crimm

Madison Crimm is a Communication Studies major from Marietta, GA. She proudly demonstrates her dedication to the service and leadership of the students at Southern Miss, having spent four years working with the Student Government Association. Originally appointed as an Election Commission member, she continued to serve as the Director of Homecoming Court in 2017 and the 2018 Cabinet Secretary before being elected as the 2019 Election Commissioner. Madison is a member of the Alpha Delta Pi Sorority where she has served in multiple roles including the Leadership Engagement Specialist, Vice President of Panhellenic Relations, and Vice President of Operations. She was elected and served as the Chapter President for the 2018-19 school year. Drawing on this experience, she was chosen to serve on the College Panhellenic Council Executive Board as Vice President of Member Development and as a Gamma Rho Chi recruitment counselor. Based on her dedicated service, Madison was selected to be a member of the Order of Omega Greek Honor Society in 2018. In other areas, Madison served as a member of the 2018 Southern Style team and currently serves the 2019 team as an Orientation Team Leader. Expressing a desire for work in Student Services, she is a member of Eagle Connection and works in the Office of Admissions. She was a finalist for the 2020 Southern Regional Orientation Workshop Regional Outstanding Undergraduate Leadership Award. Recognizing her contributions to the University, Madison is honored to have been selected as a member of the Black Eyed Susans Leadership Honorary. In the future, Madison hopes to pursue a career in student affairs and largely attributes her involvement at Southern Miss to this goal. Madison is the daughter of Jeff and Kristi Crimm.

Sudiksha Rathan Kumar

Kumar

Sudiksha Rathan Kumar is a senior with a double major in Biological Sciences and Forensic Science and a minor in Chemistry from Bangalore, India. She a high-achieving student with multiple scholarships, who is committed to her academic goals. Sudiksha currently serves as the President of the Forensic Science Society and an Honors College Ambassador as well as a Senior Resident Assistant with The Department of Housing and Residence Life. She has previously worked as a Resident Assistant and an International Student Ambassador and participated in the Southern Miss Activities Council, Resident Assistant Advisory Board, and USM Quidditch. She also had the opportunity to work as a research intern at the Baylor College of Medicine. She has volunteered with organizations such as the Institute of Disability Services and participated in multiple community service events. As an International student, she has strived to encourage diversity and acceptance, serving in programs and on panels on inclusion and diversity. Her hobbies include traveling, trying new food, and gardening. Sudiksha plans to obtain a PhD in the biomedical sciences and have a career in translational medicine, developing therapeutics such as gene therapy and regenerative medicine. Sudiksha is the daughter of Rathan and Beena Kumar.

Michael Matrick

Michael Matrick

Michael Matrick is a Sociology major, Communication Studies minor and will also be receiving a certificate in Leadership Studies. He is from Brandon, MS. He has a rich history with the Student Government Association, although he was not a member of the organization until the end of his sophomore year of college. Michael was honored to first serve the organization and student body in the role of Executive Director of Communications, acting as the organization’s chief communications officer. He was also honored with being the 2018 Student Body Beau on the Homecoming Court. Finally, Michael was able to fulfil a long-term dream of serving as the Student Body President of his beloved university. While in this role, he was also elected as an officer, serving as Secretary of the Student Body President’s Council of Mississippi, representing all college students at public universities at the state level. Michael is a member of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity where he has served in multiple capacities in the organization over his years. He has served on the executive council as secretary, and the administrative council as chairman of the honor board, alumni and campus relations chair, philanthropy chair and has been on numerous committees. He will continue to serve his fraternity by returning in the fall as an advisor to the chapter. Michael has also been seen by many new golden eagles as he served on the 2018 Southern Style team as an orientation leader and then returned the following year for the 2019 Southern Style team to serve as an orientation team leader. Michael has strong roots with areas of the Hattiesburg faith community serving as an officer and multiyear member of the Episcopal Church at USM student organization as well as being connected with Trinity Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Hattiesburg. He has received some awards and recognitions for his service to community and his university such as the Hub City Leadership Award, the Mr. Delta Tau Delta award, and others. He has also dedicated countless hours of service to the community that he cares so deeply about. Organizations include Edwards Street Fellowship Center, the Boys and Girls Club, Hattiesburg Hospice Care, Adopt-a-Highway Cleanup, Eagles’ Nest Food Pantry, and of course The Big Event. Michael will be pursuing a Master of Science in Economic Development from the Trent Lott National Center for Economic Development at The University of Southern Mississippi. His dream is to work for the betterment of others and to devote his time and energy to helping those who need it the most. He accredits his success and achievements to the endless support and constant love from his family and the encouragement and empowerment from his friends who have allowed him to become a better man every day and to never be afraid to be proud of who he is. Michael is the son of Jake and Pamela Matrick.

Ahmed Mohamed

Ahmed Mohammed

Ahmed Mohamed, a first-generation U.S. college student, was born in Saudi Arabia. Coming to Southern Miss, he was determined to make his mark. His major at Southern Miss is Microbiology with a Chemistry minor. During his tenure at Southern Miss, he has been awarded President’s List six times, Dean’s List once, and earned travel funding awards to present his research in Dr. Shahid Karim’s lab at various conferences in St. Louis, MO and Washington D.C. He has disseminated his research at a total of 11 conferences, winning 6 awards and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. He has been involved on campus through various organizations, including Student Government Association, Honors College Association, Honors College Leadership Council, Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, TRIO-Student Support Services and more. This fall, he will be attending the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in hopes of realizing his dream of becoming a doctor. When Ahmed is not studying, he enjoys volunteering in his community, meeting new people, playing basketball and hanging out with family and friends. He is the son of Sudanese parents, Huda and Abdelmoniem, and is the youngest of 3, with 2 older sisters.

Kate Phelps

Kate Phelps

Kate Phelps will be graduating in May with a degree in Public Health: Health Policy and Administration. Next year, she will be serving as a Catholic missionary on a college campus with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). During her time at Southern Miss, Kate served as the New Member Educator and President of Chi Omega. Through her role as a FOCUS missionary, Kate will continue to work with Greek student through sharing the hope and joy of the Gospel. One of Kate's favorite Southern Miss experiences is being a member of Southern Style where she was able to form life long friendships with some of her orientation students. Kate's personal favorites are good Sunday brunches and coffee dates with friends. Kate loves to visit her parents and siblings in their hometown of Fairhope, Alabama. Their reunions usually consist of family runs and ice cream trips. Kate is the daughter of Scott and Renee Phelps and has three siblings.

Tony Reimonenq III

Tony Reimonenq III

Tony Reimonenq III is a senior, theatre major, from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He is a scholar and a servant-leader on campus and in the community. He is passionate about impacting others by leaving his mark on campus. He is a Luckyday Citizenship Scholar with a 3.4 GPA. Tony gives back to his campus by being a tour guide in Eagle Connection, Keeper of the Exchequer for the Kappa Iota Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc, Arts Liaison for the Student Government Association, and a 2018-2019 Southern Style team member where he served as an orientation leader and official campus ambassador. During Tony’s time here at USM, he has been named one of ten Most Outstanding Freshmen, Sophomore Beau, Most Valuable Member of the Focus branch for SGA, the Mu Nu Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta’s Inaugural Man of DSTinction, the Mu Xi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha’s 2018 Kennard-Washington Young Man of Distinction, and Mr. Southern Miss! He also has served as a 2017-2018 Golden Eagle Welcome Week Crew Member, a mentor for the 2021 class of Luckyday Scholars, and as an ACES Resident Assistant. In May, Tony will receive his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree with an emphasis in Performance. He plans to travel around the world with different theatres as a professional actor. He eventually plans to be on Broadway, but mainly just wants to do what he loves for the rest of his life. In his free time, Tony volunteers at West Point Church by being a youth leader, recording the church news, and singing in the choir. He is also a mentor at Aldersgate Mission where he mentors young males. Tony is grateful for the many opportunities he has had to impact his campus by serving others. He is the son of Tony and Elizabeth Reimonenq. He has two younger brothers, Jarius and Julius, and two family dogs, Bella and Zoey. Tony loves spending time, laughing, and singing with his family.

Kayley Safley

Kayley Safley

Kayley Safley is a communication studies major with a minor in music from Tutwiler, Mississippi and is a graduate of Lee Academy. She is a Luckyday Citizenship Scholar. She served on the 2018 Southern Style Team and then returned the following year to serve as an Orientation Team Leader for the 2019 team. Kayley also served as Vice President of Programming for Delta Gamma, Vice President of Campus Outreach and Vice President of Fundraising for EagleTHON, and Executive Director of Communications for Student Government Association.  She has been a part of Black Eyed Susans Women’s Honorary, Order of Omega, GEWW Crew, and has served as a Gamma Rho Chi. She was a member of Southern Miss’s Concert Choir and Women’s Choir. During her time in Hattiesburg, Kayley has put in many service hours with Extra Table, HubCity YoungLife, and Wesley Manor. She is a recipient of the 2019 Delta Gamma Pam Shields Outstanding Campus Involvement Award and has been on the Dean’s list. Kayley was elected onto 2019 Southern Miss Homecoming Court as the Student Body Maid. In the fall, Kayley plans to attend Texas A&M to complete a Masters in Student Affairs Administration and Higher Education. She is the daughter of Jim and Lilly Safley.

Eric "Ramsey" Thrasher

Eric "Ramsey" Thrasher

Eric “Ramsey” Thrasher was born in Destin, Florida and raised in Sumrall, Mississippi. After high school, he attended JCJC, where he was a member of the men’s soccer team. After his freshman year, he transferred to Southern Miss both excited to get involved and eager to leave his mark. During his first semester on campus, he joined Pi Kappa Phi fraternity and Eagle Connection. Multiple members of these organizations invested in him and encouraged him to run for leadership positions and other organizations on campus. He has served our noble institution as both the Vice Archon and Archon of Pi Kappa Phi, the Vice President of New Members for Eagle Connection, a student tour guide in the Office of Admissions, a member of the Order of Omega, and a member of Southern Style 2019. He currently serves as the President of the Interfraternity Council. For his leadership and involvement in fraternity and sorority life and other student organizations, he was awarded the Joe Paul 1910 Scholarship Award in the Spring of 2019. He hopes to continue his education and pursue a career in Public Policy and Administration. Ramsey is the son of Eric and Jolie Thrasher.

Ian Vowell

Ian Vowell

Ian Vowell is from Purvis, Mississippi. He will be receiving his BSBA in Accounting in May and believes he has been fortunate to be involved in numerous aspects of campus along the way. He joined Sigma Phi Epsilon after getting to campus, where he served as Vice President of Recruitment for his fraternity. He traveled to Richmond, VA and Houston, TX to meet many other SigEp’s across the country. Within the Fraternity and Sorority Life community, he has served as Vice President of Administrative Affairs for IFC. He belongs to Eagle Connection, where he served as President and Vice President of Communications for the organization and was able to help organize recruiting events for the University. He also worked as a Tour Guide for the Office of Admissions. Ian was selected to receive the Citizen Scholar Award for the College of Business and Economic Development, a Joe Paul 1910 Scholarship Recipient, and a finalist for Freshman of the Year 2016. He recently completed an audit internship with KPMG out of Jackson, MS where he accepted a full time offer to start in September 2021 upon completion of the MPA program at Southern Miss. Ian is the son of Bryan and Wendy Vowell.


Leave It Better Than You Found It Award

The Leave It Better Than You Found It Award was established by the Division of Student Affairs in 2009. First spoken by our vice president emeritus for student affairs, Dr. Joe Paul, these words quickly became more than an inspirational phrase; they became a way of life for our students. The recipient of this award is a senior who exemplifies this ideal, and through passion, leadership and hard work, is leaving Southern Miss better than he or she found it.

Ashley Chapman

Ashley is the daughter of Allen and Debra Chapman.  She was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, but grew up as a Golden Eagle.  She will be graduating this May with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with an endorsement in social studies.  She has been on the President’s List every semester at Southern Miss.  During her four years at USM, Ashley was a member of the Women’s Volleyball Team, where she served as Captain her senior year.  She also represented the volleyball team as a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, where she represented NCAA student-athletes at the campus, conference, and national level to affect the rules, regulations, and policies that affect them as student-athletes.  She earned the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Medal all 4 years of her academic career.  In 2019, she was selected as a member of the CoSiIDA Academic All-District Volleyball Team.  She served as a camp counselor and coach each summer for the USM Volleyball Team Camp and Individual Skills camps.  Ashley is also a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society, Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education and the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.  She has worked throughout the Hattiesburg community through her practicum teaching experiences at The Dubard School for Language Disorders, North Forrest Elementary School, and Oak Grove Elementary School.  She was recently selected as the recipient of the 2020 Southern Miss Leave it Better Than You Found It award.  After graduation, Ashley intends to work as a kindergarten or first grade teacher in Mobile, Alabama and to pursue a Master’s degree in Elementary Education at the University of South Alabama.


Outstanding Freshmen of the Year Finalists

Outstanding Freshmen of the Year are chosen out of more than 150 applicants. These Outstanding students, as well as the two Most Outstanding Freshmen, were selected on academic excellence and student involvement. These students represent the top 1% of the Freshmen class.

Kailee Blackledge Accounting major from Laurel
Carrington Brown Kinesiology major from Hattiesburg
Cyjuan Davis Interdisciplinary Studies major from Columbus
Joseph “Joe Lee” Flynt Marketing major from Taylorsville
Taka Nah Jelah Biological sciences major from Cameroon
Ashley Lankford Communications major from Satsuma, AL
Robert “Robbie” McDonald Interior Design and French double major from Metarie, LA
Reed Roberson Hospitality and Tourism Management major from Madison


Most Outstanding Winners

Thuy-Vy “Lillian” Pham

Thuy-Vy “Lillian” Pham

Lillian Pham is a biological sciences major from D’Iberville. She holds a 4.0 GPA and is a member of the Honors College. In her first semester, Lillian became involved in the Student Government Association as a member of Freshmen Associates, the Honors College Leadership Council, Sexual Assault Prevention Ambassadors and the Vietnamese Student Association. In her spare time, Lillian volunteers with the Aldersgate Mission in Hattiesburg. Her future plans are to be a physician. Lillian is the daughter of Hung Pham.

Adrian “Emmanuel” Carney

Adrian “Emmanuel” Carney

Emmanuel Carney is an instrumental and choral music education major from Ripley, Tennessee. A member of the Honors College, he finished his first semester with a 4.0. Emmanuel is a member of the Pride of Mississippi Marching Band, the Office of Sustainability Ecoambassadors, The Southern Chorale vocal ensemble and the Saxophone Chamber Orchestra. His future plans are to achieve a doctoral degree in conducting. Emmanual is the son of Tyrone and Lana Carney.


Phi Kappa Phi Silver Bowl Award

The Phi Kappa Phi Silver Bowl award is the highest scholastic honor given to any student at Southern Miss. Annually, this honor is given to the student who not only maintains a 4.0 grade point average, but also has the highest number of total credit hours from the University.

Sudiksha Rathan Kumar

Sudiksha Rathan Kumar
Sudiksha Rathan Kumar is a senior with a double major in Biological Sciences and Forensic Science and a minor in Chemistry from Bangalore, India. She a high-achieving student with multiple scholarships, who is committed to her academic goals. Sudiksha currently serves as the President of the Forensic Science Society and an Honors College Ambassador as well as a Senior Resident Assistant with The Department of Housing and Residence Life. She has previously worked as a Resident Assistant and an International Student Ambassador and participated in the Southern Miss Activities Council, Resident Assistant Advisory Board, and USM Quidditch. She also had the opportunity to work as a research intern at the Baylor College of Medicine. She has volunteered with organizations such as the Institute of Disability Services and participated in multiple community service events. As an International student, she has strived to encourage diversity and acceptance, serving in programs and on panels on inclusion and diversity. Her hobbies include traveling, trying new food, and gardening. Sudiksha plans to obtain a PhD in the biomedical sciences and have a career in translational medicine, developing therapeutics such as gene therapy and regenerative medicine. Sudiksha is the daughter of Rathan and Beena Kumar.

 

The Joe Paul 1910 Scholarship Award

The Joe Paul 1910 Scholarship Award goes to a student who is a fraternity leader who shows commitment to furthering the success of Southern Miss.

Evan Reid Morris

Evan Reid Morris is a Healthcare Marketing major senior from Jackson, LA. While at Southern Miss, Reid was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, as well as Eagle Connection in 2019 and 2020. Reid was also involved with Southern Style 2020, GEWW Crew 2018, ACES, Lambda Sigma Honors Society and was Student Tour Guide for the Office of Admissions. He participated in EagleTHON and was the IFC VP of Programming. Upon graduation, Reid plans to work as a pharmaceutical or medical device sales rep. after college and then later work in Hospital Administration. 

 

The Barbara Ross Gold Leaf Scholarship Award

The Barbara Ross Gold Leaf Scholarship was established in 2012 by the Gold Leaf Society, friends of longtime Southern Miss employee Barbara Ross and the University. Throughout her career, Barbara always exemplified the true Southern Miss Spirit and served as a mentor to thousands of student leaders. This prestigious award was created in her honor. The scholarship is awarded annually to a student who is a member of a Greek organization, demonstrates the values of the Golf Leaf, has a passion for the University and its history, and has the potential to be an active alumni leader.

Kelsi Ford

Kelsi Ford is a senior, Social Work major from Hattiesburg, MS. Kelsi is an Honors College Scholar and a Luckyday Citizenship Program Scholar. Upon arrival at Southern Miss, she has become involved with the campus community and the Hattiesburg community. For the 2020-2021 school year, Kelsi will serve as the Vice President of Judicial Affairs for the Student Government Association, a member of Eagle Connection and the Black-Eyed Susans Leadership Honorary, and a member of the Mu Nu Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Kelsi is also a student tour guide in the Office of Admissions. In the Greater Hattiesburg community, she volunteers at Rowan Elementary, the Oseola McCarty Youth Development Center, and Asbury Hospice House. A couple of her honors include being recognized as a 2018 Outstanding Freshman of the Year and a Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society inductee. After obtaining a Bachelor of Social Work, Kelsi plans to pursue a Master of Social Work degree and a Juris Doctorate degree to enter the field of law or public policy because her passions lie in social justice and having a positive impact on many lives. Kelsi is the daughter of Stacy Ford and Anita Ford.

 

Best Citizens Award

VerKilya Hogan

VerKilya Hogan is a Senior, Business Administration (Entrepreneurship) major, from Tchula, MS. She has served a Tour Guide in the Office of Admissions and is involved in Eagle Connection. She served as a member of Southern Style 2019 She is the President of I.D.E.A.L. Women and is involved in the Afro-American Student Organization. Within the Afro American Student Organization, she was awarded the Rising Leadership Award 2019. She was also recognized by the Mu Xi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. as the Peggy Jean Connor award recipient. VerKilya is a Fall 2019 initiate of the Mu Nu Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is also a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, a prestigious honor society for business majors, as well as Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society. She plans to further her education by seeking her Master’s in Business Administration. It is her aspiration to operate her own business one day. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Vernon and Sheronda Jackson. She is the youngest of three girls, and has one living grandparent.

Ja’Len Husband

Ja'Len Husband is from Laurel, Mississippi. He is a senior Applied Technology major, with three minors in Management, The Leadership Experience, and Business Essentials. He has four associate degrees from Pearl River Community College and Jones College. After he receives his bachelor's degree in May of 2020, Ja’Len will be starting a Masters of Public Health (Health Policy and Administration) Fall 2020 at Southern Miss. He is the son of Shenell Husband and has one younger brother, Ke’Eric Winfrey.

 

The Judge R.J. Bishop Mississippian Award

The Judge R.J. Bishop Mississippian Award was established in 1978 by Mrs. Elna Bishop in loving memory of her father, Judge R.J. Bishop. This award honors men and women who have endured economic, family or physical hardships to pursue their educations so that they, their children and other Mississippians might have better lives. The students who are nominated must be graduating seniors, native Mississippians, and have a record of work ethic and determination that shows success in spite of difficulties.

KaSondra Toney

KaSondra Toney is this year's recipient. Graduating from college is an incredibly rewarding feat, even more so when the journey has taken nearly 20 years to complete. KaSondra Toney, raised in Foxworth, MS, is a single mom, a dedicated student and a soon-to-be graduate with a bachelor’s degree from the School of Child and Family Sciences.  She first enrolled at Southern Miss in fall of 2001. She moved into the Pinehaven family housing on the Hattiesburg campus with Kaylin, her then one-year-old daughter. After getting married shortly after the semester began, KaSondra made the difficult decision to withdraw from school. Her growing family became her primary focus. In 2015, KaSondra found herself the sole provider for her family. Seeking to create a better life for her children and pursue her lifelong dream of graduating college, she re-enrolled in classes at USM while continuing to work full time. Her sites were set on a productive schoolyear until she received the news that her youngest son, Brenan, was diagnosed with Mixed Expressive and Receptive Language Disorder. This communication disorder caused Brenan difficulty understanding words and sentences. KaSondra struggled to pay attention to her schoolwork knowing her son, and two other children, needed and deserved her full support. Although it was discouraging to put her education on hold again, the wellbeing of her family was her primary concern. KaSondra was able to start classes again in 2017 with an unwavering determination to finish her degree this time. The following year, Brenan was accepted into the DuBard School for Language Disorders at USM, and Kaylin was accepted into the USM Honors College. Everything was finally coming together for the family to learn and grow together at Southern Miss. Accepting a daily commute from their home on the Gulf Coast to Hattiesburg seemed manageable in light of all the past hurdles they had conquered. “For my family, I put my education on hold,” KaSondra said. “But it’s also because of them that I was driven to pursue my education again after so many years had passed.” Each weekday morning, KaSondra sets off on the first leg of her hour-and-20-minute commute. After dropping her son off at the DuBard School, she attends classes and her on-campus job as a student worker for the School of Psychology. “I’ve always worked to be a better version of myself with each new day and provide my children with happy, stable and secure lives,” KaSondra said. “My path to graduation is far from typical, but the challenges I’ve faced have shaped me into the mom and the professional I was destined to become. Seeing Kaylin follow in my footsteps at USM confirms every step was worth it.” The years have held uncertainty, times of doubt and countless hours of hard work for KaSondra. With the scholarship that accompanies the Bishop Award, she will enter the next chapter of her life with less financial stress and more gratitude for the ways the Southern Miss community has helped her persevere.  

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