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Division of Student Affairs

Student Awards 2021

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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. The qualifications to be nominated for Who's Who are as follows; the student must be a senior with at least 91 credit hours, have an overall 3.0 GPA and be graduating no later than Fall 2022. 

Alec Blaylock
Amber Nations
Anhthu Truong
Anna Richardson
Auburn Ansley
Austin Boudreaux
Blayre Smith
Brett Benigno
Dalton Lock
Emma Humphreys
Ethan Surrett
Reid Morris
Halle Johnson
Joseph Ingram
Landry Smith
Jourdan Green
Julia Bishop
Kaitlyn Birkhoff
Katie Newsome
Kellie Jackson
Kelsi Ford
Kristin Wiggs
Kyle Martin
Leah Salisbury
Lex Thompson
Luke High
M'Tajia Altman
Mackenzie Hamilton
Madison Blankenship
Madison Hansen
Mallory Ivy
Marissa Gandolfo-Muller
Meredith McCullough
Michael Williams
Olivia Leblanc
Rachel Shoemaker
Rebecca Reed
Samantha Manaway
Savannah Rheams
Selma Newbill
Sidney Brown
Sophia Ali
Sumar Beauti
Taylor Evans
Tierra Cooper
Toni Crisler
Whitley Howell


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.

Sumar Beauti

Sumar Beauti is from Hattiesburg, Mississippi and the daughter of Muhamad and Sana Beauti. She is majoring in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Chemistry. Sumar is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor society serving the USM chapter as vice president. She is also a scholar in the Luckyday Citizenship Program and a member of the Honors College Foundations and Keystone Programs. Sumar is also a U.S. Department of State Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholar, U.S. Department of Defense David L. Boren Scholar, and an American Chemical Society Project SEED Scholar. 

Sumar served as a peer advisor in the Office of Study Abroad and is a member of the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students. She is also a member of the Muslim Student Association where she led the USM chapter as president. Sumar was voted as Southern Miss Outstanding Freshman and has been on the President’s List and Dean’s List multiple times in her Southern Miss career. She has earned a funding award to present her research in Dr. Shahid Karim's research lab at various conferences. She has presented her research at 5 conferences and hopes to publish her research in a scientific journal in the near future. 

In her free time, Sumar volunteers in the emergency department at Forrest General Hospital as a care partner responding to patient requests for comfortability and at Hawkins Elementary as an in-class tutor. She shares about her experience at the elementary school saying, “With immigrant parents who didn’t know English at the time, I was left with no support causing a severe delay in my academic development. When I came to college, I was determined to serve as an inspiration of perseverance and provide the support I was never given. My experience led me to volunteer at Hawkins Elementary School in downtown Hattiesburg, a severely underfunded school with packed classrooms and a lack of resources. I served as an in-class tutor in a first-grade classroom and provided the students with a strong foundation for lifelong learning and development. Not only did I alleviate the stress on the teacher, but I also acted as a role model for these children. This experience only strengthened my fundamental connection with the students and made me more passionate to help the underprivileged.”

Sumar will continue her education journey by completing a one-year scientific research internship before moving on to medical school to become a physician. Sumar credits Southern Miss with learning essential skills such as leadership, public speaking, time management in addition to the technical skills needed for scientific research.

Brett Benigno

Brett Benigno is a Business Administration major with a minor in Marketing from Laurel, Mississippi and is the son of Chuck and Gina Benigno. He is a member of the Luckyday Scholarship program, where he served as an academic peer mentor. 

Brett has been involved in numerous areas of student life throughout his four years at the University of Southern Mississippi. He served on the 2019 Southern Style Team and was a member of EagleTHON, where he served as a morale captain and director of fraternity and sorority relations. As a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity, Brett served as chapter president and scholarship chairman, as well as two terms as a recruitment counselor for the Inter-Fraternity Council. Brett has also been a member of the Sexual Assault Prevention Ambassadors, the Pride of Mississippi Marching Band, the University Jazz Bands, and the Student Government Association. He holds membership in three honor societies on campus: Beta Gamma Sigma, Order of Omega, and the Mace: Men’s Honorary. 

During Brett’s time at USM, he was named the M.C. Hamilton Fraternity Man of the Year and the Brother of the Year for the Theta Gamma Chapter of Sigma Nu. He was also elected 2020 USM Student Body King and was the recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Student in Business Administration Award from the College of Business and Economic Development. As a member of the Luckyday Program, Brett has consistently been involved in service throughout the Pine Belt community with such organizations as the Northeast Jones Band Program, where he has been able to continue his love of instrumental music and the marching arts through his service. He has also done service at organizations such as the Arc of Southeast Mississippi, Neighbors at Hawkins, and Christian Services. 

Following graduation, Brett will pursue a Master’s in College Student Personnel at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he will be a graduate assistant in the Center for Career Development and Academic Exploration. 

Julia Bishop

Julia Bishop, a native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is the daughter of Joe (1990, 1992) and Jennifer Gardner Bishop (1992, 1994) and is a third-generation Golden Eagle. Her major is Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Exercise Science and Communication Studies. She is a Discovery Scholar with the Honors College. Julia is also a Luckyday Citizenship Scholar, a member of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, Lambda Honor Society, National Society of Leadership and Success, and the Order of Omega Honor Society. Julia participated in the British Studies Program in 2018 and is a member of the Black Eyed Susans Leadership Honorary Society serving as Vice President of Administration.

Julia has helped recruit new students by serving on Eagle Connection as President and Vice President of Communication, being an orientation leader on Southern Style and helped shape the student experience by being a member of Golden Eagle Welcome Week (GEWW) Crew. She also has been co-director of events on EagleTHON, a student-led fundraising organization for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Julia is a proud member of Delta Gamma Sorority where she has held roles such as Vice President Panhellenic, Director of Alumnae Relations, and Director of Rituals. She has also served the fraternity and sorority community as President of the College Panhellenic Council and as a recruitment counselor. In addition, she has spent time on the Junior Panhellenic Council.

Julia has achieved both the President’s List and the Dean’s List during her tenure at Southern Miss. She was voted Sophomore Homecoming Maid in 2018 and her sorority awarded her the Model New Member her freshman year.

Julia aspires to become a Physician Assistant. While continuing her education path, she will work in a clinic or hospital to gain healthcare experience. Julia says, “Southern Miss has prepared me for so much more than academics by developing me as a leader and citizen, and exposing me to different viewpoints and experiences. I feel confident I have the ability to be a successful professional, willing to work for the betterment of my community through quality healthcare experiences and investment in others.”

Tierra Cooper

A native of Laurel, Mississippi, Tierra Cooper is the daughter of Dwight and Melicia Cooper. Tierra is an Honors College Scholar majoring in Biological Sciences with a Biomedical emphasis and a Chemistry minor. 

Tierra is a servant leader on campus and in the community. At Southern Miss, she has worked with the Department of Housing and Residence Life as a Resident Assistant and has been involved in various organizations ranging from Biological, Environmental, Earth Sciences Ambassadors, GEWW, SMAC, AED Pre-Professional Honor Society, Lambda Sigma Honor Society, Order of Omega Greek Honor Society, and AASO. She was a member of the Southern Miss Chorale and AASO Gospel Choir. Tierra proudly served as the 2019 Director of Homecoming for SGA, Director of Diversity for SGA, and Senator for the College of Arts and Sciences. She currently serves as the President for the Mu Nu Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and as a member of the Black-Eyed Susan’s Leadership Honorary. 

Tierra was also afforded the opportunity to be an undergraduate participant in the Mississippi Rural Dentists Scholarship Program and study Tropical Biology aboard in the Galapagos Islands. After noticing there was not an organization specifically dedicated to students interested in dentistry, she co-founded the Pre-Dental Society at Southern Miss alongside a group of friends. Tierra has earned President’s List and Dean’s List several times. She also received the Mu Xi Peggy Jean Connor award and was nominated for Sorority Woman of the Year.

While she enjoys being involved on campus, Tierra strongly believes that a life lived for others is a life worth living. She has been afforded many opportunities to assist with after school enrichment and studying activities for children, programs for homeless and disabled adults, mentor programs, and meal services for the unfortunate. Tierra has learned through working in the community that the importance of selflessly offering yourself to another person is the key to making a difference.  No matter how large or small of a gesture, she lives by the USM motto throughout her everyday life. “Leave it better than you found it” has inspired her past, present, and future intentions. After graduation, Tierra will enter graduate school to earn her Masters in Biomedical Sciences before applying to dental school. Her long-term goal is to become a dentist and provide adequate oral care in the rural areas of the state of Mississippi. 

Toni Crisler

Hailing from Terry, Mississippi, Toni Crisler is the daughter of Tonie and Kimberly Crisler. She is currently a senior Elementary Education major with endorsements in English and Social Studies. 

Throughout her time at Southern Miss, Toni has been a member of the Afro-American Student Organization, holding the leadership positions of President, Vice President, and Treasurer.  She has also served as the Treasurer of Mississippi Professional Educators and as a 2019 GEWW Crew Leader.  Toni truly believes in being a servant leader, and she has shown this by volunteering for over 300 hours at Jumpstart teaching lessons to preschool students and caring for children aged 6 months to 3 years old. She also spent time as a tutor under the organization, Math Power, where she helped elementary students who struggled in mathematics. 

Toni was recognized for her hard work when she was chosen as a member of the Kennard Scholars Program in 2018 and the Black-Eyed Susans Leadership Honorary in 2020. 

Along with this recognition, she has been awarded the MPE Linda Anglin Teacher Scholarship as well as the Collaborative Literacy Award for Student Success. After graduation, Toni will begin her journey in the Education field as a 2nd-grade teacher at Woodley Elementary School in the Hattiesburg Public School District, and she plans to pursue a master's degree in Curriculum & Instruction in the fall.

Jourdan Green

Jourdan Green

Jourdan Green, a Hattiesburg, Mississippi native, is the daughter of Dr. Adina Narcisse Green (1996, 2010) and Michael Green. Jourdan is graduating with a degree in Psychology, minor in Political Science and a certificate in Leadership Experience. She is an Honors College Scholar and Luckyday Scholar where she served on the Leadership team and Antiracism and Equity Taskforce. Jourdan is a Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Scholar and a member of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, National Society for Leadership and Success, National Society of College Scholars, Golden Key International Honour Society, and Order of Omega: Greek Honor Society. She is also a JUMP Scholar, Kennard Scholar, USM Academic Excellence Scholar, as well as a regional scholar with the Jimmy Rane Foundation.

Among her many leadership and involvement roles across campus, Jourdan has served the Student Government Association progressively for four years as Freshman Associate, Judicial Board member, 2019-20 elected Attorney General, and Executive Director of Freshman Associates. She dedicated time recruiting, retaining, and connecting with students as a university ambassador in Southern Style. Jourdan has served two terms as president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Iota Kappa Chapter, and served as President of Phi Eta Sigma Honor. Additionally, she has also been a member of Black-Eyed Susans Honorary Society, The Gold 100, Afro-American Student Organization (Freshman Connection Director), Student Alumni Association, and Eagle Catholic. 

Jourdan’s Honors College thesis research, “Colorism and the Beginning of the School-to-Prison Pipeline,” was presented at the 2020 Annual Mississippi McNair Symposium. She represented the university at the 2019 NODA Region VI Conference by presenting the workshop, “Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria” and presented her research titled “The Unethical Practice of Mass Incarceration of African American Males in the United States” at the 2018 Honors College Symposium. 

Jourdan Green

(continued) Jourdan enjoys working in areas of advocacy, diversity, and equity and has participated often as a panelist and moderator on several topics including “Women’s Empowerment” (Delta Sigma Theta Sorority), “Ending Rape Culture and Sexual Violence in the Black Community” (SAPA),“Strategies for Success in Graduate School” (McNair Scholars Program, Graduate School, and IME Office), and she served as the sole student panelist for the “Racism and Rights Activism in Hattiesburg and Southern Miss: A Panel Discussion” (Black Studies Public Forums).

Jourdan has received many awards and honors during her tenure at Southern Miss. She has been on the President’s List four semesters and on the Dean’s List, chosen as Most Outstanding Freshman Female, and received the Barbara Ross Gold Leaf Scholarship award, the LSI Emerging Leader of the Year (2018) and President of the Year (2020), and the FSL Mary Margaret Andrews Hamilton Sorority Woman of the Year (2020). Jourdan was the 2017 Homecoming Court Freshman Maid, an Omar Nelson Political Science Scholar, was awarded the AASO Outstanding Freshman Leadership Award, and was a finalist for the Peggy Jean Connor Award from the Mu Xi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Jourdan has earned several titles through her service to her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha including: South Eastern Region Undergraduate President of the Year (2021), Paige Undergraduate Leadership Award (2021), and New Member of the Year Award (2019); EAF Y.P.A.C. Scholar (2020-21) and EAF Merit Scholar (2018-19); and Iota Kappa Chapter Member of the Year (2021) and New Member of the Year (2019).

Jourdan plans to attend law school to become a civil rights, criminal defense, or family law attorney. She hopes to positively impact the lives of others who are often underrepresented or marginalized in the justice system, and is committed to remain an advocate and agent for change in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Mallory Ivy

Mallory Ivy, a native of Florence, Mississippi, is the daughter of Jackie and Keith Thompson and Michael and Katie Ivy. She is an accounting major and a Luckyday Citizenship Scholar. She is a member of the Beta Alpha Psi Honor Society, Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society, Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society, the National Society of Leadership and Success, and the Order of Omega Honor Society. She has also served as the Vice President of Programming for the Black Eyed Susans Women's Leadership Honorary.

Mallory has given back to the Southern Miss community by being an active leader in the Student Government Association, where she has served as the Vice President of Finance and Administration, External Affairs Officer, Assistant Director of The Big Event, and a member of Freshman Associates. She has also enjoyed her time on Southern Style as an orientation leader and campus ambassador and as a student tour guide for Eagle Connection. She has raised funds with EagleTHON while holding the position of Director of Initiatives and Outreach. Mallory is a proud member of Kappa Delta Sorority, which she has served as the Vice President of Community Service, a Sisterhood Enrichment Team Leader, and a member of the Standards Board. Through her Kappa Delta membership, Mallory was given the opportunity to be a leader within the College Panhellenic Council as Vice President of Membership, Vice President of Administration, a Recruitment Counselor, and the Vice President of Philanthropy for the Junior Panhellenic Council.

Mallory is eager to begin her career as an accountant. She plans to continue her education at Southern Miss Graduate School and begin her MBA this summer. She looks forward to settling down in Mississippi within the Jackson or Hattiesburg area.

Reid Morris

Hailing from Jackson, Louisiana, Reid Morris is the son of Chris Morris and Tara Lofton, majoring in Healthcare Marketing. He is a member of the Lambda Sigma Honors Society and involved with the Business Student Advisory Council within the College of Business and Economic Development. 

Reid works for the Office of Admissions as a student tour guide and served in Eagle Connection as Vice President of Retention and Events and Vice President of New Members; Southern Style; and GEWW Crew all of which help recruit and retain new students. Reid is also a leader in his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, where he held the positions of Vice President of Communications and Senior Marshall. Representing his fraternity, he was the 2019-2020 Vice President of Programming and currently serves as the 2020-2021 President for the Interfraternity Council. Reid held the position of Director of Mini Marathon Fundraising and Partnerships for EagleTHON communicating with area high schools to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Reid was also a part of the ACES Living-Learning Community for first-year students. 

Reid was elected Mr. Southern Miss by the student body in the Fall of 2020, earned the Joe Paul Society of 1910 scholarship, and the Lee and McDaniel Scholarship through Sigma Phi Epsilon. Reid is pursuing a Master’s in Health Administration and Public Policy and a hospital administrative fellowship afterward.

Selma Newbill

Selma Newbill, from Carriere, Mississippi, is the daughter of Amanda Newbill and is a double major in English and Political Science. She was a member of The Pride of Mississippi and the School of Music as a clarinet player for two years and was awarded the highest non-music major scholarship to play in university ensembles. Selma was a part of the Student Government Association, serving on the Executive Council as the Comptroller for Philanthropy Commission and a Senator representing the Campus at Large. She was also employed with Housing and Residence Life as a Desk Assistant, Resident Assistant, and now a Senior Resident Assistant. She is an Honors College Scholar, finishing her honors thesis entitled “How to Defend Those Who Defend: An Examination of the Underfunded Public Defender System” and has served the Honors College Leadership Council as a member of the Ambassador Committee for the past three years. Selma was selected to be a member of The Black-Eyed Susan’s Women’s Leadership Honorary during her junior year and served as President throughout her senior year where she orchestrated the first annual Women’s Leadership Summit. As President, she led the organization to win Organization of the Year for the 2020 – 2021 academic year.

After seeing the need as a freshman for a student organization to promote and facilitate discussion on sexual misconduct and to prevent all forms of sexual violence on campus and throughout the community, Selma founded the Sexual Assault Prevention Ambassadors in February of 2018. She served the organization as President for two and a half years and currently serves as the organization’s Senior Advisor. Selma orchestrated multiple events for SAPA including but not limited to Prints for Prevention, Denim Day, The Bandana Project, Toxic Masculinity Forum, and Walk-A-Mile-in Her Shoes. During her time as President, she also certified around 150 university students in Green Dot Bystander Intervention Training in partnership with The Shafer Center for Crisis Intervention. Selma led SAPA to earn New Student Organization of the Year in 2018 and Organization of the Year in 2020 and was selected to be Student Organization President of the Year in 2019.

Selma has earned several other honors including being the Commencement Standard Bearer for the College of Arts and Sciences, a distinctive opportunity given to the top Honors College student with the highest GPA earned over the greatest number of hours. She was recognized as a Forbes Under 30 Scholar and as a finalist for the Harry S. Truman Public Service Scholarship. Selma was also honored by the Division of Student Affairs with The Selma Newbill Pursuit of Passion Award, an annual namesake award to honor one student each year who is in pursuit of change for the betterment of the university. She is honored to be inducted in the 2021 Hall of Fame.

Rachel Shoemaker

Rachel Shoemaker is a native of Taylorsville, Mississippi and is majoring in Communication Studies with a minor in Legal Studies. She is the daughter of Ellen and John Shoemaker. She is a scholar with the Luckyday Citizenship Program, a member of the Lambda Pi Eta Honor Society, the Black-Eyed Susans Leadership Honor Society, and the Order of Omega Honor Society. 

Rachel has served the Southern Miss campus by leading in the Student Government Association all 4 years of her college career. She was elected as President for the 2020-2021 school year in addition to being Director of Administrative Affairs, Co-Director of Miss USM, and President of the Focus Branch of Freshman Associates. Rachel has spent time recruiting and retaining students as a member of Eagle Connection, an orientation leader for Southern Style, and working as a tour guide for the Office of Admissions. She helped raise funds for EagleTHON and served as Director of Faculty and Staff Partnerships as well as Co-Director of Initiatives and Outreach. Rachel is a proud member of the Delta Delta Delta Sorority where she has held the following leadership roles: Continuing Education Chairman, Activities Chairman, and Body Image Coordinator. Rachel also served her sorority by being President of the Junior Panhellenic Council. 

During her time at Southern Miss, Rachel was voted Most Outstanding Female of the Focus Branch of Freshman Associates and was a finalist for the Peggy Jean Connor Award from the Mu Xi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. She achieved both President’s List and Dean’s List multiple times during her tenure. She was awarded several scholarship including: the Joe Paul Student Leader Scholarship, Academic Excellence Scholarship, Luckyday Citizenship Scholarship, and the Elliott & Bonnie Pood Scholarship.  

Rachel has applied to the MBA program at Southern Miss with plans to attend law school in Washington, D.C. before returning to Hattiesburg to serve the community that has shaped her into the person she is today. 

Landry Smith

Landry Smith, from Laurel, Mississippi, is majoring in Psychology with minors in Chemistry and Biology and has maintained a 4.0 GPA his entire college career. Landry has served the Southern Miss community as a member and as Committee Relations Manager for the Honors College Leadership Council Executive Board, a Psychology Scholar and a volunteer student tutor in the Department of Psychology, a member of EagleTHON leading as President and Vice President of Fundraising in addition to being a member, and he was the Student Vice President of Phi Kappa Phi. He is also a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity where he has held several leadership roles including: public relations chairman, social chairman, and judicial board judge. Landry also held the role of Vice President of Community Affairs on the Interfraternity Council Executive Board.

Landry has been awarded several awards through his academic endeavors including the Eagle SPUR and NCUR travel funding through the Drapeau Center for Undergraduate Research. He placed 1st in the poster presentation at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in 2018, as well as 1st place in the oral presentation in 2019, and he was also voted Most Outstanding Sophomore in the Department of Psychology. More recently, the Department of Psychology also awarded him Most Outstanding Senior. Through his membership of Sigma Nu, Landry was voted Brother of the Year (twice), Community Builder of the Year for the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, and received the Sigma Nu alumni endowment scholarship. Ending his college career, Landry will represent the Honors College by carrying the Presidential Gonfalon at Commencement in May. 

After graduation Landry will pursue his dream of becoming a physician and will apply to medical school. He credits Southern Miss and specifically his time as a research assistant in the Memory, Attentional Control, and Aging Lab with providing him the skills to push him forward into medical school to “become a physician that treats each patient in fairness and equality.”

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.

Rebecca Reed

Rebecca is from New Orleans, Louisiana, is the daughter of Michael Reed, Robert and Rebecca Albano. She majored in Communication Studies. She has served her campus extensively in several student organizations. She has led a crew during Golden Eagle Welcome Week, served as an ambassador with the Office of Leadership and Student Involvement, and was the co-director of events on the fundraising team for the University of Southern Mississippi's Dance Marathon. Rebecca has served on the Sexual Assault Prevention Ambassador team as Director of Profit Shares and Lead Facilitator on their Executive Board. Rebecca is also a proud member of Delta Gamma Fraternity where she has served as Director of Social Events, Director of Campus Relations, a Gamma Rho Chi Recruitment Counselor for two years, and as a member of the Collegiate Advisory Board. She was also elected as the Member-At-Large on their nomination and slating committee. Rebecca achieved the Dean’s List and is a member of the Alpha Sigma Iota and Lambda Sigma Honor Society. She was also awarded the Well Aware Award by the Delta Pi chapter of Delta Gamma, an award that exemplifies a woman who takes care of others and goes above and beyond in her membership to invest in others.  

Rebecca will continue her education at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in their College Student Personnel graduate program. She was selected for a graduate assistantship with the Office of Sorority & Fraternity Life where she will advise their Panhellenic Council.

Rebecca shares that her single contribution made towards Southern Miss, lies in the dedication she has given to supporting sexual assault prevention on campus. “I have worked harder this year than I ever have before to support educational programming that connects students with survivor resources across campus and our community. In my tenure as Lead Facilitator of the Sexual Assault Prevention Ambassadors, I have coordinated over 30+ virtual events to Fraternity & Sorority Life leadership, Residence Life, and our student body. My commitment to this mission has shown through Orientation & Transition Programs, University Police Department, Title IX, and the Shafer Center for Crisis Intervention. The singular contribution I have made to this university, is having served our students as an advocate for others. I have promoted inclusive and diverse experiences in the conversation of sexual assault. I have fought for stereotypes to be eliminated so our students can live to their fullest potential. For so long, I felt like my leadership had been overlooked and that I was not making the difference I wanted to on our campus. Serving in this position has left me better than I was found and left our campus safer than we started.”

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.

Raven Day

Hometown: Ruleville, MS
Field of Study: Journalism major with minors in Black studies and sociology

Baileigh Jay

Hometown: Satsuma, AL
Field of Study: Speech pathology major with a minor in psychology

Haeden Overby

Hometown: Oxford, MS
Field of Study: Marketing major with a minor in computer science

Ceana Palacio

Hometown: Gulfport, MS
Field of Study: Ocean engineering major

Jeff Prosperie

Hometown: West Point, NY
Field of Study: Music education major

Desiree Rodriguez

Hometown: Ocean Springs, MS
Field of Study: Marketing major with a minor in graphic design

Will Sutton

Hometown: Monticello, MS
Field of Study: Biology (biomedical emphasis) major with a minor in chemistry

Cassidy Teuscher

Hometown: Trophy Club, TX
Field of Study: Speech pathology and audiology and psychology double major


Most Outstanding Winners

Breanna Masterson

Breanna Masterson is a mathematics major from Petal. She is a Presidential Scholar with a 4.0 G.P.A. and is a member of the Honors College. Breanna is a member of Chi Omega where she has gotten involved as Wellness Chair and serves as a representative for her chapter on the Junior Panhellenic Council. She is a member of the Freshmen Associates branch of the Student Government Association and volunteers with the Petal Speech and Debate program in her spare time. Breanna ultimately desires to achieve her Ph.D. in mathematics. She is the daughter of Doug and Tina Masterson.

Zacchaeus “Zack” Wallace 

“Zack” Wallace

Zack Wallace is a biochemistry and polymer science double major from Jackson.  A Presidential Scholar and member of the Honors College, Zack also carries a 4.0 G.P.A. He is a member of the American Chemical Society, Polymer Science Association and the Student Alumni Association. Zack has also attended the Wesley Foundation and Baptist Student Union events in his freshmen year. He looks forward to completing undergraduate research in his time at Southern Miss and continuing to connect with students and faculty/staff to build lasting relationships. Zack is the son of Kedra Wallace and Zacchaeus C. Wallace.

Phi Kappa Phi Silver Bowl

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.

Landry Smith


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.

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.

Best Citizens Award

Whitley Howell

Whitley Howell hails from Summit, Mississippi and is the daughter of Paige and Debbie Howell. She majored in Interdisciplinary Studies with an Emphasis in Business Administration and Exercise Science. Whitley is a member of the Honors College where she is a presidential scholar and has served as an ambassador on the Leadership Council. She is also a member of the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society, the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society, the Lambda Sigma Honor Society as well as the Black Eyed Susans Leadership Honorary Society, and the Order of Omega Honor Society. 

Whitley has been quite involved during her time on campus as a member of the Student Alumni Association, Student Eagle Club, and a Baseball Diamond Darling for two years. She has helped recruit students by serving as Vice President of Retention and Events for Eagle Connection, being a member of Southern Style, and working as a tour guide for the Office of Admissions. Whitley helped shape students’ first year experience by leading a group for Golden Eagle Welcome Week. She is also a proud member of the Delta Delta Delta Sorority where she served as Activities Chair, New Member Small Group Leader, Bible Study Leader, and held positions on the Conduct Committee, Reference Committee, and 2021 Officer Selection Committee. Through her sorority Whitley served on the College Panhellenic Council Judicial Board. 

During her tenure Whitley has achieved the President’s List every semester. She was named an Honors College 2018-2019 Schillig – Baird Scholarship Endowment Scholar as well as awarded the Fraternity and Sorority Life Scholar Merit Award and the Tri Delta’s Sarah Ida Shaw Award. She received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the Corporation for National and Community Service. This past fall Whitley was voted by her classmates Homecoming Senior Maid. 

Whitley has been accepted into William Carey University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. She states, “Southern Miss has prepared me in numerous ways for my future career. My professors have academically prepared me to excel in my future program. Southern Miss has also prepared me for life through organizations I have been a part of. I have learned communication, leadership, financial, social, philanthropic, and many other skills I will use in my future. I could never repay Southern Miss for all the life lessons I have learned and friendships it has brought.” 

Michael Williams

Michael Williams of Tupelo, Mississippi is the son of Christian Williams and Kevin Williams. He is majoring in Public Relations with a minor in Religion. Michael is a member of the Public Relations Student Society of American and the Order of Omega Honor Society. He is also a scholar in the Luckyday Citizenship Program.

Michael spent time as the Communications Director of the Mississippi American Legion Boys State Staff and served as President of Cru Campus Ministry. Michael has helped recruit and retain students by serving on Eagle Connection, a leader for Golden Eagle Welcome Week, and working as a tour guide and recruitment intern with the Office of Admissions. He is a proud member of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity and has held the leadership positions of risk manager, ability experience (philanthropy) chairman, and chaplain. Through Pi Kappa Phi, Michael served on the Interfraternity Council as Rho Alpha and Vice President of Community Outreach. He saw a need for IFC’s social media so he created and maintained it for two years.

Michael shares, “The most significant opportunity I have had at Southern Miss would be Journey of Hope through my fraternity Pi Kappa Phi and the Ability Experience. On Journey of Hope I cycled 4,000 miles in 50 days from California to D.C. raising funds and awareness for people with disabilities. Along the way my team served over 750 different people with disabilities and disabilities across the country. This experience taught me the importance of putting others joy before myself and putting more effort into others than I put into just myself. It taught me that the greatest joy is to build relationships and to love others through service. It also taught me about perseverance even when it is tough. Two weeks before I left for this trip. my Dad passed away after a 7 year battle with brain cancer. I was devastated and scared to do such a tough trip after this happened but was encouraged by my family about the importance of the service of our trip and was able to persevere physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually through this.”

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.

click here to view student awards 2020

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