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Student Success

First Year Navigators

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Connections. Support. Encouragement.

Our First Year Navigators program is a mentoring program for incoming first-year students. Navigators are academically focused student leaders across campus who work with a group of students throughout their first year at Southern Miss. These mentors offer students who opt in to the program a connection to campus, campus resources, support, and encouragement throughout their transition to college.

If you would like to be connected to a First Year Navigator during the 2023-24 academic year, please complete the short interest form.

Connect to a Navigator

Our 2023-24 First Year Navigator Team!


Gavin Blackshear

Major: Exercise Science

Gavin wanted to be a Navigator because it will be a great opportunity to show someone who is a first generation or first year student what being in college is all about. I would like to also show them everything USM has to offer so that they’re next four years will be the best school years of their life.

His best piece of advice is to utilize all the resources this university offers you. You will not regret. Also, get involved with some organizations and join some activities. 


Trey Brower

Major: Forensics (Chem/BioChem) and a French Minor

Trey wanted to become a Navigator because he wanted to ease the stress that many first-year students face of starting from scratch and not knowing where to go and serve as a support to those students.

His best piece of advice is to let loose. College is stressful, but worrying about every little detail can mentally and physically strain your body. Take some time and be with friends, go to campus events, and use the free resources.


Gabrielle Collier

Major: Nursing with Sociology Minor

Gabrielle wanted to become a Navigator because she wants to make a difference and impact the campus. During her freshman year, she was mentored and those people were very influential and critical to her college career. She would love to help a first-year student in the same way.

Her best advice is to seek out community. It is important to find a group of people that make campus feel like a home away from home. Finding your people helps.


Ainsley Craven

Major: Forensics (Chem/Biochem)

Ainsley wanted to be a Navigator because having someone there to help you along the way makes things much easier.

Her best advice is to get involved in a club or two on campus and get to know all the resources on campus.


Summer Dillon

Major: Political Science and Legal Studies (Pre-Law)

Summer wanted to be a Navigator to gain new relationships with students and help them have a great college experience. 

Her best advice is to have fun. The first year is when you make the most meaningful connections, so go to events, meet people, and network. Going along with that, creating a schedule is key in making college work. You can balance fun and work easier when you can see it in front of you every day.


Katelynn Frazier

Major: Marine Biology

Katelynn wanted to be a Navigator because her experience with her Navigator last year. She wants to help first-year students adjust to campus life both academically and socially. Being an out-of-state student was a huge adjustment along with being away from home, so she wants to help others not feel alone.

Her best advice is to use the resources that USM has to offer. USM has so many different on campus centers that all have to goal of helping students succeed, both academically and emotionally, so take advantage of all the help you can get. 


Lundon Hidalgo

Major: Marketing with a Film Minor

Lundon wanted to be a Navigator because of his ability to relate to many incoming students. He is a first-generation college student from an immigrant family and also comes from out-of-state and didn't know anyone. Because of his ability to connect to people, he was able to find his place on campus.

His best advice is to be open-minded and try everything the campus has to offer. Connect through different organizations like hobby-based orgs, Fraternity and Sorority Life, and even spiritual or faith-based orgs all over campus.


Madisyn Killough

Major: Elementary Education

Madisyn wanted to become a Navigator because she wants her students to know they are important, intelligent, and worth celebrating. She wants to provide support to first-year students that she wished she had during her first year.

Her best advice is to prioritize yourself. Make therapy appointments, work in exercise, and reach out to your friends. Academics are extremely important, but you must prioritize your wellbeing and be kind to yourself when you make mistakes.


Maddie Miller

Major: Computer Science and Mathematics

Maddie wanted to become a Navigator because one of their main goals in life is to help people. Even with supporting programming, she had a tough time her first-year and wants to support others through that time.

Their best advice is to get involved with something, whether it is a club or a positive workplace, being involved with other students can help you overcome adversity during that first semester.


Keyara Mitchell

Major: Nursing

Keyara wanted to be a Navigator because she wanted to gain some leadership and mentoring experience.

Her best advice is to make a schedule and follow it. It’s important for your mental health to make time for yourself and to make friends. It also important to know when you should stay inside and study. There will always be another social event. Have a balance.



Kay Nathaniel

Major: Biomedical Sciences and a Chemistry Minor.

Kay wanted to be a Navigator because she finds joy in helping students find themselves on campus and in the classroom. USM has so much to offer and first-year students have a hard time immersing themselves in campus life and balancing their schedule.

Her best advice is to go to campus events, even if you don't know anyone. Upperclassmen have been in your shoes before and they know what it takes to get where you want to be. They want to help you get there. 


Hope Pierce

Major: Biomedical Science with Minors in Chemistry and Sociology

Hope wanted to become a Navigator because of her previous experiences mentoring students. She enjoys being able to help first-year students.

Her best advice is to make good use of the time you spend on campus during the first-year. There is a lot to offer in terms of engagement and all her friends made during the first-year are still her friends today.


William Sutton

Major: Biomedical Science with a Chemistry Minor

William wanted to be a Navigator for the opportunity to share all that he has learned while being a student at USM. Because of all the wonderful mentors he was able to find his way through college and he wants to do the same for others.

His best advice is to never be afraid to ask for help. USM has so resources so take advantage of them. Whether it is Student Counseling Services, tutoring centers, Speaking Center, or Writing Center, they are all here to help you in your classes.




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