MC history professor leaves lasting impact on campus community / Stephen Griffin

In Charleston, S.C., history clings to everything like a wet blanket. Sullivan’s Island in Charleston County is the site of an important Revolutionary War battle, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired, and a place that was considered the “Ellis Island of the South” — where enslaved Africans were quarantined before entering Charleston. It’s also where Otis Westbrook Pickett grew up.

Though he never would have seen himself teaching history growing up, it’s exactly what Pickett has been doing at Mississippi College since 2013. The associate professor of history also directs the university’s social studies education programs. An alumnus of Clemson University (B.A. ‘03), Pickett will return to his alma mater in July 2022, where he will serve as university historian.

Before attending Clemson, Pickett wanted to be like his grandfather, Otis M. Pickett, one of two town physicians in Mount Pleasant, S.C. from the end of WWII through the 1970s and a recipient of the Palmetto Award, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor. 

“He was my hero and my idol, and I wanted to be him,” says Pickett. “And I wanted to go to med school so I could be him. That lasted about a semester!”

Pickett also suffered from early-onset degenerative disc disease, multiple ruptured or herniated discs, and spinal stenosis. 

“My identity growing up was athletics. . .. And then, when I was eighteen, I couldn’t walk, and kind of had this really quick realization, like, ‘I’m going to have to find a career where I use my mind and not my body.’”

Pickett’s time at Clemson was extremely formative. 

“It was very sobering and revealing,” he says. “When you grow up in South Carolina in the 80s and 90s, there was not a lot of history around issues of race, or an interpretation of the Civil War or Reconstruction that represented the perspective of really anything outside of the Lost Cause narrative.” 

Having attended a Catholic high school, Pickett was comfortable talking about his faith before he arrived at Clemson. 

“I got very comfortable from a very young age sharing what happened in my faith journey,” he says. 

It wasn’t too long before Rev. Herman Robinson, an African American Baptist minister (and Pickett’s pastor), encouraged him to pursue pastoral ministry. 

“Herman told me — he called me ‘Wes’ — he said, ‘Wes, I think you’re going to be a pastor, and God’s going to use you in the church.’ 

After graduating from Clemson, Pickett and his wife Julie, whom he had met at the university, set off for Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Mo. 

Pickett often reflects on how his seminary experience shaped him: “I never thought I was qualified enough to be a Ph.D. professor at a university. I never felt like I was intelligent enough or good enough, and so seminary seemed like a really good step, and it was. I loved it.”

Despite the fact that he not only enjoyed seminary but excelled in it, something didn’t feel right for Pickett. Unlike many of his classmates, he wasn’t quite sure what he wanted out of a seminary degree. 

“[Professor] Sean Lucas, at that time, was like ‘Hey, you should think about history grad school.’ And I contacted my advisor from undergraduate and I asked him about that, and he said, ‘I always thought that would be a good fit for you.’ I was like, ‘Why didn’t you say that in undergrad?’”

Pickett had changed course but wouldn’t leave Covenant without an MA (Theological Studies) degree. For his last year in seminary, he focused exclusively on church history and worked as an intern in the archives of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). 

“That’s really where I fell in love with researching history,” he says.

Pickett applied to several programs before the College of Charleston accepted him and offered a full tuition waiver and a graduate assistantship at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture. Formerly the first school for African Americans in Charleston during Reconstruction, the Avery Center had been converted into a museum and archives. 

For Pickett, a native Charlestonian, a chance to work at the Avery Center was a chance to go home and to relearn the history of Charleston and South Carolina. 

“That was a really amazing educational experience. … I took classes in everything from the history of India to Germany, to the U.S. South, to the African American experience, to church history — I mean, Southern religious history, Native American history, and I was just eating it up.”

The Picketts came to Mississippi in 2008, where Pickett would begin Ph.D. studies at the University of Mississippi, working with Dr. Charles Wilson, whom several of Pickett’s former professors had studied under.

“That’s the reason I came to Mississippi, and my thinking was I was going to go right back to South Carolina and work. We ended up falling in love with the state and we ended up falling in love with its people. And I think the state is just such a very special place.”

Upon finishing his Ph.D., the newly minted Dr. Pickett was contacted by Mississippi College. MC needed someone with a very specific set of skills: someone with a Ph.D. in history who had also worked in educational settings and was a Christian. Pickett was asked to apply for the job.

“I didn’t know anything about MC at all when I was applying here. … And so, I started asking around Mississippians like, ‘What is MC like?’ And I kept hearing back: They produce a very high-quality student, a lot of students who want to go to law school, a lot of students who take their studies very seriously, and that faith is a huge part of the university’s mission. And that sounded like a place that Julie and I wanted to be.”

After three separate interviews and teaching a class, Pickett was offered the job and accepted. Pickett describes a picture-perfect “constellation” of things that made living and working in Clinton ideal, not the least of which were teaching and ministering at MC and attending Redeemer Church in Jackson, a multiethnic Presbyterian church where Pickett serves as a ruling elder.

After almost 10 years at Mississippi College, Pickett talks about what has made it a rewarding experience. 

“My favorite thing about MC is that there is a definite family feel here,” he says. “And you don’t typically see professors across disciplines working together a lot. And my favorite things I’ve been able to do here are teach interdisciplinary classes with professors from different departments. …To see how our disciplines can speak to one another, the freedom to do that here has been incredibly encouraging.”

An interdisciplinary approach to race and racial reconciliation have been central to Dr. Pickett’s academic and professional work since well before his arrival at MC. 

“My hope for Mississippi College moving forward is that Mississippi College can be a leader in that conversation,” he says. “I think we were one of the first Christian universities in the south to develop a prison education program that offer[s] credit to incarcerated learners.”

In all his endeavors at MC, from the first-of-its-kind Prison-to-College Pipeline Program to his advisement of social studies education students, Dr. Pickett has sought to leave a legacy of love.

“Just like my grandfather,” he says. “He tried to love and sometimes he failed, but kept trying to love his neighbor.”

The beloved professor has even had the opportunity to help officiate the weddings of former students.

Continuing to reflect on the university’s future, Pickett said, “It’s going to be an interesting time in the 21st century for Christian believers. And I would like to see Mississippi College help prepare Christians to kind of think through that as they enter the workforce.”

In the spring of 2022, Dr. Pickett announced that he would be leaving MC to serve as university historian at Clemson. The opportunity is a long-awaited homecoming for the fourth-generation alumnus. 

“Clemson, to us, is like — it’s home more than any other place in the world. And so, to get the opportunity to go back home is just an absolute dream I never thought would be realized ever.”

As the third university historian, Dr. Pickett is also the first university historian to be an alumnus of the institution. He will be transitioning his role into the university library system, where he will disseminate Clemson history to alumni and students and oversee the university’s historic properties, special collections, and archives. Finally, he will hold a clinical assistant professor position Clemson’s Department of Teaching and Learning.

Pickett will also work with Clemson’s provost and Dr. Rhondda Thomas, a professor of literature, on the Woodland Cemetery project. 

“The big story that has not been told about Clemson is the institution’s connection with the institution of slavery and convict leasing. … A lot of that stuff has not been really dealt with,” he says.

He describes his role as that of a trained historian who also understands Clemson alumni and South Carolinians and can help them process the institution’s history in the same way that he was taught as an undergraduate. 

“To really lovingly walk with people to help them understand is what I want to do.” 

Ultimately, Pickett’s purpose and drive at Clemson is the same as it has been at Mississippi College: “It gets at this question of, ‘What do you really want?’ and ‘What’s the real goal?’ Do you want to just destroy for the sake of destroying, or do you want people to grow? And as a teacher, my goal is to want people to grow.”

MC Athletes Celebrated at Choctaw Sports Night / Caroline Hunt

The Mississippi College Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) hosted a special dinner and presentation for the Choctaw athletic community on Tuesday, April 5th in Anderson Hall. “Most Likely To” accolades and humorous “bests” were awarded to different teams on campus, including categories like “Best Shoe Game” and “Most Likely to be Found in the Caf.” 

The event was unlike previous sports banquets held at the Clinton university. The first-ever “Choctaw Sports Night” was a formal affair, dubbed black-tie optional, allowing a unique opportunity for the entire MC sports family to be together.

Seth Smith, a Jackson native and former MLB outfielder for five teams, including the Orioles and the Rockies, was the keynote speaker. Smith spoke about not getting lost in an athlete’s routine of his or her sport, remarking on the privilege it is to be an athlete. His main emphasis was focused on  translating what an athlete does on a field or court to a life of faith off the field, with Smith noting that what athletes do “isn’t just about sports.” 

Former MLB outfielder Seth Smith was the keynote speaker for the night. Smith has made appearances on professional teams like the San Diego Padres, the Oakland Athletics, and the Seattle Mariners. 

The MC Athletic Department sponsored the event, enlisting the assistance of SAAC’s Vice President Erin Hederman and Mississippi College’s University Events Coordinator Lori Bobo. The formal event encouraged MC athletes to dress up for a night of savory food, amusing team honors, an encouraging word on being an athlete, and, most importantly, fellowship with other student-athletes. 

“Our main goal for the event was to show the athletes of MC that they are acknowledged and to make them feel celebrated. It was really special to be in an environment, a whole atmosphere, where we were all able to come together for this one thing,” said Hederman, who is also a member of the Lady Choctaw soccer team. “We don’t get that many opportunities for stuff like that. Honestly, the best part of the whole experience was seeing everyone truly enjoying being together.” 

In between red-carpet photos of athletes and year-end highlights of the various MC sports represented, members of MC’s athletic community were made to feel welcomed, honored, and recognized for their weighty contribution to the department. 

Without the bodies in the room that night, there wouldn’t be football games to cheer for on Saturday, a team from MC represented in the GSC tennis tournaments, or a cross country or track and field team to travel to meets across the southeastern United States. 

The event, which was slated to happen almost two years ago but was postponed due to COVID-19, proved that however long the wait, it wasn’t in vain. 

The massive function, which had over 400 student-athletes, athletic administrators, and coaches in attendance, took a true team to pull off. With SAAC being the point of contact for university event coordination, the occasion was nothing short of a success. 

“My motto when planning anything is ‘success is in the details.’ Erin was so detail-oriented that my job was significantly easier because of her and her team,” said Bobo, who plans all large gatherings on campus. “I helped plan an entire banquet like this one before COVID[-19] and started planning another one for last year that wasn’t able to happen. With this one, it all came together so seamlessly.”

Notable figures also involved in the event’s coordination included Kenny Bizot, MC’s athletic director, co-sponsors of SAAC Dr. Keith Randazzo, an MC kinesiology professor from New Orleans, and Michael Shumaker, the head coach of strength and conditioning for Choctaw athletes, Blake Weir, the sports information director, and Brian Hanna, the AV Production Manager for Event Services.  

Brian Hanna and Blake Weir ran audio-visual production for the night. Weir’s department created team highlight reels and event graphics for the night featured on the big screens of Anderson Hall. 

Bizot emceed alongside Michael Wright, another familiar face on MC’s campus in the role of Acting Dean of Enrollment Services. The pair flipped between Bizot award-presenting and Wright telling jokes about Bizot’s Louisiana accent, or his “Cajun spice” as Wright noted.

“This was something that gave our athletes a chance to dress up and do something fun that wasn’t going to another practice or having a team meeting. It was also an opportunity for teammates and other athletes outside of everyone’s individual sports to cheer for one another,” Bobo said. “The biggest thing for me when I plan an event is if, as I’m sitting at the event, watching everyone, and taking it all it, the people in attendance are enjoying themselves and they know that the event was for them. That makes every bit of stress worth it.” 

Student-athletes dressed out for the black-tie optional occasion. One attendee remarked how special it was to have an event to “go all out for.” 

The Student-Athlete Advisory Board exists on NCAA campuses nationwide to be a voice for student-athletes. The mission statement of the sub-organization is to “serve as student-athlete liaisons that monitor and discuss happenings on campuses, within conferences, and at the national level,” according to its official website. 

The MC chapter of SAAC has put a new emphasis on growing awareness and campus relevance of the student-run organization this year with fresh leadership like Ava Dickerson as president, Hederman as vice president and event coordinator, and the rest of the SAAC officer body.​​ The SAAC sponsors are Shumaker and Randazzo, MC SAAC hopes to be a true resource and support for Choctaw athletes.

“Our future as an organization is bright. Coach Bizot has done such a good job at promoting us on campus. With his ambition and drive to make our athletics here better, the potential for more events like this one is possible,” said Hederman. “I just really want to thank everyone who was able to make this happen.”

If events like the Choctaw Sports NIght are any indicator of what a positive impact for the organization on MC’s campus looks like, it’s safe to say that SAAC “hit the ball out of the park.” 

Office of Student Success Increases Presence on Campus / Rachel Faulk

Photo: Tina Gustavis is one of the coaches who works with students in the Office of Student Success. The Office of Student Success is now located in the basement of Nelson Hall.

This year, Mississippi College’s Office of Student Success has undergone a process of revitalization designed to help them better serve students on campus and increase students’ awareness of the resources available to them. 

Formerly housed on the third floor of Nelson Hall, the Office of Student Success has recently relocated to the basement of Nelson following the relocation of Admissions to Alumni Hall. The Office of Student Success now shares the former Admissions area with Career Services and other similar departments. This move afforded these departments more space, and their proximity is beneficial as they now work together.

“We all work together as much as we can, we support each other, and we’re all here for the students,” said Student Success Coach Tina Gustavis.

Gustavis works in the Office of Student Success alongside Dr. Stephanie Carmicle, the Assistant Provost for Student Success, and two trained peer coaches. The Student Success coaches work with students who are struggling academically or may need assistance in areas such as note-taking strategies, time management, or working well with peers. The Office of Student Success also partners with a number of other departments on campus including Career Services and the Writing Center in order to connect students with resources to help them succeed academically and holistically.

To further assist students, the Office of Student Success has put on a series of skill-building workshops over the course of the semester. Topics included note-taking strategies, nutrition and learning, stress management and test anxiety, financial decision-making, and journaling for setting goals. 

 Another notable workshop dealt with grief and loss. “During COVID a lot of students have lost family members, they’ve lost friends, neighbors, and they’re just struggling with their academics due to anxiety. So we conducted a presentation on grief counseling, and our counseling services here on campus did an outstanding job with that presentation,” said Gustavis.

Another new development, Gustavis explained, is that the Office of Student Success is working with the MC athletic department to put on workshops for student-athletes to make them more aware of the resources available to them on campus. 

Beyond the skill-building workshops, all students are encouraged to visit the Office of Student Success in the Nelson basement, whether they need academic assistance or simply someone to talk to. “This is not just for certain students at MC; this is for all Mississippi College students,” said Gustavis. 

Student Success has resources and strategies which students can use both inside and outside of the classroom, and they are a great place to go for students wanting to change their major or undecided about their major. 

Even if a student is simply having a bad day and does not feel like going to class, Gustavis said, “You can stop by Student Success and we can talk and just come up with ways that you can feel better about going to class and being on time and dealing with time management and working together with your peers in the dorm. It goes as far as learning how to meet new friends here on campus.”  

Gustavis concluded, “We just want students to know that we are here and the resources are available to them, and we will be excited to see them here.”

The service dog community grows at MC / Chloe Newton

Photo: Chloe Newton Caption: (Left to right) Caroline Tate, Rebecca Pyburn, Sam Glaze, and Damon Purdy have been friends for about a year. Their service dogs, (left to right) Meadow, Beans, and Cooper, have been a major part of their MC journey.

Many of us are familiar with the film Pretty Woman. In this rom-com, Vivian Ward, the star character and prostitute, walks into a high-end clothing store, wearing not-so-high-end clothing. The store clerk immediately refuses to help Vivian. The next day, Vivian returns wearing name-brand attire and is unrecognizable to the store clerk, who lives off of commission. The clerk offers to help Vivian, but she rejects the help and walks out of the store. Moral of the story: Don’t judge others based on appearance. Moms repeatedly remind their children to be nice to everyone and to not stare at people that look different. These are basic manners. Even on a college campus, where students come from all backgrounds and experiences, the same rules apply, especially when it comes to service dog handlers.

Many individuals never know that having a service dog is an option for them; Sam Glaze, a computer science major from Gulfport, Miss., used to be one of those individuals. Glaze is currently in the process of training his service dog Beans, a black mouth cur.

“[The option of having a service dog has] always been there, but no one really knew about it. I wouldn’t have had Beans if I hadn’t met [my friends here] because I wouldn’t even have known it was an option,” said Glaze.

MC is home to two fully trained service dogs and one service dog in training. While the natural inclination is to run to the dog, say hi, and pet him, these actions can be detrimental to the life of the handler. Thus, it is important to know how to treat service dogs.

A service dog is a dog specially trained to aid an individual in situations of high anxiety and in situations where medical attention is needed. Two types of service dogs exist— medical and psychiatric. A medical service dog helps those with physical illness like epilepsy and diabetes to complete daily, mundane tasks. On the other hand, psychiatric service dogs are wired more for the unseen disabilities such as mental illnesses and learning disabilities. 

Retaining a service dog can be a tedious process; it varies from state to state. Some go through an agency, and some train their own dogs. The process consists of an initial application, interviews, home visits, meet-ups, and sometimes fundraising. In order to attend MC, service dog handlers must fill out an application and their case must be legitimized by MC faculty. Once on campus, service dog handlers must live in either East, West, or Quick because of the ventilation systems. However, other than having their dogs, service dog handlers live lives similar to other students on campus.

PC: Rebecca Pyburn, Caption: (Left to right) Beans, Meadow, and Cooper not only enjoy spending time with their owners but also love to have fun together. Together, they have been trained in over 50 tasks.

Rebecca Pyburn, a Christian studies major from Memphis, Tenn., has owned her golden retriever, Meadow, for six years. During her freshman year at MC, Pyburn suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“I couldn’t go to the cafeteria or the Commons. I had panic attacks multiple times a week, sometimes multiple times a day. It was to the point where I couldn’t really be at school without help,” said Pyburn.

At the time, Meadow had been trained for four years by Pyburn to be a therapy dog. Meadow is now functioning as a psychiatric service dog. 

Pyburn said, “There is so much joy in that I can function as a normal human being now … Only the Lord could have made everything work so perfectly to where I was training a dog already.”

Damon Purdy is a business administration major from St. Marys, Ga. He has had his medical service dog, Cooper, for five years. Cooper is trained in 42 different tasks. 

Purdy said, “Specifically for me, it’s for Asperger’s as well as several other complications. At least for [Cooper], he is able to pick up on sensing pheromones that I give off when I am anxious, nervous, or uncomfortable in a situation and be able to end up comforting me in a multitude of ways.”

The main task service dogs are trained for is deep pressure. Deep pressure is the act of the dog laying his head (or his entire body in some circumstances) in the lap of his owner. Caroline Tate explained it as working the same way a weighted blanket works for a person with anxiety.

Tate, a math education major from Dallas, Texas, is close friends with Glaze, Purdy, and Pyburn. Tate has become an expert in service dog etiquette.

Tate was “blissfully unaware of service dog lingo” before meeting Pyburn, Purdy, and Glaze. As she spent more time around her friends, Tate has learned the ins and outs of service dogs and how individuals should treat service dogs. The number one rule, when it comes to approaching service dogs and their handlers, is to ignore the dog completely. 

“The way I have explained it before is if you are a Harry Potter fan, pretend like they have the invisibility cloak over them,” said Tate. 

Another thing to note is that the story behind someone’s service dog might be a touchy subject. It can surface difficult experiences in the life of a service dog handler. 

Glaze said, “For us, [getting a service dog] wasn’t a light decision. It wasn’t a fun decision to make.”

For many people, it is not a choice. Service dogs are their only option to live life in a semi-normal fashion. Dogs are truly amazing creatures that God has created not only for man’s enjoyment but also to help man in daily living. 

The service dog community on MC’s campus is expected to grow in the years to come, and it is vital for students to learn how to treat service dogs and handlers with respect and love.

Criminal Justice Club Returns / Evan Espinoza

Once upon a time, the AJU (Administration of Justice) department at Mississippi College had its own criminal justice club full of eager young men and women looking to stay involved in their field of study and future career path. However, there was a point when the club’s activity began to diminish, and a global pandemic did not necessarily keep the club afloat. This year, the club finally got a much-needed revival, and it has been brought back to life thanks to the help of a few new eager students and professors.

Dr. Godfrey Garner is one of the many people responsible for helping the club get back on its feet and oversees and caters to it from the outlook of a faculty member. “We just got together with the students who want to be involved and had them elect three officers,” said Garner. The club elected students into the office of president (Yanez Newsome), vice president (James Pierce), and secretary/treasurer (Catherine Bell). 

“The club primarily exists as a social club to raise awareness and fundraise, as well as a networking tool,” explained Garner. “The students will put on events like a barbecue and career day, and raise money to go to the Criminal Justice Student Association conference.” 

Garner and Dr. Harry Porter (head of the AJU department) have been integral in helping the students navigate the ins and outs of running the club. Garner hopes that the club can this time sustain itself under the leadership of the new officers and participating members. “At a point the club won’t need me or Dr. Porter to tell them to do this or that,” said Garner. “The members will take most of everything upon themselves and it will be more self-perpetuating.”

Garner’s hope that the members will take on full responsibility of the club might just come true sooner rather than later under Yanez Newsome’s leadership, alongside fellow officers James Pierce and Catherine Bell. All three of them have worked together and with others to make the events happen and create opportunities for the club. 

“Our first big project is setting up the career day, which is on April 22,” commented Pierce on current goals of the club. “We’ve been contacting a bunch of different agencies and had [many confirmations] so we’re excited about that.” 

Currently the club is focusing on growth, and the officers hope to have a majority of students in the AJU department become club members as well. The officers also highlighted the importance of networking within the club and its usefulness for future careers. 

“It’s a great way for our AJU department members to get involved,” said Bell. “They get to learn more about it [the department] and further their careers in the future. Outside members will also get to come to our events and get a feel for what the department is like.” 

The officers and other members of the club are able to benefit greatly from the club’s social aspects by bringing awareness to one of MC’s smaller departments in AJU, as well as use it as a means to establish connections with other students and agencies in the vast world of criminal justice. 

All three officers agreed that one of the best parts of the club was its ability to bring students together. “Connections are very important [within AJU],” said Newsome. “Say myself, James [Pierce], and Catherine [Bell] all go to different agencies. We still have those bonds and relationships to be able to reach out to each other in our future careers.”

More Than Just a Law School: MC Law makes Princeton Review List / Caroline Hunt

The Mississippi College School of Law recently was featured on the Princeton Review’s Best Law Schools List for 2022. The Princeton Review is a college admissions resource for potential law students, helping future lawyers find their perfect fit for post-undergrad since 1981. 

Kristian Gautier is an Assistant Director of Admissions for the Mississippi College School of Law. He spoke in an interview about the law school making an appearance on the Review’s 2022 list.

“This is a mark, a stamp of credibility. It assures our students that they are getting a high-quality education, they will be able to get a job after graduation, and they can pass their bar exam,” said Gautier, who’s also an MC alumnus. 

MC Law is among big names like Yale, Harvard, and Columbia Schools of Law on the list featuring over 160 other law schools in the nation. This accolade means something special to the people of MC Law, especially the admissions office. 

“Here, you will not just be another number. You’re going to be a big fish in a small pond. Our faculty has an open-door policy. They know their students by name. They have a relationship with them,” said Gautier. “An institution, an education, and the quality of it, that’s more than just academia. The culture you’re immersed in, the environment you’re surrounded [by], that’s a major part of a law student’s success.” 

Peyton Pope, a second-year law student at the institution and the MC Law Admissions Student Director of Dean Ambassadors also remarked how this recognition will affect recruiting opportunities for her office.  

“This third-party validation is incredibly valuable for recruiting. At Admissions, we can sit here and say that MC is a great place to study law, but to have something so big and notable as the Princeton Review come out and support what we’ve been saying, really backs up all the claims we’re making,” said Pope.

MC Law was also featured on a top 10 list for the Review for the most conservative students on campus. Mississippi College ranked #9 after law schools like Brigham Young University School of Law and Louisiana State University Law School. 

While some may concede that a largely conservative student population limits the opportunity for inclusivity and diversity, MC staff doesn’t think so. 

“A major part of our law school is promoting a culture of diversity and inclusion. We want our students to know they are getting more than just education here,” said Gautier. “They are, in essence, getting a mindset change and a community with that degree.”

Speaking on the many qualifications MC Law brings to the table, John Pyles, Vice President of the Student Body at the law school, outlined numerous unique features of MC Law. Among those he mentioned were MC Law’s dedication to community service and authentic faculty/staff-student relationships.

“There’s a tangible difference in how they [professors] view people. The faculty really cares. That sense of relationship comes out of the Christian background of MC Law,” Pyles said. “That’s different from a lot of law schools. You won’t feel that same warmth from professors and the administration. This is a culture of caring for others and of love that is rooted in Christ.” 

The main role of Pyles’s student body office is to serve the community and implement opportunities for outreach for students to be of use to the area they may be practicing law in later in their careers.

“In the past year, our law school has partnered with the Jackson Public Schools, and I think we’ve made an impact there. We also collaborate with the Barack Obama Magnet School,” said Pyles, who’s a second-year law student. “Now, every Friday we participate in what is called the Helping Hands Program. We do volunteer work like reading books in classrooms, grounds maintenance, unloading U-Haul palettes full of water, and anything else they need from us.”  

The Jackson Public School partnership with MC Law’s student body garnered an award for itself. The Mississippi Association in Partners of Education (MAPE) announced in early March that the JPS-MC Law relationship was recognized as one of 14 recipients to receive the 2022 Mississippi Governor’s Office Awards for school-community partnerships. 

Factors that influence the Princeton Review’s selection process for the Best Law Schools list include student success after graduating. A strong alumni network and the location of MC Law allow for students to network themselves and set up professional connections early on in their law school careers. 

“Because MC Law is at the heart of Jackson, students get to work a lot with the state legislature, in courtroom settings, etc. Even our adjunct professors at the school are practicing lawyers and judges, actual law professionals in the community,” said Pope.

The downtown Jackson location of Mississippi College Law is integral for their law students to have important employment opportunities and personal networking. 

“We are the only law school located in the capital of Mississippi, which means we are in the legal hub of the state. In a two-square-mile radius, over 48% of the practicing attorneys or people who work in the legal field in Mississippi occupy our surrounding area,” Gautier said. “A lot of our students walk out of the front of our building down the sidewalk to their internships for that afternoon or to the job they work after class.”

While notoriety of the institution, like the Princeton Review list, is warmly welcomed, MC Law isn’t necessarily just after that sort of buzz. On an institutional level, the consensus is not actually about chasing a “legacy of excellence” or striving for awards or accolades. It’s simply doing honest work driven by a passion to serve others through the law. 

“The faculty and staff at MC Law … [encourage] just doing a good job, loving what you do, doing it the right way, and then that legacy of excellence will follow,” said Pope. “Titles and awards are exciting, but their goal is just to do right by the students, make sure they are actually learning and can go out into the world to become good people and, subsequently, good lawyers.”

Having many varying perspectives on the “grayness” of American law, as cited by Pyles as a benefit of diversified teaching staff, has enabled many students to leave with a well-rounded education and a more empathetic view of humanity.

“We have an extraordinary thing here. You wouldn’t think it from a little building in downtown Jackson, Mississippi,” said Pyles.

The diversity in perspective and professional experience of the staff, a rich emphasis on community service, and overall academic success all play a role in the cadence of rhythms that reverberate from a law school in Mississippi to the Princeton Review headquarters in New York City.

“When a law student graduates from Mississippi College School of Law they will know that [their degree] is a significant achievement,” said Gautier. 

Getting ahead of the game with career prep clubs / Chloe Newton

Photo: Chloe Newton, Caption: (From left to right) Justin Fridley, Aaron Blackburn, and Lauren Hill are members of MC’s mock trial team. They all wish to pursue law, and mock trial is a stepping stone to becoming top notch lawyers.

With graduation looming ahead, many seniors are preparing to enter the work fields they have chosen to study during their time at Mississippi College. They are holding onto whatever is left of those transition years between childhood and adulthood. For the rest of the student body, the workforce is close at hand, and it is wise to think about getting a taste of what the workforce will be like while on campus. An abundance of opportunities are available through the various career prep clubs on campus.

Career prep clubs exist for all majors. Students not only have the opportunity to learn more about their future careers but also to gain hands-on experience and to participate in service opportunities. These activities are appealing to employers; therefore, they should appeal to students.

For students interested in law, MC’s mock trial club and team provide experience in preparing a case for trial. Mock trial consists of a club and team. Team members compete in the American National Mock Trial tournament. Club members are not required to compete in the tournament but help with the planning and forming of the final competition product. Students in mock trial focus all of their energy in preparing for the competition. 

At the beginning of the fall semester, mock trial teams all across the country receive an imaginary case to read and dissect. 

“From there, we get the affidavits involved, the interviews of each witness, the indictment of what we are pursuing, and the evidence. Then, throughout the fall, we plan and strategize,” said Justin Fridley, the current president of the mock trial team.

Students of the pre-law variety are encouraged to join but all students are welcome.

For students with the hope of influencing the future generations in education, Kappa Delta Pi (KDP), the international honor society for education majors, benefits its members by providing experiences in local schools. Because it is an honor society, potential members must fill out an application. If accepted, new members must attend a formal induction ceremony during the fall semester. Members are expected to come to informational meetings as well as participate in service projects. For the MC chapter, these service projects engage with the community and schools of Clinton.

Morgan Marullo, a senior elementary education major and an officer of KDP, said, “ I absolutely love being a part of MC’s KDP Chapter; it has ignited and continued my excitement and passion for teaching even more.”

Those interested in joining KDP can attend the informational meetings held at the beginning of the fall semester.

MC’s education and pre-law programs are highly revered on campus, but the most popular degree at MC is by far bio pre-med. The medical and service-based club MEDLIFE offers students the opportunity to practice skills in taking blood pressure, learning CPR, and running medical tests. The MEDLIFE general body meets once a month but three to four events occur each week. These events include skill labs, lectures, volunteer opportunities, and fun nights. In 2020, MC’s chapter won the Best Local Service Award.

MEDLIFE actively volunteers with the 4 C’s garden, Jackson Free Health Clinic, and Mission First Medical and Dental Service; it aims to serve every Saturday. While the club is medical-based, volunteer opportunities take the shape of whatever the organizations need. 

The national chapter of MEDLIFE also offers international service medical trips to Ecuador, Peru, Nicaragua, and Tanzania. Team members meet medical needs through mobile clinics and community needs. Community needs range from building homes to gardening.

The mobile clinic services vary. Diana Florencio, a graduate student from Boston, Mass., and member of the 2021-2022 officer body, said, “When a patient comes in, they figure out what problem they are having and if they need medication. Depending on the mobile clinic, each one has different services.”

MEDLIFE engages with the larger student body by opening up events to non-club members. The club includes undergraduate and graduate students and encourages all students to get involved. Students can email to get involved.

Mock trial, Kappa Delta Pi, and MEDLIFE create meaningful opportunities for students to engage. Not only do career prep clubs broaden the college experience, but they also provide a chance to make connections in the fields they serve. Students benefit greatly from getting involved with career prep clubs, and one never knows how involvement could affect their future.

Student Dining Options Change & Expand / Gracie Lee

Throughout the last few years, MC’s campus dining has changed drastically. Students who were freshmen in 2018 or 2019 have seen the decline of Pimentos and their beloved 1826, as well as the emergence of Einstein’s and Chick-fil-A. As a result, the fast-food scene on campus has transitioned from those MC trademarks to chain restaurants.

         Despite their new surroundings, many students miss their favorite haunts, like 1826. “It may not have been the healthiest, but the food was good,” Todd McInnis, a junior, said. The popular burger joint closed in 2020 and is now only utilized as an event space. Its famous menu items included sliders and quesadillas. It also stayed open in the evening hours, unlike other campus dining options, which allowed students to eat after their labs and night classes. 

         Pimentos, the sandwich shop on Jefferson Street, temporarily closed on Jan. 19 due to COVID infections in their staff. It previously closed for the first time in February of 2021, and again in September, for the same reason. Since then, its doors have remained dark.

         Even so, the arrival of Einstein Bros. Bagels and Chick-fil-A in the fall of 2020 appeased most students. Between the two, students have the option to eat before their morning classes or enjoy dinner with their friends. Einstein’s hours are 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 7:30 a.m to 2:00 p.m. Friday. Chick-fil-A is open from 10:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 10:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Friday. Both restaurants are closed on the weekends, except for Chick-fil-A, which closes early at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. 

Eliza Mims is a student worker at Chick-fil-A.  “It’s nice to get to see all the different students that come by. I love the people I work with too,” she said. “They’re some of the best people I’ve met on campus.”

         Cups, while not directly affiliated with campus, is never empty of students studying, drinking coffee, or meeting with professors. Students who choose not to frequent the ever-booming Commons claim it as their cozy hideaway to get homework done. Its presence has stayed constant throughout campus dining’s transitions with the times. 

After hearing of the city aldermen’s approval of a new Arby’s at 320 Highway 80 East, students have many ideas as to what additional eateries should fill campus’s empty spaces. 

Although Mims loves her job and appreciates its challenges, she doesn’t eat her complimentary employee’s chicken nuggets as often as her peers might. “I wouldn’t mind a spot that serves something other than fried food or bread,” she said. “When you eat chicken every day, four to five days a week, it really starts to feel mundane.” Many other students agreed, wanting healthier fast food, like Tropical Smoothie, Chicken Salad Chick, Subway, or Newks. 

Most students voted that Clinton should soon house a Raising Cane’s. Some may argue that the local area doesn’t need another fried chicken dinner restaurant, but those in favor disagree. “No one wants to go drive to Flowood for Cane’s. I go to Chick-fil-A for the chicken. I go to Cane’s for everything else,” Maria Guay, a sophomore said. “I go for the sauce, the fries, and the toast–everything but the chicken.” 

Whataburger came in second in student support. “We all need a honey butter chicken biscuit in our lives,” Sarabeth Tidwell, a senior, said.

Black History Month Finishes Strong with “Celebrating the Black Legacy” Performance / Gracie Lee

Black History Month concluded on a strong note, with students’ performance of “Celebrating the Black Legacy” on February 24, in Swor Auditorium. It showed glimpses of Black history through the decades, creatively depicted by dancing and narrations. Camryn Johnson, a senior, directed and performed on stage with choreographer Ajah Swanson. Two of MC’s dance teams, Monarch and Praise, joined them. Among the cast were dancers, Nia Harvin, Nia McKnight, Britney Young, Mahala Berry, Makhali Berry, Alexandra Daigle, Miracle Keys, Ezra McCaw, Allie Satcher, and Ellie Satcher.

Johnson was first inspired to produce the show after watching Swerve the previous years. 

“We should do that for Black History month, and I think it can be done,” she said. She put her experience performing at her church to use when preparing for opening night. “I’m excited for the audience to see a glimpse of Black history and see all the work we have put together for this show,” she said.

Senior Aaliyah Newsome and Junior Braxton Lewis were excited to showcase their hard work in front of any audience. “I’m ready to get on the stage and I’m everybody to see what’s happening and just see how time has progressed,” Newsome said. 

The addition of negro spirituals and a recording of Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?” enhanced the flavor of the of the production. “ The process has been very fun and also very tiring, but it’s going to all be worth it, once it gets put together,” Lewis said. “I’m most excited about the music.” 

The news from Ukraine does affect MC students / Chloe Newton

The “MC Bubble” can create a blinder to what is happening in the world beyond campus and the Clinton community. Homework, tests, extracurriculars, and weekend plans send students involuntarily down the rabbit hole of total Mississippi College immersion. For any college student, either at MC or at another university, it is easy to be roped into one’s immediate surroundings. Yet, some things call for students to look up for a second and to be aware of what is happening in the lives of individuals beyond campus, beyond Mississippi, and even beyond the United States.

Approximately 5,800 miles from campus, Ukrainian citizens have watched their lives and their country change because of the arrival of Russian troops on the eastern border. The slow rise of tension between Russia and Ukraine has been building for years, but most recently, Russia is threatened by Ukraine’s functioning democracy and possible admission into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). 

PC:; Caption: Russian troops surrounded the country of Ukraine and threatened to invade her at a moment’s notice. Countries of NATO are attempting to prevent this attack.

Dr. Antizzo, associate professor of history and political science, said, “It’s our policy that when communists are trying to topple a friendly democratic government, we will be there to help.”

While this issue is far away geographically, students from MC have been affected by this development. MC serves as a temporary home to several international students, four of whom are Ukrainian.

Volodymyr “Vova” Lushnikov, a sophomore interior design student, started studying at MC in the fall of 2020. Lushnikov came to MC with the intention to play on the university’s ping pong team. Though the program was cut, his scholarship was honored, and he continued to study with the university. Lushnikov’s hometown is the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv; his family still lives there today. Unlike many families, the Lushnikov family is not scared of Russia and her threats. Since 2011, Lushnikov and his parents have kept well-informed about government and politics. Lushnikov places trust in NATO and the United States to protect the country of Ukraine.

“I’m not scared [of Russia]. People can solve problems by diplomatic solutions. I’m sad though because there is no point in making a war between Russia and Ukraine. It’s crazy,” said Lushnikov.

PC: Chloe Newton; Caption: Vova Lushnikov, a sophomore from Kyiv, Ukraine, is not scared of the threats from Russia. He sees no benefit for Russia to make war with Ukraine and ultimately, the world.

Why does this issue that is taking place mainly on another continent matter to Americans, much less MC students? Dr. Antizzo puts it well.

He said, “We’ve always considered ourselves the champions of democracy. Are you willing to stand by while democracy is crushed and the world looks on?”

The United States is the most powerful nation in the world. Whether one believes it or not, the U.S. is also the freest nation. Because of America’s history with her assistance in the first and second World Wars, all other countries are looking to see what actions the U.S. will take in light of Russia’s provoking movement on the eastern border of Ukraine. 

“The burden of being the world’s policeman is a heavy load psychologically, militarily, and financially on the United States. If the United States gives up its role as a world leader, then somebody is going to step up and take it,” said Antizzo. 

The next two options to fill in the position of “world leader” would be Russia and China, both communist countries.

Zooming in closer to how this situation affects MC students, the application is a little more broad. The first application is most obviously prayer. Praying for protection and for the wisdom of leaders of NATO are among the best ways to pray. God has providentially brought this body of students together. The body is composed of students from all over the United States and from several other countries. Each individual possesses a unique story and life lessons. For international students, the culture they were brought up in is completely different from those raised in the U.S. These are stories to be shared if only someone was curious enough to ask. 

Mark 12:31 says, “The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

God calls the believers on this campus to look outside of themselves and to love those around them. By asking international students more about themselves, not only can believers learn about them as individuals but also learn about their countries, who need the gospel of Jesus Christ just as much as Americans do.