Britt Dickens knows education. Dickens is an associate professor here at Mississippi College with 38 years of experience in the field. He has held the positions of a teacher, administrator, consultant, and professor. In regards to Mississippi’s rank in education, MC’s rank among colleges and universities, and the United States’ rank among nations, Dickens said, “I’m not sure where the actual rank of the school stands. For what it’s worth, I do know that U.S. News and World Report lists MC among ‘America’s Best Colleges,’ and it is listed among the Barron’s 300 best buys in addition to the New York Times Best Buys in College, and the Templeton Foundation.”
Despite Mississippi’s current national ranking of 52nd in education in the K-12 area, Mississippi College is among the best colleges in the southern region. It ranks 29th, to be exact.
Dickens said, “I think Mississippi College has a deservedly high regard in the college community. What it does, it seems to do well. I believe we do a good job of preparing our students. We are far from perfect, and we have our shortcomings like everyone else; however, MC has a dedicated, experienced faculty that tries to balance the education of the students with the classroom and practical experience.”
A number of MC graduate students that are currently enrolled in the education concentration have insisted that they chose Mississippi College because it had a great program and much to offer. They say the work is sometimes overwhelming, yet beneficial to growing an individual’s employability outcome.
As for rankings among nations, the country varies in many areas. According to the Institute of Education Sciences, The United States ranked 9th among 42 nations in mathematics and science and 6th among 45 nations in reading. When investigated by Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2012, the United States among 34 OECD countries ranked 27th in mathematics and 17th in reading. Based on these facts, the United States education system will obtain more effective adult outcomes than any other nation within 30 nations as is cited by the Organization for Cooperation.
James Osborne- News Editor When Debbie Norris was about to graduate from Mississippi College in 1979, one of her favorite business professors asked her the normal question, “What do you want to do after you graduate?” Norris replied, “I really think I’d like to come back and teach here.” She loved the business classes and thoroughly enjoyed her time as an MC student. She was also impressed with the care and attention of the faculty. Her teacher called her years later to tell her she was retiring and her position would soon be open at MC. Norris had just received her master’s degree from MS State and she took the teaching position in the school of business in 1984 at age 26 with the understanding that she would still have to pursue her doctorate, which she did. Norris has worked at MC ever since and is proud of the institution she works for. Today, Norris still teaches Business Communications both on campus and online, but also holds many other titles and is on several committees. She is the vice president for planning and assessment and the graduate dean, the title nine director for the school, and the SACS liaison where she works with regional accreditors to make sure that MC meets all guidelines set before it. She is the chair of the Graduate Council, Marketing Committee, Title IX Grievance Committee, Sexual Assault Awareness Committee, and the Strategic Planning Steering Committee. Norris is also a member of the Academic Council, Teacher Education Professional Advisory Committee, Dean’s Council, President’s Council, Enrollment Appeals Committee, Admissions Committee, and the Assessment Committee. Norris has much to keep her busy and said, “You don’t want to sit still on 11 different committees.” Norris said that what keeps her the busiest at MC is strategic planning. “Each unit has their own goals that they set,” she said. “If they aren’t achieving those goals then they plan changes so that it does work.” Norris’ favorite work though, is teaching. “As a teacher you are forced to learn and know the new things that your students need to know and some things that you as a teacher should already know.” She said it is a good way for her to stay connected to what is going on in her field. “Every day is different, and every student is different,” said Norris. “I enjoy seeing a student who really wants to accomplish something. Not all students want that, but many students really care about what they are learning, and I enjoy seeing that happen.” “Dr. Norris is one of the best professors I have had,” said Daniel Lang. “She not only taught the material in Business Communications well, but she prepared me for real life situations, such as interviews and how to construct a proper resume.” Jessa MacCallum, a senior business finance major, said of the Business Communications class, “It was probably the most practical class I took in the business school.” MacCallum said that she was able to use the resume and cover letter she produced in Business Communications to apply for her first job. “We also learned to write thank you notes after interviews,” said MacCallum, “and just all the practicals that you usually aren’t taught.” “When you show your students the long term benefits of something, then they become motivated on their own,” said Norris. “It’s not necessarily about a grade, it is about thinking what will I be able to do ultimately after taking this class?” Norris also said that she believes positive reinforcement works better than negative reinforcement in the classroom. “I also think it is important to know the students, know their names, and know if they are coming and participating in class,” said Norris. She said that she is not okay with many absences or with students not participating. “Life is really not like that. No matter how good you are, if you don’t show up and participate, no one will know how good you are.” Another strategy she uses to motivate her students is that she brings an alumni in the class who has taken Business Communications before, so that they can tell the group how the class helped them out. Norris loves to travel and has checked off all of the major locations on her bucket list. She said she loves seeing things in person that many people only get to see or read about in books or on TV. She has traveled much of Europe including Sweden, the U.K., Ireland, Paris, Normandy, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Greece, and Cypress. She has also travelled to Mexico, Brazil, and Australia. London is her favorite city, which holds her favorite church (besides the one she attends here in Mississippi), All Souls church. Norris has also frequently gone on the MC spring break trip with students. She also loves golf and many of her vacations involve golf. In fact, Norris has been an avid golfer for 28 years. She and her husband Brian regularly play in tournaments and they live at a golf course. Her favorite all-time golfer is Payne Stewart, and her favorite current golfer is Bubba Watson. “It is a very social game,” said Norris, “more so than something like tennis.” Norris said that business and golf go hand-in-hand because business deals are often made on the golf course, especially with women. She recently spoke to MC’s Women of Business about the subject of business women and golf. Norris said that she has always loved business and it has come easy for her. “Whatever comes easy for you, that is probably your gift,” she said. She also believes that every single person should have at least a basic understanding of investing. Her advice to students who are about to graduate and seek a job or start a career is this: “Choose a place where you believe in the mission statement.” She reminds students that work is much more than just how much someone gets paid. “Always seek to make yourself more valuable to your employer,” said Norris. “Choosing the place you work is important. I’m proud of where I work.”
Clinton, Miss., is a good place to get an education. Not only is it home to Mississippi College, the state’s oldest university which is consistently ranked on ‘Best College Buys’ lists, but the Clinton Public School District has also been recently ranked as the No. 1 district academically in the state. All but one school in the district received A ratings, making it the only A district in the state based on this year’s test scores. Other schools were given a waiver to keep the A if their scores dropped due to the introduction of Common Core curriculum, but CPSD’s scores met the benchmark without the waiver. Based on a state-wide scoring system, all but one of the schools in the Clinton District are A-rated schools, and the one B-rated school was only seven points shy of an A.
These test scores and high ratings benefit Clinton’s children and the community as a whole, but they are also closely related to Mississippi College. Tim Martin, Assistant Superintendent of CPSD, says, “A major part of our success as a school district is attributed to our partnership with MC.” Each year approximately 125 students from the MC Department of Teacher Education are placed to observe, assist, and student teach in Clinton schools. These placements give principals and administrators an opportunity to get to know individuals over several weeks, which, according to Martin, enables them to hire some of the best MC graduates.
Many CPSD employees continue their own education at Mississippi College, taking advantage of the master’s and doctoral programs. Martin says that having MC nearby makes it more convenient for teachers to take night and summer classes, and better educated teachers create better schools. Mississippi College’s teacher education faculty also includes individuals who were formerly involved with CPSD. Department Chair Dr. Cindy Melton, an MC alumnus, was a teacher in Clinton schools before continuing her career at MC, and assistant professor Tommye Henderson was superintendent of the Clinton Public School District before joining MC’s faculty. Additionally, partnership with Mississippi College gives CPSD access to professional development programs to better educate their teachers. Melton says that almost 2/3 of the educators in the district have earned a degree from MC, and many have been involved as adjunct teachers in the department.
Lastly, many students who attend and graduate from Clinton schools choose to enroll at MC. Those students have benefited from the work of MC alumni and have been poured into by the staff at CPSD, and they bring the knowledge they’ve gained back into the MC community. As Martin pointed out, this is especially significant when a Clinton graduate attends MC, majors in education, and finds himself or herself student teaching and eventually employed by the schools they once attended.
Mississippi College is involved in the community in many ways, and its partnership with Clinton schools is definitely a significant connection. Melton concludes that, “We recognize that CPSD is doing an excellent job of educating our K through 12 students, and they are also providing our teacher candidates with some of the best hands-on training in the country. We are proud that so many of the outstanding teachers that contribute to the success of CPSD were once our MC students!”
Students at Mississippi College will now have the opportunity to support the school and prepare for a career in sports media in the form of a new extracurricular activity known as the Sports Media Team. Students involved in the team will have the opportunity to attend and perform media functions for MC athletics both on, and in some cases, off, campus. The team currently has a total of twenty members. Even though there are no more positions available on the team at this time, there will be future interest meetings when more students will be invited to join. The group is currently meeting on Tuesday nights at 6 p.m. in Aven Hall. They sit in with the Sports Media Practicum class because the content relates to both groups.
Members of this team put in more work than one might think. At many of the athletic events they arrive two hours early and do not leave until long after the game has ended and the fans have left the stadium. Reid Vance, an instructor in the communication department, is in charge of the team. “It’s a full day’s work,” said Vance. During the games, each person has a specific task for which he or she is responsible.
Students do have some choice in the matters concerning which jobs they would like to work in. Earlier in the semester, each student was given the opportunity to state what he or she would like to do on the team. Students are trained extensively in one particular area so they can excel in that particular aspect of sports media. Vance said, “Each student concentrates on one job while they are learning until they get comfortable. Then, if needed they can be moved to different jobs.”
During the games, four students are each assigned to a camera, and an additional student is left in charge of the video board. Hidden in the dome, there are three more students and each one is responsible for graphics, controlling camera displays, and instant replays. The team is also responsible for streaming online when ESPN is not streaming. The on-field camera and crew also conduct post-game interviews. The team handles all of the social media associated with the team such as the press box and tweeting. Members of the team who are assigned to cover the away games are in charge of operating the cameras, conducting interviews, and aiding in radio broadcast much like they would do at home games.
The benefits of this team are far-reaching. Students gain real-world experience with the sports industry that they would not have had otherwise. Vance said, “The skills they are learning are transferrable and can be used for future resumes.”
Many students are already reaping the benefits of this great program even though there is currently no credit or pay promised to the students who are involved. Vance said, “ We are working toward in the future getting these students credit or a small amount of pay.” Andy O’Brien, a sports communication major, said, “It is a great way to get involved in Choctaw athletics. I highly recommend it to anyone, if they are preparing for a career in sports or are simply just a curious fan who is wants to know what takes place behind the scenes.”
Students who have walked through downtown Clinton lately may have encountered the aroma of freshly-baked cookies and cupcakes. Walking along downtown Clinton, it is easy to spot a small and quaint blue and white house across the street from the police station.
This bright blue house was originally built in 1872 but above the front porch is a brand new sign that reads “Meme’s Bakery.”
Meme’s Bakery is the newest addition to Olde Towne Clinton. The front porch and home-like atmosphere invites customers in, and the smell of cookies and the laughter of a small line at the counter encourages them to step inside.
“The fun homey environment reminds me of what a small town cute bakery should be. Everyone is always so nice and welcoming that I believe they are going to build up a strong clientele,” said Ashley Dillard, a senior Public Relations student.
The owner of Meme’s Bakery is Theresa Smith—a “meme” to six grandchildren. The biggest sellers at Meme’s bakery are the brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and petit fours. They also have cupcakes, cake cups, cake pops, sugar cookies, iced sugar cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, peanut butter cookies, and more.
The bakery also has gluten-free coconut macaroon cookies and will possibly include more gluten-free options soon.
Meme’s Bakery also does cakes, and Smith looks forward to making birthday cakes and cakes for parties for the community and for MC’s clubs, tribes, and other groups. The bakery aslo has free Wi-Fi and a deck behind the house where students can study.
Business has been greater than Smith expected for Meme’s ever since opening day on Mar. 8.
“It’s been unbelievable. Just more than I’ve expected,” said Smith. “The response from the college and the community has been unbelievable.”
Smith runs the store with help from her husband and some part time help. Smith said that her main goal for the business right now is being able to keep enough in stock because the bakery has been sold out of its treats on most days during her first couple weeks of being open.
Tara Lytle, director of the Main Street Economic Development, said, “When people started telling us what they wanted added to downtown that was the number one thing—a bakery. We had requests for a bakery even before restaurants.
“We are beyond thrilled to have a bakery downtown. And then to have a good one, and what they have done inside, it’s precious inside. I think she is going to do great.”
Theresa Smith is living her dream. She has worked as a financial and pastoral secretary at Parkway Baptist church for almost 11 years and often decorated cakes for friends and family for over 30 years. She quit her secretary work in December to be able to bake full time and get everything ready for the store to open.
“I always dreamed of having my own shop. I wanted a place where mothers could come and buy a cake with matching plates. All those years it just wasn’t feasible,” said Smith. Then recently the plans for Smith’s bakery started falling in place.
Her dream started coming together last year when a friend had suggested she start selling her cupcakes in downtown Clinton. She did not think it was possible, but the more she thought about it and the more she looked around the area, the more excited she became about the possibilities.
“It seemed like the timing was better. God opened some doors and He closed some doors. I’m glad he closed the doors He did. I was looking at this location for a long time, and I thought this would be so neat as a bake shop, but I didn’t think it was possible,” Smith said.
“There are not many places to choose from in the area, but I knew I wanted it in Olde Towne.” Smith and her husband eventually met with the owner and discussed plans. They saw there was a lot of work to do with renovations since it had been vacant for many years.
“It was a long process,” said Smith. “It was a lot of work. It took a lot to make the place look the way it does. The walls had to be repaired and everything painted. It was a lot of work, and we did it all ourselves. We finally said that we are opening Mar. 8no matter what. And we did. I could have prepared more probably but I wasn’t sure what to expect.”
Smith’s daughter-in-law is an interior designer and an MC graduate who designed the interior of the bakery.
“It looks great. Just the way I wanted,” said Smith.
Smith said that her favorite thing so far about the bakery is the response from the community.
“The people. The response. I still get teary eyed thinking about it, but the response has been great. The first day I had to stay in the back, and I didn’t like being away from everyone.
“But seeing everyone coming inside and enjoying themselves, kids sitting at the little table, and students sitting with their laptops studying, that has been my biggest joy out of all of it.”
Meme’s Bakery is open Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Less than a year ago, I was told, “You’re in college; act like it,” and since, I have entered into the most confusing stage of my life. And I will tell you why: because college is awkward.
There are so many reasons I could list to you why I believe this, reasons like how we never see babies or old people and therefore get stuck in a summer camp mentality of entitlement, also called “the bubble;” dusty coffee shops become so elevated in our “studious” world that they are, indeed, glorified without reason and rarely utilized for studying, only socializing; oh, and Netflix. But these are not the main reasons I bring to you today. Today, I want to address transition and independence.
College is transitional. We are moving at a fast pace through drastically different “phases,” or semesters. As a freshman, I was a new kid and had just gotten my bearings in the spring when I jumped into sophomore year. Sophomore year, I was “it.”
I knew the school, knew the people, and my friends and I owned our table in the caf. I was somebody. Now I am a junior, and I just feel really awkward all the time. My 12-count friend group has fizzled, so sometimes I sit alone in the caf.
I walk to Cups for, of course, socializing, and do not recognize a single person. Walking to class, I furrow my eyebrows and feel somewhat homeless. Of course, I am being slightly dramatic; I have friends and a boyfriend and am involved in activities, but I want to communicate that there has been drastic change.
And it is not necessarily external change, like friend shifts, class workload, etc. I want you to understand the drastic internal changes of a college student. My perception of the world around me during my freshmen year was a grain of sand compared to the brick it is now.
Petty things held high value in my mind as I scurried eagerly, like the squirrels that dart across our paths every day. Sophomore year, I was prideful. Like the sewage cat that bravely emerges in broad daylight, I strutted around this campus and waved to everyone whose names I had heard of.
But then junior year hit me. Actually, remember the brick I mentioned earlier? I think that is what hit me. What I thought was real life was not real life anymore. What I had thought independence was (the ability to make my own decisions to like, go to Wafflehouse or not,) was not really independence.
And I was forced to look at the menacing reality that success in life is not easy and involves hard work. It is like a garden. Without kneeling on the ground and getting dirt in your nails, not much beauty is going to appear. (I tried to come up with a campus animal to use as an analogy but it is not happening.)
Our generation is being convinced that it is okay not to have things figured out, so that we are blindsided into a sandbox mentality that keeps us busy with fun things while the weeds of the real world are growing up around us. I advise you to use your short time here wisely. Have fun, but grow up and learn what real independence is. Get your hands dirty. Step out of the sandbox dream every once in a while and do some gardening.
The idea is simple. You make a profile, which includes a picture of yourself and a 500 word bio. After that, users simply scroll through picture after picture of men or women, clicking an ‘X’ to ignore or a heart for “I’m interested.” When two people are both interested in each other, they are notified by a ‘match.’
The Tinder app has become widely used on campus, creating a sort of secret world where Mississippi College users can interact with those they may not necessarily talk to in person.
Basically, Tinder focuses on looks. With compatibility based on nothing more than someone’s appearance, the app may seem shallow. Many students use it as a quick ego boost, seeing how many matches they can get.
“All Tinder does is feed that caveman part of a male brain,” said David Wygant in an article for the Huffington Post. “I felt like I was looking through some kind of weird catalogue. I didn’t have to say or do anything, except hit X or heart to say whether I was interested.”
Because the app is based on how attractive users find each other, Tinder is often known for being used primarily for “hook-ups.” However, many students say it is possible to have a real relationship come out of the matchmaking app.
“It saves you from having to wonder whether someone is interested in you,” said one MC student who chose to remain anonymous. “You can message someone that you know for sure is attracted to you, and that saves you from unnecessary rejection.”
The app was apparently widely used during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, allowing athletes, coaches, and spectators to meet up between competitions.
One aspect of Tinder that makes it more useful, or more dangerous, depending on the individual, is that it can display the usernames of individuals within a certain proximity, making it easier for couples to take the match to the next level.
However, Tinder is also known to have negative effects on those using it. Being judged based on looks or not receiving enough matches can leave some people feeling unattractive or rejected.
“I think it’s stupid that it only deals with how hot you think someone is,” said another MC student. “Some people may find a boyfriend or girlfriend from it, but it is ultimately a hook-up site. Not to mention that it degrades those who use it.”
“After 48 hours I felt a little uglier as a person,” said Wygant after using the app. “In fact, if I wasn’t as secure as a person, or I had any issues with looks or social anxiety, 48 hours on Tinder would send me over the edge.
“You put a picture of yourself up, and after 48 hours, nobody finds you attractive. You’ve lost all your looks. You no longer have it. The world decided you’re ugly.”
Some students are choosing to go beyond just chatting and are meeting up with their matches in person, a decision that can lead to serious consequences. Some female students at nearby universities have been drugged and raped from meeting their matches alone.
Despite the possible dangers and the negative connotation associated with Tinder, students at MC continue to make profiles and thumb through the list of possible “soul mates.”
Most users know what they are getting themselves into when making a profile, treating Tinder as a game. However, when using any matchmaking site or app, students are advised to keep their guards up and their expectations low.
Christians United for Israel ended the school year with a bang, or rather “a fire hose” in the words of Pastor Lyndon Allen, the special guest speaker at “A Night to Honor Israel.”
After live music and dinner, Pastor Allen stirred the audience to attention with clear, powerful tones blown from a shofar. This is an instrument predominantly from ancient Israel made from the curled horn of a ram. He explained that the blowing of this horn represented God’s powerful presence in this place.
Overall the presentation could have been perceived in two lights: either stirring passion towards supporting the cause or uncomfortably turned off by the seemingly radical statements made.
One bold student chose to share her comments regarding the latter attitude. Sara Johnson, a junior Christian Studies student said, “It was nice. It was very fancy. It was offsetting. I did not agree with a lot of it.”
Sarah noted that this was mainly due to Pastor Allen’s mention of issues regarding politics, prolife, gay marriage, and legalization of marijuana. To her, the way he spoke about these things was “very black and white, not very loving, not a lot of grace.”
Despite the speaker’s material consisting of humble personal history and evident displays of affection for his wife and children, the bits concerning the real issues seemed to spread as yeast to bread.
The foundations of the speaker’s arguments were firm, and yet the branches seemed to extend too far. Johnson stated, “I am not anti-Israel; I just have some different views on it. He focused on petty issues. I understand it and I am pro-Israel, but I am pro-everyone else as well. It is not that big of a deal. We should not get caught up in little issues.” Some students viewed the material in a very different light.
Andrew Petersen History major with a Biology minor agreed that the speaker was fairly extreme, but he did present factual information.
“When the majority of people agree with each other there is no sense of urgency. That is the issue CUFI and Students for Life are running into. Conflict breeds passion. If people were more aware of how dire the situation is in Israel, then they would know that neutrality is not an option. You have to pick a side. Are you going to support Israel, or are you going to support the Palestinians? It is easy to side with Israel. They were there first. The Jews do have a claim on the holy land.”
Some students noted that Israel is not blameless as far as violence goes in reference to the Mossad. A junior crime and justice major who wished to remain anonymous said about CUFI, “They too blindly support everything Israel does.”
Petersen supports a rounded view of the country, “You can fairly say that Israel can be brutal at times. But Israel cannot afford the luxury of playing nicely. They literally are about the size of Rhode Island. A single nuclear weapon could potentially wipe out an entire nation. Almost every nation that surrounds them has sworn to destroy them.” Living in peaceful times inhibits Americans from seeing things from Israel’s perspective.
Petersen said, “I am not very fond of people from afar who question the decisions of people whose lives are on the line. We are surrounded by the peace loving Canada and Mexico. We have not had people invade our lands since 1812. They have rockets launched into their land every single day.”
Overall, it is safe to say that this “Night to Honor Israel” was a well- articulated summary of what CUFI stands for. However, it was very passionate with potential to scare people off. In Petersen’s words, “It was certainly memorable, whatever you think of that…”
Senior, Accounting Major Sylvain Alacron felt differently about the Night to Honor Israel than some of the other opinionated students. “Whether it was spiritual or not, you felt moved by it; you felt stirred.”
“As far as political things go, Christians like to stay in their own little bubble and hide away from society where they are not influencing anybody. We cannot do anything about it if we do not get involved. That mentality is weak and it is a cop-out and it is lame. We have lost that sense of honor of the ones who came before us,” Alacron added.