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.” 

Swerve 2022 raises money for MC Dance Marathon / Caroline Hunt

The annual Swerve Dance Competition was held in Swor Auditorium on Thursday, March 10, featuring student dance groups that dazzled the packed theater. Three groups were awarded laurels at the end of the night, and the top competitor took home prize money that went toward the group’s charity of choice. 

The prize money was raised from Swerve ticket sales with the earnings going to MC Dance Marathon, independent dance crew New Kids on the Block’s philanthropy. MC Dance Marathon, not unlike what the university does with the Swerve competition, raises money to benefit the patients and families of Children’s of Mississippi Hospital each year. 

The winners of this year’s competition included the independent dance group New Kids on the Block as “Harry Potter” in first place, independent group What If’s as “Energy!” in second place, and Laguna Social Tribe as “Star Wars” in third place. 

“Most of our competitors are tribes and clubs which are service-oriented organizations. So, being able to give back to our philanthropies is very important to us. We get to donate all of the money made from the tickets in Swor to the winning team’s charity,” Maria Guay, a member of the Student Productions Committee, said. “Being able to give that money back to an organization that can better our community is completely invaluable and priceless.”

While the end goal of Swerve is to serve the surrounding community, many students participate simply because they love the art of dance.

“Swerve is really exciting for people who have been dancers in the past or are current dancers. I was a ballerina for 14 years, and Swerve is really different from ballet. But it’s getting me into dance again and I really enjoy it,” Lauren Allison, a junior competitor for Chenoa Social Tribe, said. “I also think it’s a great opportunity for everyone to be involved and truly grow as dancers.”

In fact, Swerve is such a big event for MC’s student body that tribes and clubs elect an official governing officer for it in their organization’s judicial election each year. The Swerve Captain is in charge of choreographing the routine, mixing the music to be used on stage, and implementing stage direction and costume design for the spring semester’s competition. 

Allison, who is a co-captain for her tribe’s Swerve team alongside Hannah Lopez, added that Swerve is worth any stress caused by the planning and coordinating of such a large operation. 

“This has been a really fun process. It stretched my comfort zone being able to step up and lead a group of girls in this way. Our theme is something different for Chenoa and we are excited to showcase something new and different,” Allison said. 

Some more memorable dance routines included Kissimmee Social Tribe’s eleKTric dance crew as “MC’s Nursing School,” a double marriage proposal called “A Good Day for Marrying You” by an independent group called I’d Rather be Dancing, Civitan Men’s Club’s “Cops and Robbers,” Chenoa’s “A Trap Christmas,” and Nenamoosha Social Tribe’s “Taking Care of Business.”

The Council, Mississippi College’s governing committee over tribes and clubs, believes that Swerve is an important and creative way for all students to display their artistry–even those students who don’t belong to a service organization. 

“I think Swerve is an amazing way to show your talent, from the costume [design], to the music, to the way the music flows through the transitions,” said Jarred Couch, co-president of the Council. “It’s an incredible opportunity to showcase your talent in a way that you may not be able to on the football field or baseball field. Through Swerve you can really showcase any talent.”

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.

Historic Year For Lady Choctaws Was Led by New Faces / Jace Aymond

Photo: Ally Alford (left), KB Bradley (center), and Taylor Ben (right), smile after defeating Delta State at home. Their 15-13 record was the most wins since returning to Division II in 2014. Choctaw Athletics

Almost every collegiate team, no matter the sport, is led by their seniors and upperclassmen while the new freshmen take their first year to adjust to how the college game is played and the student life that comes along with it. 

However, for the Lady Choctaw basketball team, it was the freshmen who stepped up and boosted the team.

They ended their season in the Gulf South Conference tournament quarterfinals against Lee University, a team who advanced to the national tournament. A second-half surge sealed the game for the Lady Flames as the game was tied at 30 at the half. Although an early exit, it was a historic year for the blue and gold. 

Their final record was 15-13, with an even 10-10 conference record, which was a massive improvement from only three victories in the ‘20-’21 season. Their 15 wins was the most in a season since returning to Division II in 2014, and the best record in 10 years. Additionally, it was the first time the Lady Choctaws have made the GSC tournament since the return. 

With all the accolades, the Lady Choctaws have much to look forward to and have their eyes on even bigger achievements when next season comes around.

The team consisted of nine juniors and seniors with seven sophomores and freshmen, and it was the underclassmen that provided a lot of the minutes. One of the freshmen who gave the blue and gold lots of minutes was Amelia Bell. The Illinois native played almost 25 minutes per contest, led the team in rebounds, and had the best field goal percentage at 51%. Not only leading the team, Bell was also second in the conference in blocked shots per game. The 6’1” freshman had to grow up fast, and she certainly met and surpassed all expectations coming into the year.

“The fact that we got that experience early on was really beneficial for us,” said Bell. “I feel like the seniors did such a good job of showing us the way. Even when we [freshmen] were playing, there was no jealousy and we all were just encouraging each other. I think that’ll really help us next year, especially with the new incoming class, because they’re supposed to be super good as well. With us already having these leadership qualities, I know it’ll be a big help.”

As far as the new freshman class coming in, Head Coach Greg Long has added four solid players to his roster for next season. Three of the four hail from Arkansas, a state that Long is all too familiar with, having coached at Central Arkansas University before coming to MC. They include post-minded Keller Bingham, point guard Brett Gardner, and pure shooter Ava Knoedl. The final player to join the squad is Karly Ivy from Ponder, Texas. Long complimented her pure jump shot and high basketball IQ and is excited to have all four girls to make an impact with the team next season.

Even with all that Bell did this season, another freshman provided many minutes and also led the team in many categories. That special freshman was Ally Alford. Averaging just under 24 minutes a game, Alford led the team in field goals made and her 55 three-pointers led her to lead the team in points per game at just over 13. She had a season-high 27 points against Union, the now top team in the country, and was 7-13 on three-pointers in the same game. The Batesville native already made big waves in the conference in only her first year, and undoubtedly is only going to get much better.

However, the upperclassmen had a major impact on the season as well. Senior Kayla Bradley had seven points a game and led the team in assists her final year in the blue and gold. As the only Lady Choctaw to start every game, NeNe Williams averaged almost four points and rebounds per game and provided both a post-presence and outside shot to go with it. Other key players coming off the bench were those like Alana Canady, who could catch fire quickly and never seemed to miss from the mid-range, and Kyiah Julien, who averaged just under double figures in scoring.

All in all, the Lady Choctaws can look back on this season with nothing but happy memories and a sense of pride that they accomplished what they did this past year.

“We’re super proud,” said Bell. “I feel that from the beginning, we knew the potential we had, but we also knew that we wouldn’t hit our peak until mid-season. We had some ups and downs like any other team, of course, but I really think we showed our big potential for years to come by how we did this year.”

The past season for MC women’s basketball was one filled with achieved expectations, and there is no doubt that bigger and better things are coming when November rolls around.

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 medlifemcchapter@gmail.com 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.

Burnout as a Reflection of Society / Kienna Van Dellen

With the final stretch of the spring 2022 semester before us, students are racing toward the end in an attempt to catch a break. College burnout is becoming a reality for many students this year, and it’s no longer just because of tests and stacking assignments. Burnout refers to the students’ feeling of exhaustion and working themselves to their limit, or even over physical or mental capacity. This is not uncommon for students to feel academic burnout as their semesters go by. It is a result of some living in what feels like survival mode for an extended period of time. 

The return to in-person campus classes and activities has brought a sense of normal back to our everyday lives. However, this busyness of social events and interaction on campus takes a toll on our energy levels. With the pandemic causing distancing and loss of everyday social contact, we lost the ability to communicate in the simplest of ways. The natural interactions in our everyday life got erased. Conversations with coffee shop baristas and basic questions from restaurant waiters were paused amidst the pandemic restrictions. 

The pandemic changed the way we communicate as a society. The simple act of small talk was majorly impacted by a lack of practice. We fell out of the ability to train our communication skills, therefore losing much of our endurance to hold long conversations and focus on certain topics. 

On top of the stress of assignments and trying to be reintroduced into the high energy of the college social life, students’ mental health is plummeting as we try to keep our heads above water. While it would be easy to say the midterms and finals are the cause of student stress, that does not cover the full scope. 

College campuses across the country show a small picture of what society struggles with as a whole. As microcosms of our society, campuses across the country show the increased stressors and mental health issues brought by COVID-19 that continue to affect our everyday lives. The hustle mentality of productivity adds increased pressure as we try to balance our mental health, emotional wellbeing, academics, and work lives. 

So how do we move forward out of this exhaustion? The first step would be to take regular breaks, intentionally setting aside time to take a quick walk, call your mom, or grab a coffee. Close your laptop and textbook for longer than five minutes. Reach out to friends and family. Most people have gone through some form of burnout in their life and can understand the stressors that it may entail. Sharing feelings with peers, professors, and family members could help you to feel less isolated. Sometimes a few outside trusted voices can help you feel more optimistic and find better ways to help manage your workload. 

So let us carry on, my friend; we are near the end of a busy school year and rest will come to the weary. 

Isaiah 40:31

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”