I want YOU to be a conversation partner!

-Alex Dougherty, contributing writer

If you’ve been here long enough, you’ve probably realized that we have a pretty large international student population. For my first three years at MC, I wasn’t friends with hardly any of these students. I thought we wouldn’t have anything in common, I wouldn’t have anything to talk to them about, or they wouldn’t understand English. Everything changed for me last summer when I helped with an English sports camp in the Czech Republic. It was there that I learned that we aren’t that different from one another. My heart was opened to the rest of the world, and my perspective was greatly influenced. I came home from that trip with such a longing to go back, but in the meantime, I was in Mississippi.

I wanted an outlet where I could serve international students while I waited to return to the Czech Republic. So I joined the conversation partner program. Basically all you do is meet with an international student once a week to talk for an hour about anything. The only restriction is that everything has to be in English, which wasn’t too hard for me. If you haven’t been a conversation partner yet, I highly recommend you try it for three reasons.

First, if you are like me and enjoy surprises, then you will love the first day of the program. All of the students are given slips of paper with their conversation partner’s name and major on it, and they have to try to pick you out from the crowd. You don’t know the name or nationality of the student you will be working with, but that is what makes it fun. When I met my assigned student from China for the first time, the friendship was formed instantly. It doesn’t take long to form a friendship with your conversation partner because both of you are eager to know one another. That seldom happens in most situations.

Second, you will laugh a lot when you approach the language barrier. My partner’s English was pretty good, but we still had a few miscommunications. For instance, I was asking him about public transportation in China (comparing that with my experience in Prague. I talk a lot about Prague). I said, “What kind of public transportation do you have in China?” He didn’t know what I meant. I said, “Like, do you have a subway?” He said, “Oh, yes! And we also have a KFC!” It was awesome.

Third, you will learn just as much from your student as they will learn from you. The whole point of the program is to help international students practice their English, but the Americans who help them profit as well because their worldview expands. I was able to learn many fascinating things about China that I would have never known if I didn’t ask someone. I was able to see the country the way that its citizens see it and was able to understand Chinese history in a way that wasn’t explained to me in my American textbooks. I learned that the life of an international student is not easy. They are in a different country with different customs and are having to speak a language that is foreign. They have to find transportation (for a while, my friend had to walk all the way to his house near Chick-fil-A after class. That’s a long way). They have to find a house and possibly a job. And believe it or not, there is a little bit of discrimination.

Of course, my partner did learn a few things from me. Whether those are good things or bad things is too soon to tell. For example, in addition to just talking, I taught my friend slang. The first time I taught him a slang word, I immediately checked with Mrs. Vandersteen, who was in charge of the program at the time, to make sure that it was ok. I once talked to him about some of the things that we can say in English that aren’t bad words, but can serve the same purpose, like crap or shoot. At the end of every meeting, he had to write about what we talked about. So he said, “Today, we talked about bad words.” I said, “Nononononono!”

Anyway, if you love internationals, you like surprises, enjoy a good laugh, wish to broaden your perspective, or just want to make a new friend, I highly recommend you look into the conversation partner program. You can contact Christina Bach at cbach@mc.edu for more info.


Things Pass By

-William B. Gurtowski, contributing writer

Life is a reality that moves forward. As we grow, we meet people and leave them; experience happiness and sadness; enter places and depart them; believe ideas and refute them; and so on and so forth. We live in a world where everything constantly changes, and we change along with it. I, for example, do not currently live in the same circumstances that I did one year ago, and I will not likely be involved in the same situations one year from now as I am at present. This is not a condition that I control, nor is it one that I want; it is simply something that is.

Now, I am placed at every moment in a situation completely new and unique to anything that I have experienced. These new instances may seem relatable and similar to others from the past, but they are each distinct from one another. No moment can ever be considered the same. This is because life moves forward, and as simple-minded as this explanation may seem to be at first notice, it is not. To reveal this, I shall ask the question: What is life?

In order to know what life is, I must look at what it contains. I know from my experiences that life involves interactions between objects; these objects being anything that can be experienced. Examples of this could be for a person to age over time, to receive feedback from peers for different actions committed, or to experience emotional reactions from the circumstances of given situations. I also know that life is real; I experience events as they occur, and I give reactions to them in their moments. My interactions with objects show me that my life is a reality.

Knowing this, I have to accept that life is the interactions that I have with objects. I must, however, observe this realistically. I have learned from past experience that I am a part of reality. I myself am subject to experience in the exact same fashion as the objects of my observance. In actuality, though, observance itself is an illusion. There only exists interaction between objects. I, too, am an object of experience, just like everything that I come into contact with. My past experiences have taught me that I age, I learn, I feel, and I tire. Yet, above these things, my experiences have taught me to approach my situations with great care if I wish to receive satisfactory results. Diligence produces a praiseworthy work ethic; impulsiveness does not.

Having spoken about experience’s role in life, I can now discuss the main point of this article. Life moves forward. Never have I experienced any such event that can make me speak otherwise. I have learned over time that situations come and go as I age. I meet people, become acquainted with them, and, before I know it, leave them. The same applies for all other objects. It is not through cruelty or cold judgment of mine that this happens, but it is rather how the times work. Every situation that I come across comes and goes in time, be it with any object. But, though each situation travels in the same path, it cannot be said that each one is the same. No, the answer is in fact quite the opposite. Every situation is completely unique in itself. Sure, there may be similarities between some situations, but those are only some. Each situation contains with it an infinite number of qualities that set it apart from all others. It would therefore be unjust to say that any two objects are the same because each contains different experiences from past situations. This, therefore, makes every object unique.

My experiences have taught me that life moves forward. I have aged in time, and through this aging I have learned that I will always be placed in new situations at every moment, and each of these situations will be totally unique. I have learned that each person whom I encounter is an individual, and each one contains in him or her experiences that I will never be able to obtain. Every person’s experience is unique, and this makes each individual unique. I am unique, but so is everyone else whom I encounter. It is the experiences that we gain from our situations that truly make us each an individual. Each of us moves forward in our situations, learning at every moment from them. Situations come and they go. We live, we learn, we experience, we age, and things pass by.

“Hayes Gets Down to Business with a Bluegrass Band”

-Leah Letson, Contributing Writer

On a typical day at Mississippi College, a student may find many treasures on campus, one of which is Bryan Hayes, associate professor of marketing in the school of business. He can run a 5k in 18 minutes and 20 seconds, enjoys flying radio-controlled airplanes, submerses himself into his music, and has three different degrees from three different colleges.

Hayes considers himself a Mississippi boy, having lived in Hazelhurst, Jackson, and primarily Hattiesburg, as a child. He obtained a degree in business with an emphasis in marketing from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1982, a general MBA with an emphasis in marketing at Mississippi College, and a doctorate in marketing with a minor in economics from Mississippi State University.


After attending three different colleges, what is it that brought Hayes back to MC? Family. “I come from an MC family. My father and mother both graduated from here, I have a degree from here, my brother attended here before graduating from Southern, and I have many relatives that also went here,” Hayes said. But it doesn’t stop there. Hayes was collecting research at MC for his dissertation while in the MSU doctoral program in the fall of 1998 when he was informed of a tenure track faculty position opening at MC in the fall of 2000. Initially, his response was negative because he already had a job at a marketing firm in the Jackson area. After more encouragement, he made the decision to teach a marketing research course as an adjunct professor in the spring of 1999. “While I wouldn’t say that first teaching experience was wonderful, it did get me thinking along the lines of, well, if I was ever going to start teaching, I’d never have a better opportunity than this to do it because I loved MC and I really felt that The Lord had a hand in bringing me in that direction,” he said. After much prayer and consideration, he took the job and began as a full time professor in the fall of 2000 and has been here ever since, teaching classes such as Marketing Principles, Consumer Behavior, Marketing Research, Market Administration (a graduate course), and Marketing Management.

Besides being a vital part of many committees on campus, as well as sponsoring the MC Bass Fishing Team for three years running, Hayes’ real love is music. His father, a music minister, gave him his first baritone ukulele when he was twelve, and throughout his youth he was a member of the church choir and ensemble, as well as the school choir. He began playing gigs in his own band when he was just a junior in high school. When asked what got him interested in music in the first place, Hayes said, “I don’t consciously remember, it’s just always been a part of my life.”

After 18 years playing the guitar for three bands at different times, Professor Hayes is currently a four-year member of Crooked Creek String Band. The bluegrass band features three-part harmonies to accompany a guitar, Dobro, banjo, mandolin, and bass collaborated musical group. “We rehearse on the weekends and play no more than two gigs a month. We don’t spend an inordinate amount of time with it… but maybe we will after we all retire,” he laughed.

Why bluegrass? “I never knew a thing about bluegrass music until a couple of months before I started playing in the band 18 years ago,” he explained. He grew up listening to rock and pop, such as The Beatles and Led Zepplin, saying, “The only bluegrass music I knew was the theme of the ‘Beverly Hillbillies’ and the theme from the movie ‘Deliverance.’” During Thanksgiving of 1997, he went to a gathering at a friend’s house where a bluegrass band was performing. He instantly became fascinated by the sound and fell in love, saying now that his favorite bluegrass bands are Blue Highway, The Lonesome River Band, Balsam Range, and the Stanley Brothers. “Even if you don’t like bluegrass music, you can always appreciate it,” Hayes stated.

The most rewarding part about playing guitar in Crooked Creek String Band is a simple one that has a lot of meaning to Hayes. He said, “I like the feeling and the sound when a song finally comes together, and when everybody is firing on all cylinders. It doesn’t even really matter if it happens in a performance or a rehearsal, it’s just when it happens, it’s just a great feeling.”

The passion and success he has for his band goes hand-in-hand with the passion and success he has with his students. His idea is to give students as many real world experiences as he can, because that is what is going to take them far in life upon graduating from Mississippi College. Xue Zhi Lin, a junior finance major from Madison, said, “Professor Hayes broadened my view of marketing. It’s a very important factor to the business world, and after taking his marketing class, I understand the different methods applying to business which will increase my chance of success.”

In addition to his passion for bluegrass music and inspirational teaching, Hayes and his wife Joey also have a love for their dog, Choco. He shared, “I bring him to class with me sometimes. I call him my therapy dog.” One of Hayes’s former Principles of Marketing students, junior accounting major Pete Thomason from Birmingham, validates this statement. “The fondest memory I have from his class was when he brought his poodle to our classroom on the day of the final exam.”

Mississippi College has gained an enormous amount from Hayes’s time and devotion to this University, and it’s safe to say the feeling is mutual because he said, “I truly feel like it’s God’s will that I’m here at MC because I’ve been so content and fulfilled since I’ve been here on day one.”

Paxton Peak: Clinton’s Outdoor Headquarters

-Abbie Walker, Editor


Nate and Beth Shores have always been outdoor fanatics. But it wasn’t until this past December that they turned their love of exploring nature into a business. Now Clinton residents can embrace their own outdoor spirits by visiting Paxton Peak, Olde Towne’s newest addition.

The store is named after the Shores’ 11-month-old son, Paxton, who can often be seen on his mother’s hip behind the store’s counter or greeting customers with a smile. Paxton Peak specializes in outdoor apparel and gear, but the Shores are also outdoor experts themselves.


Nate grew up spending most of his summers at his grandparents’ farm in rural Mississippi, where he explored the woods and countryside. He also learned woodsman skills from his father while out at a family cabin near Taylorsville, Miss. Now, he works as a federal tech for the Mississippi Army National Guard and has served with the Army for 17 years, including 9 years with the Special Forces and combat deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Beth has also enjoyed the outdoors since she was little. Coming from a “heavily boy scout-influenced family,” she grew up doing a lot of camping, splunking, and hiking.

“I just love the outdoors,” Beth said. “I’ve always had a passion for it. So why not showcase it in your own store and try to get other people excited about the outdoors too? It’s just such a big world out there.”


The Shores have been on quite a few adventures together, including a trip to “England, Scotland, and everywhere in between.” With four children—ages 12, 11, 5, and 11 months, the Shores have their hands full, but they make time to enjoy the outdoors as a family. So it was no surprise that they channeled their nature enthusiasm into a business.

However, much of the inspiration for Paxton Peak came from Mississippi College. “We noticed, while driving through Olde Towne, a lot of the students hanging Eno hammocks on campus, and I said to Beth, you know what Clinton needs, an outdoor store,” said Nate.

“This was really our five-year plan, not our right-now plan,” Beth said. “It was one of those do-or-die things.”

Despite opening during the holiday season and a lot of their merchandise not coming in until the week before, Paxton Peak’s start has been a successful one.

“It was a lot to do in very little time, but we got it done together,” Beth said. “January is notorious for being the slowest month for retail, but the response has been great!”


Beth’s business sense developed long before Paxton Peak. Her family used to own a balloon company called Mr. Charlie’s Balloons, which taught her about business at a young age. “The entrepreneurial gene has always been in my blood,” she said.

Beth also started two restaurants in Clinton before she took time to stay home and care for her children. And though retail is a new world for her, Beth is excited about the challenge. “I’ve always had creative juices flowing, so this was just a fun new palette,” she added.

With clothing brands like Southern Marsh, Kavu, Prana, Outdoor Research, Mountain Hardware, and LaSportiva, customers are sure to find what they are looking for. But Paxton Peak mostly specializes in gear. Besides Big Agnes and Granite Gear tents and sleeping bags, the store offers all the camping essentials, including pocket knives, stoves, compasses, flashlights, dehydrated food, and anything else one would need for spending a couple of days out in the woods or mountains.

Beth said she loves “all the little gadgets and gizmos that can make your trip a lot more fun.” And with newly-arrived GroPro video equipment, outdoor enthusiasts can also capture their adventurous moments.

For the Choctaw student, Paxton Peak sells Eno hammocks, Nalgene and Camelbak water bottles, and Innova disc golfing equipment. Students can also get a 10 percent discount with their college IDs. Paxton Peak hopes to offer MC students “the convenience of not having to leave town,” as well as provide an “outlet” for them to explore their outdoors side.

In fact, the Shores are all about helping out the local community. Beth used to be on the board of directors for the Clinton Nature Center, and she wants to continue to support them, as well as Clinton Parks and Recreation and the Main Street program. “Clinton is a great place for family; it’s so active,” she said. “It’s been growing a lot, especially the downtown, and we want to support that.”


Right now, most customers simply stumble upon the store while walking through downtown, but the Shores hope to soon make a name for Paxton Peak as an “outdoor revival” for the community. At some point, they would like to start offering trips and tours for customers, such as taking groups camping and hiking.

“We want to start an outdoor club,” Beth added. “We’ve had so much interest.” The goal is to become a “hub” for outdoor tips. “We want to get the information out about great places that are around here.” She said they are still learning a lot about outdoor equipment and enjoy hearing from others about their experiences and what worked well for them.

“We want to be an open door for everybody. You don’t have to want to buy something to just hang out and talk,” said Beth. “People come in just to share their adventures. It’s really bringing out of the woodworks people in this town who love the outdoors. And hearing about adventures makes me want to do adventures and vice versa.”

In fact, one opportunity to share in the love of an outdoor sport is a disc golf clinic being held on Mar. 1 at Brighton Park. Paxton Peak is partnering with Innova Discs and Clinton Parks and Recreation for this event, and two professional disc golfers will be teaching the fundamentals of the sport and hosting a mini tournament. The clinic will be free for all ages. Beth said she wouldn’t be surprised if some disc golf leagues resulted from this event.

Overall, the goal for Paxton Peak is “to promote and share a passion for the outdoors” and “to provide high-quality apparel and equipment that makes your outdoor adventure more enjoyable,” said Nate. “I believe the store will also encourage my family to spend even more time exploring and having outdoor adventures.”

Paxton Peak is located at 108 West Leake Street in Clinton and is open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m. For more information call 601-473-2200 or go to paxtonpeak.com. Follow them on Facebook, as well as Twitter and Instagram under @paxtonpeak.


Player Profile: Senders Barrick

-Marcelo Maziero, Sports Editor 

Senders Barrick was born in Brentwood, Tenn. in a family that always had a close relation with sports. His father, Steve Barrick, used to play college basketball for Western Kentucky University and now works as the associate athletic director at Belmont University, and his mother, Jan Barrick, was a tennis player at Belmont University. If that was not enough, his oldest brother, Houston Barrick, was also a tennis player at University of Virginia. While playing at Virginia, Houston Barrick managed to take his school to the number one position in tennis in the United States. He was also the number one college tennis player in the country.

According to Barrick, “The influence my brother had on me was the main reason why I started playing tennis myself. I looked up to him, I wanted to play like he played.” This pushed Barrick to give tennis a try when he was seven-years-old, and he ended up liking it. He took his practices and tournaments very seriously, but when he was a freshman in high school he decided to stop playing tennis. “I was feeling a lot of pressure on me. At that point my brother was the best college tennis player in the whole country and I could not be nearly as good as he was. Because of that I decided to quit tennis.”

Two years after he decided to stop playing, Barrick had a conversation with his mother that made him rethink about the sport. “I remember her telling me that I should try to start playing again . . . .She told me that if I were an athlete it would be much easier to get into a great college. That was the moment I decided to bring tennis back to my life,” Barrick said. In his junior year he joined his high school tennis team and did not lose one single match.

When the time to go to college came, his mother’s words became reality. The fact that Barrick was part of a team in high school helped him to have several options indeed, and he found himself interested in Belmont University and Mississippi College. “I knew I wanted to be a part of a team in college as well, and I also had in my mind that it had to be a Christian University. I came to MC visitation, met coach Boteler, walked around campus, and I knew that here was the place I wanted to come,” Barrick said.

Currently majoring in administration of justice, he feels like he made the right choice coming to MC. Besides being a tennis player, he is also a Civitan member. “I like being here a lot. I met great people, people with huge hearts. And being with the tennis guys brought me some experiences I never thought I would have, such as meeting people from very different countries. I learn a lot from them, and I hope I am affecting them somehow as well,” Barrick said.

Barrick said he is confident about the upcoming season and believes the team has what is necessary to do great. “I have not played here while we were DII, but I have seen my brother playing DI so many times that it makes me believe we are a very solid team. It is going to be a great challenge for all of us, but nothing we can’t overcome,” he said.

The tennis season starts at Feb. 18 with a home match against Alcorn State University.

Why read the news?

-James Osborne

I believe staying informed about local current events, national news, and world news is extremely important. Not just casually glancing at the headlines in our social media news feeds, but really being curious and seeking information about what is going on in the world. I might be a bit biased since I’m a journalism major and the current news editor of the Collegian, but I believe that everyone has a responsibility to stay informed about the world around them.

There are many excuses that may seem to be valid like “I don’t have the time,” “The news is too depressing,” “You can’t trust the press, everyone is so biased,” or “if it doesn’t affect me personally why should I care?” But all of these excuses are not enough reason to not have some curiosity and seek information about the world around us. In today’s digital age we don’t have an excuse for not being able to know the news. With just a few clicks of the keyboard and mouse or on our smartphones, we can instantly find important or just interesting information about local and world news.

Staying informed about the news is part of my job as a journalist, yet I still fall short of staying well informed like I need to be. I love movies and science fiction, so I stay informed with entertainment news more than regular news, like I should. I have had some jobs where part of my responsibility was to know what is happening in the community and because of that, I have had a deeper respect for where I live and the interesting events in the community and the people who make it happen. I’m thankful for my journalism classes and some of the different jobs I’ve had that force me to stay informed and to know what is going on in the world, but there are several reasons why I think everyone needs to keep up with current events.


            Other countries and the problems they go through seem so far away from us, but we are all connected as citizens of planet Earth, and the terrors and problems in one land can easily influence or head to another land. What happens to one country can easily happen to us here in America, maybe not instantly, but over time.

One big reason to stay informed is to have something to talk about with the people around you and to be able to add to the conversation “around the water cooler” at school and work. Stories from the news are great conversation starters and good for small talk and can even be a way to dive into deeper conversation. Be able to know what is happening around you and in the world—not to look smart, but to be smart about what is going on in the world.

Besides being able to be a smarter conversationalist, watching or reading the news can help you be more informed about your chosen industry or career and the events that may influence those types of careers. Being well informed and curious about the world around you can make you more attractive to employers.

If we don’t know the troubles of the world and especially those close to us, we won’t know how we can personally make a difference and seek to do good in the world. We can’t know what to pray about outside our own network if we don’t look beyond it and seek what we can pray about for the world. We can’t find new ways to serve those in the world if we don’t seek out the needs and the problems that we might be able to help fix.

Also, current events are history in the making, and just like in learning history, we can seek and find wisdom from the good and the bad. It has been said that the average life span of a civilization is 200 years. The United States of America is over 200 years old, and it is up to the people of the country to be watchful and make sure that this country does not make the mistakes of past civilizations or be affected by the same things that destroyed civilizations like the Roman Empire. If people want to vote and be involved in the political process, then a knowledge of current events should be mandatory.

Ben Carson reminded people at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013 that the American system of government was created by the founding fathers for a well-informed and educated populace, but when the public becomes less informed, they become vulnerable. If people are not educated, then they are more easily manipulated. To be a successful country we have to not only be educated and well-informed, but care about what is going on around us.

In the Christian community there is often the view that Christians have a responsibility to watch the news and seek to understand world events because of biblical prophecy about Christ’s second coming. Mark 13:33-37 (NLT) says, “And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert! The coming of the Son of Man can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. When he left home, he gave each of his slaves’ instructions about the work they were to do and he told the gate keeper to watch for his return. You, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return- in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak. Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for Him!”

Let us be curious and to stomp out apathy. We have the time and the means to stay informed and educated. For these and many more reasons, we should seek to stay informed about the news and the world around us.

Clinton Public Schools, MC work together to make Clinton an Educational Powerhouse

-Alexa Jenkins, Copy Editor

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!”


Star 93.5, ministering to the MC and Clinton community since 1975


-James Osborne, News Editor

“This is where it all began, here in these four walls, it’s great to be back,” said Ben Ingram of the Atlanta Braves Radio Network and Mississippi College Communication Department Alumnus of the year, during an on air interview at WHJT Star 93.5 with station manager Doug Amacker. Of his time at the radio station on campus Ingram said, “It gave me the confidence I needed to work in the industry. Gave me the needed ability to fail and learn, to do sound checks and interviews, and learn all of the nuts and bolts of the radio industry.”

Some students at Mississippi College may not know that there is a hidden treasure on campus in the basement of Aven Hall, the radio station WHJT Star 93.5, a commercial broadcasting station that plays Christian contemporary, rock, and pop. The station has seen several developments in the past year including most recently a new website, a free app available on the App Store and Google Play, new software in the studio, and some new staff members. The station has two full time staff and eight part time student workers. The Star 93.5 staff include Doug Amacker, the general manager, Don Barnes, operations manager, and the student staff which include Josh Lee, James Osborne, Ann Marie Parke, Courtney Hamrick, Alan Bauer, Katy Pirkle, Jonathan Parke, and Dilon Pankey.

WHJT was founded in 1975 by Hollis and Julia Todd. In the call letters, the “W” means east of the MS River, the “H” stands for Hollis, the “J” for Julia, and “T” for Todd.

“The Todds worked tirelessly to get the license for the station and all the work done so that the station could be a possibility,” said Cliff Fortenberry, head of the MC Communication department. “The goal was to offer an opportunity for students to work in broadcasting and boost the knowledge of MC in Mississippi.”

“Doug is doing a good job of creating a good product for WHJT to put out there,” said Reid Vance, communication instructor and MC alum who worked at the station as a student. “If the station offers quality programing, a positive voice, and supported from every aspect of campus and given the support it needs, it can represent the school well and even bring in students,” said Vance.

Not many universities have the opportunity to have a commercial radio station on campus. Being a commercial station, which means having to sell advertising and rely on advertising dollars to operate, pushes the staff to do well because it is a real job. Vance said of his time working at the station as a student, “We always made it a point to do well so that it seemed it was not a college run station.”

Vance is also the “voice of the Choctaws” and broadcasts MC football games. “Doug and his staff have been wonderful in getting Choctaw football back on the air after it was off for a few years. It was not seen as important, but Doug knew that it was,” said Vance.

Having a radio station broadcast from campus helps bring in interested students and students who want to work in radio. “I came to MC as a student to work at the radio station, and I’m not the only one,” said Vance.

“We are an outreach ministry of the school and we have been since the station switched to the contemporary Christian format in 1987, which makes it one of the longest running markets in the Jackson area,” said Amacker. Amacker officially started at Star 93.5 on Jan. 4, 2013, and before that he worked as a consultant for the station. Amacker has worked in the radio industry since 1998 and worked in multiple markets in Mississippi.

According to Amacker, three things make a great radio station: being live, being local, and serving the community you broadcast from. “Live is important because the program is not being broadcast from a satellite feed from broadcasters who have no idea what is going on in the local community,” said Amacker. With local radio, broadcasters inform the community of severe weather, traffic, and local news and events.

This past summer WHJT welcomed back Don Barnes, a radio veteran who is an MC alumnus and worked at Star 93.5 as a student, as the new operations manager for the station. “I love this college and this station,” said Barnes.


            Barnes is excited about the future of the radio station. “This station has always been a diamond in the rough,” said Barnes. “I didn’t know much when I worked here as a student.  But after more than 20 years in the industry, I want to bring my knowledge back to my roots and hopefully bring this station to its full potential and watch it grow beyond anything that could have been imagined when it began so long ago.”

“We switched to the Christian music format on Easter Sunday in 1987,” said Barnes. “I was there.  It was a very cool experience.  At that time, we didn’t broadcast overnight.  We powered down at midnight and then came back on air at 6 a.m.  I remember turning on the transmitter, and the first song we played was “Rise Again” by Dallas Holm and Praise.”  The format has always played Christian music since that morning.

“We strive to play something to reach everyone,” continued Barnes. “Worship songs, Christian rock and pop, and also some great classics that you won’t hear anywhere else.  But we are also active with area organizations like The Baptist Children’s Village, area churches, and community outreach programs. We are constantly asking our listeners to share prayer requests with us by email. And if someone just doesn’t know who to call and talk to and needs to hear a comforting voice without being judged, they know they can call our studio line and talk with whoever is on the air.”

“My favorite part about working for the studio is probably all of the people I’ve gotten to meet and talk to”, said Katy Pirkle, a junior public relations major, who also co-hosts the morning show with Amacker. “I love co-hosting the morning show because people actually call in and say how much the station has blessed them or just thank us for the music. Which has nothing to do with us. It’s a total God thing that people are moved by the music we play. It’s an awesome outreach ministry.”

“It’s a unique opportunity and we are excited about the progress we’ve made and the direction we are going to bring the station back to its full glory supporting the Christian community in central Mississippi,” said Amacker. We have a unique opportunity with the internet and the app to promote the college and broaden its footprint around the world. We encourage everyone to listen to Star 93.5, give us a listen, and join the conversation.”

Choctaw fans scream and shout support despite homecoming loss


– Katy Pirkle, contributing writer

While Saturday’s homecoming football game may have had a disappointing ending, the MC community succeeded in filling the stands as they came out to support their Choctaws.

The Mississippi College quad was packed full of fans, students, family and alumni for the tailgate before the Oct. 18 game. Fans headed over to Robinson Hale Stadium around 2:50 p.m., anxious to make it for the 3:00 kickoff. Campus Activities Board helped make the student section a little more rowdy by providing free shirts for students that said “Scream, Yell, Win,” and the section was definitely loud. The cheerleaders were a big part in that as well, as they got the crowd pumped throughout the whole game by leading constant cheers. Reid Vance, who broadcasted the game on Star 93.5, said it was the biggest crowd he has seen this year and it’s even the biggest crowd he’s seen for some time at the field.

The last time the Choctaws and Valdosta state played one another was in 1995, and the Blazers came ready to play. Our Choctaws put up a good fight, but were not able to pull out a victory in the end as Valdosta scored every quarter. In the first quarter Valdosta State was almost to the goal line, but the ball was fumbled and the NCAA player of the week from last week’s Faith game, Senior Dylan Klibert, recovered it. Throughout the four quarters great passes were made from the Choctaws, and the MC receivers did well too, as James Banks, Jaime Harris, and Rashad Crisp were busy at work. By halftime Valdosta State led the Choctaws with a 35-0 lead. Throughout the game, quite a few injuries occurred, specifically Jordan Jones who had to get helped off to the Choctaw sidelines in the second quarter.

The final score ended with the Valdosta State Blazers 62 and the Mississippi College Choctaws 0. The Choctaws fought until the end despite the injuries. Sophomore defensive back, Reggie Bennett had the lead tackles with 10 tackles for the game.


MC knew this would be a tough game for the Choctaws, but they pushed through. The boys will continue to work hard this next week in practice as they head to Melbourne, Fla. for a 1:00 kickoff (ET), 12:00 (CT) against Florida Tech on Saturday, Oct. 25. Listen to Star 93.5 next week to hear your Choctaws in action.

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