Grisham Fellows find UM family during visit

Published 5:02 pm Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Laurel, Newton high school students meet faculty, staff, students; explore options for college

By Edwin Smith
University of Mississippi Communications

Forty students from Laurel and Newton high schools got a taste of college life this week – thanks to the University of Mississippi’s Grisham Fellows program, the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement, Division of Outreach and Continuing Education, and Office of Admissions.

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The students arrived on campus Sunday, Feb. 18, for an afternoon that included a keynote address by Ethel Scurlock, dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, and a panel discussion about academics. They also attended the Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State women’s basketball game.

Martin Fisher (standing), director of campus visit and orientation programs in the University of Mississippi Office of Admissions, addresses Newton and Laurel high school students in the Gertrude C. Ford Ole Miss Student Union auditorium during their visit to campus. (Srijita Chattaopadhyay/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services)

On Monday, the group toured the Luckyday Residential College and went to the Gertrude C. Ford Ole Miss Student Union for presentations from the Department of History, Office of Admissions, Career Center and Luckyday programs. Members of the Ole Miss Ambassadors also took them on a tour of campus.

Students said they were impressed by the university and its programs. “Ole Miss has always been my first option for college,” said Rosayda Juarez, a senior from Laurel High School. “I plan to major in accountancy and know Ole Miss has one of the best programs in the country.

“Plus, the people I’ve met since we’ve been here really had an impact on me with their kindness and willingness to work one-on-one with students.”

Rayquan Gardner, a junior from Laurel, said he was inspired by the speakers on Monday. “Mr. (Vaughn) Grisham impressed me the most,” he said. “His words and the way he spoke made me feel like he really wants us to come here after we graduate. Hearing that meant a lot.”

The program is named in honor of Grisham, professor emeritus of sociology and founder of the Grisham-McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, and his wife, Sandy, a retired educator, who both have remained active in community development work. It encourages young people to pursue higher education and challenges them to better their communities by committing to community service.

Since its launch in 2016, the program has brought to campus nearly 200 students, many of whom were or will become the first in their families to attend college. The Newton High School Grisham Fellows program is funded by the Annette Ware Fund at the UM Foundation.

Karrye Tynes, assistant director of access and recruiting in the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement, said the center’s staff recognizes the impact that direct exposure to college and its resources has on students as they prepare for the next steps after high school graduation.

“Programs like Grisham Fellows provide access to higher education that some students may not have otherwise,” she said. “Participants are given the opportunity to gain a plethora of knowledge about the university that ranges from admission processes, scholarship information, college culture and so much more, all while establishing a supportive network of faculty, staff and students – before ever enrolling into college – who are committed to their success.”