Major General Augustus Leon Collins graduated with a degree in business from the University of Mississippi class of 1982. Upon receiving his degree, he went on to pursue a master’s degree at Jackson State. He currently serves as the Adjutant General of Mississippi and the Commanding General of both the Mississippi Army and Air National Guard. He is responsible for providing the state of Mississippi and the United States of America with a ready force of more than 12,275 Citizen Soldiers and Airmen, equipped and trained to respond to any contingency, natural or man made. Collins says that it’s not often that he has free time, but he took some time to answer a few questions for Hotty Toddy about his time at Ole Miss and his career.
Hotty Toddy: What is your favorite memory of your time as an undergraduate at Ole Miss?
Collins: It is hard to single out one particular memory over all the great times I experienced at Ole Miss. I would probably say the road trips to football games in Jackson were perhaps the best. During the time I attended Ole Miss, there were always two or three home games played at Memorial Stadium in Jackson. The opportunity to travel for a few hours in a car with some of your best friends and anticipate the spirit of the game is something that has stayed with me over the years. So much so, that now when I travel with my sons, I get the same excitement and it makes the game experience so much better.
Hotty Toddy: What is the funniest or most embarrassing moment you experienced as an undergraduate at Ole Miss?
Collins: It happened at the Ole Miss – Mississippi State football game in 1981. Ole Miss had a 3-6-1 record and was playing a very good Mississippi State team. They were loaded with talent that year and came into the game with a 7-3 record. We were at least a three touchdown underdog. But as they always say, you can throw out the records in this game. It was true that year as Ole Miss scored a touchdown at the end of the game to steal one from Mississippi State. I was so excited that I was jumping up and down and lost my balance and tumbled over three rows of bleacher seats. Somehow I ended up on my feet. The people around me gave me a standing ovation. I am sure it was funny to them, but plenty embarrassing to me.
Hotty Toddy: What advice would you give to your freshman self?
Collins: If I had the chance to talk to a “freshmen me,” I would tell him to concentrate on your trade. Being a master of your trade will be the key to success. Much emphasis is placed on making good grades. Of course, that is important and that is what the big corporations will look for when interviewing college seniors. However, I believe you can do both. If you are determined to understand the subject matter that is being taught, you will automatically earn high marks. But most importantly, if you have a good working knowledge of your major, you will be more effective in the workplace and you will advance quicker. Too often students study and cram for exams at the last minute. This usually leads to brain dump and you can never retain what you have learned.
Hotty Toddy: What is a lasting impression that you have of Ole Miss?
Collins: The thing that all Ole Miss students will tell you they remember the most is the campus. There is not a more beautiful campus anywhere. When you combine that with the Southern hospitality exhibited, it makes Ole Miss extremely hard to beat.
Hotty Toddy: As an alumnus of Ole Miss, what advice do you have for a soon-to-be graduate from the university?
Collins: Graduates must understand that the world cares very little who you are or where you came from. What it does care about is whether or not you can produce. Those who can will move up the ladder and occupy positions like vice presidents in a short time. Those who can’t will find themselves stuck in the entry-level position or be forced to bounce from one job to another. Leave college with the intentions of being the best you can be at whatever endeavor you chose.
Hotty Toddy: What was your first job after graduating from Ole Miss in 1983?
Collins: I worked for the Mississippi Employment Security Commission as a claims examiner in Corinth, Miss. I was employed by them for six years. I was fortunate to receive four promotions during that time and moved twice with the company. It was not because I was anything special but because I devoted myself to learning my job. And, although I didn’t know it at the time, I was writing a testimony of my own to the rewards of hard work. So, even if you don’t get that big job immediately, nothing says that you can’t work hard and move up.
Hotty Toddy: What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment ?
Collins: Without a doubt, my military career has been my greatest accomplishment. I joined the Mississippi National Guard as a private. I attended Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a second lieutenant while I was at Ole Miss. Today I am major general. It has taken a long time, but it shows the rewards of hard work.
Hotty Toddy: Are you still friends with people you met during your undergrad career at Ole Miss?
Collins: Yes, I stay in contact with many of my Ole Miss friends. That is the great thing about college; you meet people from many different places and all walks of life. As you grow and mature in the “real world,” you find that you eventually work with some of the same people you studied and had great times with. Actually, my college roommate lives just around the corner in the same subdivision as I do today.
Hotty Toddy: What do you enjoy doing with your free time?
Collins: I love sports and I love following Ole Miss athletics. I am a season ticket holder for Ole Miss football and I usually catch two or three basketball and baseball games per year. I love playing golf and as I have gotten older, reading occupies a big part of my leisure time.
Hotty Toddy: How would your parents describe you in seven words or less?
Collins: “The most independent boy I know.”
Story contributed by Austin Wilkes, Ole Miss journalism student, email@example.com.