Monday, September 28, 2020

Passion for Dance, Philanthropy Drives CASA Encore Performer

University of Mississippi junior Mackenzie Jordan’s contagious smile and sensational moves at the CASA Encore stole the show for a moment when she took the stage at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Mackenzie Jordan (fourth from right), a University of Mississippi junior elementary education major from Laurel, performs at CASA Encore with her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, to raise funds to help abused and neglected children in Lafayette County. Photo by Tristen Bloxsom
Jordan, an elementary education major and member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, played the role of Daphne in her team’s number, which was themed after “Scooby-Doo.” She shone brightly in the front row of the “cheer dance” set to the song “Seven Rings” by Ariana Grande. 

The Laurel native jumped at the chance to be involved in the Nov. 13 CASA Encore. The event was known as Theta Encore until Kappa Alpha Theta sorority disbanded last year. The UM College Panhellenic and CASA of Lafayette County took on the event together to raise money for abused and neglected children in the county.

“I enjoyed the dance competition because we were all able to come together as sisters,” Jordan said. “The overall bonding experience will be something I will never forget.” 

In preparation for the event, Jordan participated in Kappa Kappa Gamma’s blood drive to help save a child’s life. Then, there was an all-night dance event that gives sororities a chance to compete for the CASA Encore title while raising as much money as they can for CASA. 

Dance teammate Kelsey Schulman, a freshman psychology major from Buford, Georgia, said Jordan’s energy was contagious.

“Since Daphne was the main character of our dance, we had to portray her as very sassy,” Schulman said. “The passion we had to get this message across to the audience made our dance super fun.

“When on stage, we fed off of each other’s energy, and I think that made our overall performance a huge success.”

Kappa Kappa Gamma placed second overall and also second in the dance competition. The sororities that participated in Encore raised more than $119,000 for CASA of Lafayette County. 

“Yes, we wanted to win, but just being able to raise as much money as we did for those kids makes this experience that much more memorable,” Jordan said. 

Jordan’s journey to Ole Miss started in Jones County. Her parents, Amy and Derek Jordan, both UM alumni, could often be heard yelling, “Hotty Toddy” in their house. It was no surprise that when she finished at Jones Community College, Jordan transferred to the university, where she has found a home.

“When I visited the school for the first time I completely fell in love,” Jordan said. “Oxford felt like home, and I knew this is where I belonged.”

Jordan said she joined Kappa Kappa Gamma because of the sorority’s commitment to working in the community. Particularly, she thinks the sorority helps meet needs of people that members of the Ole Miss community may never come in contact with through events such as CASA Encore and its philanthropy, Reading is Fundamental, a nonprofit children’s literacy group.

Jordan went through recruitment and found a place to call home with Kappa Kappa Gamma.

“The girls showed me that finding a home was not based on the building itself, but the people you surround yourself with,” Jordan said.

She looks forward to giving back as much as possible as she continues her career at Ole Miss.

“The philanthropy drew me to Kappa,” Jordan said. “I love working with children, and our national philanthropy, Reading is Fundamental, really hit home to me.”

Besides her sorority involvement, she attends Pinelake Church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights to embrace her faith while getting to know the Oxford community better.

She is also busy with the Ole Miss Coed Cheer Team, all while trying to be a role model for her two younger sisters, Kennedy and Kallie. She has always looked up to her mom since she was a child. 

“My mom is the most selfless person you could ever meet because she always puts others before herself,” Jordan said. “I hope to one day be as strong and as loving of a person as she is.”

The Coed Cheerleading team kicked off her leadership experience at Ole Miss, and she continues her love for the sport that she said challenges her and helps her grow every day. She is thankful to her new home, Ole Miss, for all the growth opportunities she has been given.

“I have been a cheerleader my entire life and I am so thankful that Ole Miss has given me the opportunity to keep doing what I love,” Jordan said. 


By Tristen Bloxsom