UM Minority Alliance Students, Staff Prepare for Statewide Retreat

    Representatives from nine colleges and universities to gather in New Orleans for networking, service

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    Students in the Louis Stokes Mississippi Alliance for Minority Participation program at the University of Mississippi gather to prepare for the annual fall retreat. They are (from left) Kanazsha Cooper, Sarah Nash, Matthew Taylor, Casiah Watson, Sterling George, Andrea Milton, Deidra Keeton, Richard Wright, KriShunda Joiner, DJ Young, Chris Sharp, Kerrin Israel, Keon Smith, Christian Blake, Clay Maury, Victoria Wiley, Trinidy Hazzard, Nijel Mays, Ta’Nia Hawkins, Tyra Lockett, Shaunna George, Kaylan Sanders, Yalanis Wences, Faith Fountain, Camia White and Alea Jones. This year's event convenes this weekend in New Orleans. Submitted photo

    By Edwin B. Smith

    University of Mississippi Communications

    Students in the Louis Stokes Mississippi Alliance for Minority Participation program at the University of Mississippi gather to prepare for the annual fall retreat. They are (from left) Kanazsha Cooper, Sarah Nash, Matthew Taylor, Casiah Watson, Sterling George, Andrea Milton, Deidra Keeton, Richard Wright, KriShunda Joiner, DJ Young, Chris Sharp, Kerrin Israel, Keon Smith, Christian Blake, Clay Maury, Victoria Wiley, Trinidy Hazzard, Nijel Mays, Ta’Nia Hawkins, Tyra Lockett, Shaunna George, Kaylan Sanders, Yalanis Wences, Faith Fountain, Camia White and Alea Jones. This year’s event convenes this weekend in New Orleans. Submitted photo

    Fourteen representatives from the University of Mississippi are preparing to attend a statewide retreat featuring educational, networking and community service opportunities in New Orleans.

    The fall retreat for the Louis Stokes Mississippi Alliance for Minority Participation, set for Oct. 28-31, will bring together students, faculty and staff from nine Mississippi colleges and universities for three days of activities. Scheduled events include a community service project, seminars and relief efforts on behalf of victims of Hurricane Ida. 

    Other participating institutions are Alcorn State University, Mississippi State University, Delta State University, Mississippi Valley State University, Jackson State University, University of Southern Mississippi, Tougaloo College and Hinds Community College.

    “The purpose of this retreat is to provide several opportunities for alliance students and staff to connect with one another,” said Jacquline Vinson, the university’s LSMAMP project coordinator. “Student activities will include networking with students from other alliance institutions, a seminar on writing a professional resume, a seminar on creating your STEM brand, a mental awareness seminar and a seminar reflecting upon their journey to graduate school.”

    Site coordinators will engage in strategic planning, discuss challenges facing the alliance, attend National Science Foundation Web-Alliance Minority Program training for site coordinators, compare institutional challenges, programmatic activities, international travel and participate in a proposal writing seminar, she said.

    “The alliance has planned a retreat for various purposes for the past two years,” said Murrell Godfrey, UM assistant dean of diversity, equity and inclusion and associate professor of chemistry. “Objectives have been to unify the alliance across the state, to develop leadership skills, to educate students on the goals and objectives of the program, to share ideas and network with each other, and to perform a statewide outreach project.”

    Besides the professional development sessions, licensed counselor Lynette Lacey-Godfrey will discuss the sensitive topic of mental health awareness.

    “Counseling is considered taboo for many of the underrepresented minorities that take part in the alliance,” Lacey-Godfrey said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the need for mental health awareness and coping strategies for our students.”

    Participants also will have an opportunity to volunteer to help the New Orleans community recover from the destructive Category 4 Hurricane Ida that devastated New Orleans on Aug. 30.

    The 10 Ole Miss students participating are Arma’Rosa Mohead, a junior biology major from Scobey; Kanazsha Cooper, a senior biology major from Houston; Andrea Milton, a junior biology major from Jackson; Kerrin Israel, a junior computer science major from Moselle; Richard Wright, a freshman allied health major from Marks; Savanah White, a sophomore biology major from Hattiesburg; Faith Fountain, a freshman exercise science major from Hattiesburg; Trinnidy Hazzard, a senior allied health major from Tutwiler; Quintarian Shelby, a freshman biomedical engineering major from Greenwood; and Keon Smith, a freshman engineering major from Louisville.

    The four UM faculty-staff participants are Vinson; Godfrey; EJ Presley, assistant director of career development; and Kelvin Holmes, instructor of mathematics.

    For more about the university’s LSMAMP program, click here.