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Column: William Magee Institute promotes holistic wellness

By Mary Kate Nelson

IMC Student

Photo courtesy of magee.olemiss.edu

I remember the day William Magee died. I was nine years old. 

A well rounded student and athlete, William Magee was well known and well loved within the Oxford community. I did not necessarily understand William’s battle with addiction, nor did I have a good understanding of what an overdose was, but William’s death clung with me in my heart for years. Even as a child, I felt the heartbreak that William’s death had over the community of Oxford, and I knew that it would one day have an impact on so many others, like it impacted me. 

The William Magee Institute was founded in 2019 with a mission to serve students and help them on their journey to holistic wellness amidst the uncertainties of college. The Institute focuses on alcohol and drug education and awareness, as well as other wellness programs. When it was first founded, I was interested to see exactly how it could support the Ole Miss community, and how it could make a difference in students’ lives. As an advocate for health and wellness myself, I knew I wanted to get involved at the William Magee Institute in some capacity, but was not sure how I fit into the narrative. 

Now, as a freshman IMC major at Ole Miss, I have had the honor to listen to William’s father, David Magee, speak multiple times around campus. Each time he speaks, I feel a fire ignite in my soul and I am inspired to do something extraordinary. The award-winning author and founder of the William Magee Institute spoke to my IMC Media Writing class recently, urging us to find a “dog with a bone passion” for something in our lives, and again, I left feeling hopeful. After Magee’s presentation, I couldn’t get the idea of the William Magee Institute out of my head. I felt like it was calling me, almost begging me to learn more and get involved. 

During his presentation to the class, David Magee spoke of his time as a student at the University of Mississippi, and his days of writing at the Oxford Eagle. Despite his desire to be a writer, he explained that he felt out of place in journalism, not knowing exactly what he could do for the industry. 

“I didn’t like the rules and media of writing at the time. I didn’t understand how I could make it any better. I was good enough to get a contract, and I was good enough to write a book, but I was not good enough to write a great book,” Magee said. 

That night of the presentation, I coincidentally found an ad on my phone for new hiring opportunities at the William Magee Institute, and I knew it had to be fate. I put in an application, and two weeks later, I was hired as the new Student Wellness Representative for Wellness Programming and Events. In only a matter of a few weeks, I have been blessed with the opportunity to see David’s vision of the William Magee Institute come to life, and I have been given an even bigger opportunity to help the Institute as it continues to serve our school and community.


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