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AT&T, Ole Miss Partner to Enhance MOST

By Leigh Ann Hubbard

University of Mississippi

Mayo Flynt (second from right), president of AT&T Mississippi, meets with University of Mississippi officials to provide support from AT&T to help the university offer two MOST conferences in July for rising African American high school seniors in Mississippi. Joining him are (from left) Karrye Tynes, assistant director of inclusion and cross cultural engagement; Norris ‘EJ’ Edney III, assistant vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion; Hughes Miller, director of industry engagement; and Shawnboda Mead, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement. Photo by Kirsten Simpson/University Development

AT&T and the University of Mississippi are partnering to increase digital literacy among underserved African American high school students across Mississippi by helping them prepare for college and careers. 

The initiative, which includes workshops on resumes, job searches, online safety and more, is part of this year’s Mississippi Outreach to Scholastic Talent, or MOST – a conference that invites Black rising high school seniors to learn about life and academics at the university.

“AT&T is dedicated to advancing education and creating opportunity in the Black community,” said Mayo Flynt, president of AT&T Mississippi. “The work being done at Ole Miss through the MOST Conference is critical to increase education, skills building and career readiness opportunities in underserved communities.”

MOST is a three-day, two-night experience that exposes attendees to leadership activities; academic offerings; campus resources; and faculty, staff and student leaders. It is led collaboratively between the university’s Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement and Office of Admissions with internal support from the offices of the Chancellor and Provost, Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Division of Student Affairs and Ole Miss Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

After two years of virtual conferences, MOST returns to campus this year. And for the first time, two conferences will be held, both in July.

In the past, organizers have had to turn away about 100 students every year because of capacity limits. Having two conferences will increase the number of students able to participate. 

“Because the last two years have been virtual, we’re hopeful that there will be a lot of interest for this coming summer,” said Shawnboda Mead, vice chancellor of the diversity and community engagement. 

Ole Miss upperclassmen, many of whom are former MOST participants, serve as mentors in the program. They lead small group sessions and then stay in contact with mentees throughout their high school senior year. 

Attendees who choose to enroll at Ole Miss – usually about 30% – stay connected with their mentors throughout their freshman college year as well. 

The MOST Scholars Initiative will enhance this mentorship to address digital-access barriers. 

“Students from MOST are from lots of different backgrounds,” said Norris “EJ” Edney III, assistant vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion. “Some experience barriers to digital access. As our world shifts more and more toward digital access being a necessity, AT&T sees that as a priority.

“We plan to equip our mentors with more information about that divide, asking them to work with their groups to see which students might be experiencing this.”

Mentors will invite MOST participants to enroll in a digital literacy series. Taught in part by the mentors, the series will take place once per month during the 2022 fall semester and includes workshops and presentations on skills such as career exploration and preparedness, social media etiquette and computer literacy. 

The university strives to be a resource and partner for industry though mutually beneficial relationships. To learn more about the university’s industry engagement initiative, contact Hughes Miller at hughes@olemiss.edu or 662-915-2885, or visit https://industry.olemiss.edu.

To learn more about MOST, or to apply for the conference, visit https://inclusion.olemiss.edu/most2022/.

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