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Travel Fund for UM Students Reaches Endowment Level

By Mary Stanton Knight

University of Mississippi

University of Mississippi pharmacy alumnus Jontae Warren (left) works with a class on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, collecting and processing plant and animal samples as part of the university’s Study USA program in 2017. Warren has since completed his doctorate in pharmacy and is continuing his training as a pharmacy resident at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis. Submitted photo

A new travel fund that provides University of Mississippi students with career-influencing experiential learning opportunities has hit endowment level, thanks to generous Ole Miss donors. 

The fund honoring the late Carolyn Ellis Staton, the university’s first female provost, offsets expenses incurred by Ole Miss students who travel for learning opportunities within their fields of interest. 

“The fund was started in 2017 as way to honor Dr. Staton’s commitment to meaningful learning experiences outside of a typical classroom setting,” said Laura Antonow, director of UM College Programs.

Staton championed Ole Miss students and worked to create opportunities for them, including facilitating the establishment of the first Residential College and the Croft Institute for International Studies, which requires students to study abroad as part of its program.

“Experiential learning is a great way for students to delve into a class and see their classroom learning applied in the real world,” Antonow said. “Programs like Study USA and the UM Internship Experience are great opportunities, but the added expense of travel can make them challenging or impossible for some students.

“This travel fund makes these programs affordable and accessible to more students.”

Ole Miss alumnus Jontae Warren, of Booneville, is one of many students who benefitted from the university’s Study USA travel program that this fund supports.

“My Study USA experience is hands-down one of the best things I have ever been a part of,” said Warren, who graduated from the UM School of Pharmacy in 2021 and is a pharmacy resident at Indiana University Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. 

Warren took Biology 380: Hawaiian STEM: Microbes, Symbiosis and Culture, a Wintersession class taught by biology professor Erik Hom in Honolulu, as part of the Study USA program. His class journeyed throughout the island of Oahu collecting and processing samples in hopes of finding new species and developments.

“I never would have thought I would get a chance to do scientific research in Hawaii with my professors,” Warren said.

The fund was established by Antonow; Marvin King, senior faculty fellow for Residential College South; and other friends of Staton as a tribute to the longtime educator. 

“Dr. Staton loved to travel,” King said. “Opportunities offered through Study USA, study abroad classes, conferences or internships can materially change our students’ educational experience. Additionally, it can make our students more competitive upon graduation.”

The Carolyn Ellis Staton Student Travel Fund is open to support from businesses and individuals. Gifts can be made by sending a check, with the fund’s name noted on the memo line, to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655, or by giving online at https://umfoundation.com/statontravelfund.

For more information about supporting the Staton Student Travel Fund or the Division of Outreach, contact Brett Barefoot, senior director of development, at bmbarefo@olemiss.edu or 662-915-2711.

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