Annual Bolivar County Alumni Chapter Crawfish Boil

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The Delta State University National Alumni Association held its annual Bolivar County Alumni Chapter Crawfish Boil May 3 in front of Walter Sillers Coliseum.

This year’s event featured Crustaceans Crawfish, Judson Brown & Cliff Byrd Championship BBQ and pizza for children 12 and under thanks to Domino’s. Entertainment for the night was provided Southern Reality & Fusion Gymnastics through Delta State University Continuing Education.

Jeffrey Farris director of Alumni Affairs, and Gary Crews president of the Bolivar County Chapter spoke to the crowd of over 350 on the importance of a lifelong alumni experience, recognized volunteers for 2018, event entertainment, and 2018 event sponsors. The Bolivar County chapter president Crews presented Dr. Rose Strahan, queen of the crawfish boil, and Bill Quinton ‘94, king of the crawfish boil. Dr. Rose Strahan, of Cleveland, is the 2010 Gladys Castle “Friend of Delta State” Service Award recipient. Strahan served as chair of the Mathematics Department for 1978 to 2009. She is an active member of the Dedicated Statesmen Association. Bill Quinton ‘94, of Cleveland, is the Director of the Bolivar County Emergency Management Agency. He is a past Bolivar County Alumni President, Past National Alumni Association Board Member, Life Member of the Delta State University Alumni Association and avid Delta State Athletics supporter.

The chapter also held a silent auction with all proceeds going to the Liza Vaughn Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship was named for former assistant alumni director Liza Vaughn ’95 who passed away in April of 2012. It was established for incoming Delta State students from Bolivar County. Three $1000 scholarships were given to students who will attend Delta State this Fall.

Cameron Leslie – Ray Brooks High School
Kayleigh Lindsey – Bayou Academy
Anna Pierce Hackney – Cleveland Central High School

The event would not have been possible without the help of many volunteers and sponsors. This year’s Bolivar County officers were Gary Crews, president; Shane Howell, vice president; and Tricia Killebrew, secretary/treasurer. The Student Alumni Association also helped volunteer with the Kids Zone.

This year’s event sponsors were:

National Alumni Association Corporate Sponsors:

Statesmen Level:
Bolivar Medical Center
Cardiovascular Solutions of Central Mississippi – Dr. Fakorede, MD

Okra Level:
Air Evac Lifeteam
Patrick Davis State Farm,
Renasant Bank

Bolivar County Chapter Sponsors:

Okra Level:
DSU University Advancement of External Relations
Boyle Lumber
Crustaceans Crawfish
Delta Radio
Needle Specialty Products
Radio Cleveland, Inc.

Green Level:
Lenny’s Subs
Backdraft Inc.
Cleveland State Bank
Denton’s Dairy
Guaranty Bank
McNeer Mini Storage
Mississippi Grounds
Right at Home/ Delta Maids
Robinson Electric
The Image Specialist

White Level:
A la Carte
Ace Hardware
Advance Physical Therapy
Anytime Fitness/ Studio S
Byrd Service Station
Cleveland Rentall Outdoors
Eley Barkley, P.A.
Go Knightrider, LLC
Joe Reed and Company Inc
Meador & Crump, Attorneys at Law
Mid South Water, LLC
Peters Pottery
Planters Bank
Rogers Entomological Services, Inc
Shelter Insurance
Shipp Family Eyecare, PLLC
South Street Pharmacy
The Bolivar Commerical
The Childrens Dental Clinic
Williams Equipment & Supply Company
Gaines Management Group
The American Legion MS Delta Post No.1776

To make a donation to the Liza Vaughn Memorial Scholarship, visit or call 662-846-4660.

To view photos from the 2018 Bolivar Country Crawfish Boil, visit

To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), LinkedIn (DSU alumni), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1). Save the date for this year’s Pig Pickin’ (Sept. 21st – 22nd) and Homecoming (Nov. 9th & 10th).

Delta Models reunite on campus

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Former Delta Models program directors (left to right): Pam Parker, Barbara Black Travis, Llana Smith and Verlee Williams.


A group of fashionable alumni and former staff at Delta State University gathered for a special reunion during 2018 Go Green Weekend festivities on April 28.

Barbara Black Travis, founder and creator of the Delta Models program at Delta State in 1976, hosted a number of former student models and program directors at the Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni House to reminisce on their modeling days at the institution.

Travis, a Greenville native, began teaching fashion merchandising and marketing course at Delta State in 1976. Shortly after arriving, she was tasked with brainstorming ideas to increase departmental enrollment.

“I told them, I have an idea that’s different, but I think it will work,” said Travis, who had previously taught at Mississippi University for Women and had experience working in Mississippi’s fashion malls.

“At the time, a lot of Mississippi schools had modeling teams, but I wanted to create a team that also included men,” said Travis. “And that’s where the idea for Delta Models came from. I specifically wanted to incorporate male athletes because they’re coordinated and I can teach them moves. And, I knew they loved the limelight.”

Delta Models took off with popularity, partly due to the one credit students received for participating.

During class, Travis would teach them fashion show production, modeling and other elements of performing. Performances would start on campus, and with her contacts with local malls, she helped plan fashion shows at the malls featuring DSU models.

Quickly, Delta Models became sought after for bookings across the region.

“Another thing that really helped us was our publicity efforts,” said Travis. “I sent a story idea about Delta Models to the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, and they ended up making us the cover story of their Sunday magazine section.”

After the Commercial Appeal feature, the media attention poured in. The story was picked up by the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, NBC’s Today Show, Seventeen Magazine, Mississippi Magazine and more.

“It was great publicity for Delta State, it was a great opportunity for the students,” added Travis. “The bookings just kept coming in, and the enrollment went up, which was a big plus.”

Travis would go on to lead the group until the beginning of 1980 when she was hired to take over the Metrocenter Mall in Jackson. And the program continued with popularity into the ’90s.

“I’ve kept in touch with the students over the years, and it’s great to see some of them here today,” said Travis. “It’s always great to bump into them across the state too, because we were always like a big family. I’m thrilled the program lasted for so long after I left Delta State.”

Travis said the best thing about Delta Models is that it made the students feel special.

“It gave them self-confidence and they blossomed,” she said. “They took the basic things they learned about development and leadership and applied them in their lives. I still see those qualities when I bump into them now.

“Everything I taught dealt with appearance, presentation and interactions with other people, along with self-confidence on stage and speaking ability. All of these things are exactly what you need to succeed in a career. I think everything they learned helped them personally and professionally.”

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Alumni seeking nominations for 2018 Alumni Service Awards

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The Delta State University National Alumni Association is seeking nominations for the 2018 Alumni Service Awards, Alumni Hall of Fame and Outstanding Alumnus of the Year. The deadline for nominations is May 31, 2018. Award recipients will be recognized at the Annual Alumni Awards Gala on Nov. 9 at the Cleveland Country Club during Homecoming weekend.

“The Annual Alumni Awards Gala celebrates the accomplishments of our alumni and friends of Delta State University,” said Jeffrey Farris, director of Alumni Affairs. “The awards banquet gives us the opportunity to showcase our alums, invite alumni to campus, and celebrate Delta State University.”

The Outstanding Alumnus of the Year award was established to give recognition to an alumnus of Delta State who has made significant contributions to human or institutional programs in which a situation, an institution or a movement has been materially changed for the better because of that individual’s personal participation:

Induction into the Delta State University Alumni Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed upon an individual by the Alumni Association. Established in 2007, the Alumni Hall of Fame is extended to alumni and friends who have achieved professional distinction and made significant community service contributions at the local, national and/or international level, and who have thus brought honor and distinction to the university:

The Gladys Castle “Friend of Delta State” Service Award was named for Gladys Castle, a 46-year employee of Delta State who served as the first alumni secretary, and it is presented to recognize outstanding service and contributions to the university by a non-alumnus:

The Kent Wyatt “Young Alumnus” Service Award is named for Dr. Forest Kent Wyatt, president emeritus of 24 years, and recognizes outstanding service and contributions to Delta State by a young alumnus 36 years of age or younger:

The Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni Service Award is named for Hugh Ellis Walker, a 24-year director of the Delta State University Alumni/Foundation, and recognizes outstanding service and contributions to Delta State by an alumnus:

The Legacy Award is presented to someone who has made an institutional change upon the university. The Alumni Chapter of the Year is presented to an alumni chapter that is dedicated to raising scholarship dollars for Delta State students in their area:

The Dr. Henry Outlaw Faculty and Staff Service Award was established in 2014 as a way to recognize former faculty or staff members who have made a significant influence in the life of the university and/or the National Alumni Association:

To nominate a person or a group for an award, and to view past recipients, visit Nomination forms can be submitted online or mailed to DSU Box 3104 Cleveland, MS 38733, or emailed to

To stay up to date on the Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), LinkedIn (DSU alumni), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1). Save the date for this year’s Pig Pickin’ (September 21-22) and Homecoming (Nov. 9-10).

Bolivar County Crawfish Boil scheduled for May 3

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The Delta State University Bolivar County Alumni Chapter will host its annual Bolivar County Crawfish Boil on May 3 starting at 5:30 p.m. on the lawn at Walter Sillers Coliseum.

The Delta State University National Alumni Association, along with the Bolivar County Alumni Chapter officers, hosts the event each spring for local alumni to congregate and raise funds for the Liza Vaughn Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Tickets for crawfish are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. BBQ tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Free Domino’s pizza will be available to children 12 and under with the purchase of an adult ticket.

Tickets can be purchased at the Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni-Foundation House, online at, or at the door.

The annual affair features live entertainment, a kids zone area, exceptional food and a silent auction to raise money for the Liza Vaughn Memorial Scholarship fund. The scholarship is given to students who attend Delta State as freshmen and are Bolivar County residents.

The scholarship was established in 2011 and was named for past assistant director of Alumni Affairs, Liza Vaughn, who lost her battle with cancer in April of 2012. To donate to the scholarship, visit

“This event is always filled with great food, entertainment and our amazing alumni from Bolivar county,” said Amanda Robinson, assistant director of Alumni Affairs. “This would not be possible without help from our many volunteers and sponsors. Our main goal with this event is to raise scholarship funding to support the Liza Vaughn Memorial Scholarship fund. We are looking forward to another great event here in Bolivar County.”

This year’s sponsors include: Advance Physical Therapy, Anytime Fitness/Studio S, Backdraft Inc., Boyle Lumber, Cleveland Rentall Outdoors, Cleveland State Bank, Crustaceans Crawfish, Delta Radio, Denton’s Dairy, DSU University Advancement of External Relations, Eley Barkley, P.A., Guaranty Bank, Joe Reed and Company Inc., McNeer Mini Storage, Mid South Water, LLC, Mississippi Grounds, Monsanto, Needle Specialty Products, Peters Pottery, Planters Bank, Right at Home/ Delta Maids, Robinson Electric, Rogers Entomological Services, Inc., South Street Pharmacy, The Bolivar Commercial, The Childrens Dental Clinic, The Image Specialist, and Williams Equipment & Supply Company.

The 2018 Bolivar County officers are: Gary Crews, president; Shane Howell, vice president; and Tricia Killebrew, secretary/treasurer.

Follow all event details on Facebook at:

To stay up to date with Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media outlets: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), LinkedIn Group (Delta State University National Alumni Association), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1). Save the dates for the 33rd Annual Pig Pickin’ (Sept. 22) and Homecoming (Nov. 10).

Board names Cooper-Oguz physical therapist SHRP Alumnus of the Year

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*** Article and photo originally published by the University Medical Center of Mississippi.


When Dr. Carmen Cooper-Oguz first started college at Delta State University, she was determined to find a career in which she could help people. She thought that would take shape in law, but she soon found her way in the physical therapy program at the University of Mississippi School of Health Related Professions. This past Friday, April 6, she was named SHRP Alumnus of the Year at the school’s annual Alumni Day at the Jackson Medical Mall.

Cooper-Oguz received her Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Business Administration from Delta State University before earning her Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy in 1997 and Doctor of Physical Therapy in 2008 from UMMC.

“I went into physical therapy so that I could return to the Mississippi Delta to live and work. It was important to me to return to my home to serve in underserved areas,” said Cooper-Oguz.

Read the full story here: