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The inaugural fellows of the Teach for America Graduate Fellows Program at Delta State include: (front row, left to right) Javier Peraza, Sarah Hawley, Jena Howie, Kandace Lewis, MacKenzie Stroh Hines, (back, l to r) Matty Bengloff, James Forte, Jon Delperdang, Boyce Upholt and Jeremiah Smith.

TFA graduate fellows kick off program at Delta State

By | Community, Graduate and Continuing Studies, Students, Teach for America | No Comments

Delta State University’s Graduate and Continuing Studies department recently completed its inaugural week-long immersion experience for the new Teach for America Graduate Fellows Program.

Teach For America and Delta State University are piloting the new innovative two-year fellowship program to teach 10 Teach For America alumni how to launch and run a social venture in the communities they serve while also completing a graduate degree program of their interest.

During the immersion week, the cohort refined their leadership skills while also being introduced to entrepreneurial perspectives when tackling social problems.

“We offered the cohort tangible tools for them to use by providing a framework and space to plan out the implementation and design of their projects,” said program coordinator Harrison Wood. “During our week together, we weaved in aspects of school leadership, Mississippi Delta history and community engagement. Our week was met with unbelievable success. The fellows were able to foster a ‘think-tank’ like environment, which will enable them to use one another as a resource throughout the length of the fellowship, and hopefully longer, as they each continue to positively impact Mississippi.”

The week opened with Dr. Samuel Jones, a professional keynote speaker and author who specializes in the area of leadership development. Participants then had the opportunity to take part in a Delta tour with The Delta Center for Culture and Leaning to gain a greater understanding of the Mississippi Delta culture and history.

For the next two days, the schedule focused on the expansion participants’ proposed social entrepreneurship projects. The facilitators for these days included Spud Marshall and Alexis Taylor. Marshall is the chief catalyst for co.space, an international network of homes for change-makers that launched in State College, Pennsylvania. He is also the co-founder of New Leaf, a nonprofit social innovation incubator in State College. Taylor, of Austin, Texas, is the program manager and facilitator for 3 Day Startup, an international non-profit organization that builds entrepreneurial capabilities in students and employees at colleges, corporations, organizations and governments.

On the final day, the cohort visited KIPP-Delta and the Thrive Center, both operational social enterprises in Helena, Arkansas. This trip provided the fellows an opportunity to visualize and learn from fruitful social ventures positioned in a rural area. The week closed with an afternoon canoe trip on the Mississippi River with John Ruskey of Quapaw Canoe Company, fostering a team-building experience for the participants.

Fellow Boyce Upholt was thrilled to begin the program.

TFA graduate fellows spent the week introducing entrepreneurial perspectives and social issues.

TFA graduate fellows spent the week introducing entrepreneurial perspectives and social issues.

“Immersion week was a great chance to get to know the other fellows in the program, and to begin to thought partner about how to accomplish our goals,” said Upholt. “Our projects are in varying states of development, from kernels of ideas to already operational programs, but we all walked away with tangible next steps, as well as inspiring examples of what entrepreneurship can look like in this region.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to partner with the fellows, our support staff, and the faculty in my academic program. I’m aiming to use storytelling to better connect Deltans with one another, and with their local landscape, and I can’t think of a better program for doing so.”

To complete the fellowship, each participant will focus on social entrepreneurship, while simultaneously completing a graduate degree at Delta State. The cohort will regularly convene to share experiences in a collaborative environment, allowing participants to develop goals.

The project is funded through a grant from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation. The principal goal of the foundation is to contribute to the overall economic advancement of the state of Mississippi by making funds available to four-year colleges and universities and graduate professional schools located in the state.

Applications for the 2017 cohort will open Jan. 1, 2017. For more information on the program, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/graduate-and-continuing-studies/tfa-graduate-fellows-program or call 662-846-4700.

Campus and community will unite Sept. 15 at noon to celebrate the 91st anniversary of Delta State's founding.

Campus to celebrate 91st anniversary

By | Academics, Archives and Museum, Community, Faculty/Staff, President, Students | No Comments

All campus members, friends and supporters of Delta State University are invited to a birthday celebration Sept. 15, as the university marks the 91st anniversary of its opening.

The public is encouraged to join the university as it kicks off its celebration of 91 years of excellence.

Delta State University President William N. LaForge, joined by members of the Dedicated Statesmen Association, will start the ceremony at noon at the Alumni Brick Plaza in front of Ward Hall. The event will conclude with a luncheon of sandwiches and pizza.

The program will begin with words from President LaForge, and a few DSA members will reenact some of the old campus rules that were established in the university’s rulebooks known as the Green Books. Members of the Delta State Wind Ensemble will also perform musical numbers at the affair.

Dr. James Robinson, president of the DSA committee, is exited to once again celebrate the university’s founding.

“We should celebrate each year with growing excitement as the 100th birthday approaches,” said Robinson. “A yearly celebration allows more of our students to be on campus to learn about the school’s history and its exciting future. The Founders’ Day activities help our spirits and bring us closer as students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends.”

Emily Jones, university archivist, has been working closely with the DSA to bring the event together.

“We celebrate our anniversary not for our own benefit, but for those before us and those who will come after us,” said Jones. “I enjoy spotlighting our history, and I’m thankful that we have the platform of our anniversary to do that each year.”

Stay up to date on all university events and activities at http://www.deltastate.edu.

Thanks to donations from the First Baptist Church College Ministry, Delta State's new international students were welcomed with “Dorm Room Essentials” kits.

International students welcomed with “Dorm Room Essentials” kits

By | Community, Faculty/Staff, International, Student Success Center, Students | No Comments

Members from Cleveland’s First Baptist Church College Ministry stepped up in a big way recently to support the arrival of Delta State’s new contingent of on-campus international students.

Church member Missey Hudson helped coordinate the group effort to purchase and organize what they call the “Dorm Room Essentials” kit.

The idea was presented to Hudson by an international student she met last year through the church’s ongoing efforts to welcome international students.

“What we wanted them to be able to do after an international flight and a two-hour drive from Memphis, was to be able to go into their dorm room, have a snack, take a shower and go to bed — and not have to go to WalMart to pick up the things they need after they’re exhausted and jetlagged,” said Hudson. “We wanted to make sure students don’t have to arrive to an empty bedroom.”

Hudson took the idea to the church’s college minister, and church members came together to donate funds for the kits.

“This was really a group effort,” stressed Hudson. “I had the blessing of coordinating someone else’s idea and everyone else’s hard work.”

The donations included sheets, a pillow, blanket, towel set, a planner and a small bag of snacks.

Marwa Cherraf, an international student from Morocco, was thrilled to receive the welcome gift.

“I was very pleased to get the basket — it meant a lot,” said Cherraf. “There are some international students who don’t know where to go and what to get when they first arrive. This was such a nice gift because it had all the stuff we need, especially for the first couple days. It makes me feel really welcomed as a new international student at Delta State. I appreciate that people want to make sure we feel comfortable and at home.”

To top it all off, Dr. Christy Riddle, executive director of International Student Services and the Student Success Center at Delta State, boxed everything together in new laundry baskets.

“This was such a kind act from the First Baptist Church,” said Riddle. “It warms our hearts that people in our community want to help welcome our international students. We have a growing international student body at Delta State, and this help will go a long way.”

Hudson said the church’s small act of kindness was a simple way to make the new students feel more at home.

“I’m hoping this idea will grow,” added Hudson. “International students are so far away from home, their friends and their family members. They’re looking to Cleveland and Delta State to form those friendships and family-like connections. As members of the Cleveland community, we can all step up and welcome these folks into our homes and our lives.”

Learn more about International Student Services at http://www.deltastate.edu/student-success-center/international-student-services.

trio and CCED

Dept. of Education awards $1.1 million for Delta Educational Opportunity Center

By | Academics, Center for Community and Economic Development, Community | No Comments

Delta State University’s Center for Community and Economic Development recently received news of a major grant from the Department of Education in the amount of $1,180,000 to establish the Delta Educational Opportunity Center.

The grant is for five years at $236,000 per year.

The overall goal of the DEOC will be to increase the number of adults who enroll in postsecondary education institutions. The program will provide counseling and information on college admissions to qualified adults who want to enter or continue postsecondary education.

Services will also be provided to improve the financial and economic literacy of participants. An important objective of the program is to counsel participants on financial aid options, including basic financial planning skills, and to assist in the application process.

“The DEOC will be very important for this region because the Mississippi Delta has some of the state’s poorest educational outcomes when it comes to obtaining a high school diploma or equivalent and graduating from college,” said David Tanner with the CCED. “I am looking forward to increased enrollment numbers and graduation rates at Delta State. Many jobs are requiring applicants to have certain skills acquired from a post-secondary education, and the DEOC will help strengthen the economy with workers who are skillfully trained.”

Another key figure to help secure the grant for the CCED was Robin Boyles, director of the Office of Institutional Grants at Delta State.

“There is such a need for an Educational Opportunity Center that serves the residents of the Mississippi Delta,” said Boyles. “Through the Delta EOC, adults will be able to obtain assistance through the oftentimes overwhelming steps required for college admission. Providing these services to help those desiring to enter post-secondary education is one more opportunity that we have to address and positively impact the educational and economic development needs of our community.”

The program will be one of the eight federal TRIO Programs, which are outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. TRIO works continuously to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.

Thanks to the grant, around 1,000 participants in 12 Delta counties will be serviced by DEOC. These counties include: Bolivar, Coahoma, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tunica and Washington.

News of the grant also pleased Mississippi Congressman Bennie G. Thompson, who has worked hard to service those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

I am very pleased that Delta State University has been selected as a new recipient of an Educational Opportunity Center grant through the Department of Education’s TRIO programs,” said Thompson. “This will be the first time that counties in this area will benefit from this very important grant funding. Delta State has long worked as a community partner with counties in the Mississippi Delta to provide educational attainment opportunities and better health outcomes in the region. The programming that Delta State will put in place is yet another example of their continued commitment to the Mississippi Delta’s citizens and I applaud their efforts.”

Dr. Beverly Moon, dean of Graduate & Continuing Studies and Research at Delta State, is also thrilled to begin the DEOC venture.

We are so excited to be funded for this project, which we’ve been imagining and discussing for some time,” said Moon. “Finally, we were able to propose to the best possible funder, the Department of Education’s TRIO programming. The CCED’s 20-year history includes impactful programs in economic development, social justice, health services and educational programming. For a couple of years now, all of us involved with the CCED have worked specifically towards programming that would further the university’s positive impact on educational attainment levels.”

For more information, contact the CCED at 662-846-4808.

2014 Convocation edits-57

Live Streaming Available for Convocation

By | Community, Faculty/Staff, Foundation, General, President, Students | No Comments

Delta State University President William N. LaForge will deliver his State of the University convocation address today at 10:30 a.m. in the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

The event will be live streamed at: www.livestream.com/DeltaStateUniversity

The address will serve as a welcome to faculty, staff and the community at the start of Delta State’s academic year. Leading the event with LaForge will be Dr. Charles McAdams, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

Heather Robinson, president-elect of the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce, will provide a community welcome.

Dr. Chris Jurgenson, president of the Faculty Senate, will provide an introduction of new faculty, followed by an introduction of new staff by Christie Rocconi, chair of the Administrative Staff Council.

As is the tradition at each Delta State convocation address, new Student Government Association officers will also be recognized.

LaForge will conclude the ceremony with his address, highlighting university achievements over the last year, along with goals and visions for Delta State’s future.

Visit www.deltastate.edu to stay updated on university news and event coverage. Track the president’s efforts on his blog at http://president.deltastate.edu and Twitter via @presidentDSU.