Graduate and Continuing Studies

Hearin funds university and TFA graduate program

By | Academics, Community, Faculty/Staff, Graduate and Continuing Studies, President, Students, Teach for America | No Comments

Thanks to continued support from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation, Delta State University and Teach For America-Mississippi are proud to announce the Teach For America Alumni Retention Assistance Program at Delta State.

The Hearin Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Jackson, has supported Delta State through numerous grants over the years. The organization backs Mississippi higher education and economic development.

The retention project strengthens and expands the partnership between the university and TFA by creating a pathway for TFA alumni to advance their education while simultaneously addressing community and economic development issues in the region and state.

The program encourages TFA alumni to stay in Mississippi after completing their two-year teaching commitment by providing opportunities for educational and professional development, while building professional relationships with businesses, communities and government leaders.

TFA alumni will engage in summer internships with local organizations immediately following their TFA service commitment. This engagement with local entities will enable alumni to use their skills and talents in areas such as economic development, community engagement, project and program management, event planning, creating economy initiatives, public relations, governmental relations, political areas, youth development and research.

In addition to supporting the internships, the Hearin grant will also provide funding for graduate school scholarships and graduate assistantships for 10 selected alumni each year who will attend graduate school at Delta State.

“While Teach for America-Mississippi certainly has a growing number of alumni staying, buying property, starting a family, educating their kids, and following their passions and leading on a variety of fronts here in Mississippi, the ongoing trend of exporting talent simply follows the current local and regional trend for college-educated, young professionals from the Delta,” said Barbara Logan Smith, executive director of TFA-Mississippi. “Instead of losing talent to New Orleans and Nashville, by partnering with the Hearin Foundation, Delta State University, members of the Mississippi Economic Council and others, we posit that we can foster, incubate, retain and attract at least 10 alumni per year who feed off one another’s passions and energies — and who then launch some social entrepreneurial idea or venture here that improves the quality of life of Mississippians.”

Delta State University President William N. LaForge could not be more pleased with the opportunities that will arise for all parties involved.

“This is a win-win-win. It’s a win for TFA alumni who have had great experiences teaching in the Delta for two years and are now looking for the next career move,” said LaForge. “We’re giving them opportunities for internships, graduate programs and graduate assistantships. The second win is for TFA itself. This grant underscores the value of the TFA and perpetuates the cross-cultural experiences that it fosters by bringing in people from other parts of the country. And closer to home, this is a huge win for Delta State, the Delta and Mississippi. Delta State will be bringing in students who otherwise would not matriculate here, and the goal is for them to find a career niche in the region.”

Robin Boyles, director of the Office of Institutional Grants at Delta State, echoed the president’s praise for the program.

“Delta State University recognizes the individual and collective value that Teach For America brings to the Mississippi Delta,” said Boyles. “We are excited that through this grant from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation, we will be able to offer this opportunity for TFA alumni to remain here in the Mississippi Delta following their teaching commitment, and continue to contribute to the community and economic development of the Delta communities.”

LaForge was quick to thank the Hearin Foundation for its continued faith in the university. The foundation has also backed groundbreaking programming such as Delta State’s International Delta Blues Project.

“This is yet another amazing partnership with the Hearin Foundation, and I am very grateful for their confidence and trust in us to put this sort of program in operation,” said LaForge. “This program has wonderful potential, and a big thanks goes to the Hearin Foundation. This will boost the value of our university and will bring in some amazing talent.”

All parties remain hopeful of the longlasting results this program will have on economic development, education and social impact in the region.

“We believe that this opportunity with Delta State University has the capacity to create an exponential win-win for the state through the deepening of established partnerships, the mobilization of new hearts and minds determined to highlight the great assets of our state, and address the challenges while living with us as neighbors — and a focus on making Mississippi a preferred destination for living, learning and leading,” said Smith. “We are excited about this new investment in Mississippi and our opportunity to be a partner in such an important endeavor.”

The program will be coordinated through Delta State’s Office of Graduate and Continuing Studies under the leadership of Dean Beverly Moon.

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About Teach For America:

Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding college graduates and professionals to make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the movement to end educational inequity. Today, 10,600 corps members are teaching in 50 urban and rural regions across the country while more than 37,000 alumni work across sectors to ensure that all children have access to an excellent education. For more information, visit



Coahoma hosts book lecture series

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The Coahoma County Higher Education Center (CCHEC) and Carnegie Public Library in Clarksdale will present the Community Book Talks lecture series at the historic Cutrer Mansion on Aug. 28. The lecture series will feature veteran journalist and author Juan Williams and is free to the public.

Williams is an Emmy Award-winning journalist with the Fox News Channel. He has spent decades working with news outlets like The Washington Post, NPR and Fox News. He covered every major political campaign from 1980 to 2000 as a national correspondent and political columnist. He is also a frequent contributor to magazines, including TIME, Fortune, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, Ebony and GQ.

Sarah Crisler-Ruskey, director of Carnegie Public Library, is excited about the series.

“I feel that this lecture series has been a unique and positive addition to the cultural life of Coahoma County, and I look forward to the next installment with Juan Williams,” said Crisler-Ruskey. “I have learned from each and every one of our speakers, and I hope the community will come out and take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.”

It is Williams’ work as an author that brings him to the lecture series. He is the author of six books, including the non-fiction bestseller that will be highlighted at the lecture series, during the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer — Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965.

Eyes on the Prize traces the American Civil Rights Movement from the landmark Brown versus the Board of Education case in 1954 to the march on Selma and the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. The piece tells the stories of ordinary people who participated in the movement. From leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., to lesser-known figures such as Barbara Rose John and Jim Zwerg, each man and woman made the decision that something had to be done to stop discrimination. These moving accounts are a tribute to the people, black and white, who took part in the fight for justice and the struggle they endured.

The Community Book Talks lecture series is free and open to the public thanks to community sponsor Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center and a special fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

The series includes a complimentary hors d’oeuvres reception (by Chris Card and The Ranchero) at 5 p.m. followed by the talk at 5:30 p.m. The speakers will also be available to sign books and talk with attendees. For more information, please visit

Director of CCHEC Jen Waller views the series as an advantage to the surrounding community members.

“We hope the Community Book Talks lecture series is a positive force in Clarksdale and Coahoma County,” said Waller. “It aims to further expose us to a world beyond small-town Mississippi by connecting us to stories and authors who make us think and remember and see more than just the everyday grind.”

The series continues through October with two more highly-anticipated author events. On Sept. 25, Mary Miller, John Grisham Writer-in-Residence at Ole Miss and author of The Last Days of California, will be featured. On Oct. 23, Lois Lowry, winner of two Newberry Awards and author of The Giver (now a major motion picture) and Number the Stars, will visit.

The Coahoma County Higher Education Center (CCHEC) is located at 109 Clark Street in Clarksdale, Mississippi. CCHEC a partnership between Delta State University and Coahoma Community College (CCC). It was designed to enhance the outreach capabilities of both institutions. The partnership encourages regional growth and development by expanding educational opportunities for the people of Coahoma County and the surrounding countie and by targeting high needs in the North Mississippi Delta region.

The purpose of the Carnegie Public Library is to provide opportunities for information, education, culture, and recreation through books, computers, videos, and other materials as well as offer library services, to the people of Clarksdale and Coahoma County. Service is available to all citizens of Coahoma County through tax support from the City of Clarksdale and the County Board of Supervisors.

CPR/Basic Life Support certification course offered

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Delta State University’s Office of Continuing Education is offering a CPR/Basic Life Support (BLS) certification course. In this classroom-based course, participants will learn to recognize several life-threatening emergencies, provide CPR to victims of all ages, use an AED and relieve choking in a safe, timely and effective manner.

The course is designed for community members, certified or non-certified healthcare professionals and first responders seeking first time certification or re-certification. Adult and Infant/Child CPR will be covered in this certification course. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn the key changes in CPR/BLS under the 2010 American Heart Association guidelines for CPR and Emergency Cardiovascular Care.

This class will be held Aug. 27 at 5 p.m. in the Simmons Room of the Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni Building. The cost is $35 per person. Certification cards will be issued for participants who successfully complete requirements.

Preregistration is required for this course, and the deadline to register is August 22. Interested applicants must contact Marilyn Read in the Office of Continuing Education at 662-846-4874 or e-mail

Freedom Summer Workshop offered

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Delta State is offering a Freedom Summer Workshop through the Coahoma County Higher Education Center (CCHEC) on July 14-18.

The workshop is focuses on the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project commonly known as “Freedom Summer.” The classroom instruction is being led by Assistant Professor of History Dr. Chuck Westmoreland on Monday – Thursday from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. with a closing trip to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis on Friday.

The workshop is open to the community and will cost $65 for the full week. Daily attendance is permitted for a fee of $15 per day. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for teachers are available for an additional $20 fee payable at the end of the workshop.

Space is limited, so please register as soon as possible by contacting Director Jen Waller at 662-645-3555 or The CCHEC workshop will take place at 109 Clark Street, Lewis Building Room 301 in Clarksdale.

Fashion students tour Europe

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From London to Paris to Milan, a group of Delta State fashion merchandising students had a summer class to remember thanks to a recent academic-based trip to Europe.

Jan Haynes, professor of fashion merchandising, said the tour was designed to expose students to the global nature of the industries of textiles, apparel and retail.

“Students made contact with business professionals through on-site visits to a couture house, as well as the home office of Diesel, a large Italian apparel producer that caters to a contemporary clientele,” said Haynes.

One of the anticipated cultural experiences was a private showing of Princess Diana’s gowns at Kensington Palace in London. The visit was arranged by Pat Kerr, a Delta State supporter from Memphis and internationally esteemed couture designer of special occasion apparel. She is also a collector of royal memorabilia and the owner of one of the gowns in this “Fashion Rules” exhibit.

One of the major goals of the trip was to emphasize the social and economic importance of the fashion industry in major European apparel centers.

Students were asked to identify the varied career opportunities in the fashion industry and develop an understanding of the duties, responsibilities and training needed for each career.

Opportunities were made to interact with professionals in the fashion industry and gain insight from their personal perspectives.

The trip also aligns with Delta State’s recent five-year Quality Enhancement Plan with efforts to improve overall cultural competence on campus.

Sam Partee, a fashion merchandising major from Clarksdale, said the experience provided some unforgettable firsts.

“It was my first time to Europe and it was definitely a trip to remember,” said Partee. “We got to experience a lot of new things, new cultures and cities – it was a real eye-opener.”

Partee said he would recommend future fashion merchandising trips  because of the first-hand experiences students are able to learn from.

“You really don’t get to experience a lot of opportunities like this when your from around here,” he said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to tour three major fashion cities and learn so much doing it.”

The trip was designed for students in the fashion merchandising program, but other targeted students included those interested in aspects of the fashion industry including business and art. The tour was also open and promoted to a broad base of interested adults, including university students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members.

Six students took the course for three hours of undergraduate credit. They were required to read several articles prior to the trip. During the trip, they were required to keep thorough journals, with the objectives of reflection and evaluation, and to have a written and visual documentation of activities. They were also required to choose a focus topic and write a detailed research paper.

To learn more about fashion merchandising at Delta State, visit