Student Life

Inductees honored at DSU Student Hall of Fame banquet

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The Class of 2018 DSU Student Hall of Fame (front row, left to right): Cecilia Bercerril Nieves, Marwa Cherraf, Abbigail E. Myers, Meghan Rosemary Vogelsang, (back, l to r) Abulfaz Hajizada, Ashley Griffin, Victoria Lynn McDonald, and Taylor Michelle Johnson.


The Office of Student Affairs recognized student achievement May 4 at the annual DSU Student Hall of Fame banquet.

The DSU Hall of Fame began in 1972 as a way to recognize outstanding students. It is the single highest honor bestowed upon any Delta State student based on outstanding accomplishments in all phases of college life.

This year’s inductees include: Marwa Cherraf, international business (El Jadida, Morocco); Ashley Griffin, biology and chemistry (Greenwood, MS); Abulfaz Hajizada, computer information sciences (Lankaran, Azerbaijan); Taylor Michelle Johnson, accounting (Long Beach, MS); Victoria Lynn McDonald, English with concentration in creative writing (Canton, MS); Abbigail E. Myers, marketing (Yazoo City, MS); Cecilia Bercerril Nieves. foreign language and international business (Cleveland, MS); and Meghan Rosemary Vogelsang, aviation management (Hernando, MS).

“The Student Hall of Fame is a wonderful way to recognize students who have been scholars and have exhibited a civic and social conscience throughout their matriculation at DSU,” said Dr. Vernell Bennett, vice president for Student Affairs. “This honor affords students an opportunity to leave a legacy at DSU that will be recognized  forevermore. This year’s inductees have distinguished themselves in the classroom, in student organizations, in athletics, and in the local community. We’re proud of, and grateful for their many contributions to DSU and its community.”

Also recognized at the banquet were Juwan Adonis Burney, a business management major from Arlington, TN, as the winner of the Wayne Blansett Award, and Brittany Kay Earls, a nursing major from Cleveland, MS, recipient of the H.L. Nowell Student Alumni Association Award.

Left to right: Juwan Adonis Burney, Wayne Blansett, Jeffrey Farris, and Brittany Kay Earls.

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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Delta State signs PepsiCo contract

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President William N. LaForge (left) signs the beverage services contract on April 12 with Mike McGraw, PepsiCo Director of Workplace — South Region.



Delta State University President William N. LaForge welcomed representatives from PepsiCo on April 12 to sign the beverage services contract with the company. In February, Delta State announced PepsiCo as its new beverage vendor of choice for the next five years.

Delta State chose PepsiCo after a university committee unanimously recommended the company following a detailed analysis of corporate options, products and services.

LaForge said he was looking forward to the numerous opportunities the new partnership will provide.

“PepsiCo will provide a large array of services and benefits, including an extensive line of beverages that students prefer, a significant increase of revenue from commissions, a special partnership with Gatorade for our athletic programs, card reader machines campus-wide for convenience of purchase, and a number of student engagement events and promotional programs on campus for the next several years,” said LaForge. “On top of those important features of the relationship, PepsiCo will also purchase substantial advertising from the university.”

Joining LaForge for the signing was Mike McGraw, PepsiCo Director of Workplace — South Region.

Sales reports have already shown a major increase in consumer purchases, with sales tripling in the first month. PepsiCo has remained busy restocking machines throughout campus on a daily basis.

Ashley Griffin, Student Government Association president at Delta State, said students around campus are showing great enthusiasm for the new products.

“A lot of students are excited about having a wider variety of options that aren’t just sodas, such as the iced coffees and flavored water,” said Griffin. “It’s also been a bonus to have access to more healthy options. Students also like using their Okra Kards, credit cards and debit cards at all the machines.”

Alan Gorman, a senior graphic design major, said he also enjoys the variety in the new product line.

“Now, there’s something everyone can find, even for the people not big on sodas,” said Gorman. “Additionally, now it’s much more convenient to find a drink on campus with the new drink machines and the card readers. Probably one of the biggest things I’ve heard from the other students is how much they like having Starbucks coffee in the drink machines.”

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Statesman Emerald Awards of Excellence winners

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The Office of Student Affairs at Delta State recently hosted the second annual Lady Statesman Emerald Awards of Excellence at the the 2018 Women’s Conference.

The conference, along with the annual Men’s Conference, was instituted by Dr. Vernell Bennett, vice president for Student Affairs.

This year’s Lady Statesman Emerald Award of Excellence winners, which recognized female students, faculty and staff, included:

  • Top Student Leader – Michaella Wheatley
  • Top International Student – Marwa Cherraf
  • Most Spirited – Kaitlyn Bryant
  • Top Resident Assistant – Katherine White
  • Most Talented – Elizabeth Wickliffe
  • Top Residence Hall Manager – Candace Ball
  • Top Student Organization President – Porsche Chambers
  • Top Fan – Rachel Stephens
  • Community Service Award – Taylor Johnson
  • Top Panhellenic Council Sorority – Delta Delta Delta Sorority
  • Top National Pan-Hellenic Council Sorority – Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
  • College of Educations & Human Sciences Undergraduate Scholar – Etta Kathryn Jennings
  • College of Education & Human Sciences Graduate Scholar – Elizabetta Zengaro
  • College of Education & Human Sciences Doctoral Scholar – Barbara Boschert
  • College of Business & Aviation Scholar – Mara Clara Belisario
  • College of Arts & Sciences Scholar – Rebecca Hamilton
  • Robert E. Smith School of Nursing Scholar – Skylar Kuehn


  • Top Women’s Basketball Scholar – Aspriona Gilbert
  • Top Cheer Scholar – Porsha Gatson
  • Top Women’s Cross Country Scholar – Sarah Mumme
  • Top Women’s Soccer Scholar – Cath Thomson
  • Top Softball Scholar – Taylor Johnson
  • Top Swim/Dive Scholar – Hailey Leonard
  • Top Women’s Tennis Scholar – Charlotte le Flohic

* Top Administrator – Dr. Vernell Bennett
* Top Director Award – Julie Jackson
* Top Faculty Award – Dr. Tomeka Harbin
* Top Female Staff – Tarnisha Smith

The Women’s Conference is hosted each spring and the Men’s Conference is held each fall. The Emerald Awards of Excellence are held for both conferences. Students submit nominations in person and online. Each conference features keynote speakers, plenary sessions, workshops, a luncheon, a community service project and social events.



Jackson crowned Most Beautiful

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Delta State University held its annual Most Beautiful Pageant on March 29 at the Bologna Performing Arts Center. Recognition was given to Most Beautiful, Most Photogenic, Four Beauties and Top 10. A total of 30 girls competed for the title.

Rachel Jackson of Southaven was crowned Most Beautiful 2018.

Four Beauties recognition went to Niven Bullock (Cleveland), Ally Embry (Madison), Carley Caulder (Grenada) and Ann Carver (Hernando).

“We had another great pageant this year,” said Bevin Lamb, executive director of pageants. “We had 30 girls compete, and we appreciate everyone from the campus and community who came to support them.”

The pageant was sponsored by the Delta State University Student Government Association and produced by the Pageant Board, a Delta State student organization.