Statesman Emerald Award of Excellence winners

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The Office of Student Affairs recently released its inaugural list of Statesman Emerald Award of Excellence winners.

The awards were part of the 2017 Men’s Conference at Delta State University. The conference, along with the 2017 Women’s Conference in March, were instituted by Dr. Vernell Bennett, vice president for Student Affairs.

“These awards do a great job of recognizing green and white excellence because they reflect the students’ voice,” said Bennett. “The students are the reason we’re here, so their opinion is paramount. The fact that students identify the winners makes the faculty, staff and administrative nominations and winners that much more special. That sort of recognition speaks to how much the students value and appreciate them.”

Bennett said the men’s and women’s conferences educate, uplift and train students to become strong leaders and stewards of the institution and its local community.

“The tutelage, professional development and collaborations that the conferences provide cultivate and improves our students’ skill sets and prepare them for their professional lives beyond DSU,” she said.

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

Top Student Leader
Samuel Cooper

Top International Student
Abulfaz Hajizada

Most Spirited
Charlie King

Top Resident Assistant
Thomas Kemp

Most Talented
Long Time Coming

Top Housing Staff
Josh Stevens

Top Organization President
Chandler Ector

Top Fan
Cuong V. Truong

Community Service Award
Undra Richardson

Statesman Advocate Award
Anthony Wilson

Top Interfraternity Council Fraternity
Phi Kappa Alpha

Top National Panhellenic Council Fraternity
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated

Top Football Athlete – Tyler Sullivan
Top Basketball Athlete – Devin Schmidt
Top Baseball Athlete – Zack Shannon
Top Golf Athlete – Zack Hammons
Top Swimmer Athlete – Matteo Fraschi
Top Tennis Athlete – Mason Vice
Top Soccer Athlete – Ashley Walker

Top Administrator
Dr. Billy Moore

Top Director Award
Michael Lipford

Top Faculty Award
Dr. Don Alan Mitchell

Top Male Staff
Matt Jones

College of Education Human Sciences Top Scholar
Paxton Stratton

College of Business and Aviation Top Scholar
John A. Hamilton

College of Arts and Sciences Top Scholar
Zachary Johnson

Robert E. Smith School of Nursing Top Scholar
Morris “Tad” Barrington

The Women’s Conference is held 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.

The 2018 Women’s Conference is scheduled for March 20-21.

BPAC turns Red and Green with new holiday show

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Rhythmic Circus will present a brand new holiday experience with their show Red and Green at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on the campus of Delta State University on Thursday, Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m.

A performance for all ages, Red and Green will leave audiences excited with the joy of the holidays. The four world-renowned tap dancers and a swinging, seven-piece band fuse their signature style into holiday classics with a groovy twist. Red and Green is a song and dance celebration of the holiday season the entire family can enjoy.

Combining Rhythmic Circus’s signature style of rapid-fire tap with well-known music, Red and Green is a holiday spectacular packed full with memorable, genre-hopping holiday melodies to set the festive mood of the season. Red and Green captures the spirit of the holidays with a wildly imaginative beatboxing rendition of “The Grinch,” a full-cast performance of “Linus and Lucy” (A Charlie Brown Christmas), five new originals and a bright mash-up medley entitled “Toy Soldier March” in which the dancers and musicians are adorned in colorful soldier attire, performing a syncopated percussive dance sequence at eye-popping speeds.

Imaginations will be inspired to rediscover everything they love about the holiday season in this new holiday spectacular. Prior to the performance, kids can enjoy cookies with Santa in the Bologna Performing Arts Center lobby.

Don’t miss what the New York Times says is “Fast, furious footwork!”

Tickets to see Red and Green are $25-35, and discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Tickets are on sale now at or at the BPAC Ticket Office at (662) 846-4626.

Entrepreneurs turn to Mississippi public universities for assistance

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Small businesses are an important economic driver in Mississippi. The Mississippi Small Business Profile, 2017, published by the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, reports that Mississippi small businesses employed 432,231 people, or 47.7 percent of the private workforce, in 2014 and that small businesses created 5,423 net jobs in 2014.

The report also noted that 1,371 establishments started up in the second quarter of 2015, generating 6,454 new jobs in Mississippi.

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Mississippi, but taking the first step to turn an idea into a business can be daunting. Mississippi Public Universities are here to help the next generation of entrepreneurs take that first step and support them along their journey.

The University of Mississippi’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship works to inspire and assist students in creating new businesses by providing the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to becoming successful entrepreneurs. The center’s activities including coordinating scholarships and internships for students, providing guest speakers to inspire and mentor students, and sponsoring the annual Gillespie Business Plan Competition, which earns startup funds for winning entrepreneurs.

The Trent Lott National Center for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship at the University of Southern Mississippi works with public entities, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals to plan and implement activities designed to generate jobs and income. Special consideration is given to rural, impoverished areas of Mississippi. The center provides client-requested assistance and offers expertise in strategic planning and leadership development; education and training; community analysis and research; and other technical support.

At Mississippi State University, the Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach in the College of Business provides a world-class launch pad for startup ventures. The 12,000 square foot facility provides expansive collaboration space, offices, meeting areas and workstations. Built through $6 million in endowments and private donations, the E-Center and business incubator has helped students from 40 different majors start their own businesses.

Cross-discipline faculty serves a vital role in preparing entrepreneurs to tackle evolving technology and understand economic demands. They help refine ideas through a standardized track resulting in step-by-step game plans for implementation.

Programming includes the opportunity to network and possibly connect with future business co-founders, while alumni offer guidance from the business world. Through an executive-in-residence program, regional senior business leaders and entrepreneurs keep in-person and remote office hours for entrepreneurs seeking advice and encouragement. Other offerings include quick-start workshops help move projects through the development pipeline, assistance developing prototypes and the opportunity to participate in state and national competitions that provide valuable market testing.

In January, Jackson State University’s Margaret Walker Center received a $300,000 grant from the NoVo Foundationto work with young women of color throughout the South in conjunction with Natalie Collier and the Lighthouse project. Founded by a gift from businessman Warren Buffett, the NoVo Foundation – “Novo” the latin word that can mean to make anew, refresh, revive, change, alter, invent – states that its mission is to foster a transformation from a world of domination and exploitation to one of collaboration and partnership, according to the foundation’s website.

The Lighthouse project targets southern girls with a goal to create a more balanced, equitable world by changing social attitudes, relationships and institutions that perpetuate injustice for girls and young women of color in the South.

An outreach of The University of Southern Mississippi Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education, the Southern Entrepreneurship Program (SEP) youth series is a statewide event designed to provide students with an introduction to the entrepreneurial mindset, as well as the wealth of opportunities that exist in Mississippi.

Advancing innovation and entrepreneurship education in Mississippi, the SEP has provided interactive training sessions for more than 4,000 high school students, with topics including opportunity recognition, business planning, and market validation, in its decade of existence.

Following a brief Q&A with guest entrepreneurs, student teams are presented with a unique Innovation Challenge, yet to be disclosed. Some challenges required student teams to identify a business opportunity within their individual high schools and develop strategies for launching new school-based enterprises.

The 10 highest scoring teams during the live event advance to an online round of voting, where the top three ideas receive seed funding, provided through the generous support of Georgia-Pacific Leaf River Cellulose, to help make their ideas a reality.

Delta State University hosts an annual Summer Youth Entrepreneurship Program. The program, in partnership with the Indianola Promise Community, is sponsored by Delta State University’s College of Business and Aviation. Targeting male students ages 15-19, the camp provides instruction in business vocabulary and practical work experience to enhance entrepreneurial skills and develop work ethics. The IPC is funded by the Delta Health Alliance.

University leaders receive Seven Seals Award

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Leaders of Mississippi’s public universities received The Seven Seals Award at the Board of Trustees meeting held today in Jackson. The Award was presented by the Mississippi Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (MSESGR) in recognition of significant individual or organizational achievement, initiative, or support that promotes and supports the ESGR mission. Major General Janson D. Boyles, Adjutant General of Mississippi, presented the awards.

MSESGR is a Department of Defense office that is led and operated by dedicated volunteers and staff. Its mission is to gain and maintain employer support for the Guard and Reserve. The organization has more than 70 volunteers across the state and reaches out to employers and service members in areas such as employer outreach, military outreach, public affairs, mediation, training, and employment initiative programs.

General Janson D. Boyles, Adjutant General of Mississippi, presents the Seven Seals Award to university leaders. Pictured left to right are:

  • President Al Rankins, Alcorn State University
  • President Bill LaForge, Delta State University
  • President Will Bynum, Jackson State University
  • President Mark Keenum, Mississippi State University
  • Major General Janson D. Boyles, Adjutant General of Mississippi
  • Dr. Tim Lea, Director of Veteran Services, Copiah-Lincoln Community College
  • President Jim Borsig, Mississippi University for Women
  • President Jerryl Briggs, Mississippi Valley State University
  • Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter, University of Mississippi
  • President Rodney Bennett, The University of Southern Mississippi

Stratton named Cochran Congressional Fellow

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Delta State University student Paxton Stratton was recently selected as a 2018 Congressional Fellow for U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi.

Stratton, a junior HPER (health, physical education and recreation) major, with a minor in coaching and mathematics, will move to Washington D.C. in January and remain there through the spring semester. The program selects one Delta State student each year to serve on Cochran’s staff, with the goal of providing a better understanding of the legislative process.

“I’m absolutely elated to be accepted as a Cochran Fellow,” said Stratton, a native of Fort Worth, Texas. “It’s a big-time opportunity, and I think it will be a great learning experience for me.”

Stratton said he is excited to learn how the legislative process works, having never previously delved into politics.

“I’ve never really been into politics, but this will be a great way for me to learn the ins and outs of politics,” he said. “I think it will also help my get my foot in the door with people who are changemakers in our country.”

Stratton is driven to design prosthetics after graduating from Delta State, and he said understanding the political environment would be helpful for making prosthetics more affordable to people in the future.

Stratton is also a member of the Delta State men’s soccer team.

Delta State has a long-running tradition of sending fellows to Washington, and Delta State President William N. LaForge served as Cochran’s chief of staff during the 1980s.

“It is professionally and personally gratifying to me that we continue this wonderful relationship with the senator’s office in cooperation with Delta Council and Staplcotn because of the affiliation with Sen. Cochran going back to my days as his chief of staff,” said LaForge. “Paxton will have an excellent experience there, and their office will benefit from his outstanding background at Delta State.”

The fellowship program is funded through Delta State University, the Delta Council and Staplcotn. Additionally, Stratton will receive a stipend from Cochran’s office.

The Delta Council is an area economic development organization representing the 18 Delta and part-Delta counties of Northwest Mississippi. The organization pioneers efforts to solve common problems and promote the development of the local economy. Founded in 1921, Staplcotn (Staple Cotton Cooperative Association) is the oldest and one of the largest cotton marketing cooperatives in the United States.