Fighting Okra Records releases new compilation CD

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Delta Music Institute, Students | No Comments

Fighting Okra Records, a student-run record label housed in the Delta Music Institute entertainment industry program at Delta State University, recently released its third compilation CD project, “Fighting Okra: Round 3,” featuring 17 tracks of original music either written, produced or recorded by DMI students.

The new Fighting Okra project was the culmination of a senior project by DMI graduate Jarrick Finkley during the fall of 2015. In a continuing effort to expose the music of DMI students to the campus and community, Finkley decided to assemble a third compilation CD to expose the depth of talent of DMI students.

“Fighting Okra: Round 3” contains 17 original works representing a wide range of genres including hip-hop, gospel, alternative, R&B, dub step, rock, metal, and country. The songs on the project were written, produced, engineered or performed by current DMI students and alumni, with Finkley serving as executive producer. Songs on the CD were selected by Finkley after multiple screenings and were chosen on the basis of lyrical content and recording quality.

“I loved working on Fighting Okra Round 3,” said Finkley, a native of Vicksburg. “It was a big challenge, but the project allowed me to learn so much within a cooperative work situation. I am grateful to every student artist and engineer who contributed their awesome gifts and talents to this project.”

DMI Director Tricia Walker served as the faculty advisor for the project.

“The lessons students like Jarrick learn in working on a real-world project like this are invaluable,” said Walker. “I’m very proud of what he’s put together on this CD. It really does represent the breadth and depth of the talent coming out of DMI.”

Copies of the CD will be available for purchase in the main office of the DMI on campus and online at For more information on the album or the FOR label, contact the DMI at 662-846-4579 or visit

The DMI is an independent center of study under the College of Arts and Sciences at Delta State, offering a bachelor’s degree in entertainment industry studies. The focus of the DMI is to provide students with a broad and thorough education in the technological, creative and business areas of the music and entertainment industry. For information, contact 662-846-4579 or visit

Alumni magazine hits mailboxes

By | Alumni, Foundation | No Comments

The latest issue of the Delta State Alumni and Foundation Magazine is currently on its way to the homes of alumni, friends and supporters of Delta State University.

The cover features alumnus Dr. Brad Vickers ’98, founder, owner and CEO of Southern Tradition Tailgating, along with his custom-made tailgating combat vehicle.

Also spotlighted in the magazine is the city of Cleveland, along with several alumni who are committed to promoting and creating an attractive environment for students and Cleveland residents alike.

The magazine contains highlights of a new outdoor recreation lab, the International Business Symposium, athletics and various alumni spotlights.

“The Delta State Alumni and Foundation Magazine is the primary publication distributed to alumni, donors and prospective students,” said Melissa Love, assistant director of Alumni Affairs. “We are excited and proud to celebrate the accomplishments of our alumni and share updates about their alma mater.”

The publication is mailed to over 25,000 homes across the nation.

To view the magazine online, visit

To update your alumni information, 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). Make plans for this year’s Pig Pickin’ (Oct. 7) and Homecoming (Nov. 11).

DSU Geospatial Information Technologies Center responds to Hurricane Harvey

By | Academics, Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies, Faculty/Staff, Students | No Comments

The Delta State Geospatial Information Technologies Center (GIT) produced detailed United States National Grid maps of the areas most affected by Hurricane Harvey this week.

These maps will help emergency responders make the most of their resources to assist communities hit hardest by Harvey and the record rainfall and flooding that the hurricane generated.

A small team of GIT students and other experts worked through the night of August 28 to produce the hundreds of maps needed by emergency responders on the ground around Houston. Most of these maps needed accurate and detailed annotation to show the location of critical infrastructure, provide points of reference to the responders on the ground, and the location of other features that allow the rescue work to go on in a safe, secure way.

The entire package of maps and information was produced and delivered in less than 24 hours.

“The GIT center is often asked to support natural disaster relief efforts. This is part of our continuing work with first responders such as fire and police departments,” said Talbot Brooks, GIT Center director. “Floods, earthquakes, epidemics and other disasters require immediate mapping support to help responders use their limited resources to best meet the most critical needs.”

Brooks said the mapping experience was very valuable to students in the GIT program.

“This mapping project gives us a chance to make a contribution to a real world problem,” said Tanner Overcash, senior GIT major and Marine reservist. “It’s very much like the missions the Marines are called on for, responding to hurricanes and typhoons all around the world. We’re excited to get to work on something that really matters. Hopefully, we helped make things better for the people who are suffering from Harvey.”

Brooks added it was another opportunity for Delta State students to experience the application of GIT to real world problems.

“We take a great deal of pride in producing map products like this database — something that makes a real difference in how we handle disasters like Hurricane Harvey,” he said. “Our students make a real and immediate difference when we get the opportunity to work on projects like this. The spirit of volunteerism is alive and well in the state of Mississippi. As volunteers, they were able to truly make a difference in the lives of their neighbors by bringing this technology to their search and rescue, damage assessment, and similar efforts. I’m honored to be associated with such a wonderful group of people.”

Learn more about opportunities at Delta State’s Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies at

The mission of the center is to provide geospatial services, accessible education and training, and institutional knowledge for geospatial information technologies to the widest possible audience, and particularly, the mid-Delta region.

MDNHA hosts grantee orientation

By | Delta Center | No Comments

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area recently hosted an orientation for administrators of over 20 projects that have received funding through the MDNHA’s grant program. The organization has funded more than $300,000 over the last two years to projects throughout the Delta.

“I want to thank the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area as well as the National Park Service for this grant,” said Leslie Miller, a volunteer with the Rolling Fork Visitors Center and Museum. “Without the support of these organizations, we’d have never figured out how to tell the story of our community. Now, we have such a wonderful space that helps educate visitors and locals about the history and importance of our area.”

The funded work celebrates the diversity of the Delta’s rich cultural heritage, including restoration of historical sites such as the St. Francis Xavier Convent in Vicksburg, establishment of a museum featuring the legacy of Dr. L. C. Dorsey at the Delta Health Center in the historic black town of Mound Bayou, examination of Delta Chinese culture’s influence on Delta cuisine, and celebration of the “Chitlin’ Circuit Years” during B.B. King Day at Mississippi Valley State University.

“Each of these agencies is to be commended for the great work they are doing,” said Dr. Myrtis Tabb, chair of the MDNHA board of directors. “It is always inspiring to see what happens when communities are active in solving the needs of their friends and neighbors. The MDNHA is proud to play a part in empowering these amazing visions that will improve each of the areas in which they are implemented.”

“It was an amazing day meeting all of the people responsible for the important work being done throughout the Delta,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, which serves as the managing entity for MDNHA. “This meeting truly demonstrated that we are building a collaborative regional network through the grant program. We are excited to be a part of empowering projects that will have a tremendous impact of the citizens of the region, and we look forward to building many more partnerships in the years to come.”

Grant recipients and funded projects include:

-ArtPlace Mississippi – Delta Wild: Connecting people to the Mississippi Delta’s natural habitat and resources
-Bologna Performing Arts Center, Delta State University – Public performance of “Dar He: The Story of Emmett Till”; development of a new track of classes for its CORE Arts Camp that showcases tales of origination in song and story
-Cleveland/Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce – Cleveland Chamber/Tourism office relocation and signage plan; restoration of the façade and interior of the Cleveland Depot building
-Cleveland Music Foundation – Exploring a Culture of Creativity: engaging students in telling local stories through music at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi
-Delta Blues Museum – Boogie Children, Celebrating John Lee Hooker website and educational programs honoring Hooker’s 100th birthday
-Delta Hands for Hope – Photography and oral history program for high school students
-Delta Health Center, Inc. – Establish the Dr. L. C. Dorsey Community Health Center Museum in Mound Bayou
-Delta State University Archives & Museum – Amzie Moore House Museum and Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum docent program; preserving the historic Mississippi Delta Chinese foodways – culture through stories of family, place and cuisine
-DeSoto Foundation – First Contact Historical Trail: Native Americans’ first encounter with Europeans in the Mississippi Delta
-Dockery Farms Foundation – Restore and preserve the historic Dockery Farms cotton gin and develop historical exhibits within the gin building
-Greenville Arts Council – Provide artist residencies to teachers and students that preserve the rich artistic traditions of the Mississippi Delta
-Lower Mississippi River Foundation – Between the Levees: telling the story of the Mississippi River batture
-Mississippi Heritage Trust – Conduct four historic preservation toolkit workshops that teach local towns and organizations how to leverage funding to preserve historic places
-Mississippi State University – Generate knowledge about and provide estimates of the economic value of preserving sites of cultural significance in the Delta
-Mississippi State University Extension Service – Warren County – The Heritage Garden – Know your Roots demonstration garden at Vicksburg National Military Park
-Mississippi Valley State University – Design and present symposium lectures, panel discussions, musical performances and other work in support of the B. B. King Day symposium
-Museum of the Mississippi Delta – Greenwood Leflore and the Choctaw Indians museum exhibit and research monograph
-Rolling Fork Visitors Center and Museum – Multimedia interpretive display expansion and exhibit preservation
-Rosedale Freedom Project – Unsung Voices of Bolivar County: civil rights stories past and present collected by high school students
-Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation – 1868 St. Francis Xavier convent restoration

Representatives from various grantee organizations reported on the positive impacts that the MDNHA grants have had on their projects.

“Because of this grant we’ve been able to share both the Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum and the Amzie Moore House Museum with so many more people than we would have been able to without it,” said Emily Jones, director of Delta State University Archives and Museums. “It’s been very rewarding to recognize that African Americans and Chinese are in the Delta, of the Delta, and represent a piece of our history.”

In DeSoto County, the grant was used to help with the First Contact Trail, an educational initiative designed to give better understanding to Hernando DeSoto’s crossing of the Mississippi River.

“We worked with the Native American community as well as local officials to develop this trail,” said Susan Fernandez, a representative assisting with the project. “This wasn’t just about Hernando DeSoto. This project also was about the people who lived here before DeSoto. We wanted to be sure to tell all sides of the story.”

The Rosedale Freedom Project used the grant to implement story telling projects based on oral histories from the area.

“One of the things our students decided they wanted to do was a podcast to tell the story of education history in their community,” said Jeremiah Smith, director of the RFP. “The students went out and collected oral histories that connected the past of school segregation to present conditions. They realized that history isn’t just something that happened in the past. It has given them a greater sense of why things are the way they are today, which can help them find creative solutions for a better tomorrow.”

Learn more about the MDNHA at and The Delta Center at

Penton awarded NASA-supported fellowship

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Faculty/Staff, Students | No Comments

Katie Penton, a graduate student in the Master of Science in Natural Sciences program at Delta State, was recently awarded the prestigious Mississippi Space Grant Consortium Graduate Research Fellowship, an opportunity coordinated by the Mississippi Research Consortium and supported by NASA.

The consortium’s mission is to enhance and support aerospace science and technology efforts and activities in Mississippi, as well as promote a strong science, mathematics and technology base at pre-college, undergraduate and graduate levels in the region’s educational institutions.

Penton, a native of Southaven, said she was thrilled to receive the fellowship. She has been working closely with Dr. Sharon Hamilton, professor of chemistry at Delta State, while researching polymer chemistry.

The fellowship is for the 2017-18 academic year in the amount of $20,000.

Penton’s fellowship will focus on two aspects — her innovative research at Delta State, and her K-12 STEM education outreach plan to visit Mississippi Delta schools and share demonstrations of science, particularly chemistry demonstrations. She will also work with local teachers to reinforce the subjects they are teaching within her lessons.

“I am very grateful to be one of only eight recipients of this fellowship throughout the state,” said Penton. “In my proposal, I stressed how underrepresented the STEM fields are in the Delta, and given the opportunity, I wished to go into local schools to introduce and hopefully inspire students to pursue this area of study. I first got really invested in chemistry in high school, and I would love to ignite that spark in someone here in Cleveland.”

Hamilton said Penton is particularly worthy of the fellowship.

“Katie is an extremely hard worker who has significantly contributed to the Department of Chemistry and Physics at Delta State,” said Hamilton. “The chemistry faculty at DSU are always looking for ways to improve our majors’ education —whether that be through exposing them to summer research experiences, bringing in speakers to the department, or helping them find ways to fund their research.”

“Katie’s fellowship signifies that the research being done at Delta State is and can be just as significant as the quality of research being done at the larger schools in the state,” added Hamilton.

Her work with Hamilton has concentrated on developing a drug-loaded fiber mat that can be used in wound healing applications.

“Katie’s research in my lab has focused on developing wound healing materials,” said Hamilton. “Think of it as creating bandages that can help you heal more effectively. This is an area of great interest to NASA. Our efforts address NASA’s need for medical treatments that will allow space flight illnesses, particularly smaller wounds, to be treated with a minimum of infrastructure support and to keep crew members in good health.”

Penton’s lab research continued through the summer break, while at the same time, she mentored a student from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science. She also presented the results of her research at the 2017 Summer Student Science Symposium sponsored by the Mississippi Academy of Sciences, and the MS INBRE Symposium.

Learn more about Department of Chemistry and Physics at Delta State at