Meet Your Instructor

Dr. Ethan Schmidt
Jobe Hall 215
DSU Box 3162
Cleveland, MS 38733
P: 662.846.4170

First Year Seminar is offered at various days and times to ensure you can take it during a time that is convenient for your schedule. Instructors offer a unique perspective based on their unique experiences. You can pick your class section based on your preferred time or instructor(s).

Mondays | 10:00AM | Jobe Hall – Room 214 | CRN: 47482 | Section: 1

Myrtis Tabb
Department: Finance and Administration
Office: Kent Wyatt Hall 249

Amy Cottrell
Department: Career Services
Office: Student Union 300

First year in college: 1991 at University of Montevallo
Best residence hall story from living on campus:  “I lived on the sorority hall of my dorm. I was surrounded by my nearest and dearest friends and had 50 closets to “shop” in any time I needed an outfit for a date!”
Advice for First Year Seminar students: “It’s up to you to succeed! You are the only one that sets your path from this point forward! My Senior year of high school I worked in a grocery store and I knew that if I did not discipline myself and make good grades in college, I would have had to have moved back home and work in that grocery store for the rest of my life. I decided very quickly that was not going to be an option and ended up making the Dean’s list most semesters of my college years.”

Mondays | 10:00AM | Bailey Hall – Room 206 | CRN: 47483 | Section: 2

Cora S. Jackson, LMSW
Department: Social Work
Office: Bailey Hall 216-B

First year in college: 1991 at Delta State University
Most embarrassing moment of college: “My first D on an assignment that I thought I was good at. It was in the English 203 class under Dr. John Ford. Although he was tough, he worked with me and I eventually passed his class with greater skills and knowledge as well as a new respect for him as a professor.”
Job while in college: “I had a work-study job in the Department of Institutional Research where I received a great accommodation as a work study student that was also filed in my permanent record.”

Sowitza Johnson
Department: Social Work
Office: Bailey Hall 217

First year in college: 1992 at Mississippi Valley State University
Favorite thing about college: “Meeting lifelong friends.”
Extracurricular activities in college: “MVSU Marching Band.”
Advice for First Year Seminar students: “Remember your purpose for attending college first and have fun second.”

 Mondays | 11:00AM | Gibson-Gunn – Room 103 | CRN: 47484 | Section: 3

Julie Speakes, Ph.D.
Department: Commercial Aviation
Office: Gibson-Gunn Building 114

First year in college: 1990 at Delta State State University
Favorite class from your first year of college: “Meteorology. I’ve always been fascinated with the weather and was excited to take a college course.”
Best residence hall story from living on campus: “The girl’s freshman dorms in 1990 were Cleveland Hall and Ward Hall; the two oldest dorms. It was fun to sit up on the second floor landing at night and visit with other girls. We were all different majors, different sororities, different backgrounds but it didn’t matter. That was an advantage to freshman dorms- we were all facing the new college experience together.”
Advice for First Year Seminar students: “The earlier you can learn time management skills the more productive and successful you will be in life and in college.”

Sheila Millican
Department: Commercial Aviation
Office: Gibson-Gunn Building 115

First year in college: 1998 at Mississippi Delta Community College
First-generation college student: Yes
Advice for First Year Seminar students: “Stay on campus, focus on your education.”

 Mondays | 11:00AM | Jobe Hall – Room 202 | CRN: 47485 | Section: 4

Michaela Merryday
Department: Art
Office: Holcumbe-Norwood Hall 151A

First year in college: 1981 at University of Vienna, Austria
Favorite class from first year of college: “I have more than one. I was very interested in Sigmund Freud’s work in high school and got to take a class with one of his last surviving students. Another memorable class was on museum practices and we had an opportunity to go behind the scenes of all the great museums in Vienna.”
Job while in college: “I tutored math, English and Latin, babysat and held a variety of odd jobs during the summer to be able to travel.”
Advice for First Year Seminar Students: “Take advantage of all the free services a university offers to help you excel in college and to expose you to new ideas and experiences.”

 Mondays | 1:00PM | Broom Hall – Room 171 | CRN: 47486 | Section: 5

Debra Allen
Department: Nursing
Office: Robert E. Smith School of Nursing 123

Gregory Sassenrath-Cole
Department: Roberts-LaForge Library
Office: Roberts-LaForge Library

Mondays | 1:00PM | Broom Hall – Room 210 | CRN: 47487 | Section: 6

H. Lynn Byrd
Department: Accountancy, Computer Information Systems and Finance
Office: Broom Hall 295

First year in college: 1998 at Delta State University
Extracurricular activities in college: “I was an active member of Future Business Leaders of America. Mrs. Bonita Mendenhall was our advisor and she served as a GREAT professor and mentor. She actually recommended me for my first job when I graduated with my bachelor’s degree.”
Job while in college:  “I worked at the Roberts-LaForge library as a work study student while working on my BBA. My first priority was school and I did not have a job off campus.”
Advice for First Year Seminar students: “Get to know all of your professors. Good communication with faculty and staff will aide you greatly as you progress through DSU.”

Tuesdays | 10:50AM | Jobe Hall – Room 216 | CRN: 47488 | Section: 7
Shannon S. Lamb
Department: Social Sciences and History
Office: Kethley Hall 212

First year in college: 1990 at Delta State University
Most embarrassing moment of first year of college: “On the first day of my freshmen year I remember raising my hand to answer several questions that the professor had posed to the class. I answered a few questions and things seemed to be going really well when I realized I was in the wrong class!”
First-generation college student: Yes

Tuesdays | 10:50AM | Capps Museum – Room 119 | CRN: 47489 | Section:8
Emily Jones
Department: University Archives & Museums
Office: Charles W. Capps, Jr. Archives & Museum Building

First year in college: 1995 at Delta State University
Most embarrassing moment of first year of college: “It was the first day of Orientation. I had fallen behind the group heading from Ewing to the Cafeteria but making my way down the sidewalk in front of Cleveland Hall. I’m moseying along at my own pace just admiring campus and all of a sudden, I see a bird on the ground. Not unusual except that the bird LOOKED at me and stared me down. It had a worm in its beak and I was grossed out so I quickly looked away and kept going. All of a sudden, from nowhere comes this whoosh of feathers and I feel something pulling at my hair. It is the BIRD!!! It’s attacking me. I’m flailing around, freaking out about a bird in my hair, running up to the steps of the Union, trying to break free from this Hitchcock nightmare to find that the doors of the Union are LOCKED! I hunker down on the steps and cover my head. Oh yeah, did I tell you I was wearing a skirt. When I look up, thankfully, no one is around to see my own personal mortification and the bird is gone. I don’t remember much after that other than NEVER EVER EVER under any circumstances, look a bird in the eye.”
Advice for First Year Seminar students: “Trust me when I say you can talk to me or call me anytime.”

Janet Horne
Department: Roberts-LaForge Library – Interlibrary Loan
Office: Roberts-LaForge Library 214

First year in college: 1979 at Delta State University
Most embarrassing moment of first year of college: “Tripping over my own feet walking across the quad, in front of a bunch of senior guys! And my friends just kept walking like they did not know me! But I am still friends with the guy who helped me up!”
Best residence hall story from living on campus: “I lived on the third floor of Ward Hall and we would sit on the window sills with the music blaring, watching people walk by.”
Advice for First Year Seminar students: “Always remember your manners. Please, thank you, ma’am and sir make a lasting good impression. Be polite!”

Wednesdays | 10:00AM | Broom Hall – Room 111 | CRN: 47494 | Section: 13
Jeanna D. Wilkes
Department: Student Success Center
Office: Student Union 308

First year in college: 2008 at Delta State University Song that instantly takes you back to your college years: “The entire Paper Trail album by T.I. was my freshman year anthem. My roommate, Anna and I would ride Delta back roads in my 1992, 2-door Toyota Tercel (named Ruby Red because she was a ruby red in color), and scream, “I sing, sing, sing, sing, ‘cause I’m sittin’ on top of the world!” … Yeah, we were so cool… not.” Favorite class from first year of college: “Music Literature (MUS 105) with Dr. Shelley Collins, who still teaches in the DSU Department of Music. She made the class so much fun by introducing music history and literature in an interactive setting. Dr. Collins used PowerPoint presentations, in-class readings and music listening sessions, online course help, offered one-on-one study sessions, provided interactive worksheets, and even gave the class a 5-minute water break every class meeting… this really helped us stay focused. I can still recall listening to The Moldau for the very first time.” Advice for First Year Seminar students: “Don’t be afraid to fail… yeah, failing stinks, but no one is perfect and we can always be better than we were yesterday. Learn from your mistakes and move forward. This quote says it all: ‘ If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.’ – Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Wednesdays | 10:00AM | Kethley Hall – Room 228 | CRN: 47495 | Section: 14
Dr. Noah Lelek
Department: Languages and Literature
Office: Kethley Hall 240

First year in college: 1999 at Missouri State University
Favorite thing about college: “The ability to experience new things and meet new people. I made some of my best and longest lasting friendships in college. I also studied abroad in London, UK for a semester, which gave me the opportunity to learn a different culture and travel around Europe.”
Extracurricular activities in college: “I was mostly involved in music and theatre as an undergraduate. My freshman year, I was in the marching band and although marching band took up a great deal of my free time, it got me involved in the university and I met many other students right away. Theatre was also a way for me to express myself and meet new people with whom I shared common interests.”

Thursdays | 9:25AM | Bailey Hall – Room 209 | CRN: 47499 | Section: 18
Michael J. Ewing
Department: Communication Studies and Theatre Arts
Office: Jobe Hall 108 (hidden in the hallway behind the theatre)

First year in college: 1988 at the College of William and Mary
Favorite thing about college: “I have to name two things: one, the challenges and friendships I developed as a member of my cross country and track teams. Two, finally standing up to my father and choosing English over Accounting as my major.”
Most difficult class from first year of college: “Calculus II. It was a very difficult class and, on top of that, I knew I no longer wanted to take mathematics classes.”
Advice to First Year Seminar students: “If you feel things are starting to get away from you, or you’re feeling overwhelmed, do NOT hesitate to reach out to your professors. My biggest mistake freshman year was, after a certain point in the semester, believing there was no point in trying to turn things around. This was a huge mistake and why my freshman year GPA was a 1.95. As an instructor, I have seen both approaches: students who just give up, and students who, when given a second chance, DO turn things around. It’s never too late if you’re willing to try.”

Mike Smith
Department: Languages and Literature
Office: Kethley Hall Suite F

Thursdays | 10:50AM | Broom Hall – Room 212 | CRN: 47500 | Section: 19
Mrs. Joi Phillips
Department: Roberts-LaForge Library
Office: Roberts-LaForge Libary 236

First year in college: 1995 at Mississippi Valley State University
Song that instantly takes you back to your college years: “Dangerous by Busta Rhymes”
Advice to First Year Seminar students: “Stay focused on completing your college degree.”

Carla Johnson
Department: College of Business
Office: Broom Hall 183


Thursdays | 10:50PM | Broom Hall – Room 211 | CRN: 47501 | Section: 20
Davlon Miller
Department: Career Services and Placement
Office: Student Union 300

First year in college: 2002 at Delta State University
Favorite thing about college: “My favorite thing about college was the freedom to pretty much set my own schedule and sleep as much as I want.”
Job while in college: “Throughout my experience I worked several work study and RSE jobs. I worked in the Music Department’s music library, I was a CIS 205 lab assistant, on the BPAC tech crew and a resident assistant. I also was a member of the Mississippi Army National Guard the entire time I was in college. It was a lot of work, but it was fun and it paid off big time.”
Advice for First Year Seminar students: “Get involved and participate in things outside of class. It may sound strange, but you will be thanking me.”

Tarnisha Smith
Department: Student Life
Office: Student Union 200

First year in college: 1993 at Delta State University
What was your favorite thing about college? “I unfortunately didn’t get involved in campus activities but I enjoyed attending the Greek shows.”
What was the most difficult class from your first year of college? Speech class.
Advice for First Year Seminar students: “Try not to overload yourself. Get involved on campus. Ask questions. Never give up.”

: a device that is used to find direction by means of a needle that always points north
: something that helps a person make choices about what is right, effective, etc.