Coding in Mississippi: Instructors hold the hack to success

By: Taylor Lewis

 

In Water Valley, Mississippi amidst the few stoplights and quaint southern shops, 11 students sit in front of their laptops in a large room with four walls and a white board.

All of them closely following the hand of their instructor as it glides across the whiteboard’s surface, which is caked with debris from earlier lessons.

Looking around the room you wouldn’t think that these 18 – 19 year olds from Mississippi would be almost proficient in computer software

IMG_5351.jpg

Base Camp Coding Academy is located in downtown Water Valley, Mississippi. It is nestled between several historical buildings, including BTC Grocery, a Water Valley favorite. 

coding, but they are.

Base Camp Coding Academy, situated in a historic building in downtown Water Valley, is on the verge of completing its first year open and graduating their first group of students.

Kagan Coughlin, co-founder of Base Camp Coding Academy, describes the program as being “a non-profit vocational training program for Mississippi-based students that have graduated from high school and they don’t necessarily have a path ahead of them.”

But this program is special, not just because of the intriguing location, but because of the founding principles and the instructors situated inside the classroom.

“This is a program that was founded based on two principles; that we have bright young people in Mississippi who don’t have opportunities ahead of them right now, and we have a strong business and philanthropic community that is ready and willing to invest in these young folks,” Coughlin said.

Through the strong philanthropic community, Base Camp Coding Academy has been able to provide its students with a yearlong education program that is not monetarily driven.

“If we feel that this program could set them on a very positive life trajectory, then they get a full year of education … and at the end of a long 12 months they will be high-skilled entry level software developers at zero cost to them,” Coughlin said.

Students not only receive free laptops and t-shirts, but they are also provided with qualified instructors that have a passion for the program and the industry.

“Both of our instructors took pay cuts to come and do this, which means their motivation had to be something other than money and that is a rarity,” Coughlin said. “They are the reason why that information is getting crammed into those skulls and practiced and honed and refined.”

IMG_5370.jpg

Sean Anthony, director of Base Camp Coding Academy, sits at his desk between classes.

Sean Anthony, director of Base Camp Coding Academy, is one of two instructors given the
responsibility of educating these students in computer software, but he came into technology on a bit of a different route.

“My degree is in mechanical engineering, then I went into education, and then got back into STEM and tech from there,” Anthony said.

Anthony, having been a part of Teach for America for several years, never lost his passion for education and was excited for the opportunity to educate students in a field he was very experienced with.

“At some point when our funding started to take shape and we understood our staffing requirements, Sean actually walked up the hall and knocked on my door and said ‘I think I want to do this,” and he is so over qualified,” Coughlin said.

Anthony said that the decision to join Base Camp wasn’t easy, but the selling point for him was to have the opportunity to see a direct impact in each of the students at the end of the program.

Since knocking on Coughlin’s door, Anthony was given the position of director and the task of helping 11 high school graduates become proficient in computer software.

“So my role is, in part, instruction and then, in part, making everything else just kind of happen,” Anthony said.
Anthony said that he spends his time making sure each student demonstrates mastery of every skill and that at the end of the year every student has a portfolio that they can direct potential employers to.

Complimenting Anthony, Nate Clark is known by the students as the quirky technical instructor, who is able to keep challenging students as the year progresses.

“Nate, the other instructor, he’s our technical director and
he focuses on the specifics of programming … to provide a deeper level of content knowledge to the students,” Anthony said.

Adam Tutor, a Base Camp Coding Academy student from Pontotoc, described the key difference between the two instructors.

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Base Camp Coding students (left to right) Martin Guzman, Adam Tutor, and Keegan Faustin posing together after a long day of classes.

“I’d say that both are good for separate things. As far as technical questions, Nate is and the person to go to for design questions or for the front-end of designing websites it’s usually a Sean question,” Tutor said.

Martin Guzman, a Base Camp Coding Academy student from Oxford, said that the differences between the Base Camp instructors have prepared him to become a good software developer and employee.

“The instructors were awesome. I don’t think that Base Camp could’ve found any other better instructors. I think that, if it wasn’t for them, the motivation that I really got now it wouldn’t of happened without them,” Guzman said.
Over the 12-month span of the program, the instructors assign all the students with a typical skill set to become a software developer of a company.

“We are focused on web-application development so we worked with employers to find out what skills they wanted to see from new employees for them in the future,” Anthony said.

According to an article in Mississippi Business Journal, “knowing how to develop software suddenly puts an entirely new arsenal of skills at your disposal. This is a skill set that companies, even those outside the tech sector, are willing to pay top dollar for.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that software development is one career that is expected to increase by almost 17 percent, which is 1
0 percent greater than the average job growth in the Uited States.
Anthony’s main goal for the year is to do whatever it takes to get 100 percent of the students hired upon graduation, which is accomplished through the academy’s structure.

“The legacy that I’m trying to set up with Base Camp is making it seem that their first day on the job is a lot easier than their first day here,” Anthony said.

During, the first two months, instructors provide students with coding basics and then the rest of the year is spent in more of a workplace setting.

“We prepare students to be job-ready from day one, given our structure, I expect it to be a pretty smooth transition to the workplace,” Anthony said.

Since this was Base Camp’s first year, Anthony said that it went smoothly with the exception of a few challenges.

“Navigating in that time frame too the difference in speeds in which people pick things up, that’s been another one of the big challenges,” Anthony said.

Despite a stretch of time when Anthony was feeling overwhelmed with the workload himself, Base Camp Coding Academy’s first group of students have proved to be successful due to the structure and instructors.

“The result for this first year is that we have 100 percent placement of our graduating class and 70 percent of the class had multiple companies vying for them and these are 18 to 19 year old young folks from Mississippi,” Coughlin said.

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Base Camp Coding Academy students wrap up their studies for the day. 

Tutor, along with the majority of the other students, said that he came into the program with zero computer experience as far as coding, but now he can create responsive websites from scratch.

Guzman, who is now proficient in several computer languages as well, said that he has not only been given the computer skills, but he has also been given skills that are necessary for the workplace.

Both Tutor and Guzman will miss the Base Camp Coding Academy, but value the friendships they’ve made and the skills they have learned.

“In general, just the setting and the classmates. I’m the only one from Pontotoc, so I didn’t know anybody in the class, so over the year … you get some pretty good friendships,” Tutor said.

Guzman will also miss receiving constant exposure to new programs.

“Just the learning experience. I’ll be missing learning new things and getting my hands on new stuff and the new stuff coming out,” Guzman said.

As Guzman and Tutor prepare to move into the workplace, Coughlin and Anthony are beginning to look to the future and ways to improve next year’s program.

“This is our first year and our numbers are really good and I hope we can keep hitting this because they exceeded all of our expectations,” Coughlin said.

Anthony believes the success of the program is due to the lengthy planning done before the program began.

“This year we put a lot of thinking on the front end, into what we wanted at the end of the year and what we assumed would be the best way to get there throughout the year, and for most of those assumptions we were wither on the spot or pretty close,” Anthony said.

Going into next year, Anthony is excited about the success because that means that the program is able to just be tailored instead of being completely overhauled.

Anthony reflects on his first year as Base Camp Coding Academy director as one big personal learning experience and he feels like he learned a lot from the students.

“It really taught me that to be successful really isn’t that complicated, it’s just you have to be willing to put in the time and put in the work and if you trust in the right things then it will hopefully pay out.”

Link to video:

Coding in Mississippi video

Sources:

Adam Tutor, 18, from Pontotoc, Mississippi

atutor@basecampcodingacademy.org

 

Martin Guzman, 20, from Oxford, Mississippi

mguzman@basecampcodingacademy.org

 

Kagan Coughlin, co-founder of Base Camp Coding Academy

kagan@basecampcodingacademy.org

 

Sean Anthony, director of Base Camp Coding Academy

sean@basecampcodingacademy.org

(662) 616-2706

 

Twitter List:

Base Camp Coding Academy – @basecampcoding

The Clarion-Ledger – @clarionledger

The Oxford Eagle – @OxfordEagle

The Daily Mississippian – @thedm_news

Hotty Toddy.com – @HottyToddyNews

The Mississippi Daily Journal – @DJournalnow

Kids Code Mississippi – @KidsCodeMS

C Spire – @CSpire

Mississippi Business Journal – @mbjournal

Mississippi Today – @MSTODAYnews

 

Facebook List:

Base Camp Coding Academy – @basecampcodingacademy

The Oxford Eagle – @oxfordeagle

The Clarion-Ledger – @clarionledger

The Daily Mississippian – @thedailymississippian

The Mississippi Daily Journal – @djounalnow

Kids Code Mississippi – @kidscodems

C Spire – @cspire

Mississippi Business Journal – @mbjournal

Mississippi Today – @MSTODAYnews

Science Daily – @sciencedaily

Square parking garage design team selected

By: Taylor Lewis

On Tuesday, the parking garage design-build team selection committee selected an architecture firm, responsible for designing the new parking garage on the Oxford Square, after a series of interviews.

Dr. Tom Sharpe, chair of the downtown parking garage design team selection committee, along with the rest of the committee, heard presentations from four architecture firms.

“The team we went with is Eley, Guild, and Hardy. They clearly had the most garage-design experience of the teams,” Sharpe said.

The committee relayed their recommendation to the board of aldermen for their consideration later that day.

The four firms that presented to the committee were Eley, Guild, and Hardy; Cooke, Douglass, Farr and Lemons; Howorth and Associates; and A2H.

“We were looking for an architect team that would work with the city to design a parking garage that would then be bid out to a construction company to construct,” Sharpe said.

The new parking garage will be located on the parking lot located behind Bouré and will begin construction before the end of this year.

“The major impact is that the off street parking in the off street lots is at capacity so this will allow us to relieve that strain,” Sharpe said.

Matt Davis, director of parking, said that the purpose of the design team is to design the most appropriate and cost efficient parking garage for the downtown area.

Each firm was given an hour to present to the committee. The committee then ranked the four firms based on their presentations.

Taylor Guild III, principal at Eley, Guild, and Hardy, described several strengths of his firm during his presentation.

“Our team strength is our expertise of planning and parking structures both nationally and locally,” Guild said.

Taylor Guild described the firm’s past performance as a team, its design awards, and experience as reasons for the committee to choose Elley, Guild and Hardy.

Eley, Guild, and Hardy have designed several other structures around the University of Mississippi, including the new law school and the additions to Farley Hall and the Lyceum.

“We understand the volume of people and the area surrounding the square,” Guild said.

Cooke, Douglass, Farr and Lemons, commonly known as CDFL, were another firm that presented and also had prior experience with the University of Mississippi architecture. CDFL is currently working on a similar facility at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi.

Robert Farr III, principal at CDFL, said that the collaborative practice of their engineering and architecture firm is apart their growth, along with listening to the public.

“We look at the end user and people and what is going to be the best level of service for all users,” Farr said. “It’s about how we listen to the community and take their ideas and concepts into account when creating this structure.”

Mike Ortlieb, executive vice president of the Carl-Walker firm that is partnering with Eley, Guild, and Hardy, agreed with Farr and said that the new parking garage needs to fit in with a community as well as the neighbors and pedestrians

“My experience with parking is that it is a 60 year commitment and if you put a structure there you want to do it right because it will be there for a long time,” Ortlieb said.

Having decided on a design team, Sharpe described some of the next steps in this process.

“The first step we’ve already taken. I presented our recommendation to the board of aldermen this evening and the board of aldermen approved our recommendation of that team and approved the city engineer to begin negotiating a contract with the design team,” Sharpe said.

 

Matt Davis, director of parking

mdavis@oxfordms.net

 

Dr. Tom Sharpe

(Chair of the downtown parking garage design team selection committee)

thesharpegroup@hotmail.com

(662) 380-3880

 

Taylor Guild III, AIA

(Elley, Guild, Hardy)

 

Mike Ortlieb

(Carl Walker Inc.)

mortieb@carlwalker.com

 

Robert E. Farr, II.

(CDFL)

rfarr@cdfl.com

 

 

Transfer-friendly reputation attracts students to Ole Miss

By: Taylor Lewis & Rebecca DeLuna

With almost 2,000 transfer students joining the Ole Miss student body each year, the Office of Admissions Orientation welcomes them with a two-day program that is geared toward helping them transition onto campus with ease.

“The best way I found to become acclimated to campus and student life is by putting myself out there and finding my niche,” Justin Mills, a senior transfer student from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, said. “I quickly learned that the best to get involved and make friends was to do things that put me out of my comfort zone and challenged myself.”

Mills, who came to Ole Miss as a junior in 2015, became involved in various organizations on campus, as well as, a member of the 2016 Orientation Leader Team.

The most recent data available, from academic year 2014-15, states that 1,941 students transferred to UM from community colleges and other institutions. Although Ole Miss has a lower percentage of incoming transfer students in the state, Ole Miss is still known as being “transfer friendly”.

“Were recognized by Phi Theta Kappa, a community college honors society as one of the two only transfer honor roll honorees in Mississippi. Delta State and our school received the distinctions this year, but last year we were the only one,” Dewey Knight, associate director for student success and first year experience, said.

Jasmyne Tally, an incoming transfer student from Itawamba Community College, is looking forward to Orientation and meeting other transfer students, but she still has some fears about transitioning onto campus.

Tally said that Ole Miss’ reputation of being “transfer-friendly” was one of the reasons why she chose to transfer here as opposed to another in-state school.

The transfer student experience at Ole Miss and orientation is a little different than the typical first year experience in several ways, which is why the orientation program has expanded the sessions to include transfer-specific concerns.

“Transfer orientation prepares students for life at Ole Miss both socially and academically,” Brittany Deisher, a graduate assistant for Orientation programs, said. “They are connected with students of similar backgrounds and they also have the opportunity to network with people.”

According to Deisher, transfer student orientation requires a different approach because of the wide array of students they serve.

“[Transfer students’] goals are much more immediate. They only have two years, typically, to complete their degree program here at Ole Miss,” Knight said. 

Tasia Tsiplakos, sophomore transfer student from the University of San Diego, said, “Transfer orientation is less focused on meeting other people at orientation. It primarily teaches you about information pertaining to financial aid and what not. The age demographic is also different because it is older people transferring in so it is less of ice-breaker stuff.”

Tsiplakos had a positive orientation experience in May 2016 and enjoyed how it was informative and how the advisors prepared her academically.

Deisher said that because transfer students come in with so many credits from their previous institutions, advising is more challenging and there is a greater emphasis placed on making sure all of these credits are transferring.

“Transfer orientation is different because, since it is older people, they keep it simple, but the orientation leaders are still as enthusiastic. Also when registering for your first semester during orientation they help you with the classes you already have done and give you a layout of what you need to get done,” Tsiplakos said.

However, Orientation is only two days and after the session has ended the experience for each transfer student is different for several reasons.

“It’s harder for them to get involved. It’s harder for them to become a part of the community,” Knight added.

With such a wide range of transfer students all sharing similar concerns; the Center for Student Success and First Year Experience has developed numerous services and opportunities for transfer students.

Mills took advantage of several transfer student opportunities and does credit his easy transition onto campus by becoming involved in various organizations.

Knight credits these many programs and services as the reasoning behind “Ole Miss receiving the designation as a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Roll university, which is essentially those institutions that are most transfer-friendly in the United States.”

Knight’s ultimate goal is to “establish a transfer center in which academic advising folks, tutoring folks, and all of the academic support type things could be housed in a single location where transfer could go.”

“In the meantime, my unit, the first year experience unit, is kind of acting like a transfer student center,” Knight said.

As April Transfer Orientation approaches, Knight said that the best advice that he could give an incoming transfer student, like Tally, is to enroll in EDHE 305 and understand who their academic advisor is.

Sources:

Brittany Deisher

bdeisher@go.olemiss.edu

 

Dewey Knight

rdknight@olemiss.edu

(662) 915 – 1166

 

Justin Mills

jdmills1@go.olemiss.edu

(228) 219 – 0464

 

Jasmyne Tally

jktally@go.olemiss.edu

 

Tasia Tsiplakos

(650) 281 – 8902

tgtsipla@go.olemiss.edu

 

What Works Assignment #10

For this week’s What Works Assignment, I decided to search for an article that really didn’t work. The Clarion Ledger wrote an article, titled “Jackson’s gas prices lowest in US”, that I felt was very inadequate as far as sources and reporting. I clicked the headline because I thought it was very interesting that Jackson, Miss. had the lowest gas prices considering it is a fairly poor city in the deep south. The title itself is fairly SEO friendly due to keywords like “Jackson”, “gas”, “lowest”, and “US”.  However, I felt that the article didn’t live up to the title because the lead didn’t even mention Jackson, Miss. nor that they had the lowest gas prices. The hard lead used by the reporter didn’t work because it was very general and discussed how gas prices had rose nationally, which I felt was out-of-place considering the Clarion Ledger is more of a local Miss. newspaper.

As far as pulling the reader into the story, the writer didn’t really do anything, but provide facts about gas prices and the oil industry. The reader was pulled in through the title, but then let down by the lack of content. The nut graph was basically the lead, but I felt that it was really lacking. With a nut graph the writer should relate the story to a big picture idea and tell the reader why they should be reading the article, but I didn’t really get any sense of why this article was relevant to me until the last paragraph. If I was writing the story I would’ve started out the article at the local angle of Jackson having the lowest prices and why. Then, I would’ve related the topic to the larger context of national gas prices and their recent increases. The writer didn’t do much to pull the reader in, nor keep the reader enticed past the title so I feel that this article really didn’t work as far as engaging the audience.

Lastly, the sources of this article were less than non-existent. In fact, there was only one person quoted or, in this case, paraphrased and it was an industry analyst. I feel that the writer could’ve done so much more with sources. If I were writing the story, I would’ve gathered at least two more sources and aggregated others to link within the text. For instance, I would’ve interviewed a Mississippi govt. official that deals with the gas industry, a man-on-the-street to show how the public feels about the gas prices, and then I would’ve actually quoted the analyst on why they believe Jackson is the exception to the national trend of increasing gas prices. As far as aggregated sources, I would’ve linked to actual data or other news articles relating to national gas prices in order to provide my article with more credibility.

Overall, if I wanted to add value to this story I would’ve completely started over and narrowed in on why this article is relevant to my audience. I would’ve taken a local angle and added more sources to provide the article more credibility. Lastly, I would’ve liked to have seen some sort of visual element like an infographic that displayed the gas price trends nationally vs. the gas price trends in Jackson. This article did not work for me, but I do feel like the topic is newsworthy and should be re-done!

Students distraught as sudden changes in state grant programs come to light

By: Taylor Lewis & Rebecca DeLuna

Last Sunday, behind closed doors, Mississippi Legislature made several changes to state grant programs that affect the University of Mississippi Office of Financial Aid and students.

Students will no longer be allowed to combine merit-based with financial need-based grants, sometimes referred to as ‘stacking’ aid.

Laura Diven-Brown, director of the UM office of financial aid, was one of many financial aid directors who had to spring into action upon being notified of these changes.

“We actually had to go in (the system) for anybody that had had two state grants in their package. We needed to get in there and take out that second grant and actually do some email blasts as well, so that people would be informed about this,” Diven-Brown said.

Cody Letchworth, a junior accounting and public policy leadership major, was one of thousands of students to receive an email from UM Office of Financial Aid regarding these changes.

17626371_690332951149386_127593440510127987_n.jpg

Screenshot of the email that Letchworth received from The Office of Financial Aid last week. 

“My thoughts ranged from anger to confusion. It just seems like it’s one thing after another with Mississippi nowadays,” Letchworth said.

Letchworth used to receive both the MTAG and the MESG, two major grant programs affected by the legislature.

Jennifer Rogers, director of student financial aid for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, said in an email to all financial aid directors of MS state universities and colleges that the new rules “will allow us to fully fund all undergraduate grant programs.”

Rogers went on to outline the significant changes, which, in addition to eliminating the “stacking of all undergraduate aid,” also requires new eligibility checks.

“If students are eligible for more than one grant program, students will receive aid through the program that will award that larger amount,” Rogers said.

Letchworth experienced the exact situation Roger’s described, as he will only receive the MSEG grant because it is the larger amount of the two grants he previously received.

“Even though MTAG is only $500 a semester that’s a $1000 a year that you haven’t had to pay your entire college career and then it’s just sprung on you out of the blue,” Letchworth said.

The outrage felt by students, like Letchworth, can be attributed to the suddenness of the changes and the fact that they are not being ‘grandfathered’ in, like many other university programs.

“The problem is that this is supplying to not only new incoming students, but continuing students, people who would have never realized that the rules of the game would change mid-stream if you will,” Diven-Brown said.

Students, like Letchworth, are now turning to loans as a way to make up the financial difference.

“Anytime you have a grant program that is reduced or eliminated from our prospective its sad because that is one less thing we can offer students where they would get free money to help pay for school,” Diven Brown said. “Instead if they need to make up that gap they are often looking at loans.”

Letchworth said that the Mississippi Legislature is to blame for this financial “gap.”

Yet, as the UM Office of Financial Aid works to accommodate students while they adjust to these programs, Diven-Brown thinks that the Mississippi Legislature is working with what funding it has available.

“It’s not fair to people that work so hard in high school and are told to work hard in high school so they can get a free ride to college to only have that ripped out from under them because our legislature puts education under the rest of their inadequate budget plans,” Letchworth said.

 

Sources:

Cody Letchworth

(601) 731 – 0505

cjletchw@go.olemiss.edu

 

Laura E. Diven-Brown, director of the University of Mississippi office of financial aid

(662) 915 – 5633

ldivenbr@olemiss.edu

 

Jennifer Rogers, director of student financial aid for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning

(601) 432 – 6791

jrogers@mississippi.edu

 

What Works Assignment #9

News media today is very progressive with a desire to keep up with what is current and what is trending. In recent years, I have noticed an increase in focus on gender and sexuality within the media, which I believe mimics society’s trend of drifting towards being more modern and inclusive. Just today, I was scrolling through many stories on several news outlets when I stumbled across an article that really baffled me. The article from The Washington Post, titled “Two girls barred from United Flight for wearing leggings”, discussed how a United Airline’s agent refused to let several women and girls onto a plane because they were wearing leggings, which the agent had constituted as the passengers not being “properly clothed”. There has been a huge uproar on social media regarding this incident because many people feel that the policy is very sexist and singles out women, thus making it a gender stereotyping issue.

Despite the controversy surrounding the actions of United Airlines, I think that The Washington Post and the author, Luz Lazo, did and effective job of portraying the arbitrary actions of the airline and the gender issues that came from those actions. In this case, the newspaper didn’t really have a choice on which side was right and which one was wrong because the public basically decided that via social media. Lazo did a lot of solid reporting and aggregated some solid sources from social media in order to gain the perspective of some fellow passengers that were there. I always think that social media is such a good deal when trying to gage how society is perceiving an event or an issue because you can just type in a keyword and immediately see what everyone is talking about. Lazo thoroughly utilized social media for almost all of her sources, which is why I question the credibility of this article because social media tends to blow everything way out of proportion. I liked that she used it, but I feel like this story also needed some primary sources, like a statement from United Airlines or an agent or a passenger that had witnessed the incident. If I had done the reporting I would’ve tried to get more credibility by gathering some primary sources and I also would’ve looked into United’s past issues with dress code violations.

In conclusion, I thought that this article was one of a several examples of how gender and sexuality is presented in the print media. The Washington Post and Luz Lazo did a great job of aggregating sources from social media, but I think they might have over done it. The article really lacked any credible primary sources or any data on previous instances, both of which would’ve have given the article more credibility. If I could’ve written the article I would’ve tried to interview someone from United Airlines or a passenger on the flight or just an average person on the street in order to gain some more perspective. Issues, like this one, appear in the media almost everyday and I think that issues of gender and sexuality are a hot topic in most newsrooms today. It is unfortunate that issues like this still occur in 2017, but, as can be seen via social media, society stands behind the women who were victimized by United Airline’s dress code.

Preparing Transfer Students for the Transition to UM

By: Taylor Lewis

As the University of Mississippi’s admissions process is well underway, incoming transfer students and UM faculty prepare for the second transfer student orientation session at the end of April.

According to Devin Maffei, a graduate assistant for Orientation, transfer student orientation requires a different approach because of the wide array of students they serve.

“We range from 20-year-olds transferring from community colleges to students that have taken years off and are now deciding to come back.”

The most recent data available, from academic year 2014-15, states that 1,941 students transferred to UM from community colleges and other institutions. Despite this number being lower than the university system average, Ole Miss is still known as being “transfer friendly”.

The transfer student experience at Ole Miss and orientation is a little different than the typical first year experience in several ways, which is why the orientation program has expanded the transfer sessions to include transfer-specific concerns.

Justin Mills, a senior transfer student from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, went through transfer orientation and has participated in several transfer programs.

“I felt I was prepared due to having many friends already in attendance at Ole Miss and many friends transferring with me, so the social aspect was okay. However, I still needed to find my niche at Ole Miss because a university offers different things than a community college,” Mills said.

Dewey Knight, associate director for student success and first year experience, understands the differences that Mills described.

“Their (transfer students) goals are much more immediate. They only have two years, typically, to complete their degree program here at Ole Miss,” said Dewey Knight, associate director for student success and first year experience.

“It’s harder for them to get involved. It’s harder for them to become a part of the community,” Knight added.

Jasmyne Tally, an incoming transfer student from Itawamba Community College, is looking forward to Orientation and meeting other transfer students, but she still has some fears about transitioning onto campus.

“Sure, some of my fears are not being able to find my classes and getting lost. Also, not making many friends and failing classes because I don’t know the intensity of them at the moment,” Tally said.

With such a wide range of transfer students all sharing similar concerns; the Center for Student Success and First Year Experience has developed numerous services and opportunities for transfer students.

“We have a separate Orientation experience for transfer students that are only for transfer students. We have two student organizations that are exclusively for transfers: Phi Theta Kappa Alumni, which is for alumni of the community college honor society, and then we have the Transfer Leadership organization, which is open to all transfer students. We also have a one-on-one mentoring program where a first year transfer is partnered with a second year transfer student. Lastly, we have two courses just for transfer students in order to acclimate them to campus,” Knight said.

“The best way I found to become acclimated to campus and student life is by putting myself out there and finding my niche,” said Mills. “I quickly learned that the best to get involved and make friends was to do things that put me out of my comfort zone and challenged myself.”

Knight credits these many programs and services as the reasoning behind “Ole Miss receiving the designation as a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Roll university, which is essentially those institutions that are most transfer-friendly in the United States.”

Last year, Ole Miss and LSU were the only universities in the South Eastern Conference to be awarded this distinction. For this year, Ole Miss and Alabama were the only SEC universities selected.

Tally said that Ole Miss’ reputation of being “transfer-friendly” was one of the reasons why she chose to transfer here as opposed to another in-state school.

Knight’s ultimate goal is to “establish a transfer center in which academic advising folks, tutoring folks, and all of the academic support type things could be housed in a single location where transfer could go.”

“In the meantime, my unit, the first year experience unit, is kind of acting like a transfer student center,” Knight said.

Knight does have one piece of advice for incoming transfer students, like Tally.

“Get involved. Ask for help because we have lots of resources and it’s terrible when we lose a transfer student because they didn’t know where to get help.”

 

Sources:

Devin Maffei

dmaffei@go.olemiss.edu

Dewey Knight

rdknight@olemiss.edu

(662) 915 – 1166

Justin Mills

jdmills1@go.olemiss.edu

(228) 219 – 0464

Jasmyne Tally

jktally@go.olemiss.edu

What Works Assignment #8

For this week’s What Works Assignment I decided to analyze the Clarion-Ledger article, “Miss. teen says he was ‘forced’ to stand for Pledge”. What made me select this article was the headline because people refusing to stand for the pledge has been in the news quite often within the past year because of athletes like Colin Kaepernick. There were several things that worked in this article, but there were also a few things that didn’t work. The headline itself worked because it is fairly SEO friendly because when I type in “Miss.”, “teen”, and “pledge” into Google, the Clarion-Ledger article is the first result. By being SEO friendly, the article is already more appealing to the reader and is much more likely to be seen by a larger audience.

One aspect of the article that didn’t work for me was the lead because it didn’t seem credible nor did it grab my attention. The lead was a hard news lead, but was a paraphrased quote. I don’t think that the journalist should’ve started off the story with a paraphrase because it didn’t answer the 5W’s and I would’ve liked the lead to tell me when the event occurred. If I were writing the story, I would’ve just stuck with a traditional hard news lead because the story lost some credibility for me by having the lead be a paraphrased quote.

Although the story wasn’t lacking in quotes from the students mother, there weren’t any other sources. In my opinion, the lack of sources was a major problem with this story and I wouldn’t of let it run with no other perspectives. Obviously, the student’s mother is going to be bias towards her son and she didn’t paint the school nor it’s officials in a very positive light. Besides a short paraphrased blurb from the School Board President and the Superintendent, the story was all quotes from the mother. To me, the beginning of article just seemed like one big rant. If I could’ve written the story, I would’ve gotten the opinion of other parents or maybe find a student who witnessed the actions of the student. I just feel that the story lacks a personal touch or any substance and is just a lot of he said, she said.

Another thing that this article was lacking was a nut graph, but the closest thing I found to one was the 11th paragraph now. I thought that the information in that paragraph would’ve been more beneficial towards the beginning and before all the Kaepernick information. However, the order of the story was also a problem for me. I felt that the story would’ve benefitted by removing all the filler paragraphs on the “meeting” and moving the quotes from Anna Davis upwards because I felt her perspective was very interesting.

Overall, the story didn’t really work for me because the journalist was all over the place as far as sources, flow, and order. I really wish that the lead would’ve been different. The story would’ve benefitted by a narrative lead of the incident or just a more specific hard news lead. Either would’ve been better than a biased paraphrased quote from the mother of the student who wouldn’t stand. Also, the story had a lot of quotes from the mother and some meaningless quotes from school officials. The story would’ve benefitted by another student’s perspective who saw the incident or maybe some background information on how other schools have dealt with such issues.

Devos Appointment: A Call to Action for UM Students

The confirmation of Betsy Devos as the new Secretary of Education, on Tuesday, Feb. 7, created mass controversy among those directly impacted by public education and those involved with non-profit organizations, like Teach For America.

Devos’ confirmation also sparked an innumerous amount of public outcry and a stream of social media posts in-support of public education, which there posts were easily identified using #productofpublic.

Coinciding with the public’s uproar, Teach for America, a non-profit organization that works to strengthen the movement of educational equity and excellence, issued a statement following the appointment of Betsy Devos.

The original statement release by Teach For America, has since been altered. However, the original statement began as follows:

“We call on the secretary designee and president-elect to uphold these values in pursuit of an excellent and equitable public education for all.”

The statement then moved on to highlight what Teach For America stands for an how their stance on public education will not falter with the incoming administration.

“We will continue to fiercely advocate and defend policies that are core to our mission and that increase opportunity for our students,” the statement read.

To several Ole Miss students, who are involved with Teach For America, the statement reflected their perspectives and seemed like a call to action.

Dylan Lewis, a senior journalism major at Ole Miss and a 2017 Teach For America Houston Corp Member, stated his own personal concerns with Devos.

“Teach For America deals with a lot of low-income areas and, as we have heard countless times, Devos is not really interested in public education and has had no experience in public education,” Lewis said.

Lewis decided to apply to be a 2017 Teach For America Corp Member because of his personal experience in public schools.

“When I was growing up, school was always a safe place for me and, as I progressed in school and got into college, I found that the feeling of safety never changed,” Lewis said.

Yet, as of late, the field of education has had a different, droning tone.

“It’s really scary to know that Devos may or may not fight for Teach for America and low income areas,” Lewis, reflecting on his personal concerns with the new education administration, said.

Yet, despite his concerns, Lewis seems more inspired to enter into education since Devos’ confirmation.

“I’m fueled. I’m fueled to keep fighting inequality in education,” Lewis said.

Since Devos’ confirmation, Lewis is one of several students that feel more inspired to enter into education and the Teach for America program.

Emily Hoffman, a junior Integrated Marketing Communications major, interned with Teach For America in summer of 2016 and plans to intern there again this summer.

Reflecting on her previous internship experience with Teach For America, Hoffman said, “It really changed my perspective on things. Growing up I had always wanted to be a teacher and my mom was a teacher for my entire life. I really looked up to my mom and I saw teachers as the most powerful people in the world, which they are, but as I got older I realized they were underpaid and under-appreciated.”

Hoffman, like Lewis, also has reservations regarding Devos’ administration.

“Under Devos administration there will be less of a focus on these children who actually need our help, but don’t have the necessary resources,” which Hoffman accredits to Devos’ lack of experience with public education.

Hoffman, like Lewis, feels fueled by Devos’ confirmation and it has further incited her desire to be involved in education.

“Devos’ appointment has definitely made me come to terms with the fact that I need to do this (Teach For America) because focusing on education and educational inequity has become very important to me,” Hoffman said.

Lewis highlighted one of the biggest takeaways from this past week for these those involved in public education.

“I think that educators are beginning to realize that the future could be a scary thing. But I’m not scared to go into a field that is facing a lot of uncertainty and fight for the kids that need to know that they have opportunities out there,” Lewis said.

 

Sources:

Emily Hoffman (in-person interview)

(530) 852-1544

 

Dylan Lewis (in-person interview)

(662) 296-8515

dlewis3@go.olemiss.edu

 

Teach For America (aggregated sources & press release)

https://www.teachforamerica.org/about-us/media-resources/news-releases/teach-america-statement-appointment-us-department-education-0?utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=comms&utm_medium=ownedsocial&utm_content=secretarystatement

https://garyrubinstein.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/tfa-makes-a-statement-on-devos/

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