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UM journalism student joins WTVA News in Tupelo as a weekend reporter

Posted on: October 2nd, 2020 by ldrucker

Congratulations to Taylor Elise Tucker, a journalism major and a 2020 graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Journalism, who is also a graduate assistant. She recently joined WTVA News in Tupelo, Mississippi as a weekend reporter!

“I’m elated to have the opportunity to gain practical experience in a profession that I love while continuing my studies,” Tucker said. “I am looking forward to developing more in the area.”

Taylor Elise Tucker

Taylor Elise Tucker

Tucker participated in internships at WLBT-3 and WMC5 in Memphis, which helped her prepare for the new role. She was a student worker and teaching assistant in the journalism department, participated in the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association, research Rebel Radio and more.

Are you a graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media who wants to update us about your career or share your story? If so, you could be featured on our Alumni Stories page. Click the link to contact us. 

Read our Alumni Stories and submit your own

Posted on: September 24th, 2020 by ldrucker

Jules Healy, from Madison, Mississippi, graduated in 2016 from Madison-Ridgeland Academy. She’s been a fan of the University of Mississippi since her first visit to the campus at age 11 with her best friend, who became her freshmen-year roommate. Healy now works at Deynoodt Marketing in New Orleans as a marketing associate, where she said she learns something new every day.

Brandon Rook, 30, is a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native who graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media and now works for the (Paul) Newman’s Own Foundation as the public relations manager.

You can read these Alumni Stories and more by clicking the photo above.

Are you a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media Alumni? If so, we want to hear from you?

Click the photo and link to send us an email and tell us about your career path after college.

UM professor speaks about Ethiopia at European Institute of Peace event

Posted on: September 17th, 2020 by ldrucker

On Aug. 31, 2020, professor Zenebe Beyene, assistant professor and coordinator of international programs, participated in an event organized by the European Institute of Peace and was one of the three panelists. His presentation focused on “Ethiopian Election and Regional Tensions: The Need for an Inclusive and Participatory National Dialogue.”

Zenebe Beyene Ph.D.

File photo of Zenebe Beyene Ph.D.

Q. Can you tell me a little about the EIP program? Why was the program held?

A. The program was to discuss the Ethiopian election, regional tensions, and the implications for regional peace and stability. Ethiopia has become one of the most polarized countries in the region. The polarization has been compounded by the competing, conflicting, and toxic narratives that some politicians and activists irresponsibly disseminate via various platforms.

The danger of these narratives to the integrity of Ethiopia as a nation and the most immediate consequences of mutual destruction could not be overstated. But, this danger may not be limited to Ethiopia, as the political spillover effects of a destabilized Ethiopia will have unpredictable destabilization implications for the horn of Africa as well. As you all know, for the longest time, from the eastern-most nation of Somalia to the western-most nation of Senegal, Ethiopia was and is one of the very few countries that have been stable. If Ethiopia loses its stability, the odds are that the region will face the same fate.

Indeed, maintaining Ethiopia’s stability has important regional implications. Currently, Ethiopian troops participate in peacekeeping missions in Somalia and South Sudan/Sudan. Ethiopia also serves as home for one of the largest refugee camps in the region. Given Ethiopia’s contributions to regional peace and stability, it is in the best interest of the international community to support peace initiatives. It is here the media’s role in promoting peace and reconciliation comes in.

Q. Can you tell me a little about your presentation for those who were not able to see or hear it? What ideas did you share with others involved in the program?

A. My presentation focused on the regional tension, its immediate consequences and the way forward. As part of this topic, I emphasized the importance of an inclusive and participatory national dialogue. I believe national dialogue will lay the foundation for lasting peace in Ethiopia. It will also help us change the focus from politics to people. Focusing more on people than on politics will help people build and promote mutual understanding.

Zenebe Beyene Ph.D.

File photo of Zenebe Beyene Ph.D.

This approach may also help liberate people from deep-rooted hate. Like many other societies, Ethiopians have suffered injustices in the hands of successive leaders. Addressing those injustices and promoting accountability is long overdue. Promoting national dialogue will liberate people from hate, and finding commonality in humanity will help heal the wounds and pains that many are suffering from. The latter two goals are just as important as addressing historical injustices.

Healing the fractured political culture in Ethiopia should be the priority, and that can be done through a genuine national dialogue. People should be convinced that it is in their best interest to stand together against extremism and hostility. National dialogue should not be considered a party issue; it is about promoting national unity and the much-needed healing. The sooner we embark on national dialogue, the better the outcome for the region.

While the discussion focuses on Ethiopia and the horn of Africa, it has important global implications. First, the horn of Africa is a hot-spot, and any instability in the region will create a safe-haven for extremist groups. Second, the issue of promoting peace through an inclusive national dialogue and finding common-ground among various stakeholders is a much-needed intervention in many places around the world including the U.S.

Two from University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media will attend 2020 IRE virtual conference

Posted on: September 11th, 2020 by ldrucker

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Investigative Reporters & Editors conference will be a virtual event rather than an in-person gathering.

Set for Sept. 21-25, a student and an instructor from the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media were awarded the opportunity to attend the virtual event.

Tupelo native Abbey Edmonson is majoring in journalism with minors in English and creative writing with an emphasis in social media. She has been working as an intern and editorial assistant at Invitation Oxford and Invitation Magazine for over a year, and she aspires to work for a national publication.

Abbey Edmonson

She was awarded the James Richard Bennett Scholarship, given to journalism students in Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma or Louisiana, that provides a one-year student IRE membership and a complimentary conference registration. If the conference had not been moved online, the scholarship would also cover some travel fees and up to three nights in a hotel.

“I’m so excited to attend the conference,” Edmonson said. “I love taking any chances I can get to further my journalism experience. I hope to gain a better understanding of investigative reporting and how to do it effectively. I think I’m most excited about interacting with experienced journalists and growing my network.”

Edmonson applied for the scholarship, and she encourages students to apply for other opportunities they find online and elsewhere.

LaReeca Rucker

“My best advice to other students is to just apply, even if they don’t feel qualified,” she said. “I didn’t realize how much work I produced during my time at school that I was proud of and ready to submit as an application until I started applying to this conference and other opportunities like it.”

Journalism professor LaReeca Rucker will also be attending the conference. She was selected as one of the recipients of an Eric B. Sager Scholarship that came with a one-year IRE membership and paid conference registration.

The scholarship was established through an estate gift by the late Eric B. Sager, an IRE member from West Virginia, who worked mainly in trade publications. The scholarship is for U.S.-based journalists and independent journalists, and those who are from trade publications and small outlets.

“I attended the IRE conference in Orlando in 2018 for the first time and found it to be jam-packed with valuable information and rock star speakers from the journalism world,” Rucker said. “I learned a lot, and I am grateful for the opportunity to attend the 2020 conference and bring what I learn back into the classroom.”

Welcome Back Virtually – From the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: September 8th, 2020 by ldrucker

Some of you know how we look in person. But what about our virtual personas?

With avatars and Bitmojis, we thought we’d re-introduce ourselves to students and welcome them back to our online, hybrid and in-person classes.

Click the photo below to see our Welcome Back Virtually page and video featuring your favorite University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media professors. back with new look and improved mission

Posted on: September 4th, 2020 by ldrucker is back this semester with a new look and improved mission – to provide a #realworldrightnow experience for student journalists and a more attractive, user-friendly design for UM readers and beyond.

Rachel West, an integrated marketing communications instructor and manager of, said the website relaunch has been a goal for more than a year.

“As our world becomes more based in digital information, we also become more visual,” she said. “We recognized that needed to have a larger visual presence. We needed video on the site. We needed a more dynamic site and different ways of being interactive.”

Since the website moved on campus to the School of Journalism and New Media about two years ago, West said leaders have added content that became taxing for the website infrastructure.

“It’s not just that we wanted it to look different,” she said. “We needed more tools to be able to do the best job we could do with the information that we have.”

Hotty Toddy


Scott Fiene, assistant dean for curriculum and assessment and associate professor of integrated marketing communications, said the website upgrade was a natural evolution.

“A lot of the work really represents the input and ideas from a lot of different people in our school and outside our school,” he said, “and we just wanted to take it to the next level. We have a more appealing and functional design and more content, and so we needed a way to display that content.”

Fiene said updating the site is a big step, and it will be an ongoing process.

“We will continue to make changes as we go because that is the nature of digital media today,” he said.

Hannah Vines, graphic designer for the School of Journalism and New Media, said one of the most important changes was creating a look that engages the user without being too busy.

“When we asked Scott Fiene’s campaigns class what changes they would make to the site, a lot of the responses were to make it more visually stimulating and incorporate imagery,” Vines said. “Since the college-age demographic is one we’d like to see more readership from, we listened.

“We implemented a scrolling news slider, a social media feed and video content on the homepage to achieve that. Another important change was overall site organization. We reworked our categories to be as intuitive as possible. I think the best way we did this was by putting three categories that are very relevant to our audience at the forefront of the homepage.”

Vines said she hopes continues to be a place where students can express their creativity and gain real-world experience.

“The internships offered allow students to learn new skills and do great work – whether in Farley or remotely,” she said. “The staff has a lot of experience that they are able to pass along to students, which is very beneficial to our school. My first internship was actually with, and I gained some very valuable skills (and eventually a job!) from that.”

Since the fall of 2018, West said they have worked with hundreds of students, giving them the opportunity to have their work published on the site.

“Our focus, mission and desire is that we can offer as many opportunities to as many students to have real world, hands-on experience,” she said. “We can, hopefully, grow the site through the involvement of students in a real working environment and learn through that process.”

Fiene said the site has always served the UM community, Oxford residents and alumni.

“This design will make it even easier for those groups to hone in and find the information that they want,” he said. “It is a really good design in functionality. It not only looks nicer and allows us to display more content, but it will make it easier for users to navigate to the information they are looking for.”

Visit to take a look.

UM journalism alumna works as associate corporate counsel for Amazon

Posted on: September 3rd, 2020 by ldrucker

Kimbrely Dandridge studied journalism at the University of Mississippi and went on to work as associate corporate counsel for Amazon. Read her story in the Ole Miss Alumni Review.

This story was reprinted with permission from the Ole Miss Alumni Review. The Alumni Review is published quarterly for members of the Ole Miss Alumni Association. You can join or renew your membership with the Alumni Association at this link.

Click the image below to view the full story.

Students awarded UM Graduate Recruiting Fellowship and Scholarship in the Excellence in Inclusivity

Posted on: August 11th, 2020 by ldrucker

Nine students who will be attending graduate school at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media have been awarded a UM Graduate Recruiting Fellowship and Scholarship in the Excellence in Inclusivity category.

They include Jasmine Meredith, Avery Hilliard, Erin Pennington, Sabyius Boggan, Anne Boehringer, Antoinette Collins, Jordyn Rodriguez, Caylen Johnson and Abigail Nichols.

Erin Pennington, of Fulton, will be studying for her Master of Science in integrated marketing communications degree. Pennington previously received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi in journalism with an emphasis in broadcast. Her plans after graduate school include working in the entertainment/beauty industry in television or branding.

Abigail Nichols, of Madison, Mississippi, is a Marietta, Georgia native who became a Mississippi resident in 2016. Nichols graduated in May 2020 from the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor of Science degree in integrated marketing communications with a minor in business administration and a specialization in visual design. As an undergraduate, she served on the starting board for the school’s fashion specialization.

Erin Pennington

Erin Pennington

Abigail Nichols

Abigail Nichols

“I hope that while I am pursuing my master’s degree, I am able to serve as a driving force for the future of the specialization,” she said. “I feel that up until now, I have accumulated classroom knowledge and internship experiences. However, with a Master of Science in integrated marketing communications, I will have the opportunity to communicate, market, and design in ways that others can’t.

“My goal has always been to present a story unlike any other that resonates with my audience/user, and I feel strongly that by continuing my education at Ole Miss I will be able to achieve this goal.”

Jasmine Meredith graduated from the University of North Texas in the Fall of 2017 and will be moving to Mississippi to attend graduate school at the University of Mississippi, where she will enroll in the graduate integrated marketing communications program.

Meredith received her bachelor’s degree from the nationally accredited Mayborn School of Journalism in Public Relations. She graduated magna cum laude. Her ultimate career goal is to be a sports and entertainment publicist.

Jordyn Rodriguez

Jordyn Rodriguez

Jasmine Meredith

Jasmine Meredith

Jordyn Rodriguez, from Fullerton, California, is a recent graduate of Oklahoma State University, where she earned a degree in agriculture. She plans to pursue a career as a multimedia communications coordinator for an agricultural corporation.

Annie Boehringer is a first-year graduate student from New York. She graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in marketing and corporate relations and a minor in Spanish. After graduation, she worked for an architect and interior design firm in New York City. She is excited to start working on her master’s degree and become a part of the integrated communications program.

Avery Hilliard is a Memphis native who graduated from Ridgeway High School and Tennessee Wesleyan University. During high school and college, she was a leader on the women’s volleyball team.

Annie Boehringer

Annie Boehringer

Sabyius Boggan

Sabyius Boggan

Avery Hilliard

Avery Hilliard

“My love of sports has inspired me to dream of becoming a sports broadcaster,” she said. “Before graduating TWU, I knew I wanted to pursue my master’s degree at Ole Miss. “The opportunity to further my education is truly amazing. I am blessed to have been offered a graduate assistantship and to be selected for the (scholarship.) I am excited for my next steps with Ole Miss.”

Sabyius Boggan is a Philadelphia, Mississippi native, who completed a Bachelor of Science degree in integrated marketing communications at the University of Mississippi. He will be a first year graduate student in the IMC master’s program this fall.

“I am a member of the Ole Miss Men’s Club Volleyball team, where I serve as the founder and president of the the club,” he said. “I am excited for this semester and what the future has to hold.”

The Almost Martyr: A tribute to Rep. John Lewis

Posted on: July 31st, 2020 by drwenger

In 2014, students from the School of Journalism & New Media explored the impact of the Voting Rights Act in the Delta, 50 years after its passage. As part of that series of stories, student reporter Clancy Smith produced the following piece, which profiles Rep. John Lewis. We thought it fitting to publish it again in honor of the passing of this venerable civil rights leader.

Sunlight filters through tall leafy oak trees in the center of the Ole Miss campus as graduates and parents wait restlessly for law school commencement.

On a shaded wooden platform, Georgia Congressmen John Lewis, the featured speaker, is flanked by two flags. On his right waves the American flag, on his left the Mississippi flag with the age-old symbol of the Confederacy in its upper right-hand corner. Lewis doesn’t give it a glance. He could speak about the troubled history of this most southern of southern schools, how in 1962 a bloody riot accompanied the enrollment of its first black student, James Meredith. He could speak of how, just a few weeks ago, some students placed a hangman’s noose around the neck of the statue or Meredith on the same campus. He could speak of how he was once beaten nearly to death of the cause of the civil rights.

Instead, he preaches a sermon of hope, a sermon of love. “If someone had told me when I first came to Mississippi on the Freedom Ride that I would be standing here today, I would have said you are crazy, you’re out of your mind, you don’t know what you’re talking about,” he says. But today, at 74, he says he loves Mississippi. “When people tell me nothing has changed in Mississippi, I say walk in my shoes! This is a different state. We are better people.

…It doesn’t matter if we are black or white. We are one people and one family. We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters and live in peace.” When he is done, the overwhelmingly white audience gives him a standing ovation, a stark contrast to what he experienced when he visited the state for the first time in 1961. At that time no one would listen to him at all.

Even now, almost 50 years later, it is hard to watch the film. John Lewis leads a band of unarmed protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. Suddenly, state troopers attack with billy clubs. Deputies on horseback charge the marchers.

A defenseless John Lewis is clubbed to the ground from behind. The blows crack his skull, rendering him unconscious.

The images of that attack helped prod Congress into passing the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965, which changed the face of the South by making it easier for black people to vote.

For Lewis, Selma was just another day at the office. During the 1960s, he absorbed hate and violence like few ever have. He was hit over the head with a Coca-Cola crate, pummeled with the fists of angry white men, jailed 40 times, all for daring to challenge segregation.

Through it all, he never abandoned his vow of non-violence, never stopped believing that one day race would no longer be an issue in this nation so long divided by the color of a man’s skin.

Today, the young preacher boy who couldn’t get a public library card or drink from the  “Whites Only” water fountain is the Democrats’ deputy whip in the U.S. House of Representatives, a senior statesman of civil rights whose gentle spirit is legend.

As a young boy growing up in the country outside of Troy, Ala., John Lewis was acutely aware that black and white were treated differently. He didn’t like the overcrowded classrooms, hand-me-down books or raggedy school bus that drove him and his friends past the newly renovated school for white children.

“I kept asking questions. Why? Why?” Lewis said. “And my mother and father and grandparents would say, “That’s the way it is. Don’t get in the way. Don’t get in trouble.”

In 1957, at 17, Lewis applied to all-white Troy State University without telling his family. The college never responded. Instead of giving up, Lewis wrote a letter to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I told him I needed his help. He wrote me back and sent me a round-trip Greyhound bus ticket,” said Lewis. “He invited me to come to Montgomery to meet with him.”

Meanwhile, Lewis’s mother, who worked in the laundry room at a Southern Baptist orphanage, learned about the American Baptist Theological Seminary for black students in Nashville. In September of 1957, Lewis hopped on a Greyhound bus to Nashville to study religion and philosophy, working his way through school. At spring break, Lewis accepted King’s invitation and traveled to meet him at the First Baptist Church of Montgomery.

“I was lost for words to say, and he said, ‘Are you the boy from Troy? Are you John Lewis? And I said, ‘Dr. King, I am John Robert Lewis.’ I gave him my whole name,” said Lewis. “And that was the beginning.”

Lewis and King became fast friends.

“I loved him, “ said Lewis. “He was my hero and if it hadn’t been for him, I don’t know what would have happened to me. He gave me a way out.”

King offered to help Lewis file suit to get into Troy State.

He urged Lewis to talk with his parents before making a decision.

“I went back and my mother and father were so frightened,” said Lewis. “They didn’t want to have anything to do with my attempting to go there. They thought they would lose the land, my home would be bombed or burned.” Lewis returned to Nashville to continue his education, working first in the kitchen, then on the food line and eventually as a janitor in the administration building. The janitorial position became particularly helpful when the student sit-in movement swept through the South.

“I was able to get a secretary in administration to do the typing,” said Lewis. “And I liberated a ream of paper and we had these do’s and don’ts: don’t laugh out loud, don’t talk back, look straight ahead, read your book, do your homework, sit up straight and all of that.”

He graduated while imprisoned in 1961.

“I didn’t even march or participate in my graduation,” Lewis said.

Instead, he was in a maximum-security cell at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, more famously known as Parchman Prison. In the spring of 1961, he had joined the Freedom Riders who traveled on buses through the South to help desegregate interstate transportation, including bus station restrooms and cafes.

One bus was attacked and burned as the riders narrowly escaped. During a stop in Montgomery, white thugs ambushed the Freedom Riders and beat them. Dozens were injured. “I was hit in the head with a wooden crate, a Coca-Cola crate of all things,” said Lewis. “Had to get a big patch on my head.” When the riders got to Jackson, they were shipped off for a 44-day stay at Parchman. There, prisoners were not allowed to go outside and only showered twice a week.

“Once people were singing their freedom songs and the guards would say, ‘If you don’t stop singing your freedom song, we are going to take your mattress,’” said Lewis. “So, people started improvising and making up songs so they couldn’t take our mattress.”

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy invited a small group of civil rights leaders to the White House. Lewis, who only days before had been named chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), was the youngest of the group that included Martin Luther King, Jr. and A. Phillip Randolph, among others. They told Kennedy they planned a peaceful march on Washington. On August 28, 1963, that dream became a reality. What leaders expected to be 60,000 to 70,000 participants turned into 250,000. The dramatic scene is credited with helping pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“We were coming down Constitution Avenue, and we saw hundreds and thousands of people coming out of Union Station, so we knew then it was going to be many more people,” said Lewis. “It was very moving, just gratifying.”

Lewis, the youngest of six speakers at the March on Washington, was 23 the day he stepped up to the podium between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

“I looked to my right. I saw all these young people, black and white, standing there cheering me on, and then I looked straight ahead and I saw all those young people, men, women,” said Lewis. “I’ll never see a sight like that again.”

In 1964, what would later be called “Freedom Summer,” thousands of students from the North came south to help register black voters. As chairman of SNCC, Lewis recruited people to travel to Mississippi. “Back in 1964, the state had a very large African-American population, but only a few people were registered to vote,” said Lewis. “We wanted to change that.”  Few people registered that summer, but the group made progress in organizing and energizing young blacks.

They were also met with violence. Three civil rights workers, James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael “Mickey” Schwerner, went missing that summer near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Murdered by the Ku Klux Klan, their bodies were discovered six weeks later.

“That was a very sad and difficult time,” said Lewis. But the seeds of political activism had been planted. “I think in Mississippi, during the summer in those early years, the African-American community in the state became probably the most politically involved and aware of any African-American community of any other southern state,” Lewis said. Though progress remained slow, Lewis said Freedom Summer had an impact not only on Mississippi, but on the entire nation.

“What happened that summer and years following, it helped educate and sensitize and motivate people all across America,” he said.

A year later, a peaceful march in protest of the killing of a young man shot by a state trooper stands out as one of Lewis’ most frightening experiences. SNCC began its protest walk from Selma to Montgomery on March 7, 1965. Lewis came prepared. He assumed the group would be arrested so he wore a backpack with two books to read, an apple and orange to eat and toothpaste and a toothbrush to brush his teeth. When they paused to pray after being ordered to disperse, state troopers and deputies advanced, hitting people with nightsticks and bullwhips, trampling then with horses and releasing tear gas. “I thought I was going to die,” said Lewis, who suffered a concussion. “I thought I saw death, but somehow I survived.”

Amidst the beatings, hatred and imprisonment, Lewis never considered giving up. Fear never hindered him.

“For a lot of people, fear is natural for them,” he said. “But you come to that point, you lose that sense of fear and you find something that you believe in that is so right and so necessary that you’re prepared to stand up for it, fight for it, and if necessary, die for it.”

Through his many trips to Washington, D.C., and conversations with elected officials, Lewis got interested in politics as a way to change things. When Robert Kennedy announced that he was running for president, Lewis offered to help.

Soon he found himself organizing voter registration efforts for the RFK campaign in Indianapolis. It was there, on April 4, 1968, that he heard of King’s assassination.

“I was stunned and saddened, and I cried like the great majority of the people,” said Lewis. “I went back to Atlanta and helped prepare for the services, and sort of dropped out of the campaign for a week or so. Then I got back on the campaign trail.”

Lewis worked hard, knocking on doors to help Kennedy win the Democratic primary in California. On election night, after the victory, Kennedy invited Lewis and a few others to his hotel suite to celebrate.

Kennedy joked lightheartedly with his visitors and invited them to stay while he went down to give a speech.

“So we watched his speech on television that evening, and later when this bulletin came on that he had been shot we all just dropped to the floor and cried, and I just wanted to get out of L.A.,” said Lewis. “I just wanted to make it back to Georgia.”

Disheartened by the passing of two dear friends, Lewis made a promise to himself to continue the work of those leaders whom he so greatly admired.

“I said to myself then that if I could do something to pick up where Robert Kennedy and Dr. King and others left off, I would do it,” said Lewis.

After losing a first race for Congress, Lewis went to work for President Jimmy Carter in Washington, D.C. He returned to Atlanta after three years and got elected to the city council. A U.S. House seat in Atlanta came open again in 1986 when incumbent Rep. Andrew Young resigned to become Carter’s ambassador to the United Nations. Lewis ran again. This time, he was elected.

“And I haven’t had a tough race since,” he said. “This year, not anyone is running against me.”

“Lewis is a member of the Ways and Means committee, dealing with issues related to taxes, revenue, Social Security and Medicare. He is also heavily involved in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform. In fact, his most recent arrest in October 2013 centered on a protest against the lack of immigration reform.

It marked the fortieth time Lewis has been arrested while standing up for what he believes is right.

“It’s a form of speech almost,” said Lewis. “As Dr. King would say, you have a right to protest for what is right. You have a right to petition the government. So, it’s a different way, a different means of petitioning your government, to make your concern known, to help to dramatize the issue.”

After the U.S. Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act, Lewis began pushing a new voting rights law to restore some of the protections the court eliminated. He wants to make voting less complicated and more accessible so everyone can participate.

“My own feeling is that the national election, the general election, should be a holiday,” Lewis said. “If voting is so important to our democratic society, just make it a national holiday and let everybody vote.”

Lewis credits his faith for helping him handle the challenges thrown his way. “Without my faith, I’m not so sure I would’ve survived,” he said. “It’s that belief…, that sense of hope, that sense of optimism, that sense that you can overcome, and it’s also that sense of you have to work and believe that what you’re working toward, in a sense, it’s already done.”

Though harboring resentment would be easy, Lewis has never succumbed to anger.

“I tell young children all the time ‘never hate,’” said Lewis. “Dr. King would say ‘hate is too heavy a burden to bear.’ You destroy yourself. The best thing to do is be hopeful, be optimistic, and continue to work.”

He knows there is work still to be done, but the change he has already seen leaves him encouraged.

“I see the changes that have occurred in the state,” said Lewis. “The state of Mississippi has the highest number of black elected officials in any state. I meet people, young people, people not so young, all over the country who say, ‘I’m from Mississippi, I grew up in Mississippi, I followed you.’”



UM recent graduates sweep public relations awards

Posted on: July 30th, 2020 by ldrucker

Students win 10 out of 14 awards presented by the Public Relations Association of Mississippi, including Best in Show

School of Journalism and New Media recent graduates swept the awards for student work in the 2020 Public Relations Association of Mississippi student competition, including one student winning overall Best in Show.

JNM graduates won 10 of the 14 total awards presented in the competition open to students at all Mississippi universities.

In addition, broadcast journalism major Karsyn King was recognized for previously being named Outstanding PR Student.

“The students of the University of Mississippi set themselves apart from an outstanding field of entries,” said Rob Pettit, PRAM vice president for awards. “Our judges felt their award-winning work was exceptional.”

The students, who all earned the PR specialization, entered public relations campaigns they created in Senior Lecturer Robin Street’s advanced PR class. Each campaign was designed to increase awareness or change opinion on a topic of their choice.

The awards were presented in a webinar July 22, replacing the previously scheduled April ceremony that was delayed by COVID-19 issues.

Awards were given at three levels, based on the number of points judges award each entry. The top award is the Prism, followed by the Excellence and Merit awards. Multiple students can win in the same award if they earn the required number of points.

IMC major Sarah Biedermann of Keller, Texas, won a Prism and Student Best in Show award for her campaign “Empower Her.”

“I created Empower Her to educate women on their legal rights,” Biedermann said. “I truly believe that when women are educated on their rights, they are empowered to become the best that they can; every woman deserves that opportunity.”

Also winning Prism awards were IMC majors Tristen Bloxsom of Uvalde, Texas, for “Live Life Uninterrupted” on preventive college health and Hannah Williamson of Maumelle, Arkansas, for “Conquering Grief: Anger, Justification and Healing.”

Williamson’s campaign was inspired by her personal experience.

“The Anger, Justification, Healing” in the title summarizes the five stages of grief but also represents the initials of my late cousin, who I lost right before starting this project,” Williamson said. “I’m so thankful for all Ms. Street taught me through the process of creating this campaign while also allowing me a unique way to heal as a grieving college student.”

Four IMC majors won Excellence Awards.

  • Bridgette Carbon of Bloomingdale, Illinois, won for “Are you Ready?” about “adulting” skills.
  • Rachel Lane of Kennett, Missouri, won for “Planned Puppyhood” on spaying and neutering.
  • Jacob Palmer of Grenada won for “Go Green Mississippi” on climate change.
  • Clay Patrick of Meridian won two awards, one for “More than Medication,” on the importance of pharmacists, and another for graphics.

Two students won Merit Awards.

  • IMC major Courtney Pugh of Tupelo won for “Rebel-ing Against Depression,” on clinical depression.
  • Marketing and Corporate Relations major Sommer Grace Weldon of Brentwood, Tennessee, won for “Spend, Save, Soar” on budgeting.

Each campaign required multi-faceted skills including writing news articles, shooting video and photos, planning attention-getting events, conducting research and creating social media posts.

“Today’s communication specialists require skills in research and planning, as well as in all forms of communication including writing, designing, photography, video, social media and website creation,” Street said. “These students demonstrated that they excel in this diverse skill set thanks to the preparation they received from all the faculty members at the School of Journalism and New Media.”