In some ways, Amanda McMillan of Pearl typifies the non-traditional Hinds Community College student. At age 43, she works full-time waiting tables at Table 100, is divorced and has three children. In her second semester on the Rankin Campus, she is also taking a full-time load of classes at 12 hours.
She’s not sure of her major yet, but found her sociology class fascinating and is considering a sociology or social work major.
But admittedly not many of our students are invited to tour the White House and sit with the nation’s first lady during the annual State of the Union Speech in Washington. That happened to McMillan in February after she got a phone call on a Friday afternoon that resulted in her catching a plane with her 16-year-old daughter Tuesday morning for the Feb. 12 speech that night.
The path that took her to the White House is unusual. A few years ago McMillan filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when the company she worked for wouldn’t allow her the same job and pay opportunities as men were offered. She received a settlement in the case in 2011.
The White House asked McMillan to be Michelle Obama’s guest at the State of the Union address as part of President Obama’s push to highlight women’s rights.
And, McMillan has been asked to speak at an upcoming EEOC conference, with details to come.
As the mother of two daughters, she says she’s thrilled to see women’s rights get the attention they deserve.
And after two unsuccessful attempts to make headway in college before, she’s happy to be enrolled at Hinds.
“This time I approached it with ‘You might not graduate next week but you might make a passing grade on your test. Just take one thing at a time and just do one thing at a time, put one front in front of the other and eventually you’ll get where you want to be,’ ” she said.
For more on Amanda McMillan’s story, see an upcoming issue of The Hindsonian student newspaper on Hinds campuses.
Cathy Hayden is director of Public Relations at Hinds Community College.
Chatham Meade Kemp's art exhibit will be displayed in the Marie Hull Art Gallery on the Raymond Campus of Hinds Community College through Friday, February 22, 2013.
If you live in any residence hall whether it's Pickett, Allan-Dukes Whittaker, Sheffield, etc. you know that you are residing with at least four RAs in your building.
RAs are not just sitting behind a desk 24/7 and they are not looking for a reason to get you into trouble, there is a lot more behind the scenes action that the average resident is unaware of. The first thing is what a person must go through to become an RA.
Not just anyone can apply to be an RA and be picked for the position. A good resume and good recommendation letters might help, but personality and leadership are the key. Before being chosen, one must fill out an application which consists of two letters of recommendation, a resume, two essays, and attend both a personal and group interview. From having to go through this process twice, I have found the essays to be the hardest part as the questions would range from what you expect to gain as an RA to what you can bring to the position.
To be honest, the hours spent working between the desk and what we call in hall isn't that much; however, we are usually on call 24/7, and anything can happen any time. I have been been woken up with residents banging on my door or window to get my attention for something as small as letting someone in their room to being the mediator in a small argument. Either way, no matter what time of day it is, week or weekend, I am to get up and help resolve the situation. In addition to helping out residents, we are also required to keep up with maintenance issues that the building has such as air and/or water temperature problems, burned out lights, and locks, etc. Despite the fact that we have no say so in what gets fixed when, we make sure we stay on the situation to make sure it gets fixed in a timely manner.
RAs are required to maintain at least a 2.5 GPA. Although academics are pushed when you are a member of the residence life team, there will be moments that you are trying to study and you get called down stairs to fill in for another RA or be taken away from your studies to make sure all residents are out of the building during a fire alarm. There is much that goes on when you are a Resident Assistant that the average resident fails to see.
With this job comes great responsibility, but with this responsibility can come some great fun. Most every resident on campus has seen a flier or two promoting a program going on at one of the nine residence halls. One thing that RAs have to look forward to every semester is putting on eight programs. There is something different going on all the time.
Being a Resident Assistant is not as easy as everyone makes it out to be; however, every moment is worth it. One is not guaranteed a full paid scholarship, but if I had to, I would work for free. This job has allowed me to meet new people, gain a lot of leadership experience, and gain a lot of skills that will help me out in life.
If you are interested in being a leader in your residence hall, talk to one of your Resident Assistants or Hall Director, or even stop by the Housing Office located in Denton Hall to get more information on how you can play a bigger role in your hall.
Next to graduation, covering the first day of a brand-new semester of classes is my favorite thing to do as Hinds public relations director.
There’s so much promise in that new start of classes. And I’m always impressed at the dedication of students and their reasons for going to college, especially at Hinds.
In a cold, driving rain on the first day of classes on the Rankin Campus I ran into a few of those dedicated students:
- A young mother with a double stroller carrying two children ages 18 months and eight months. When I saw her in the library, she was drenched in her light clothes and flipflops but had the babies bundled up in jackets with blankets tucked around them for good measure. She chose Hinds so she could finish her degree in licensed practical nursing at night so her husband could keep the little ones while she’s in class.
- A young man taking three online classes so he can work a full-time job as he continues toward a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
- An older guy hoping to finish his criminal justice degree this semester so he can take that first step in a law enforcement career.
- A late 20s St. Dominic’s nurse waiting in the book store line with her three-year-old daughter who was carrying her favorite doll. She wants to finish prerequisites to get into a bachelor’s of science in nursing program and further her career.
What all these students have in common is they chose Hinds’ Rankin Campus to help them achieve their goals. And they had to be dedicated to show up for the first day in that shivery cold rain!
Many of us are guilty of spending far too much time in front of a computer screen or staring at our phones and not connecting with what’s going on in the real world right this very moment. I know I am! Take some time this holiday season (and afterward) to do a few random acts of kindness. It may make someone’s day, and you’ll be surprised how many times that person is you!
Here are a few ideas for Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) that can be done on a college campus or in the local community.
- Write a letter to someone who made a difference in your life that you haven’t see in a while. Yes, on real paper. No, not an e-mail. Compose a real life piece of snail mail and send it to someone.
- Create and print some inspirational flyers to hang in your dorm or on campus. You could use quotes on kindness or motivational reminders, google for ideas.
- If you see a member of our military on campus, stop and thank them for their service. I saw a young man carrying a military dress uniform across campus this morning. Hinds Community College is a military-friendly campus and we have many students who have (or are currently) risking their lives for our country. A smile and a thanks are just small things we can do to show our appreciation.
- Bake cookies for your neighbors or your floor in your residence hall.
- If you’ve got the cash to spare, order pizza for a night class (just not on a test night).
- Standing in line? Let someone go ahead of you.
- Leave quarters on laundry machines or taped to vending machines for the next person who comes along.
- If you have a car, help out someone in your dorm who doesn’t.
- Visit a local nursing home and take some friends with you. Ask an elderly person about their memories of the community, read to them, play some music.
- Give directions to someone who looks lost on campus. You were in their shoes once.
- It’s cold, give up your parking spot to someone else. Walking a bit farther won’t hurt you.
- Call the animal shelter and ask if there’s anything you can do to help. You can make home made treats for animals, or go help out.
- Study with someone after class. There’s always someone who needs a little extra help, it may be you. Offer to tutor in the subjects you do best in.
- If you’re buying Christmas gifts, support businesses in your local community. If you do buy online, check out stores like Sevenly that donate part of their proceeds to charity.
- Have some nice clothes that don’t quite fit anymore? Donate them to organizations that help the homeless get back in the workforce.
- Give gift cards to strangers. There are tons of people in the community and on campus who’d appreciate a gift card for a meal.
- Ask a good question every day in one of your courses. It will help you understand the content better and help someone who may be too shy to ask themselves.
- We have some great student bloggers here at Hinds CC! Take a moment to leave a positive comment on one of their posts. Apply to share your student experiences with new students. You may want to blog about all the Random Acts of Kindness you’re doing.
- Leave a thank you card for someone who works on campus. It may be a janitor, a faculty member, someone who helped you with financial aid, anyone who has helped make your life better.
- Check out kindness apps like We&Co or sites like beremedy.org and share ideas you like in the comments.
I hope this season is wonderful for everyone. Spread some cheer today and every day. As Plato famously said, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
(photo by Jeremy Wilburn and Greg Bishop of UIS.EDU)
As a teacher, getting caught up in negative situations can sometimes be too easy. After all, we are stressed with our personal issues along with those our students decide to share with us. Besides that, we have papers to grade and tests to scan or books to review and evaluations to oversee. I don't have enough time to go to the bathroom between classes. You don't have enough time to retrieve your materials from Duplicating. Sigh! Isn't it awful?
Not really actually.
Let me just say that today was one of THOSE days--one of those "teachable moments" days reminding me just why I chose this job.
One of my favorite poems to teach is "We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks. On a surface level, it is such a simplistic poem about a group of high school students who have skipped school to play pool, "lurk late," and "thin gin." In other words, these pool players are now "largely unfit for and unable to participate in conventional society" due to being part of a "counterculture," as Urban Dictionary so eloquently defines the status of "too cool for school."
This poem's simplicity makes it highly accessible to developmental students, particularly in Beginning English or Intermediate English, as I have witnessed this semester. As a tool for teaching summary, I integrated Brooks's work because I believed that it would be easy to understand yet would be thought-provoking. I also thought it would provide a little shock value. A poem of only roughly eight sentences? Simple sentences? With an AABB rhyme scheme? Am I back in elementary school? I could imagine the students' confusion at first over having such a seemingly one-dimensional literary piece handed to them.
But elementary students do not read about numbskulls who choose to bypass educational opportunities in hot pursuit of negative consequences. Elementary students do not yet have the skills to dig deeply and realize the embedded advice that Brooks actually provides to her audience in this short, valuable poem. My students do possess those abilities, and they responded with ferocity, which made me proud and satisfied that my little assignment worked to get them thinking about the lasting value of education contrasted against only the temporary satisfication of rebellious behavior.
One student classified this poem under one of this year's most well known phrases: YOLO! (For those readers out of the pop culture loop, that means "You only live once!") He insisted that the young people in the poem are only exploring their options and testing their boundaries. They, he said, are doing what much of young America still does after obtaining drivers' licenses and a bit of freedom. But another student pointed out quickly that having no polished plan for the future is simply being reckless. She noted that most everyone has a friend or relative who had potential but who chose the wrong path that led to his/her academic and/or professional destruction.
Much of the students' opinions revolved around peer pressure and the fact that many young people struggle with defining self; thus, they allow stronger influences to direct their paths. One of my favorite reactions, in fact, was a student who proclaimed that the pool players' situation is representative of a long line of rebels who teach new recruits to keep acting like "complete fools." Another student remarked that some people unfortunately have the attitude that "school is for fools." Many students then commented sadly on the opportunities that they have seen missed or even destroyed by friends and family members who have given into peer pressure.
In the classroom, I was reminded today that our students are listening to us although we, as educators, may sometimes feel as though they are not, especially when we are caught up in our whirlwind of anxiety over last minute quizzes and final grades. Our students are realizing the importance of education; they are seeing, and some are even regrettably living, the results of reckless abandonment and of decisions gone awry.
One of the students' statements that I treasure most from today's writing and discussion is this:
"You can be real cool in the classroom while doing some work."
Right, you are. Right, you are.
I’ve always been the kind of student who went home on the weekends. And who could blame a girl? Campus is dead, there’s never ANYTHING to do… Or is there? This past weekend, I chose to stay in Raymond. This is a very rare occasion, but since I had a big paper to work on I figured I would save a little gas money. Now as nice as Allen Dukes Whitaker is, a girl can get very bored staring at four walls and a computer for hours at a time. Eventually I decided that I would go get some exercise and walk around the block for a little while. Not gonna lie, I was avoiding working on that paper.
So I get my sunglasses and headphones and head towards the center of Raymond. I pass Raymond Elementary, some houses, and observe the Catholic chapel. Across the road I stop to take a picture of the old and rusty railroad crossing light.
My attention turns to the depot. I’ve been in Raymond for three semesters now, and have always seen it but have never been inside it. I decided to go and take a look, since they are open on Sunday afternoons. It is now called “Little Big Store”, a shop for records and music memorabilia. I step inside and immediately to my right is an antique coke machine, where you can buy glass bottles of Coca Cola. And everywhere else I look are (literally) thousands of records! There are shelves upon shelves and stacks upon stacks of classic vinyl records. The walls are covered in posters, t-shirts, stickers, and anything classic music and even some new music. Raymond has a secret Rock ‘n’ Roll treasure trove! As I walk the store looking, satellite radio plays rock music. There are glass cases with memorabilia items with knit hats, wallets, jewelry, and more in them. There are shelves full of biographies and books written by famous musicians, some of them even signed with autographs. Moving further into the depot I see cassette tapes and CDs, as well as musical song books. The very front of the store was set off by bars, and two depot windows and a fireplace between the two.
I immediately ask the little lady at the front counter if I could write about her little store. She told me this was the train depot of Raymond, and that the two windows at the front were windows separating blacks and whites from standing in line together to buy train tickets. Then she showed me an original bathroom door on the outside of the building. This door, although worn, chipped, and dirty, still left the impression of the words “COLORED MEN”. I have become enchanted with this little building. I’ve always loved anything old, antique, or historical. Once a place where people bought train tickets and waited for their departure, it now serves as another symbol of Raymond’s withstanding history and charm.
After taking plenty of pictures, I continued to walk on. How could I have been in Raymond for almost two years and never been in this place before? What else does Raymond hold that nobody knows about? This is such a valuable lesson for people… EXPLORE! Little Big Store is a PARADISE for music fanatics and history buffs. I know that I will definitely be back to visit it again… but with money!
It's that time of year again, you know, the one of leaves falling and students contemplating their next moves. I have the bittersweet feeling of letting go, preparing myself as students move on to other courses, teachers, paths, just as I have truly begun to know and appreciate their diverse personalities. This time of year, I find myself meandering across campus in the early a.m. light and considering more than what I will cook for dinner later.
Instead, I mull over what to say to my students, especially as the semester approaches its closing with some of them considering withdrawing, perhaps even giving up completely. I can relate to those feelings of frustration and almost resignation. When I was an undergraduate at Mississippi State, I too had those feelings of being in a rat-race of papers, exams, responsibilities, bills, social events, family drama, work schedules. The list goes on. In fact, I withdrew the spring semester of my sophomore year. First of all, I was facing the dilemma of changing my major from Secondary Education to English, but that decision was not even remotely as stressful as knowing that my father was near death in a hospital bed of UAB.
He was 49 and facing a bout of pancreatitis that was so serious that he missed breaking the record of the largest pancreatic cyst in America by only a couple of centimeters. At only 19 or 20, I watched his temples seemingly gray overnight from intense pain, heard of him ripping i.v. cords and nose tubes out in morphine-induced confusion, and witnessed the fear in his voice when he urged me not to withdraw from school just for his sake. It was a tremendously scary time for me due to the realization that the pressure was on me to make my own path and to decide what was best because my parents were truly not in the proper frame of mind to assist.
We have those moments in life when we must make tough decisions.
So, I chose to withdraw, postponing my college career temporarily until my family could see its way out of the medical fog my dad was in. Instead of attending class, I rose some mornings to drive clean laundry to Birmingham and to take my mom to McAlister's across the road from the hospital so that she could have a little normalcy. Through it all, I knew that I could not lose sight of my educational goals if I wanted to pursue my future occupation, which was as a teacher.
Because of my experiences, most importantly, during this season I tell my students not to take their eyes off of the prize, no matter how long it takes them to obtain it. Overall, having a college degree puts a person in such better circumstances that no student should ever become so discouraged as to give up on it. The desire to withdraw or quit comes creeping in particularly as a class becomes difficult to pass, but restarting is perfectly acceptable, especially for developmental students who are trying to make up educational ground.
I try to remind my classes that Hinds is not going anywhere and that a support system exists here for them to seek out advice and expertise. After all, we have all been in the stress and ditch of indecision at some time or another, trying to decide in which direction to go. "To everything there is a season," and students must remember to give themselves the opportunity to breathe and to take care of their priorities without losing sight of their ultimate goals.
Most people who move to the little town of Raymond don’t realize that it is sitting on hallowed ground. It’s hard to believe that 150 years ago, Raymond was a battle field. This battle of Raymond would pave the way to Vicksburg and the famous, fateful battle that occurred on the Mississippi river. Imagine the men in uniform, the ground shaking from cannon fire, and the sound of cavalry. Sounds pretty cool, right?
This past October, Friends of Raymond sponsored a national level re-enactment of the 1863 Vicksburg Campaign! The perfect place to experience the civil war ambience and watch history unfold, the Raymond Military park become a weekend home for hundreds of cattle, re-enactors, and civil war vendors. Over the course of a weekend, four historic Mississippi battles were reenacted to commemorate (not to be confused with celebrating) the 150th anniversary of these battles. I had the opportunity to attend two of these battles through the Hinds Honors Institute as a volunteer—I even got an awesome free t-shirt for helping out! And my admission was free. This is one of those times that community service ceases to become service and turns into a life experience you will never forget. Let’s be honest—I did not expect to enjoy this project. Thankfully, I was truly mistaken.
Not only were there soldiers, cattle, and cannons; women came out to support their men in battle! People came from Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, and so many other places to transform a plain, regular field into a time warp. We even had men come to play “To Arms In Dixie” and other folk songs to pass time until the battles commenced. Let’s not forget about the handmade corncob pipes! Many of the ladies came shrouded in lacey umbrellas, gloves, and handmade cotton dresses. Even on a hot Saturday afternoon, everyone felt the spirit of the south.
As the battles began, we witnessed cavalry calls, musket fire popping, and rings of smoke bellowing out of the cannons. There were many cannons, each constructed authentically to model a true civil war cannon. They were even hand-painted. My favorite part of the battles (aside from the cannon fire setting car alarms off) would have to be seeing the ornate, handmade costumes and original muskets that people had. One soldier had an original Civil War musket that was used by his ancestors who fought in the war! Whenever the battles ceased, there was an area at the military park set up called “The Cave” where anyone could go to get food, purchases souvenirs, paraphernalia, or home brewed drinks! Vendors were waiting with their kegs full to fill ornate glass bottles with root beers, sassafras fizz, and lemonades.
If you are a history or civil war enthusiast or are thinking about finding a cool hobby, civil war reenactments are the way to go! This was a truly awesome experience, and it’s awesome that being a Hinds student makes this experience especially unique. Look into these kinds of things! It will be worth your time, I guarantee.
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