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News Local Graduate school inducts 13 students into Hall of Fame

Graduate school inducts 13 students into Hall of Fame


On April 3, The University of Southern Mississippi Graduate School hosted its third annual Graduate Student Hall of Fame induction as part of Graduate Student Appreciation Week.

The Graduate School at Southern Miss inducted 13 students into its hall of fame. The ceremony occurred in the McCain Library from 2 – 4 p.m. and more than 50 persons attended the event, including USM President Rodney Bennett.

This year’s inductees included the following students and graduates:

Masters student of science in economic development Jeffrey George; Ph.D. student in mass communication and journalism and Three Minute Thesis Grand Champion Ecaterina (Kate) Stepaniuc; masters of social work student Olivia Hogan Ismail; Ph.D. student in physical chemistry Frederick M. McFarland; alumna in epidemiology and biostatistics Ashley Lauren Parker; graduate student in sports management and graduate assistant trainer for the Golden Eagles baseball team Andrew Dodgso; Ph.D student in instructional technology and design Dane Conrad; Ph.D. student in communication studies Carley Young; doctoral student of nursing practice in nurse anesthesia Ruoyu Zhao; Ph.D candidate in polymer science and engineering Dahlia Amato; Ph.D. student in mass communication Willie Tubbs; Ph.D student in clinical psychology Claire Houtsma; and Ph.D. student in nursing leadership Tiffany Leanne Zyniewicz.

Dean of the Graduate School Karen Coats said students were selected based on a recommendation by the dean of their respective college, academic performance and research or scholarly productivity.

“One of the students inducted is the Three Minute Thesis Grand Champion,” Coats said. “The reason we have a hall of fame and a week in appreciation of graduate students is to honor the students that excel and to showcase their efforts.”

In the McCain Library, where the office of the graduate school resides, hall of fame inductees’ portraits adorn the walls.

“Their portraits will hang for one year,” Coats said. “We will take them down when we have our next graduate hall of fame induction ceremony.”

Coats initiated the ceremony and graduation appreciation week in her second semester as dean of the graduate school at Southern Miss in 2015 and brought Graduate Student Appreciation Week to Southern Miss.

“Graduate Student Appreciation week was not my idea,” Coats said. “Graduate/Professional Student Appreciation Week was conceived in 1993 by student activists within the National Association of Graduate and Professional Students.  It is celebrated annually, nation-wide, during the first week of April.”

Coats said the event not only honors the students, but their faculty mentors.

“There is no graduate student who could have done this without quality mentorship,” Coats said. “Students don’t initially know how to navigate graduate school, but that’s what good mentorship is all about.”

Three Minute Thesis Grand Champion and Hall of Fame inductee Stepaniuc said It has been an honor to experience this incredible achievement.

“I am humbled and honored to be recognized by the Graduate School for my academic achievements,” Stepaniuc said. “However, I insist to declare that being inducted in the USM Hall of Fame would have not been possible without the constant support and investment of my exceptional professors and of my loving family. We achieved this great result together. I thank God for this amazing adventure.”

The hall of fame inductees’ graduate research ranged from Stepaniuc’s focus on the impact of the media’s message on its audience to Dahlia Amato’s research on the rising threat of “superbugs,” or microorganisms in which antimicrobial resistance has increased.

George, a Hattiesburg City Council candidate for Ward 1, said he is honored to be inducted and recognized for his research as a graduate student.

“Southern Miss has so many talented graduate students that are working on exciting and innovative research, so for my work in economic and workforce development to be recognized really means a lot to me,” George said.

Coats said the Graduate School does not make decisions on admission of applicants. 

“Decisions to admit or deny an application are made by departmental faculty who review those applications,” Coats said. “The applicant must meet  minimum GPA requirements on the last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework, or have an  earned graduate degree from an accredited institution.  GRE/GMAT or other standardized test scores are required.”

Coats said students must submit a statement of purpose or writing sample and letters of reference. 

“Programs may have additional requirements for admission, such as an audition or face-to-face interview,” Coats said. “The application must be accompanied by payment of a $60 application fee. When program faculty review a complete application, they look not only at whether an applicant meets the program admissions requirements, but also, if the applicant’s aspirations fit within the department’s areas of emphasis and/or faculty expertise.”

Coats said “fit” is a very important part of the decision process, and it is not necessarily reflective of the quality of the applicant’s credentials. 

Those considering Southern Miss for graduate school must supply official transcripts from all institutions from which a bachelor’s degree or higher was obtained and official transcripts for all work completed after obtaining a bachelor’s degree, including undergraduate and graduate coursework.  Junior or community college transcripts are not required, however,  applicants who are applying to nursing programs and have earned an Associate’s of Science-Nursing should include those transcripts. 

In addition, three letters of recommendation and results from standardized tests such as the GRE or GMAT, according to the Graduate School’s website must be submitted. Several scholarships and opportunities are afforded to graduate students who wish to obtain higher education. For more information on Southern Miss’ Graduate School visit usm.edu/graduate-school.”


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