The University of Southern Mississippi offers a plethora of special interest organizations for students to become involved in on campus. However, one organization sets a noteworthy standard for cultivating excellence and professionalism for minority women.
I.D.E.A.L Women is a campus organization that provides the opportunity for college women to build their character and impact the community around them.
The I.D.E.A.L woman is described as intelligent, dignified, elegant, ambitious and a leader. I.D.E.A.L Women was founded at Southern Miss on Feb. 27, 2003. The four visionary founders were Latrice Thomas, Aisha Bishop, Latisha Brown and Chanel Cain.
Together, with the assistance of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (NACWC), they created an organization based on promoting the quality of life by inspiring the respect of others, enhancing the growth and development of our youth, encouraging education and responsibility and establishing friendship among the human race.
The NACWC was established on July 21, 1896 and serves as the oldest African-American secular organization in existence today.
I.D.E.A.L Women hosts several annual programs such as the “Relationship Forum: Battle of the Sexes” and “What Not to Wear” in which students are informed about issues in regard to dating, relationships and professionalism in the workforce.
The organization also participates in various community service projects on campus and in the community. Some opportunities include Federation Volunteers, The Big Event, school supply drives, the National Pan Hellenic Council Martin Luther King Day, P.A.C.E. Head Start, Southern Miss Freshman Move-In, food drives and a coat drive to support Christian Services in the Pinebelt area.
“The organization provides great ways for young women to impact the community,” said Anna Francis, a junior broadcast major.“
“I wanted to become more involved in servicing the community and participating in campus sponsored events.”
Francis serves as the chaplain of the organization.
While some women joined I.D.E.A.L Women to impact the community, others joined the organization as a way to connect and promote scholastic achievement on campus. “Joining I.D.E.A.L Women made me a better person academically,” said Amber Green, a junior kinesiotherapy major.
“This organization has given me a reason to push myself harder in school and to strive for the best in anything that I do.”
To become a member of the organization, potential members must meet a GPA requirement and complete an application and interview process.
Desmin Ross, a senior psychology major, said joining I.D.E.A.L Women helped her to become a better woman in numerous ways.
“The organization has taught me how to handle unprofessional situations in a professional matter and how to be a part of something truly greater than myself,” Ross said.“Many of the skills I have learned, I will take into my post graduate life.” Ross serves as the president of the organization.
As the organization grows, it continues to portray its motto “Lifting as we climb” in the Hattiesburg and campus community.