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New MSU Sunday brunch at The Fresh Food Co. open to public

MSU News - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 4:18pm

Contact: Sammy McDavid

30 p.m. beginning Aug. 23. (Photo by Russ Houston)STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State officials are announcing the launch of a weekend special to begin Aug. 23, and encouraging area residents to come to campus for Sunday dining.

The Fresh Food Co. brunch will be offered 10:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. each Sunday for $8 per person, plus tax.

“Our goal is to bring members of local communities back on campus for Sunday lunch,” said Ann Bailey, director of housing and residence life.

Patrons can select food choices from various stations – traditions, Mediterranean, sauté, chophouse, Mongolian barbecue, deli, bakery, and salad bar.

With an emphasis on cooked-to-order meals, the recently opened residential dining facility is located at 710 Bully Blvd.

“Since parking around Marketplace at Perry is limited, we chose The Fresh Food Co. for the brunch because of ample, close-by spaces for community members to park their vehicles and have easy access,” Bailey added.

The 29,000-square-foot Fresh Food building replaced the university’s longtime intramural tennis courts, which now are located at the RecPlex on Stone Boulevard.

Operated by the national Aramark Corp., MSU Dining Services has a number of other serving locations around campus. For complete information, visit

MSU, Mississippi's flagship research university, is online at

MSU designated Purple Heart University in honor of military services

MSU News - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 3:29pm
Mississippi State University has been designated by the Military Order of the Purple Heart as a “Purple Heart University” for outstanding service to military veterans, service members, dependents and survivors. (Photo by Megan Bean)

Contact: Allison Matthews

Mississippi State University has been designated by the Military Order of the Purple Heart as a “Purple Heart University” for outstanding service to military veterans, service members, dependents and survivors. (Photo by Megan Bean)STARKVILLE, Miss.—The Military Order of the Purple Heart has designated Mississippi State University as a “Purple Heart University” for outstanding service to military veterans, service members, dependents and survivors.

Veterans who themselves have received the Purple Heart – awarded to those who have been wounded in combat – were instrumental in nominating MSU for the distinguished recognition because of its ongoing dedication to helping student veterans. Official presentation of the proclamation will take place Nov. 14 at halftime during the Mississippi State vs. Alabama football game. The game also will feature a halftime show in honor of veterans.

Bill Henry of Starkville was among the members of Chapter No. 677 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart who contributed to the nomination process. A 1966 MSU accounting graduate, Henry served as a member of the Marine Corps., and was wounded in Vietnam in April 1968. After receiving the Purple Heart, he returned to MSU as a staff member until his 1995 retirement as the assistant to the director of the MSU Extension Service.

Henry said that to see his university designated with the single-most honored military award is a satisfying realization.

“It’s just quite an unbelievable thing to have a university that cares enough about veterans to be deemed by the Military Order of the Purple Heart as so supportive of veterans’ issues to be honored in this way,” Henry said. He explained that the university-level designation is a relatively young program to recognize universities that “go out of their way to help veterans.”

Henry said MSU President Mark E. Keenum “is probably one of the most supportive people anywhere on veterans’ issues.”

Dennis “Denny” Daniels Jr., another MSU alumnus and Purple Heart recipient, said Mississippi State was a natural selection for the Purple Heart University designation because of the long history of military support and great variety of services provided for veterans.

“When I sent the list of what the university does, it really wowed the national association,” Daniels said.

“To me it’s very important because it’s the national Military Order of the Purple Heart recognizing Mississippi State for efforts in supporting veterans, service members, and dependents. It recognizes that MSU is one of the top veteran or military-friendly universities in the nation,” he added.

Daniels joined the National Guard in 1991 after completing his first semester at MSU. He said the military helped him “get on track.” He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in general studies with a certificate in criminal justice in 1996. He worked as a sheriff’s deputy and police officer as he continued to serve part-time in the National Guard.

In 2001, his unit was mobilized and went to Bosnia for six months. About three years later, he went to Iraq. It was there, on April 2, 2005, that a vehicle exploded just a few feet from the armored vehicle carrying Daniels and three fellow soldiers. Moments later, another vehicle came toward the group and also detonated. Amazingly, all four soldiers survived, but with serious injuries that would impact them forever.

Daniels later underwent 18 months of evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, before receiving a medical retirement. Unable to return to the law enforcement capacities he held before, he instead returned to MSU, and again graduated in 2011, this time with a master’s in public policy and administration. He said the VA’s vocational rehabilitation program helped make his continued studies possible.

“The Veteran’s Center on campus did an outstanding job of helping me reintegrate to student life and helped guide me through university registration and other activities,” Daniels said. “They were able to remove a lot of the stress so that I could focus on my studies.”

Retired Army Colonel Kenneth D. “Ken” McRae, who directs MSU’s G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans, said anytime the university is recognized by a veterans’ organization, it is an honor. Being recognized by the Military Order of the Purple Heart is especially significant, he said.

“They’re the cream of the crop because these soldiers have seen combat and been wounded. To be recognized by them as serving veterans in an exemplary way means a lot, not only to the veterans and service members and dependents on campus, but it also sets us apart from a lot of other colleges and universities,” McRae said.

About 450 veterans and service members are students at MSU, and the veteran community, which includes dependents, comprises more than 2,100 students on campus.

A premier veterans’ center is currently under construction at the MSU campus and set to open in 2016. The building will include 7,500 square-feet and feature administrative offices, a meeting area and student-support spaces, including a computer lab, study rooms and a “day room,” McRae said.

“The G.V. ‘Sonny’ Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans is the most comprehensive veterans’ center in the nation. We not only take care of our veterans when it comes to VA certifications for educational benefits and DOD tuition assistance, we also are the first university in the nation to have select VA medical services on campus,” McRae said. He explained that those services are performed by MSU professionals and include physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and expanded mental health services.  

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at

The Latest Buzz Phrase in Health Care

Lifestyles - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 2:58pm

(NewsUSA) - Here's a buzz phrase you'll be hearing a lot more of as part of our brave new world of health care: "integrative care settings."

Not to worry: This time, if you're a patient, you may actually wind up liking what it means for you.

Basically, we're talking about providing different types of care under one roof. Which makes sense when you consider that: (a) we've already begun moving away from a "sickcare" model, where many patients only visit a doctor when their health has declined to one emphasizing a more preventative "wellness-based care;" and (b) the "team approach" to care has also made headway.

"MDs are already focusing on sick-care, so who's the expert in wellness and preventative care?" Kenneth C. Thomas, DC, a member of the Council on Chiropractic Education, wrote in an article for the Chiropractic Summit, which brings together leading voices in fields like education, research and government.

His answer, not surprisingly, was doctors of chiropractic, known for their drug-free approach to treating disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems.

But guess what? Not only have major companies already incorporated chiropractic care in their on-site health clinics -- there's that integrative approach for you -- but chiropractors are increasingly co-managing a wide variety of patients ranging from professional athletes to members of the military.

And research suggests chiropractic's benefits include:

* Lower health care costs

* Enhanced patient outcomes

* Higher patient satisfaction

"I think we're looking at a more collaborative, patient-centered focus where chiropractors have an important role to play," says the not-for-profit Foundation for Chiropractic Progress' Gerard Clum, DC.

To learn more or to locate a doctor of chiropractic in your area, visit

MSU Women Open 2015-16 Golf Schedule In Charleston

Bulldog Beat - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 12:51pm
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Coming off the most successful season in program history and a final ranking of No. 17 nationally, the Mississippi State women's golf team opens its 2015-16 campaign at the Cougar Classic in Charleston, S.C., Sept. 13-15.

Shades of Starkville rescheduled for Aug. 24

MSU News - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 12:33pm
Shades of Starkville 2015

The Center for Student Activities at Mississippi State has rescheduled Shades of Starkville for Aug. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Drill Field.

Students are invited to visit booths and displays from a variety of student organizations, campus services and more than 50 local businesses for information, samples, coupons and other free promotional items during next week's event.

MSU Concludes Preseason Slate at Home With Memphis Friendly

Bulldog Beat - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 12:00pm
STARKVILLE, Miss. – With the opening kick of the season less than a week away, the Mississippi State soccer team gets its final tune up Saturday night as it hosts the Memphis Tigers.

MSU, Argonne sign MOU for joint energy research

MSU News - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 11:34am
Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum (from left) and Argonne National Laboratory Director Peter Littlewood signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday [Aug. 13] which will create a research partnership between the two institutions. (Photo by Megan Bean)

Contact: Zack Plair

Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum (from left) and Argonne National Laboratory Director Peter Littlewood signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday [Aug. 13] which will create a research partnership between the two institutions. (Photo by Megan Bean)STARKVILLE, Miss.—A new partnership between Mississippi State University and Argonne National Laboratory has made the university home to a major regional joint research initiative.

On Thursday [Aug. 13], MSU President Mark E. Keenum and Peter Littlewood, director of the Illinois-based Argonne National Laboratories, signed a memorandum of understanding which will create a research partnership between the two institutions.

The ceremony also was part of a daylong Joint Center for Energy Research (JCESR) symposium in the Mill at MSU Conference Center that brought researchers, energy business leaders and MSU faculty and staff together to discuss the future of energy storage. MSU was the host for the Southeast regional hub for JCESR.

David Shaw, MSU vice president for research and economic development, said the MOU would essentially combine Argonne’s lab resources, computing and analytics with the scientific expertise of MSU’s faculty and students to “accomplish things neither MSU nor Argonne could do alone.”

Specifically, he said the two entities would work together on developing longer lasting, more cost-effective batteries for utility use, as well as explore ways to develop alternative energy sources like solar and wind.

Further, he hopes MSU’s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems and its meteorology department, respectively, can work with Argonne’s automotive center and weather modeling division on research initiatives.

“This is not as much about a financial commitment as it is about building a scientific partnership,” Shaw said. “This is a broad, wholesome agreement ranging way beyond energy storage.”

Littlewood said the MOU fits well with Argonne’s legacy of working with businesses, universities and other research labs toward promoting “safe, reliable and sustainable energy resources.” He said Argonne chose to bring its regional JCESR center to MSU because of the university’s science, engineering and technical capabilities.

“I look forward to this partnership,” Littlewood said. “Together, we have the potential to transform the utility and transportation markets.”

The MOU ceremony on Thursday also paid homage to, and brought full circle, efforts by the late U.S. Representative Alan Nunnelee to strengthen research opportunities in the state.

A member of both the Energy and Appropriations committees, Mississippi’s 1st district congressman brought national laboratories from all over the country to Mississippi in 2012 in an effort to inspire the state’s higher education institutions to partner with them, Shaw said.

Nunnelee, who passed away in February, wasn’t able to see the fruits of his labor, but his wife, Tori, and daughter, Emily, were on hand for the luncheon and MOU signing. Newly-elected 1st District Congressman Trent Kelly delivered the keynote address, in which he called Nunnelee a “solution-driven” leader with a passion for research and collaboration.

“We’re doing things now we never even dreamed were possible when our nation was founded,” Kelly said. “That’s because people came together, not worried about who got the credit, but worried about making our nation a better place to live.”

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at

MSU graduate teaching assistants conclude weeklong workshop

MSU News - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 9:42am
MSU President Mark E. Keenum speaks to nearly 300 new graduate teaching assistants during a training workshop in preparation for their formal GTA certification. (Photo by Keats Haupt)

Contact: Georgia Clarke

MSU President Mark E. Keenum speaks to nearly 300 new graduate teaching assistants during a training workshop in preparation for their formal GTA certification. (Photo by Keats Haupt)STARKVILLE, Miss.—Nearly 300 new graduate teaching assistants at Mississippi State are participating in a workshop to enhance class preparation skills while introducing them to the many university policies and procedures.

GTAs closely assist faculty and staff members with grading, attendance monitoring and other course responsibilities, but also are called on to handle lectures and related duties as necessary.

Concluding Friday [Aug. 14], the weeklong program of lectures and other learning activities leads to their formal certification.  

President Mark E. Keenum headed a list of speakers during the week that included, among others, Lori Bruce and Thomas Bourgeois, respective deans of the graduate school and students. Participants also heard from various faculty and staff members, as well as experts in a variety of education-related specialties.

In his presentation, Keenum stressed the importance of the GTAs’ role in learning experiences of undergraduate students.

“We are a very research-oriented university, but we also are a very student-oriented university, and that is where you come in,” Keenum said, adding that the land-grant institution is “very proud you have chosen to continue your education at Mississippi State.”

Sessions on classroom material, communication and culture were supplemented with a panel discussion led by current GTAs who shared their experiences and advice with the new campus family members.

The entire Friday session will be devoted to individual evaluations of this year’s group conducted by 70 volunteer faculty members.

To learn more about MSU’s graduate programs, visit

MSU, Mississippi's flagship research university, is online at

Updated Stats: 26 Diamond Dawgs In Professional Baseball

Bulldog Beat - Thu, 08/13/2015 - 4:19pm
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Twenty-six former Mississippi State baseball players are currently in professional baseball, including four currently playing in Major League Baseball. Below are their updated stats following games that ended Wednesday, August 12, 2015. Please tweet any corrections to @HailStateBB.

MSU hosts President’s Summit on Community Engagement

MSU News - Thu, 08/13/2015 - 1:44pm

Contact: Zack Plair

Blake Wilson, president of the Mississippi Economic Council, spoke to representatives of nonprofits from all over the state Wednesday [August 12] during the 2015 President’s Summit on Community Engagement. (Photo by Sarah Tewolde)STARKVILLE, Miss.—It makes all the difference when people take the road less traveled.

That concept, borrowed from a well-known quote by renowned poet Robert Frost, fueled the message Mississippi Economic Council President Blake Wilson had for non-profit representatives gathered in the Colvard Student Union’s Foster Ballroom at Mississippi State on Wednesday [Aug. 12].

As keynote speaker for the 2015 President’s Summit on Community Engagement, Wilson aimed to inspire the more than 120 participants to focus on ways to have a greater impact on more people while staying focused on their main mission. That’s not always easy, he said, as the “road less traveled” might require removing some obstacles along the way.

Oftentimes, he said, non-profits have to learn how to properly identify and partner with their resources before they can truly find success. That sometimes means, he added, those groups must look to members of other organizations to broaden their support base – even if traditionally those organizations might have considered each other “competitors.”

“Remember: joiners join, givers give and volunteers volunteer,” he said. “You have to commiserate, facilitate and collaborate. Because when you work together, great things happen. Collaboration is messy, it’s frustrating, but it’s indispensable.”

The community engagement summit was a partnership in itself, with MSU and the Mississippi University for Women joining Jackson-based Volunteer Mississippi’s Engage Mississippi program. Its goal was to connect campus resources, community organizations, businesses, funders, civic groups and volunteers.

MSU President Mark E. Keenum, along with Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, welcomed attendees with opening remarks Wednesday morning, and MUW President Jim Borsig introduced Wilson’s luncheon program.

Participants – which included representatives from organizations such as Volunteer Starkville, Habitat for Humanity and United Way – attended breakout sessions throughout the morning aimed at enriching overall community engagement, and Wilson hosted a community panel discussion in the afternoon.

David Mallery, executive director for Volunteer Mississippi and an MSU alumnus, said the program’s first community engagement summit “exceeded expectations” with registration meeting capacity. He added that participants came from all over Mississippi, and some had already approached him about hosting similar events in other Mississippi regions.

“It’s great to come to a community where we know everyone is so supportive of this,” he said.

Wilson came to MEC in 1998 when he said the organization had roughly 1,000 members. Today, he said it has 11,000. That is partly because he said MEC identified and collaborated with its resources, and it promoted diversity – in gender, race and other areas – when it cast its “wide net” for support and leadership, Wilson said.

In addition to those steps, he advised participants to be committed to their organization’s mission wholeheartedly and see it through. He urged organization leaders not just to strive to exist, but to “make a meaningful difference.”

“You commit to something that is real and meaningful that you can sell and inspire others to follow,” he said.

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at

Fan Packages Available To Join Women’s Hoops In Puerto Rico

Bulldog Beat - Thu, 08/13/2015 - 11:48am
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State women's basketball is heading to the Puerto Rico Classic in December, and fans can come support the Bulldogs in the event.

Content Agency Promises the Best Bang for Your Advertising Buck

Lifestyles - Thu, 08/13/2015 - 11:40am
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - These days, there are a myriad of ways to get your company's message out -- if you have the dollars to pay for it. The problem is that small, niche companies need the same exposure (if not more) than the Fortune 500 companies, but are hamstrung by limited resources.

Fortunately, advertising doesn't have to be exclusively PR-centric, but can be a blend of traditional and effective strategies, according to PR News.

In this way, Washington D.C.-based NewsUSA does exceptionally well by specializing in writing matte releases -- feature articles that help to fill space in newspapers and online media -- for its clients.

NewsUSA guarantees product placement (around 1,000-1,400 placements per story) for its clients in various media outlets around the world, including television sites and hundreds of digital and print newspapers.

"NewsUSA's strength is that it has all these contracts and relationships with newspapers and online media sources that have been built over years and can be trusted for writing and editorial," said Rick Smith, CEO of NewsUSA. "In terms of mass marketing to the consumer, for some of the budgets that these companies have, there just aren't a lot of options. That's where NewsUSA comes in."

For NewsUSA client Security Equipment Corporation (Sabre), it granted access to media outlets that the company wouldn't have had otherwise.

"As a first-time user of NewsUSA, I was pleasantly surprised, not only with the number of placements we got, but the quality of our placements," said Marisa McKay, marketing manager for Sabre. "Our content was placed in high-profile publications that we wouldn't have been able to afford if we had to buy traditional advertising space."

As a result, the family-owned and -operated manufacturer of the top brand of pepper spray had three stories distributed to more than 3,600 news outlets, both online and in print, for a total reach of more than 90 million readers nationwide. The ad value equivalency of the campaign was more than $1.1 million.

Another client, Star Clippers, also saw a huge return on investment when it engaged NewsUSA to write five stories about its ultimate cruising vacation alternative -- a tall ship mega-yacht experience aboard authentic re-creations of the classic sailing clipper ships that ruled the waves during the 1800s.

In return, Star Clippers garnered more than 6,000 placements that reached more than 319 million readers nationwide, for a total ad equivalency of $3.8 million.

For more information, visit

The Best Accessories for Going Swimming

Lifestyles - Thu, 08/13/2015 - 11:38am
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Summer. The word itself sounds so relaxing and soothing to the senses. And nothing is more soothing in the summer than swimming.

At the very least, there's certainly nothing more cooling or refreshing than a quick trip to the pool. Indeed, with the temperatures rising and vacations in high gear, it's prime time to take a trip to the beach or head to your favorite resort pool and enjoy one of America's favorite summer pastimes: swimming.

To ensure your next trip to the pool is as relaxing and successful as ever, however, there are some essential items everybody should consider bringing. So, whether it's just a casual day of cooling off, a special summer pool party or family fun day, here's a to-do list that covers all pool partygoers.

* First and foremost, lather up with suntan lotions. And then bring more in your tote bag so you can reapply after a round or two of swimming. There's nothing more frustrating when you settle in and realize you forgot your supplies and need to buy more.

* Pack swimming gear. Regardless of whether you're going to the beach or pool, make sure you have goggles, noodles and other flotation devices. Your time in the water will never be more enjoyable.

* Bring some snacks and drinks. After some rigorous swimming or leisurely baking in the sun, you're bound to build up an appetite or have a need to quench your thirst.

* Don't forget your spittoon. Being at the pool in a bikini or trunks can leave one very exposed to say the least. If you're a smokeless tobacco user, there's even less opportunity to take a discreet "dip" while you're taking a dip in the pool.

That is, unless you own a portable spittoon created by Atlanta-based FLASR. These new 4-ounce pocket-sized spittoons are brilliantly designed to allow users to easily open and close with just one hand, making them ideal items to bring to the pool or any other public setting so you can still enjoy your smokeless tobacco. Another advantage to the FLASR flask is its advanced closing mechanism that ensures it stays securely closed when not in use, eliminating the risk of any messy spills or leaks in the pool that come with those gaudy bottles or drink cups of old.

For more information, please visit

Mississippi Native Moore Joins Bulldogs

Bulldog Beat - Wed, 08/12/2015 - 7:27pm
Mississippi State head softball coach Vann Stuedeman has always valued being able to keep softball talent in-state and she has succeeded in doing so once again, this time with Kat Moore.

MSU Beats UT Martin 1-0 In Exhibition Play

Bulldog Beat - Wed, 08/12/2015 - 5:00pm
MARTIN, Tenn. – In his team's first exhibition match of the season, Mississippi State coach Aaron Gordon wanted to test his young soccer squad in a collegiate game setting.

MSU Writing Center opens for fall semester Aug. 24

MSU News - Wed, 08/12/2015 - 4:25pm
The Mississippi State University Writing Center will open for the new semester Aug. 24, and hours for the fall are posted at The center offers 30- and 60-minute consultations as well as walk-in appointments, free of charge, to all MSU writers.    The Writing Center is staffed by a network of writing consultants that includes undergraduate and graduate students trained in writing center theory, practice, and research as well as faculty. They are prepared to work with writers on a variety of genres, including creative pieces and assignments for class as well as professional documents and materials, like resumes, cover letters, scholarship essays and CVs.    They are also prepared to work with writers during any stage of their writing processes -- to brainstorm, develop, revise, and edit. They spend the most time working with writers to develop and support ideas in response to particular rhetorical situations, like a class assignment or a job advertisement, to summarize and synthesize research findings, to discover and better understand the conventions of writing within their disciplines or fields, including understanding style guides, and to address audiences appropriately.    It is a good idea to think of the center as a place to work on writing, rather than as a finishing service. Writers should plan to spend time drafting and revising after a Writing Center visit.    The center does not edit writing. However, writers can work with a tutor to become better self-editors -- writers who are aware of the kinds of mistakes they often make in their writing, how those mistakes impact readers, how to identify those mistakes, and different options for revision.    Writers can register and sign up for an appointment online at

Good Man Friday

Twisted Rodeo - Wed, 08/12/2015 - 4:24pm

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story appears in the August issue of Women’s Pro Rodeo News, the official publication of the WPRA. It is reproduced with the approval of the WPRA.

Paige Willis considered selling Good Frenchman Friday, a horse she had spent much of the winter and spring seasoning.

It’s a good thing she didn’t.

The 8-year-old sorrel gelding became the firepower she needed for one of the top money-winners through the WPRA’s Fourth of July run. Willis and Friday raced through six rodeos over the course of the lucrative series of rodeos, earning money in five.

WPRA-logoAll told, the duo pocketed $11,849 with solid finishes in Killdeer, N.D.; Belle Fourche, S.D.; Oakley City, Utah; Livingston, Mont; and Cody, Wyo.

“It’s pretty awesome considering it was all on my backup horse,” said Willis, the No. 1 rookie in the WPRA from Goshen, Ala. “We definitely were not expecting that.

Her good horse, Miss Gay Bar Abby, was sore, so Willis opted for Friday over the Fourth. It paid great dividends, moving her to No. 16 in the WPRA ProRodeo world standings. As of June 10, she had pocketed $35,594.

“We had talked about selling him before we came out on the road, but I’m glad we didn’t at this point,” she said, pointing to discussions she had with her boyfriend, Darren Scholl. “We knew we had the horsepower with her and with him coming along to be able to accomplish some things.”

So far, they are. Not bad for a young lady that was a kindergarten teacher for six months before deciding to chase her rodeo dreams.

The goal for the ProRodeo newcomer was to finish the 2015 campaign among the top 30 in the world standings so she would be eligible to compete at the big-money rodeos through the winter of the 2016 season. She’s making that happen in a big way, thanks to the gelding.

“My good mare was sore and wasn’t clocking, so we decided to give him a shot and see what would happen,” Willis said. “I never dreamed he would come out and work like he did.”

Her biggest paycheck came in Livingston, where she and Friday posted a 17.45-second run to finish second to Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Taylor Jacob; Willis pocketed $4,288. She finished third in Belle Fourche to earn $2,528, then had solid finishes at the other three rodeos: sixth in Killdeer for $921, seventh in Oakley City for $1,257 and sixth in Cody for $2,855.

Knowing she has something special in Abby, Willis kicked off her 2015 campaign with Friday on the road, allowing him the opportunity to learn the rodeo trail and gain confidence. In fact, through the Fourth of July run, she had competed in more than 60 WPRA-sanctioned events

“The reason we have such a high rodeo count is because we took him out to get him seasoned, and he was not clocking like he is now,” she said.

With Friday having solid goes, he has officially moved out of his role as backup.

“He’s officially the A team until Abby decides she feels good and is ready to get back to work,” Willis said. “Winning that much money over the Fourth still doesn’t seem real.”

It’s almost like a dream come true for the Alabama cowgirl, who received her college education in Florida. She grew up riding horses and is carrying on a tradition that began before she entered elementary school.

“I’ve ridden horses since I was 4 years old,” she said. “I’ve always dreamed to come out on the road. It’s a hard thing to accomplish. My boyfriend is the support and the backbone behind it all. Without him, there’s no way I’d be out here right now.”

She began running barrels at an early age, too, and competed through all the levels of youth and junior rodeo, including testing her mettle at amateur rodeos in the Southeast.

Now, though, she is trying to test her own skills and those of her powerful horses against some of the greatest to have ever ridden in the WPRA. With Friday playing a key role in her success, she knows she has something special.

“He’s really a big baby,” she said of the sorrel speedster. “Sometimes he just lopes through, and sometimes he runs. His personally has changed drastically over the last two months.”

Maybe the young gelding has learned just how good he can be.

“I think he enjoys being on the road,” Willis said. “He eats better on the road than he does at home. I think he likes thinking he’s on the A team.”

Though a qualification to the Wrangler NFR is within reach, Willis and her team plan to keep their approach to ProRodeo quite simple.

“I’m not going to chase any of it,” she said. “We’re just going to see how it goes. We’ve accomplished our goals and exceeded what we thought we could accomplish. It’s been great so far.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

MSU Spirit Groups receive multiple honors at Alabama camp

MSU News - Wed, 08/12/2015 - 2:34pm

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

MSU cheerleaders perform during a pre-game pep rally in Starkville’s Cotton District. (Photo by Megan Bean)STARKVILLE, Miss.—Student spirit groups at Mississippi State soon will begin their 2015-16 season of athletic activities after having collected a number of top honors in summer competition.

The university’s all girls cheerleader squad took first-place awards in both overall and sideline categories, third-place in cheer and fifth in fight song. Also:

—The combined women and men’s group finished in third place overall, as well as second in both cheer and fight song; and

—Pom-squad members earned a sixth-place finish in dance, along with this year’s Superior Trophy.

They were among more than 1,600 participants in the recent weeklong Universal Cheerleaders Association/Universal Dance Association’s College Spirit Camp held at University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The annual instructional program drew more than 1,200 cheerleaders, 390 dancers and 45 mascots from higher education institutions in 11 states stretching from Nevada to Florida and Louisiana to Pennsylvania.

“It’s great to watch the teams work together to learn gameday skills and encourage each other to do their best,” said MSU Spirit Groups coordinator Melissa Nichols, while adding that the camp also is “a great opportunity for our squad members to visit old friends from other schools and make new friends that they will see throughout the year from across the field.”

Having the opportunity to bond as a team while learning traditional band cheers and stunts has better prepared squads to represent the university during upcoming football and basketball seasons, Nichols said.

“Placing in the gameday competition is a great accomplishment for our cheer squad, as is our pom squad placing in the camp dance competition,” she added.

In addition to MSU and Alabama, regional schools represented included Florida State, Louisiana State and Morehead State universities, along with the universities of Central Florida, Florida, Mississippi and South Florida.

According to UCA organizers, the training seeks to “transform young people into dynamic spirit leaders and help them develop strong leadership skills for life” by promoting “confidence, enthusiasm, responsibility, and motivation” as well as “the rich tradition of cheerleading and fresh spirit building ideas.” For more information, visit

Nichols and skills coach John Sommer accompanied the squads to Tuscaloosa. The staff also includes dance assistant LaCiana McIntyre.

Learn more about MSU Spirit Groups by visiting Also, follow the groups on,, and Nichols may be contacted at 662-325-0350 or

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at

Zeng represents MSU at Beijing student exchange conference

MSU News - Wed, 08/12/2015 - 2:24pm

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

Feifei Zeng (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss. — A senior marketing and foreign language double-major at Mississippi State is among 12 rising U.S. college students participating August 11-20 in one of China’s most influential student-run exchange programs.

Feifei Zeng, an international student majoring in international business, supply chain management and Spanish, will join other delegates selected for the Initiating Mutual Understanding through Student Exchange (IMUSE) conference in Beijing.

In addition to MSU, institutions that will be represented include Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Cambridge, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Los Angeles, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Connecticut, Macalester College, and New York University Shanghai.

Founded in 2008 by Harvard, Peking and Tsinghua universities, IMUSE is a non-profit organization that brings together promising university students from the U.S. and China to facilitate mutual curiosity, respect and understanding through cross-cultural communication and friendship.

Challenging and inspiring the delegates to widen their cultural perspective through innovative collaboration, critical thinking, leadership and social responsibility is among IMUSE’s primary missions.

Past conference experiences have included, among many others, tours of Hong Kong’s top universities and the U.S. Embassy, visits to a migrant children’s school and Beijing’s famed 798 Art District and oldest teahouse, public welfare discussions with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility activitists, and academic lectures featuring professors from Peking and Tsinghua universities.

In addition to her studies, Zeng serves as an MSU Foundation Ambassador and member of the Montgomery Leadership Program and is a member of the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College Honors Council’s recruitment committee. Additionally, she has volunteered at the university’s Child Development and Family Studies Center and works in the College of Arts and Sciences dean’s office.

Prior to coming to the U.S., Zeng lived for seven years in Italy. She returned this summer to complete a six-week study abroad program at Cornell University in Turin. She also holds an associate of arts degree in business administration from Carl Albert State College in Poteau, Oklahoma.

Zeng said she looks forward to returning to her home country for the first time since 2009. She is excited to see what has changed since her last visit and anticipates interacting with individuals from different backgrounds and learning about different societies and customs during the IMUSE conference.

“I am always seeking opportunities to meet likeminded scholars who are equally interested in understanding different cultures, and IMUSE offers the perfect platform for me to do that,” Zeng said.

“Being part of the IMUSE program will widen my cultural perspective while equipping me with the skills to enact positive change in our world. I believe in IMUSE’s extraordinary purpose and am confident that I can bring a fresh voice to the discussion,” she added.

Zeng’s participation in the Project IMUSE conference is supported by MSU’s Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President, College of Business and International Institute.

For more information about Project IMUSE, visit, and

MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at

Mississippi State vet students help military dogs

MSU News - Wed, 08/12/2015 - 2:15pm

Contact: Karen Templeton

Maci, a retired military dog, enjoys walking on the aquatic treadmill as part of physical therapy he receives at Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Photo by Tom ThompsonSTARKVILLE, Miss.—When the retired war hero arrives for his physical rehabilitation session at the Mississippi State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, he typically draws an audience as he enjoys some welcoming treats.

Dog treats, that is.

A large, handsome German shepherd, Maci served as a military working dog for almost six years, including three tours in Afghanistan and one in Oman with his handler, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Karl Stefanowicz. During active service, he was credited with multiple explosive finds.

Maci now resides at Columbus Air Force Base with Stefanowicz and his wife. Like many former military dogs, he suffers from joint and muscle issues.

“I was really interested in prolonging Maci’s life and most importantly, making it as comfortable as it could be,” Stefanowicz said. A conversation he had last fall with Army Capt. Teri Vaughn led him to MSU and its veterinary students.

Dr. Vaughn, a Starkville native and MSU alumna, is a CVM graduate now serving as veterinary officer-in-charge at the Huntsville, Alabama-based Redstone Arsenal. CAFB is part of her area of responsibility.

Second-year CVM student Courtney M. Griffin of Starkville said she and other Class of 2018 members were interested in taking on a project. As class secretary and treasurer, she was familiar with charitable programs that support currently deployed military working dogs and their handlers, but was unaware of any with an emphasis on canine veterans.

After consulting with Vaughn, the MSU Vets for Vets organization was formed to, in part, raise money needed to cover expenses for the dogs’ treatments.

“Our class wanted to do something for our community and to improve animal health in some way,” Griffin said. “Vets for Vets is about taking care of our four-legged heroes.”

Like Maci, most former service dogs with degenerative joint issues can benefit from regular physical therapy. At MSU’s veterinary college, treatment and rehabilitation involve a team approach.

Dr. Christine Bryan, assistant clinical professor and another MSU-CVM alumna, first conducts a thorough in-take exam, then works with veterinary technician Ruby Lynn Carter to begin the dogs’ rehabilitation regimen.

In addition to observing the process as part of their academic training, the MSU veterinary students help with some of the treatments, including laser therapy.

“Our goal is to get the dogs feeling better and improve their quality of life,” Griffin said. “The bonus is that we can learn about rehab through observing and assisting Ruby Lynn.”

Treatment options include work on an aquatic treadmill and spending time in an Endless Pool.

According to Stefanowicz, the results are obvious, adding that “Maci is like a puppy again since starting the treatment.

“I can see that he is better at managing his hip issues and he’s become more social and outgoing,” he continued. “It’s great to get him out and watch him interact with people.”

Stefanowicz also said Maci has become an ambassador for the university and its 41-year-old veterinary college.

“He’s got a team at MSU taking care of him,” he said. “He’s even had meet-and-greets with the mascot, Bully. He’s kind of like our base’s connection to the college.”

Because of alumna Vaughn, CAFB Tech. Sgt. Dustin Weeks also has a dog in the program.

Iva, also a German shepherd, is a veteran of two tours in Afghanistan and one each in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. After many duty walks over difficult terrain, combined with the normal aging process, she now has arthritis in the hips.

Since Vaughn introduced Weeks to the Vets for Vets program, Iva has been a regular patient.

“This is absolutely a great program,” Weeks said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my work with canines. I’m glad we have access to it and I hope that it can grow so others in the area, and even the nation can benefit.”

In addition to fund-raising activities and treatment assistance, Griffin said she and her classmates spend considerable time working to increase awareness about the program and solicit additional clients.

“The best part of all of this is giving back to these dogs,” Griffin said. “They have done something so brave and kind for us as part of our military, that the least we can do is make their lives more comfortable.”

For more about enrolling a dog in the retired military dog treatment program or to make a donation to the program, contact Karen Templeton at 662-325-1100 or   

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