Diversity and Community Engagement
The University of Mississippi

Posts Tagged ‘Education & Youth’

Community Chats – Kenorus Wilson

Posted on: March 6th, 2021 by elpayseu

“Lives depend on you.” – Kenorus Wilson

On this episode of Community Chats, Kenorus Wilson, director of the LOU Boys & Girls Club, talks with our team about his role in shaping the next generation of community leaders. His work fostering responsibility, leadership and success in the youth of our community is incredibly valuable, so tune in now!

After coming to the University of Mississippi to pursue a degree in music education, Wilson found himself as a volunteer for the Boys & Girls Club in 2013 and quickly came on staff in June of that same year. Wilson credits his position to his former director and fellow church member, Lamont Watkins, who assured him a position should one open up. “He kept his word,” said Wilson, “and I’ll always take my hat off to him.”

The old saying goes “Our youth are the leaders of tomorrow,” but Wilson and his team like to take it a step further. “We’re training them to be leaders of today in preparation for their future,” said Wilson. The mission of the Boys & Girls Club is “to inspire and enable all young people to realize their full potential as responsible, productive and caring citizens,” and through their extensive programs and initiatives, they are doing just that. Wilson hopes the Boys & Girls Club can act as a beacon of hope and a light that shines bright throughout the entire community.

The programs offered at the Boys & Girls Club center around leadership, mentorship, academic success and career readiness. For example, their Power Hour is a time for students to study, do homework and seek mentorship and is typically followed by a time for them to socialize and decompress after a long day at school. “We try to mix both,” said Wilson, “make sure we take care of business and then have fun.” Other programs like Career Launch, SMART Moves and Money Matters, among many others, teach youth life skills, ways to cope with stress, financial literacy and the importance of community.

With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting school schedules, Wilson says it is a challenge to provide the regular services to those who may get out of school at a later time. “Whether they’re here for two hours, or whether they’re here for five minutes, we still want to offer that safe haven, that fun educational environment,” said Wilson. Despite this challenge, however, Wilson takes reward in knowing that he and his team our touching the lives of youth in our community each and every day. Whether that be through tutoring or by attending school events, the team at the Boys & Girls Club ensure that the safe haven felt within the four walls of the clubhouse is felt outside those four walls, as wells.

In his final message, Wilson thanks the LOU community for their continued support throughout the years and asks for anyone to reach out with opportunities for their students to serve our community. “We’re trying to teach them how to be responsible and how to give back to your community that supported you in so many ways,” Wilson said. If you would like to get involved with the Boys & Girls Club or if you have service opportunities for them, you can contact Wilson at kwilson@bgcnms.org.

Watch this episode and all other episodes of Community Chats on our Facebook (@UMengaged) and YouTube (Engaged UM), and listen to our podcast on Spotify and iTunes. Make sure to like, comment, and share this series as we continue to highlight community leaders across the LOU area.

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Meet Gianna Schuetz – OCE Area Coordinator for Education and Youth

Posted on: September 21st, 2020 by elpayseu
Gianna Schuetz Headshot

Gianna Schuetz

“My name is Gianna Schuetz, and I am a senior from Huntsville, Alabama. I am pursuing a dual degree in Managerial Finance and Theatre Arts with a minor in Entrepreneurship. Upon graduation, I plan to go work in financial management positions specifically for non-profit arts companies. My greatest passion is to help foster a financially accessible space in which people can create and experience art.

When not in class, I enjoy drinking large amounts of caffeine, watching cooking shows on Netflix, and eating chips and salsa. I am currently serving as the Treasurer for the Associated Student Body in my third term. I also am an Ole Miss Ambassador, College of Liberal Arts Ambassador, the Executive Director for Ghostlight Repertory Theatre, the chair of campus and community outreach for the UM Food Pantry, a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority, Rho Lambda, Mortar Board, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Alpha Psi Omega. In thinking about if I could have a superpower, I would want to have super speed. I would love to be in many places at one time very quickly; it would make my life very easy!

Within the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, my issue area that I will be working on this year is Education and Youth Development. I will have the opportunity to work with many different organizations within the community focusing on the youth of the LOU community. I could not be more excited to be working in this issue area within this community. For six years of my life, I worked as a swim coach during the summer for 4 to 6 and 9 to 10-year olds. Within the LOU community, I have previous experience volunteering at local elementary schools in promoting child literacy! The opportunity to help these organizations and connect students to the LOU community is so worthwhile.

The LOU community gives so much to the students at the University of Mississippi in the four (or five) years we are lucky to live here. In the first semester of my freshman year, a senior student gave me the advice that the best way to give back to someone or some place is through service. This idea of showing gratitude through service has been an important aspect of my few years as a member of the LOU community. I am grateful for this opportunity to work in the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement as I will be able to directly affect my community and help other students do the same. I hope I will be able to inspire my peers to give back and thank through service.

Personally, my favorite thing about the LOU community might be the food! Food is important to me, especially as I am a newly converted vegetarian. I mean, Oxford has four different Thai restaurants! I just love it so very much. Recently, I learned that there is a secret restaurant on campus behind Weir Hall. I have been a student on campus for over three years, and I had no idea! I will be on my way to get an Acai bowl very soon.”

As Area Coordinator for Education and Youth Development, Gianna will be working with local partners like Leap Frog, Lafayette County Literacy Council, and the Boy and Girls Club to provide the children of the LOU community with tutoring and extracurriculars to help them succeed in all they do. If you are interested in getting involved with organizations like these, please contact engaged@olemiss.edu to get in touch with Gianna.

Community Chat – Sarah McLellan

Posted on: July 7th, 2020 by elpayseu


“Read to your children. It doesn’t matter what they’re reading as long as they’re reading.” – Sarah McLellan

For this installment of Community Chats, we are joined by Sarah McLellan, executive director of the Lafayette County Literacy Council. She discusses the work she and others do for literacy in our community. From children’s book festivals to adult literacy courses, the Literacy Council is working tirelessly to ensure every person in our community is confident in their reading abilities so that they can succeed in every aspect of life. Tune in to learn more about the great work the Literacy Council is doing for people of all ages in our community.

Sarah McLellan, originally from Caruthersville, Missouri, moved to Oxford to attend the University of Mississippi. She grew up coming to Ole Miss football games and knew she wanted to be a part of the LOU community from an early age. Looking for ways to get involved in the community, Sarah knew her background in elementary education and marketing would be a great fit for the Literacy Council. She has been with the Literacy Council for five years now and has used her knowledge and skills to grow the organization’s reach and impact.

The Lafayette County Literacy Council is committed to improving the quality of life in Oxford and Lafayette County through literacy and reading. They do this through programs such as the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and the ABLE program for adult learners. These programs foster a love of learning in children and families and help underprivileged adults gain confidence in their abilities and futures. In order to do this, the Literacy Council relies on their staff, committees, and volunteers who work constantly to improve the lives of the 20-25% of Lafayette County adults who struggle with illiteracy. Sarah discusses more in-depth these programs and the staff in the episode.

You can learn more about the Lafayette County Literacy Council by visiting their website at lafayetteliteracy.org. There you will find volunteer opportunities, contact information, and other ways to get involved.

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Community Chat – Zach Scruggs

Posted on: June 18th, 2020 by elpayseu

“I love seeing success stories. It’s the reason I wake up every morning: to know we’re changing lives.” -Zach Scruggs

In this episode of Community Chats, Zach Scruggs, executive director of 2nd Chance MS, joins us to talk about the support they are giving to adult education. Zach discusses the mission of the organization as well as the challenges, needs, and rewards of working with undereducated and underprivileged adults. Tune in to find out more about what 2nd Chance MS does and how you can help support adult education in our community.

Zach, born and raised in Pascagoula, MS, moved to Oxford in 1992 to obtain a bachelor’s degree at the University of Mississippi. He was working with renewable energy in Florida when his father, Dick Scruggs, called him to be executive director of an organization that would financially support those in our community pursuing their GED. His father saw the need of lower-income students who had trouble getting to class, affording tuition, and other barriers. Thus, 2nd Chance MS was born.

After realizing one of Mississippi’s biggest barriers were the lack of education and workforce training, Dick Scruggs founded 2nd Chance MS to raise funds and awareness for adult education and work skills training. They work closely with community colleges and other organizations providing GED courses and training programs. Zach discusses challenges the organization faces such as lack of accessibility during the COVID-19 pandemic and a growing need for more funding as students compete for resources.

You can learn more about 2nd Chance MS by visiting their website: 2ndchancems.org.

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