OXFORD, MS – College kids and money, two things that have a very complicated relationship. Between rent, tuition, and just everyday expenses like gas, and groceries it really is difficult for a lot of students to keep up with their bills.
Although college means more freedom and living on your own, most students are walking around with an allowance from their parents. Which sometimes is not even enough, according to the college marketing group 3 out of every 4 students have some type of part time job while in school.
A study from ecampus.com found that college students spend $60 billion each year on everyday needs or, you know, kinda-needs. This spending included everything from dorm room essentials and school supplies to alcohol and video games.
Junior Kristen Zarzaur says that dealing with the stress of money is very difficult especially on a young kid.
“Money is definitely the most stressful thing in my life.” said Zarzaur, “I am thankful that my parents were able to help out with my tuition but I still go through the struggle of the FAFSA and with the university trying to get some scholarship money.”
The largest expense that students nowadays have is their college tuition. Tuition prices increased 36% from 2008 to 2018, while the real median income in the U.S. grew just over 2.1% in the same period, according to data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The question that has been going around a lot recently is, Is college worth it? Today colleges around the country are conducting class partially online and in some cases fully online. Which has left students wondering if they are wasting their money.
“This year especially I do not know if college tuition is really worth the cost.” Said Zarzaur “I was told there would be in person class and I do not have a single one and the price is still the same I just do not think that is fair.”
Besides the college tuition there are many other expenses that students have to deal with. Living expenses like room and board if a student lives on campus or rent if the student lives off campus can get very pricey. Student housing across the country has become a real problem.
Junior Josie Kinder lived off campus for the first time last year and said she really had no idea how much everything really cost.
“I was shocked,” said Kinder. “Between electric, water and gas alone I felt like I paid so much and then the actual rent came and I could not believe the price I pay just to have a place to rest my head.”
Whether your brand is an on off-campus housing company or you offer dorm or apartment furnishings, housing needs for college students is a faucet of revenue that never turns off.
According to the College Board, room and board fees can range from $3,520 at two-year colleges to $11,580 at four-year colleges. This is a price that some families can not afford.
Another expense is books Every parent of college students knows that their student’s course books are hardly a small expense. During the 2017-18 academic year, students spent an average of $484 on required course materials.
Between rent, tuition, and the price of supplies and books it does not leave a student a lot of money for just spending on things like food, household needs, and even out of school activities.
According to the ecampus.com study, college kids spend $27 billion on “non-essential items.” That means anything beyond required books, tuition, school supplies, and room and board.
Senior Diedric Berg is a Finance major and he says that even with all of the classes that he takes it is still tough to keep up with all the money he has to spend
”I am a senior and still do not know how to bunchet my money.” Said Berg, “I really think there should be a class here about how to save your money. A class that teaches you really what to do, because there are times on the weekend where I feel like I can not even afford food because of everything else that I need to spend my money on.”
You always see the signs at the football games or scenes in movies, college students saying “send money”, “I need money” it is something that is joked about but should be taken seriously. Kids cannot afford to pay all of these expenses and it is a problem that we as a society are nowhere near solving.
Sydney Roberts is a Jackson native that has worked within several local political grassroots campaigns in her hometown to better the community. Simultaneously, Roberts is a freelance online content creator and sex worker, primarily through the OnlyFans platform popularized by Twitter.
Roberts was adopted by her mother’s side of the family after she passed away from cancer and her father became estranged. She has lived with her conservative grandparents her entire life. During middle and high school, she experienced racism and xenophobia from members of her family, peers at school, and even teachers. She recounts in the interview different examples of when she has been ostracized and belittled for her Thai heritage.
“I was adopted by my white half of my family. They were shaming me over being Asian and I just carried that and assumed that’s how it was and should be.”
Classmates would call her slurs, mimic her eyeshape, and associate her with anything to do with Asian culture. Sydney turned to the Internet and social media platforms in her formative years after not feeling a sense of belonging and community amongst people who experienced life in the same way that she did. She befriended people on social media sites like Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram who introduced her to another culture that was more welcoming and bonding– Internet culture. This is where she cites her interests in civil rights and politics began.
“There were people I met who went through similar experiences that I did and in some cases worse. I decided I wanted to make the world around me better, starting with the place I am from.”
On a more personal level, Roberts has started to rediscover herself through her heritage and connect with her roots on her own accord. She has even been considering changing her name back to her Thai family surname.
She educated herself on other issues across the globe and was better able to understand the ideas of systemic racism and bias in communities, starting with her own. Today, she works with local organizing groups to campaign for politicians like Mike Espy, Mayor Chokwe Lumumba of Jackson, and Bernie Sanders. The past year has consisted of door-to-door campaigning, online petitions, attending sit-ins & protests for the Black Lives Matter movement. This form of organizing allows Roberts to be more in touch with the thoughts and opinions of the people in her community. Most people in her specific canvassing area will cite their lack of support for more radical candidates like Sanders because they would rather support Biden because he was former President Obama’s vice president. Roberts considers herself far more radical than most candidates so she uses her Twitter platform to educate people about misconceptions within radical left socioeconomics in the United States and in Mississippi. Being such a radical personality in Mississippi is not very common, but Roberts feels like it isn’t the most outrageous idea.
“I think it’s not hard for anyone to learn autonomy, but I think it’s mostly it’s because I had access to the Internet at such a young age.”
The age of the Internet has given several millenials/Gen-Z opportunities to communicate, network, and even gainemployment that otherwise would not have been afforded to them beforehand.
As for her current occupation, Roberts is an active Internet personality and does freelance content online as well as sex work through the OnlyFans platform. She has faced heavy criticism and backlash online for the work that she does and her political efforts are sometimes discredited due to the stigma that surrounds sex workers.
“Sometimes when people find out
“If someone wants to leave my life because of it, then that’s fine with me. I make my money in an ethical way and pay my taxes.”
Being involved in the work that she is, she leaves herself vulnerable to “Internet trolls,” defined as people who intentionally upset people on the Internet by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community. In more extreme cases, trolls will doxx a person by exposing all of their sensitive information, such as Social Security number, home address, phone number, etc. for anyone to see and use for their own personal devices. Roberts has been doxxed before and spent a great amount of time fearing for her and her family’s safety.
“I didn’t tell my family because I thought they would disown me for selling lingerie pictures online for money. I really did,” Roberts says when asked about how she broke it to her family. She tried contacting an attorney but there was nothing the legal system could do because there was no clear physical threat. Roberts says she has been followed and stalked several times and lived in a state of paranoia for several months. This threat
Currently, she is working on leaving the state of Mississippi to pursue her dreams of working in comedy and further advancing her political efforts.
Oxford, MS – As one may know, the year 2020 has been a little difficult, from Covid-19 to election mayhem it almost feels never ending. Yet, three students here at Ole Miss took it into their own hands to make this year worth it. Matthew Hendley, Jacob Christensen, and Keegan Lyle decided to take on the world of music here in Oxford, MS during the quarantine. With time on their hands and goals on their mind, they started a folk/folk-rock band called Happy Landing.
Happy Landing has three band members in Oxford, Matthew is the singer/songwriter/guitarist, Jacob is the drummer, and Keegan as the vocalist. Keegan has not been featured in the album yet, but Hendley said that when realizes they need band members who could be in town and available to practice, she was perfect for the open spot.
Matthew Hendley had an internship during the Fall of 2019 in New York City. Matthew said, “For some reason, the city was super inspiring, I just started really getting into folk and folk-rock, and I thought to myself – I think this is my kind of sound, the type of music I want to write.”
Hendley wrote all of the songs on Happy Landing’s EP “Just Kids At Heart” in New York. After he said he talked to his brother, Jacob Hendley, and his roommate, Jacob Christensen if they should go to a studio and record. Enough was enough and they finally recorded in the Spring at Oxford Recording Studio, releasing their single “She’s Got Brooklyn” and the EP in August.
Jacob Christensen said their single “She’s Got Brooklyn” got onto a release radar and discovery weekly and now has generated over 32,000 streams on Spotify alone.
Since the release of their EP “Just Kids At Heart,” they have gotten positive feedback and a good monthly listener following on Spotify and Apple Music. Hendley said, “it’s so weird to start a band at this time because in a way it’s more difficult, but it’s also good because you can’t play as many shows and have as big of a crowd, or go on tour, but at the same time you’re forced to play small shows, and people want that live show because they miss it.”
To get their name out there, Happy Landing had their EP release party in their friend’s backyard during the Florida/Ole Miss football game weekend. The release party only had 30-40 people because of Covid regulations but said it was a hit. They had people from Florida asking them if they can come to play in Gainesville, Florida, as well as a few other college towns.
At the end of this month, Happy Landing will be playing at the University of Florida and Auburn, along with performing at the annual fall concert in the grove on November 4th, hosted by the Ole Miss Student Activities Association.
Happy Landing is currently working on new songs, one new song they have been working on is called “Coastal Town” this song is the first song played in my documentary, and has only been performed to a select group. The song is a hit among those who have listened to it.
Another song they are working on is not officially named yet, Hendley said “It was called “Wait On Me” because most of the song is the repetition of those lyrics, but there’s one line in there that I love, “In spite of the way you treat me, I’m all grown up, I still love your guts.” So, they are thinking it should be called I love your guts because it’s different. Christenson said this song has a very upbeat drum part and reminds him of his favorite band’s type of music; Hippo Campus.
All members believe that their journey with Happy Landing is just getting started and they could not be any happier with the responses they are getting. They are working on merchandise as well as getting back into the studio.
“We’re all about high energy and keeping the energy up, we love upbeat shows, and never letting the crowd take their eyes off us.” Hendley said, “We want to give people a good experience, an experience they’ll remember.”
Happy Landing’s next album is still a work in progress, but to listen to their latest releases find them on Spotify and Apple Music, and to keep up with them and any future releases make sure to follow them on Instagram @HappyLandingXO.
Senior, Holland Beck has been painting ever since she was a little girl, but all the downtime in quarantine sparked a new, funky idea. Nothing is perfect in 2020 and that includes Beck’s paintings, but that is not even the best part about them. What she started as a fun pastime now turned into painting 5 or 6 of these cartoonish 3D portraits a week and donating a portion of the proceeds to Active Minds, a mental health organization at the University of Mississippi.
Beck grew up in Clinton, MS but attended a private school in Jackson, MS that had a phenomenal art program and that is where she first fell in love with painting.
“There was like a little art competition so I entered and I won second in the entire state,” Beck said. “And that is when I decided as an 8-year-old, I am going to do with full time.”
As Beck got older she thought it was a weird hobby so she stopped and it wasn’t until after her freshman year of college that her therapist told her to pursue her passions in order to truly find happiness in her day-to-day life.
“I had really bad depression freshman year so I took off the fall and had to get some intensive help,” Beck said. “And then I came back and my therapist said I should get involved in something so I got involved with Active minds.”
Active minds is an organization on the Ole Miss campus that helps to teach students about mental health awareness. While Beck is making money from her funky girls for herself, she thought it was important to also give back, so she donates a percent of her earnings to them as a thank you and hopes that they can help other students through their depression as well.
Right now she has around 300 followers on the funky girl Instagram page, @holdup_she_can_paint but has plans to expand even more. Beck is anxious for sorority Big/Little events that are quickly approaching, she thinks if she gets more exposure she could make a lot of sales through that.
“I like to post on my Instagram every Sunday. So I will post everything I have done for the week and usually, people DM me and say oh I like that one or can you make me one like that?”
But the fun doesn’t stop with the Funky Girls, this week she decided to paint her first Funky Boy. Her number one priority is making sure her customers are always getting exactly what they want so she tries to send them pictures throughout the whole process, but when she was asked to make a Funky Boy, she wanted it to be a surprise. Staying true to the boy-band-obsessed Gen-Zer that she is, she decided to take a lot of pointers from Harry Style’s quirky, funky style.
“I am kind of nervous,” Beck said. “I am scared it is going to look like a funky girl that just has short hair.”
After scrolling on Pinterest for what felt like forever, she finally decided to do a pastel color story for the funky boy and got to work.
“I think drawing is the hardest part for me because it is supposed to be abstract but then I like to want it to be perfect but I just have to trust the process,” Beck said.
After about an hour of painting, the funky boy was born and ready for the “funk” aka glitter! The thing that makes Beck’s paintings so unique is their 3D aspects. She doesn’t stop at the paint. Once each one is done she likes to add colorful yarn, glitter, and other elements that set her art apart. The only problem is, Oxford does not have a lot of options when it comes to places to buy crafting supplies.
“We don’t have a Hobby Lobby here so I have to get my dad to bulk send me things,” Beck said. “The last time I was home I stalked up on yarn, paint things and canvases just because it is cheaper and easier to get at home than ordering once I am here.”
Though it may take up most of her free time nowadays, Beck said there is nothing else she would rather be doing and is actually considering taking another semester off to pursue a painting career full time she said she is just looking to secure a brand deal with Olive Juice or another store on The Square first.
“It is so cool to me that people have passions, it is annoying when people don’t want to do anything so I am glad I finally feel like I have found my niche.”
Click play and watch Holland Beck as she creates her first funky boy.
Find Holland Beck on Instagram @holdup_she_can_paint to check out more of her work.
Since 1987, Oxford High School has been the winner of 75 state championships across all their sports teams, making them one of the premier athletic programs in Mississippi even to this day. One of the few people to see it all was none other than sports statistician Dr. Sarah Trotman Lacy.
Her passion is sports, New York Yankees baseball, mathematics, biology and Oxford athletics. However, her calling was teaching, as well as making a difference in the lives of all she taught and worked with, no matter the race, gender, background, or beliefs. For over 50 years working in the Oxford School District, she used both athletics and academics to do just that.
“Even though sports is what people see in a school, when that is successful, everything is successful,” Lacy said. “I don’t think people realize how much sport means to these kids. Sports just meshes with teaching and loving these kids.”
Lacy grew up an only child in a small farming community of Lexington, Mississippi. It was there when she became a sports fan and a star student at Lexington High School.
When she was in the seventh grade, she read a book about Yankees star Luke Gherig. Since then, she spent her free time watching or listening to the Yankees with her father. That passion led her to play sports herself. When she had her chance in the ninth grade, she was shut down, but fate intervened.
“Coach (Johnny) Davis looked at me and said ‘Sarah, you need to be my scorebook keeper and manager.’ That was his subtle way of telling me, ‘you’re not athletic’, which was fine. I did the books and was the manager for the next three years,” Lacy said.
“I just thought ‘okay, if thats what he wants me to do, I’ll do it.’ It didn’t hurt my feelings. I accepted it,” Lacy said.
That also gave Lacy a chance to write about the games for her school newspaper “The Beacon” and later became co-editor her senior year in 1961. However, throughout her educational journey, her parents wanted one thing to remain constant.
“Daddy was more supportive of the grades,” Lacy said. “It was very important to him. That’s where his emphasis was…I always loved school. When I was in the seventh grade, I told myself that I was going to work really hard and I’m going to be valedictorian of my class. Where my mother worked, both of the people she worked with, their kids were valedictorian. I didn’t want to let my mother down.”
With their support and inspiration from teachers Winston Earl and and Jose Grisham, Lacy graduated LHS in 1965 to attend college at the Mississippi University for Women majoring in mathematics. At that point, she had fulfilled her parents’ wish while having one wish of her own some true.
“He stopped drinking when I got to college. He was the best father after that,” Lacy said. “The chip on my shoulder was that my dad was an alcoholic. Life was not easy as a child. That has stayed with me all my life. When dad was sober, he was a very smart man. He was a binge drinker and a cotton farmer, which is stressful. I learned to do things that most kids my age didn’t know how to do. It makes you grow up, its like you were born at 21-years-old.”
During that time, her love of academics and athletics grew. Before graduating in 1968, the MUW basketball team won a national championship while the Yankees continued a decade of dominance in Major League Baseball. Things would only get better for her. Lacy earned her degree in mathematics, got married to a hometown man, and followed each other to the University of Mississippi where Lacy would get her masters in biology and later a ph.d.
While in Oxford for the first few years, the excitement for Ole Miss athletics was at an all-time high when Archie Manning starred on the Ole Miss football and baseball team while Johnny Neumann did the same on the basketball court. Lacy and her husband were there for it all, despite what others thought about it.
“My husband wasn’t into sports, but when Archie Manning was there, we went to just about every game. I used to love the basketball and baseball games too,” Lacy said. “I think some of the guys in grad school thought it was kinda strange that I liked to go to those games. I didn’t care though.”
An opportunity immediately opened, right down the road.
“In January of ’72, a teacher at OHS, Mrs. Pullen, she knew me through her husband, who was a professor at Ole Miss called and asked if I would take over for Jack Adams at the high school,” Lacy said. “It was a blessing. I had to work, I was living off my husband’s salary and he wasn’t making much. It was opening a door.”
However, once she hopped on the opportunity to apply for the job, again she was crushed.
“At the end of that year, I went to see the principal Darry Wade, and told him I wanted to apply for this job. He looked at me and said ‘No, I want a man and someone to coach girls basketball.’ I felt slighted. I was really shocked. Today, you couldn’t get away with saying what he said,” Lacy said.
Shortly afterwards, another opportunity opened up at Oxford’s junior high. She taught biology and tackled a number of other duties for 13 years.
“After a couple years, It was just a matter of, ‘she’s into everything,’” Lacy said. “I did cheerleaders, student council, just always involved and always had a strong relationship with the kids I taught. I call them my kids, not my students. I liked to be in the middle of everything. People probably didn’t like that. But hey, it is what it is.”
In 1985, a biology spot at OHS opened back up for Lacy, the same year boy’s basketball coach John Sherman was brought in to take over and revitalize the OHS program. Sherman immediately asked Lacy to keep their scorebook for them. Two years later, OHS had their first ever sports championship in boy’s basketball. Two years after that, in 1989, thing skyrocketed.
Many other sports developed at OHS during the early 1980’s as well as Lacy’s duties to keep the scorebook in football, baseball, volleyball, cross country, track and others. In 1989, after a decade of losing seasons, fortunes changed for OHS football. The Chargers defeated the presumptive Class 4A champion Pearl Pirates in the playoffs after being considered 30-point underdogs by the media. The Chargers were eliminated the following week, but that win was a moment of validation for OHS athletics according to Lacy.
“I can still remember sitting in that press box,” Lacy said. “I remember that game winning field goal. That point right there was the first time there was pride in Oxford athletics. Football tends to be the sport that most people follow. When that started becoming successful, hey, that just got the ball rolling.”
For the next 30 years, Lacy would continue to be the scorebook keeper for OHS sport teams. It was crucial early on due to being send to college recruiters and to keep coaches updated throughout the game. Lacy would be there for all home games and would travel with the team everywhere they went. While on the road, she would do whatever it took to take care of “her kids.”
“When I rode back on bus and we went to get something to eat, a few boys where wouldn’t get off the bus because they didn’t have money to eat. I asked the guys if they needed money to get something to eat. At first, they are very reluctant, but I then finally made them come up. I feel like things like that made me get close to the players. I don’t want anyone to go hungry. I have to make sure those kids get something to eat. People don’t realize that teachers do things like that. I’m not going to let them go hungry. They were so appreciative to the point where they feel comfortable with me,” Lacy said.
“I used to drive the cheerleaders to the game because the school district wouldn’t transport them,” Lacy said.
In kind, the athletes were there for her. In 2004, it was no different.
“I was told that I had breast cancer,” Lacy said. “I can remember getting home from the clinic and riding to a basketball game with Chad Cregor’s parents. Cregor, that young man would come down, give me a side-by-side hug and ask he how I’m doing. Those kids rallied around me. I would have chemo on Thursday and be at school on Friday, I still didn’t miss a game. I wasn’t going to let this stop me. I was going to deal with this and run with it.”
The relationships continued in and out of the classroom as well, even after Lacy retired from teaching in 2019. However, she still keeps stats for numerous OHS sports.
“When you’re a teacher, you need to watch these kids play ball, you need them to go watch them in every activity. Once they know that you care enough to watch them, they’ll do anything they can for you,” Lacy said. “As a teacher, knowing these kids and knowing what people they are, you are so happy for them and so glad that you had a part in their life somewhere along the way.”
Even in retirement, she is still a “Charger for life.”
“What’s next? Just continuing to do what I do as long as I’m physically able to do it,” Lacy said.
The respect for nurses during this Coronavirus pandemic has skyrocketed. Working long hours in clinics or hospitals, Registered Nurses like Macey Ragon, are the glue holding this nation together. Macey Ragon is not only a full-time nurse at MedPlus Oxford, but she is a wife and a mother. As if a 12 hour shift is not enough, Ragon continues her work at home.
Some people consider being a mother a full-time job. What does that mean for Ragon who already has a full-time job? She has two full-time jobs that require her complete attention, leaving her exhausted every day just to do it all over again the next. Macey Ragon has a four year old son, Aiden, at home awaiting her arrival each day after her long shift at the Urgent Care clinic. Getting off most days at 7 p.m., she heads to her son’s sitter’s house to pick him up and then proceeds home. As she is working in a place surrounded by illness, she has created a shield in her car to protect any germs that may be on her from spreading to her son. Upon arrival at home-sweet-home, Macey hands her son off to his father, Adam, and heads straight for the shower, wearing a mask the whole time. After her shower, she gets to begin her second full-time job, beginning with dinner.
“On my days off I’m really glad to be off work. We’re here for the patient all day, ya know, we’re not here for ourselves and our personal likes. We’re here specifically because we really truly enjoy helping people,” Ragon said. “I don’t want to say you’re putting up a facade, or trying to be fake, but you put your dislikes and preferences behind you because someone is ill. You’re this serious person that’s always about keeping the patient calm and you’re ready to be home so you don’t have to be this strong person all day.”
This is the epitome of a nurse- putting others before themselves, and also the definition of a mother. Ragon goes above and beyond at work and at home. Serving as the primary nurse for COVID-19 testing, she is literally risking her health and even her life for others. At home she plays the role of a mom and has to act as if she isn’t worn out from her 12 hour shift. Having a four year old is not an easy task. Aiden relies on his mother to be his mom, but also his playdate when she gets home. For this registered nurse life does not slow down when she gets off work, it is constantly go, go go.
On her days off, Macey Ragon begins the same morning routine as she would if she was going into work, just a few hours later. For work, her alarm clock goes off at 6:30 a.m. and there is no resting in bed, however on a day off her day begins around 8:30 a.m.. Letting her kiddo sleep in, Ragon starts off with a shower to get ready for whatever Aiden may dream of doing. The boy has quite a big imagination of ideas they can do on her day off. Next she heads to the kitchen and quietly blends up a protein smoothie and brews a cup of coffee, as she does everyday whether she is working or not. If her husband has to head to work that day she is on full-time sitter duty, but it is a blessing she said when the whole family gets to spend a day together.
“Yesterday I was off and we went to the lake so he [Aiden] could play with his monster trucks and that was so nice, it was relaxing. My days off I’m cleaning the house with the music on, taking care of my son and enjoying him and his little simple life,” Ragon said.
A little simple life is not the life that Ragon chose for herself however. Working full-time with one or two days off a week, those days off are extremely important to her and her family. No one knew, well maybe some did, that this Coronavirus pandemic was going to be as detrimental as it has been, but one could say nurses are even getting hit harder than the patients. Ragon is putting herself in a vulnerable situation each day she goes into the clinic. She never knows what is going to walk through the door. Taking precautions at work is not enough for Ragon to feel safe from the virus. She herself feels safe, but does not feel safe all the time coming home from work after a long day of swabbing patients’ noses and having positive results come back after just being less than a foot away from them.
Working as a registered nurse during this pandemic, is one of the most rewarding jobs to have right now and that is what keeps physically Ragon going when she’s in scrubs and a face mask. The days that she gets to lounge around or adventure with her son and husband are the days that mentally keep her going.
Macey Ragon is a superhero, according to her son, and according to the thousands of people whose lives have been affected by this pandemic. While this respect for nurses has grown Ragon to appreciate what she does daily, it is also making her job just that much more stressful. Nurses are not just the people who take your temperature when you’re sick or give you a shot, they also have lives away from the clinic or hospital they work in. Nurse Ragon’s life may be just as hectic at home as it is at work, but it is a life she said she would not trade anything for. Busy days and busy nights are what Ragon lives by.
A day in the life of Nurse Ragon may consist of confirming COVID-19 cases, addressing injuries, assessing illnesses and more, while a day in the life of Ragon as a wife and mother consists of hours of playtime, cooking, adventuring and so much more. Days off every here and there are a special treat and not to be taken for granted.
Special Note from Author:
Thank you to Registered Nurse Macey Ragon, and all healthcare workers, for your courage to take this pandemic head-on and serve on the front lines of this virus. Thank you for putting yourself and your family in danger to help those whom you do not even know. The appreciation we have for you is and will forever be endless.
Sophomore John Witwer found the skates and the rink early on in his life. While the Golden, CO native had a mother who knew the ice rink better than the average joe, Witwer had no intentions on playing hockey in college; that is until he stepped foot in Oxford, MS.
Witwer grew up about 20 miles west of Denver with a mom who was an elite figure skater. Despite his mom, and a grandmother who coached the Olympic figure skater Ashley Wagner, Witwer said he never felt pressured to touch the ice. And in fact started playing hockey at the age of 10 which is later than when most kids learn how to play the game.
“The first few years I played recreationally and then when I turned about 13 or 14, I started playing travel,” Witwer said. “I played club all the way till high school and played the first year of high school and then after that I played for my school team.”
Once Witwer decided ice hockey was something he wanted to pursue, he didn’t let the changing seasons stop him from getting better, especially with the help of his mom right by his side.
“Starting from when I was like 10 years old, I skated basically year round. It’s just one of those things you have to do consistently. As you grow and start to get stronger, if you have a solid base and fundamentals, it starts to come naturally to you,” said Witwer. “It definitely helped having my mom. We’d go out and skate all the time.”
When Witwer reached the age of having to choose between colleges, Ole Miss wasn’t exactly on his radar, until a friend on the team invited him to the Ole Miss prospect camp. After the camp, Witwer realized that Oxford felt like home.
“I figured I’d check it out and came down here and I fell in love with the place. I love the big school environment, the SEC, and the chance to play hockey just kind of sold me,” said Witwer.
Despite Witwer finding his way from Colorado and other players coming from all over the nation, the Rebels locker room quickly adjusted and seemed to get along right away with all having a common passion of playing hockey.
“There’s no group that I have ever been a part of that’s quite as close as a hockey team. And that was such a big thing when I came down here because you know coming from Colorado I didn’t know many people,” Witwer said. “But you know you walk into that locker room where you all share that common background of hockey.”
With this being Witwer’s second year of playing for the Ole Miss hockey team and having won their first SECHC Championship last year beating Arkansas, their goals as a team have heightened. Nonone expected the Rebels to finish the way they did last season. And that has only added fuel to the fire of finishing nothing other than No. 1 for this coming season.
“They were a very, very good team. On paper they were better than us for sure. Very skilled and a ton of great players and well coached. But we all had confidence about it. All the guys top to bottom of the lineup knew we had that,” Witwer said. “I don’t think there’s any reason we shouldn’t repeat. And to just keep doing the same thing, to keep rolling.”
But that second SECHC Championship won’t be anything like a walk in the park. During the season, the Rebels have to travel about an hour away to their skating rink in Olive Branch, MS, usually not getting a practice slot till about 9:15 p.m. After skating for an hour and a half, the players then head back to Oxford, not getting home until midnight.
“Last year we did back to back, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. You just wake up, do what you need to do to recover and then we’re right back at it again,” Witwer said. “We’ll do film sessions and team meetings throughout the week, especially if we have a big game coming up.”
Despite the grueling practices, the intense games and all that comes in between, Witwer has learned that when he puts on that Ole Miss jersey, he not only plays for the number on the back, but plays for his teammates and the rest of the University of Mississippi.
“It’s really an honor to represent the university. You know we have such a proud athletic tradition here. People care so much about sports here. After we won the SEC last year they were so excited and seeing the excitement around campus was so special,” Witwer said. “Everytime I put on that jersey it means so much to me.”
OXFORD, Miss. – Pat Patterson is best known for his tenure as Oxford’s mayor for 16 years. While many Oxford residents remember his open-door policy, and the city’s hesitancy over the parking meter implementation, Patterson’s life holds even more interest than what meets the eye.
Patterson has seen the boom and growth of a city over the course of his life. While he participated in plenty of this growth as Mayor, he also has had a front-row seat as a citizen for 66 years. He remembers the stark contrast of Oxford as a city back then, compared to now.
“There were actually four different high schools when I was growing up here. The roads were still bad, everything was gravel and muddy. They consolidated the schools in 1966 if I remember correctly. The world was just different back then,” said Patterson.
As he graduated high school and college, Patterson struggled against familial pressure for professional careers. Even though he knew how his brain worked.
“Everyone in my family was all teachers and law enforcement. But God just wired me for business. My earliest thoughts were about business, my thoughts are still about business every day,” said Patterson. “My grandfather, who raised me, died when I was 15. I thought I might wanna teach like my grandmother,” Patterson said. “And yet the whole time in school, I was running businesses on the side.”
Plenty of these side businesses still exist today.
“You name it, liquor store when I was 22, dry cleaners, deli’s, steak company, Abbeville catfish, University Sporting Goods, James Food Center, so there have been lots and lots. And now I Uber,” said Patterson.
His mind for business led to plenty of creative set-ups for these side businesses.
“Back when Fraternity Row came all the way out by the Double-Quick, I was big and bad and 22 and put a liquor store right at Fraternity Row. I made more money cashing checks than anything. Made more money cashing checks since there was no ATM back then. 50 cents to cash a 10 dollar check, a dollar to cash a 20 dollar check. I just made a killin’,” said Patterson
His time as a Biology major came to an end at Ole Miss, and he began his career in law enforcement.
“I graduated in 1975, the goal then was to get out as soon as possible. We didn’t have any money, my grandmother was poor. For the first years after school, I was a deputy Marshall,” said Patterson. “You can’t ask me any questions, but I was an observer of many a crime back then.”
“Until I went to Emory in Atlanta, in 1981, to go to Polygraph school. And I really don’t know how that came up. There was no one in this area doing it. I even looked at criminal hypnosis at one point. Polygraph and hypnosis are similar,” Patterson said.
Even in Polygraph school, there were classes that showed them hypnosis skills to show them how the human brain works and how the power of suggestion works. After school, Patterson moved back to Oxford, as the resident Polygraph Administrator until he served on the board of alderman which naturally transitioned into him running for Mayor in 2001.
After 16 years, he retired in 2017 to finally pursue what his mind was born to do: business. The current owner of several businesses in town, Patterson now spends his time using his brain and traveling on the side.
“Since my grandmother didn’t have much money growing up, I like to travel now. Look at it like making up for lost time,” Patterson said.
Very few people embody so much power and energy in a body that stands at four feet and ten inches tall. However, Rhonda Rousseau is a force to be reckoned with. She has a firecracker personality that no one can forget. This fiercely loyal Oxford citizen is the wife of Chris Rousseau, and she is the mother of Jacob and Helen Rousseau. She greets everyone with a smile and a hug, and she always tries to make sure people know that she cares about them. She tailgates at football games, shops around the Square, and meets people around town like any other Oxford mom, but something sets her apart. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease almost nine years ago December 16, 2011 at the age of 40.
decided that day, the day I was diagnosed, I will own Parkinson’s; it will not
own me,” Rousseau said.
Parkinson’s Disease is a central nervous system disorder that gradually gets worse over time. It usually involves difficulty in walking, balance, and coordination, and it eventually leads to shaking or stiffness. The first indication is typically a tremor in one hand. A lot of people do not get diagnosed until later on in life. Since her early diagnosis, Rousseau has worked diligently to battle her condition. She refuses to let it define her.
“Living room furniture and the television are my worst enemies,” Rousseau said. “I hit a boxing bag to tell Parkinson’s to stay away, and I do sit-ups to strengthen my core, to tell Parkinson’s I am strong to the core. Through the support of friends and family, I own Parkinson’s.”
son, Jacob, is a freshman at the University of Mississippi, and her daughter,
Helen, is a junior at Oxford High School. Rousseau says that her children are a
big topic of anxiety for her in regards to the uncertainty of living with
an individual diagnosed with Parkinson’s at such a young age, you are faced
with many fears,” Rousseau said. “Will I see my children graduate? Will I see
them finish college? Will I dance with my son at his wedding or have the chance
to toast my daughter?”
Quarantine was not kind to her.
Rousseau started having panic attacks while driving shortly after the COVID-10
pandemic broke loose. She does not know for sure, but she thinks the higher
anxiety is a side effect of her disease. The anxiety got so bad that she
eventually could not drive by herself.
“I’m not sure if it was the fear of corona, or if it was enhanced Parkinson’s symptoms because Parkinson’s can cause anxiety,” Rousseau said. “But it was very difficult during that time, and you’re talking about ten weeks. Luckily, I had a good friend, Tracy Wicker. She either drove me everywhere or, we have a 1983 Mercedes, I was able to drive it; and she would ride with me. So, I was very lucky in that aspect. There were several other individuals: Mary Beth Cantrell, my husband, of course, my children. They would drive me or come pick me up to do whatever.”
grandmother had the disease as well. She and other family members suspect that
her father also had it, but he passed away from colon cancer before they could
do have some of the side effects of Parkinson’s like train-of-thought issues,”
Rousseau said. “But I’ve recently changed my medication, and things are going
In fact, things are going much better. Rousseau recently adopted a 9-week-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi from Lazy J Ranch in Macon, Mississippi. She named him Benni Jet Rousseau, Benni for short, and he is now a service dog prospect for her disease and for her anxiety. Lessons with trainer Candy Crawford have only just begun, but Benni can already complete an array of commands. In their first lesson on October 7, Crawford did not leave until Benni sat in one spot for a whole hour. Rousseau said that she was very impressed with the progress that had already been made in just one lesson.
Crawford will eventually train Benni to do things like sense Rousseau’s heart rate when her anxiety is getting high and go down staircases before Rousseau to ensure that she does not trip and fall down them. Service dog prospects can be certified after two years of training.
The Rousseau family moved from Tupelo to Oxford on May 22, 2012. Since then, they have been active supporters of the Oxford community. Together, she and her husband support Love Packs, More Than a Meal, and the Clayton Stevens fund at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church. They are both past board members of the Oxford Charger Booster Club, and they won the 2019 Super Charger Parents of the Year award for the Le Bonheur Monster’s Ball. They are also both youth leaders of The Catholic Youth Ministry.
there is much uncertainty in the world right now, one thing is constant. The
world is a better place with Rhonda in it.
Despite the pressures of a year filled with general turmoil, university students’ stresses remain on academics, for better or for worse.
This year’s World Mental Health day, held on October 10th, led researchers to study and evaluate the effect Covid 19 has had on one of the most at risk demographics, college aged youth.
A recent survey conducted by the ‘Hi, How are You’ Project and American Campus Communities, which included 12,000 college students, found that 85% of students are more stressed this school year than compared to previous years.
Political polarization, racial tensions, and of course the onslaught of change brought by Covid 19, are all in the forefront of a students life. Despite these challenges, when the average student is asked to name their biggest stresser, they more often than not will respond with an aspect of school.
The survey also showed that 52% of students were worried they could be exposed to or contract the virus.
In a study reported on by the Wall Street Journal, college students experience minimum effects from covid, but infection from the ages of 18 to 24 makes up about 10 percent of all cases across 55 countries. While the world has changed in order to adapt to life with Covid, college students have returned to the high risk campus environment.
Many universities have been careful about their return to campus. Most classes are conducted on Zoom, and if a class is held in person, the attendees are distanced and required to wear masks.
No virus is completely preventable, though, and by now college campuses have accounted for at least 178,000 covid cases, according to The New York Times.
The number would certainly be far worse if not for schools adopting these preventative measures, but distancing regulations play a factor in students’ mental stress.
84% of students surveyed said they miss interacting with friends the most, according to the survey conducted by the ‘Hi, How are You’ project. 74% said that they miss in class instruction.
Campuses across the country have slowly decreased restrictions, especially when it comes to school events. Students have had to find different ways to connect with one another in the past in order to alleviate classroom caused stressors, but to meet physically and attend events is to risk spreading the virus that oppresses them.
Politics have developed a special struggle for college students this school year as well.
The majority of university students across the country will experience their first opportunity to vote. The youth vote is typically underrepresented in the polls, but social media is more prevalent than ever, reaching its youthful users to an unknown but potentially significant voter turnout.
Non profit organizations like Campus Vote Project have been pushing for youth involvement in the upcoming election. Based on general response, they are expecting a bigger turnout than ever, even with difficulties brought on by mail in voting.
College students have spent the past several months with political activism and racially driven turmoil on their computer screens and peers social feeds. They have witnessed police brutality, and seen cities burn because of it.
Even amidst these complicated issues, this age group has the stress of exams at the forefront of their mind. In turn, the discussion turns to mental health.
There has been a spike in mental health emphasis among youth in recent years, but the battle for prevention is a constant one, and perhaps more prevalent than ever before.
In a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control, from June 23 to June 30, people ages 18 to 24 that had seriously considered suicide spiked from roughly 10% to roughly 25% since the pandemic began. The CDC will be running the study again in October.
Percentages among adults rose as well, but evidence points to the fact that students may be experiencing more stress due to effects of the pandemic than other age groups.
Most university counseling centers have had to modify their format to accommodate for social distancing requirements. Counseling centers are crucial at a time like this, as 50% of mental health issues begin at age 17, according to Active Minds.
It is worth considering what may be the source of recent mental health issues in students, and whether they stem from outside sources, or whether they come from their academics.
Regardless, it is shown that recent changes have added undeniable stress to the college students’ life. It stands to question why the most strenuous aspect of a students current life is their upcoming exam, and not one of the many issues surrounding them today.