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D e g r ee s

o f

V e locit y

Ev e r y M i l l s a p s d i p l o m a tells its own success story. For Millsaps graduates, real-world success is the rule – not the exception. They are leaders because they are thinkers, fueled by passion and propelled by wisdom.

Our national-caliber faculty gives students the personal attention and freedom to define their own paths. And the Millsaps approach to education embraces the whole student: academically, socially, civically, and philosophically. That’s the reason Millsaps graduates are accepted to medical, law, business, and graduate schools at a rate well above the national average – or immediately begin meaningful careers. Upon graduation, Millsaps students are equipped with the experience and insight to open any door, and the perspective to build one if need be.

The alumni featured here typify the unique and genuine passion all Millsaps students seem to share. They are ordinary graduates doing extraordinary things in boardrooms, courtrooms, laboratories, and communities around the globe – real people making real differences.

Honing passion into profession. Dr. Vonda Reeves-Darby ... page 3

Justice James E. Graves, Jr. ... page 7

Aprile Gilmore ... page 3

Chrissie Faust ... page 6

Will Flatt ... page 5

Maggie Morgan-Smith ... page 10

Kaley Payne Nash ... page 10

Lee Mitchell ... page 11

Theon Johnson ... page 6

Vassil Zanev ... page 11

Lane Williamson Staines ... page 8

Jessica Samson ... page 13

Casey Parks ... page 13

Jeff Good ... page 9

Dr. Vonda reeves-darby Chemistry 1978 – Gastroenterologist

The ability to go to college in an open and diverse

me to test my boundaries. That experience taught me

environment was amazing to me. In 1975, at the age of

a very important lesson that I have followed throughout

16, I was impassioned with my newfound freedom, and

my life – boundaries are not obstructions, but are

Millsaps fostered an ability to make good decisions well

challenges to be addressed – and flattened when

beyond my age.


“Millsaps helped put me on the path to a rewarding career and life.” – Dr. Vonda Reeves-Darby

As a physician, my medical focus is on motility disorders and HIV-related conditions. I’m board-certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology. And in 2002, it was my great honor to receive the Jim Livesay Service Award – one of Millsaps’ highest recognitions.

At that time, Millsaps was really encouraging pre-med

Millsaps helped put me on the path to a rewarding

minorities. I’d received athletic scholarships from

career and life. So when the opportunity came to give my

other colleges, but Millsaps was my first academic

experience back to Millsaps, I was thrilled. I proudly serve

scholarship. I’ll never forget my mother saying that you

as one of Millsaps’ medical mentors – offering students

can’t make a living as a woman playing basketball.

clinical experience and insights into the field of medicine. The mentoring program is the perfect chance

The pre-med mentoring program surrounded me with

to interact with today’s Millsaps students and a simple

people who wouldn’t let me stray too far from the fold.

way to give back to something I love.

But the Millsaps attitude of self-accountability allowed

Aprile Gilmore Chemistry 2007 – medical student University of Mississippi School of Medicine I arrived at Millsaps College saying that I was “pre-med.” At the time, I had absolutely no idea what that meant or the amount of work it would entail – but I found out quickly. As early as your freshman year, there are pre-med meetings to teach you not only about the required courses and MCAT, but also what you can do to demonstrate that you have what it takes to become a physician. Extracurricular activities are an important part of a medical school application, and Millsaps provides you with the opportunity to shadow physicians, volunteer in community service projects, participate in scientific research, and gain leadership skills in numerous organizations. Millsaps even has a pre-medical committee to assist you in the medical Aprile Gilmore with Millsaps mentor, Dr. Vonda Reeves-Darby 3

school application process.

Although my focus was medicine, Millsaps has a way of pushing you in

require in-depth thinking, reasoning, analysis, and logic. These skills are

different directions so that you get a fuller, more well-rounded college

absolutely essential for success in medical school and as a practicing

experience. I was also interested in education, so I participated in a Ford


Teaching Fellowship Program where I saw first-hand what it was like to teach Chemistry I and II. The core curriculum also exposed me to social

Just as important as the diversity of courses, you’ll come across a variety

sciences, history, religion, art, foreign language, and other areas. I even

of people, from all over the world, with a broad range of political, religious,

took piano lessons for one semester. When I left Millsaps College headed

and personal views. And because of Millsaps’ size, you end up interacting

for medical school, I was confident that I had made an informed decision

with students and professors more closely. As I started to get to know

for my future because I had been exposed to so many other areas in my

the other students at Millsaps, I began to appreciate people for their

undergraduate education.

differences. It’s odd, but in a way I think you need a school as small as Millsaps to fully understand how big the world really is.

The courses at Millsaps challenge you to think in new and different ways. Even the courses that are more “fact based,” like math and sciences, 4

Will Flatt Business Administration 1997 – Chief Operating Officer & Executive V.P., Parkway Properties

Millsaps is directly responsible for opening the door

remember taking work home over Christmas break

to my career. But more importantly, my experiences

because I actually enjoyed it. It was meaningful,

there inspired me to expand my own definitions of

real work to benefit the company. Except for a

success and fulfillment so that I could pursue that

three-week break after graduation, I’ve been with

career as far as I have.

Parkway ever since.

“ At Millsaps, you don’t have to trade in your social life for success.” – Will Flatt

I think two very important factors contributed to what turned out to be my big break. First, Millsaps is part of a community where these kinds of opportunities exist. Secondly, Dr. Taylor and I were able to get to know each other well enough that this topic just came up during a casual conversation.

It was my senior year, and I had just returned from a summer economics studies program in Prague.

In addition to the close relationships between

Like any good college student, I was waiting tables.

faculty and students, Millsaps students also really

But then I got elected to a student body office. The

get to know each other. I was able to associate

student body meetings were at night, so I needed a

with students who held meaningful and ambitious

daytime job. My economics professor, Dr. Pat Taylor,

personal goals in all areas of life. These students

had heard that Parkway was hiring interns.

know how to have a good time. You don’t have to trade in your social life for success. And I think

As it turned out, the gentleman who interviewed

that’s an important part of the college experience –

me at Parkway had graduated from Millsaps the

to enjoy it.

year before. The internship began that fall, and I 5

Chrissie faust Psychology 2008 – Neuroscience Ph.D. Student, Tulane University Without a doubt, what makes Millsaps unique is the people. Other small liberal arts schools may compare to Millsaps academically, but the administrators, professors, and students at Millsaps seem to take a much greater interest in each other. For example, it’s not uncommon for a student to see a prospective family getting a tour around the campus and then go join them for lunch. Millsaps students are passionate about what they do, and administrators and professors go out of their way to nurture that enthusiasm.

Theon johnson

At Millsaps, I received the guidance I needed to get into graduate

Religous Studies 2006 Graduate Program of Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington D.C.

school upon finishing college. My professors knew me well enough to write meaningful recommendation letters, and now I’m on track for a doctorate in neuroscience.

Attending a school like Millsaps presents benefits that you won’t find anywhere else. There’s a close bond between

In addition, the student body presented more opportunities to

the students and professors, and you have access to more

take part in research projects, which was something that graduate

opportunities for growth. For me, that meant a greater

schools looked highly upon. Through the Ford Teaching Fellowship

level of involvement. I was able to win several awards and

program, which pairs students interested in teaching at the

honors, including becoming Millsaps’ first African-American

college level with faculty mentors, I worked directly with one of my

Student Body Association president.

professors, Dr. Kurt Thaw, on a research project, which I eventually presented at two conferences. Having access to amazing learning

In the path I’ve chosen, education means more than job

experiences like these is a hallmark of Millsaps. It’s something you

training. It means finding the right perspective on life.

simply won’t find at every school.

Millsaps teaches that knowledge and learning cannot be divorced from responsible living. It’s not enough to simply know facts; you need to be able to find the truth, and to live truthfully. Millsaps is a unique community because its values reaffirm the idea that as we learn more about the world around us, we learn more about ourselves as human beings, and the more fully equipped we are to understand how we are to live in the world. Millsaps helped me heed and define my calling – to encourage others to grow within their faith. Today, I am proud to be pursuing my graduate studies at Wesley, one of the most respected and selective theological seminaries in the United States. My time at Millsaps helped me get here, helping me get on the right path not just for my career, but for my life.


JUSTICE JAMES E. GRAVES, JR. Sociology 1975 – Mississippi Supreme Court Justice

Since graduating from Millsaps in 1975, a lot has

well. The thing that Millsaps really impressed on me is that

happened. A lot has changed. My own personal journey has

a liberal arts education is important not only in preparing

taken me into the world of law, teaching, and ultimately to

for a career, but in preparing for a meaningful life.

the Mississippi Supreme Court. Millsaps set the trajectory both my life and career would I came from a rural all-black high school to an integrated

follow. After earning my law degree from Syracuse, I

metropolitan college. I was used to doing really well –

returned to Mississippi. I knew I could be of service here,

being valedictorian, having the highest ACT score, and

and this is where I was needed. I served as a special

so forth. At Millsaps, I was suddenly surrounded by tons

assistant attorney general and a circuit court judge before

of people who were the same way. It was a much more

being appointed to the Mississippi Supreme Court in 2001.

challenging and competitive environment than I was used

I was the only African-American on the court, and after my

to – yet also incredibly supportive.

appointment, I won re-election to the same position.

“ Millsaps set the

trajectory both my life and career would follow.” – Justice James E. Graves Jr.

to teaching, motivating, and inspiring our youth. In addition to working with children and teenagers in Jackson, I teach trial advocacy to Harvard third-year law students. And it was a distinct honor to be asked to teach Law and Society as an undergraduate class at Millsaps last year. Looking back, I can’t think of any place that would have prepared me any better for my future. To me, Millsaps is

Intimidations aside, it was an extremely positive

more than a great school; it’s part of my life. I met my wife

experience. The quality of the faculty is exceptional. There

here, and my son is also a graduate. As I took the podium

were small, intimate classes where the professors knew

as keynote speaker of a recent commencement ceremony,

your name and encouraged one-on-one interaction. It

I realized my life and education had come full circle – and

pushes you to to work hard, to study deeply, and to prepare

Millsaps will always be at the center.

Lane Williamson Staines with Mississippi Supreme Court Justice James Graves 7

Throughout my law career, I have also remained committed

LANE WILLIAMSON STAINES Business Administration/English 2005 – Lawyer, Brunini Grantham Grower & Hewes

When I came to Millsaps, I thought I would eventually work in

My education at Millsaps, particularly with the heavy emphasis

hospital administration, so I majored in business administration.

on writing, gave me a solid foundation for law school. So I was

Things changed as I studied further and realized how much I

never overwhelmed by anything handed my way. As I began

would love to work in a law-related field. I decided to pick up

interviewing for clerkships after my first and second years of law

an English major, too, to prepare me for law school. Now, I have

school, I often found myself meeting other Millsaps alumni in

the opportunity to combine both those interests and work in

the legal field. Those types of connections are priceless.

healthcare law, among other areas. Millsaps reminded me that you don’t always have to choose and that you don’t have to put

Millsaps instilled in me Gandhi’s famous words, “You must

unnecessary limitations on your dreams.

be the change you want to see in the world.” Millsaps taught me the importance of stepping up to be a leader and not just passing through life. 8

Jeff Good Business Administration 1986 – Entrepreneur and Restaurateur

When you ask what role Millsaps has played in

There’s another benefit to Millsaps that also stayed

my career, you have to look at if from a subtle

with me. At a small school, there is a level of

perspective. I received a degree in business

interaction and involvement among students and

administration and left completely prepared for a

professors that I don’t think you get in a larger

promising career with a Fortune 100 technology

environment. You know everyone, and you have an

company. But seven years later, I teamed up with a

opportunity to participate in a lot of things. That

business partner and we opened a restaurant. And

trait is still very much a part of my life, whether

then another. And another.

I’m getting involved in my favorite charities, working with restaurant trade associations, or

Business has been great, and I’m doing what I

supporting causes like the ballet, crime prevention,

love. My Millsaps education helped me get here

and tourism. The energetic, participatory

not by teaching me how to cook, but by teaching

atmosphere I found at Millsaps has enabled me to

me to think critically and strategically. These two

become a more giving and substantial member of

skills enabled me to literally make something

the community.

out of nothing – turning an idea into a start-up business. The rigors of my liberal arts education,

So, you may not learn the secrets of making a

coupled with the case-study methodology of

perfect Asiago sauce at Millsaps. But then again,

dissect, analyze, and report, outfitted me with the

maybe you’ll find all the ingredients there to get

life skills needed to be successful at an aggressive

where you want to go.

entrepreneurial undertaking. 9

Maggie Morgan-Smith Sociology/Anthropology 2007 – Archaeology Ph.D. Student, UNC Chapel Hill The classroom experience at Millsaps is certainly unique, and I have come to appreciate it more and more since beginning my graduate studies. When I compare my undergraduate experience with that of students from other institutions, I realize how well I was prepared for graduate school and the workforce. Rather than sitting through hours of lecture, we held informed conversations about the material, facilitated by our professors. We were encouraged to ask questions, debate theories, and have an opinion. The anthropology faculty were incredibly supportive of me and of everyone that comes through the department. They build upon what goes on in the classroom, and encourage their students to

kaley PAyne nash

get hands-on experience. In addition to receiving an excellent

Economics 2005 – Field Operations Manager, Jalalabad, Afghanistan

educational experience at Millsaps, I was also able to apply what we learned in the classroom to the field by spending several summers performing research with Millsaps’ archaeological field

My life is just like a lot of others. I recently adopted two

program in Yucatán, Mexico. That cemented my desire to pursue

kittens named Juno and Tamalayne. I have a promising

archaeology as a career, and my Ph.D. dissertation actually focuses

career. I’m married to a young attorney, and I’m getting

on ethnoarchaeological work in the Yucatán. This early hands-on

ready to plant a small garden in my backyard. It’s the typical

experience in the field continues to play a vital role in my career.

American dream. Only it’s in Afghanistan.

From the very beginning, I received excellent mentoring from

It’s been an interesting path for me. I was born in Kenya,

professors at Millsaps, and they helped me negotiate the job

where my parents worked as missionaries. From there we

market upon graduation in 2007. At their suggestion, I spent a

went to Mississippi. At the time, my boyfriend was attending

year working for Brockington and Associates, a cultural resource

Millsaps, so I decided to take a closer look. But what really

management firm based in Atlanta.

sealed the deal was a talk with one of my political science professors, Dr. Iren Omo-Bare – who, like me, had come here

When I decided to continue my graduate studies, I had my choice

from Africa.

of lucrative fellowships from top-notch institutions. Millsaps gave me a great foundation for moving forward – and the confidence to

In addition to his expert tutelage in politics and development,

go after the career and life I really want.

he also proved to be a formidable mentor – perhaps one of the most influential people in my life. He gave me the courage to apply for graduate school, and the confidence to study abroad for two years. After Millsaps, I attended the London School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African Studies. With my studies came a hunger to see other parts of the world – and a comfort that made me feel at home wherever I was. This year, I’m in Afghanistan, helping to support privatesector development by helping international agencies and companies more effectively link with local suppliers. I love the place I live; it’s a severe oldness mingled with an extreme newness. I look forward to the path ahead. I often wonder where it will take my husband and me, and I sense that it will eventually lead back to Africa, where it all started. Even though I’ve scarcely started, it feels as if I’ve accumulated so many wonderful memories and experiences – from Kenya to London to Kabul, and, of course, Millsaps. Thanks for always making time for me, Dr. Omo-Bare! 10

Lee Mitchell Business Administration 1994; MBA 1998 – Vice President, Trustmark National Bank

My undergraduate and MBA degrees from Millsaps

the typical student at a large university. Millsaps

did a great job of preparing me for the things that my

has strong athletic programs and an excellent Greek

career would require of me. My professors not only

system, both of which led me to leadership positions.

provided an excellent academic foundation for my

I was captain of the varsity soccer team, vice

banking career, but also offered personal guidance

president of my fraternity, and vice president of the

on where I should be headed. They facilitated my

inter-fraternity council.

internship with Trustmark National Bank, which resulted in a job after graduation and a career.

“ In a sense, the smaller size means bigger opportunities.” – Lee Mitchell

The small number of students in each class ensured each individual’s participation and better absorption of subject matter. In a sense, the smaller size means bigger opportunities. As a result, I think you leave college prepared for life, no matter what career you are pursuing. More importantly, the knowledge that you can

But beyond that valuable training, there are aspects

participate in many different things stays with you.

of a Millsaps education that you won’t find in many

It enriches your life. And maybe that’s what

other schools. Due to the small student population, I

education is all about.

had more opportunities for leadership positions than

Vassil zanev Business Administration 2004; MACC 2009 Senior Treasury Analyst, Trustmark National Bank

After graduating from Millsaps in 2004, I quickly landed a position with a large investment firm, where I rose to the level of senior treasury analyst. As my career progresses, I’m also working on my Master’s of Accountancy at the Millsaps Else School of Management. The thing that strikes me most about Millsaps is that they still believe in education in the classical, holistic sense of the word. Vassil Zanev with Lee Mitchell 11

Yes, they equip you with the skills you need for a successful

that can benefit you no matter what your field of study may be.

career, but they also place a high priority on critical-thinking

My classroom experience taught me to always be open to new

skills and nurturing complete, well-rounded graduates.

ideas and to challenge long-standing assumptions. Those things are more than theoretical exercises; they are skills that are with

For example, their writing program is completely independent of

me every day, whether I’m attending new classes or analyzing a

the English department. It spans all departments, from English

billion-dollar investment portfolio.

to biology to accounting. Why? Because when you think about it, writing is an extremely valuable workplace skill, and it also

Millsaps teaches you to vigorously pursue ideas and insights. In

requires clear thinking, organization, and the ability to support

the workplace, you can see a practical, bottom-line value to this.

a persuasive argument. At Millsaps, students develop the skills

But beyond that, there is an intrinsic, highly meaningful value

necessary to analyze and understand complex information, and

impossible to assess.

to express themselves clearly and concisely. That’s something


Jessica samson Biology 2008 – Environmental Educator, Jekyll Island, Georgia If I had to single out one thing that makes Millsaps different, I’d sum it up this way: It’s not just about getting a diploma. It’s about getting an education, and being in surroundings that foster not only learning, but friendship, discipline, and direction as well. When I arrived at Millsaps, I knew that I wanted to be either an environmental lawyer or a teacher. I was torn between the two options and believed that doing a Ford Teaching Fellowship, which pairs students interested in teaching at the college level with faculty mentors, would help me decide. At one of the Ford Teaching Fellow lunches, Dr. Bill Storey said something that stayed with me. “There are two kinds of educators,” he said. “Those that teach so they can learn about the subject they love and share their passion with others. And then there are those who are called to teaching and are happy teaching anything to anyone.” I thought about it seriously, and knew that teaching was my calling. Formally and informally, I’ve taught

casey parks

many different disciplines ranging from Spanish to botany, and I’ve

English 2005 – Reporter, The Oregonian

worked with ages four to 21. I learned something new from every teaching experience, and I have never had a teaching experience that I did not enjoy. It’s what I’m here to do.

Millsaps started me out not just on a successful career, but a wonderful life. In 2006, I won the trip of a lifetime through

Millsaps taught me a lot about teaching – not just the

an essay contest held by the New York Times, which allowed

fundamentals of biology, but also intangible things like patience,

me to accompany Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Nicholas

attentiveness, and being there for others. Today, I’m an

Kristof on a two-week reporting trip through central Africa.

Environmental Educator. Next fall, I’m off to graduate school. The

During the trip, I kept a blog for the New York Times and

road ahead may take me in any one of a hundred directions. But

a video blog for MTV. I also had work accepted by national

wherever it leads, I’ll never forget where it all started.

publications like Glamour, Christian Science Monitor, and Marie Claire. My time at Millsaps was extremely influential in honing and refining my skills and perspectives as a journalist. My journalism professor was particularly helpful in teaching what types of stories are appropriate, as well as how to edit efficiently. Before graduation, I completed an honors project on feature journalism. Today, I’m working at the Pacific Northwest’s biggest andin Africa Casey Parks with Nicholas Kristof oldest newspaper. I feel like I’ve covered a lot of territory in a small amount of time. Big opportunities. Small school. That pretty much sums up Millsaps.


Define success. A Millsaps education is an investment in your future. It is more than a diploma or a line on a resumé; it serves you for a lifetime. You wouldn’t be reading this if we didn’t believe that you, like those featured in this piece, possess the unique ability to make a real difference to our campus community and the world. If you have any questions at all, contact us at 800.352.1050 or To take the next step in building your own extraordinary life, please accept our offer of admission and scholarships by submitting your enrollment deposit by the National Candidates Reply Deadline of May 1st. For additional information on the enrollment process or submitting your enrollment deposit online, visit

1701 North State Street • Jackson, MS 39210-0001 • 800.352.1050 •

Degrees of Velocity - Millsaps College Alumni Feature Book  

Degrees of Velocity - Millsaps College Alumni Feature Book

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