Alumni return home, give back to university

Mariallen Moore

The Mississippi University for Women Homecoming is a time for alumni to return to the campus that they fell in love with as a student. For three alumni, Homecoming isn’t the only time that they give back and return to their beloved alma mater.

Sarah Morgan Howell, a Nursing major, attended The W between the years of 1972 through 1976 as a student. She was a member of Les Joyaux, a social club that disbanded, Mortar Board, Lantern Torch, Who’s Who, Student Interfaith Association, and the Student Nurses Association.  

“I think it gave me leadership potential,” Howell said.

Howell returned to The W not long after graduation as a full-time nursing school faculty member from 1978 through 2011.

Howell is currently serving on the National Alumni Board as Chairman of the Elections Committee. The Alumni Board is a diverse group of alumni from different graduating majors and years that mirrors the student population.

“I feel like The W gave me the foundation for where I am today,” Howell said. “I feel like you need to give back to your university.”

Howell said that graduating students should be aware of chapters in the areas that they will live in after leaving campus. There are chapters all across the United States, and she said it is important to keep up with the events going on at The W campus.

Stemming from a long line of MUW graduates, Melissa Hayes Gilmore was enrolled at The W from 1978 until 1982 and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology. Gilmore attributes her current role as Laboratory Director at Baptist Hospital in Columbus to The W. She said The W not only prepared her academically, but also with life skills. 

As a student, Gilmore was a member of the Jester Honorary Social Club and president of the D’belles. She was also a member of the Medical Technology honorees and Biology honorees clubs. Gilmore attributes her involvement on campus to being a resident on campus for three years.

“It definitely gave me the ability to come out of my comfort zone,” Gilmore said. “You just kind of blossom when you become a W student.”

Gilmore is currently serving on the Alumni Board. Her term of office will expire this July.

She said her primary focus is students and young alumni. She is very passionate about helping young people navigate college and the first few years after graduation.

“I want to give back and make sure that someone else has the experience that I had,” Gilmore said. “I kind of think it’s your duty as an alum, and if they ask you to help, that’s what you should do.”

Clemmie Phillips, a 2011 graduate, was a Communication major at The W. Phillips said that MUW’s thoroughness in education helped her not only academically, but also in everyday life skills.

“I’m one of those people that may have been lost at a bigger school,” Phillips said. “I appreciated the chance to grow like I did here.”

She felt like a part of the family when she first visited the campus, and to this day, she still feels like family.

While on campus, Phillips was a member of Troubadour Social Club and Masker Honorary Social Club. She was president of both clubs her senior year. She was also a member of Mortar Board, a Telefund Ambassador, Chamber Singers, and Chorale.  

“I just think it prepares you for life because nine out of 10 times, you won’t just be working and do nothing else,” Phillips said. “It gave me people skills and taught me how to deal with different people.”

Phillips believes that students who are not active on campus are not likely to participate as alumni. She feels that involvement on campus as a student is a key factor in developing life skills and gaining a vital college experience that you would not have otherwise.

Phillips is approaching her third year as secretary of the Alumni Board. She has served on several different committees over the years that involve public relations and young alumni. She is currently the Masker Alumni President and on the Troubadour Alumni Counsel.

Homecoming on The W campus is a time like no other. Alumni have the opportunity to return to campus and reminisce about their days at MUW.

Homecoming is not only a time to celebrate alumni and their involvement on campus, but also a time to celebrate The W and everything it represents.