The University of Mississippi has seen an increase in the number of out-of-state students and a wave of diversity within the past few years. A new era of students has flooded the campus and Oxford community with enthusiasm.
Among the assortment is 18 year-old Long Island native Delaney O’Keefe.
Joining over 3,000 other students in what is considered to be the largest enrollment class Ole Miss has ever seen, she arrived in August 2014.
SEC sports have been a factor in deciding which college to attend. This is no different for O’Keefe. She initially wanted to attend a university where she could pursue her goal of playing lacrosse. After changing her mind about the sport, she decided to attend a school of her choice.
Drawn to the University of Mississippi by the energetic football atmosphere, low tuition costs, and traditions of the Grove, O’Keefe has never regretted her decision.
“It’s everything and more,” she said.
For Delaney, it has been an academic and lifestyle adjustment. She was taken aback by the hospitality of the people and the slower speed of everyday life in Oxford.
“People are really nice here and a lot more welcoming,” said O’Keefe. “In New York, you don’t make eye contact.”
While discussing the difference in New York and Mississippi, she said, “Oh my gosh, the bugs here are like small birds.”
For Delaney, growing up in the suburbs of Syosset, Long Island, was a wonderful experience. She was surrounded by four generations of family who all live relatively close to one another.
For a touch of home, O’Keefe surrounds herself with other northerners.
“It’s nice to have friends that know what it’s like where you’re from,” she said.
Best friend and Rhode Island native, Emily Karn, 18, describes her as comforting and easy to talk to.
“She listens really well and gives super good advice about everything,” she said.
O’Keefe frequently visits the 6 ‘N Tubbs pizzeria for a slice of New York-style pizza. She praised the locally owned pizza joint and joked about the devastating switch to Papa Johns.
“New York is known for its pizza and its bagels,” O’Keefe said. “When you go to New York, you have to get a bagel”
Delaney and her friends often go to the pizzeria to hang out.
Upon her arrival, she found herself joining the club lacrosse team here on campus.
While the best advice she has been given is to study hard and not let partying alter her goals, O’Keefe has the same fears as any other college student.
“I want to do well in school, obviously,” she said. “Staying on top of things and time management – it’s a lot different from high school.”
Although she loves living in Oxford, O’Keefe, whose major is undeclared, will be taking her degree back up north and putting it to use. For her, the heat combined with the humidity “is a no-no.”
A self-proclaimed “typical New Yorker,” O’Keefe has grown accustomed to the Southern hospitality and welcoming spirit of the Oxford community.
“I’ve become a little bit nicer,” said O’Keefe. “The atmosphere is different.”
Delaney said she believes that she will be the most cultured of her friends when she moves back home. She credits this to the University of Mississippi and the Oxford community.