Born a Rebel: UM student is fulfilling a childhood dream

Grant Gibbons
Oxford Stories

From the small town of Keiser, Arkansas, Burch Milano, 19, is a University of Mississippi freshmen who has been a Rebel his whole life.

Keiser, with a population of 727, is a rural town comprised of hard working people, most with a high school education. Milano is trying exceed expectations by attending the University of Mississippi and receiving a college diploma.

Milano said he is “going against the norm” of Keiser, where many people end up working on a farm after they finish school, and prefer to remain in the town.

From a young age, Milano was drawn to Ole Miss and Oxford, which he believes feels a lot like Keiser. Milano’s mother, Melissa Milano, said, “Burch has been in love with Oxford ever since he step foot on the Ole Miss campus.”

He first began coming to Oxford when he was 4. Ever since, his mother said “his wardrobe has been all Ole Miss.” His family members have been Ole Miss football season ticket holders for for about eight years, and he rarely misses a game.

Milano attended his cousin, Marci’s, graduation from UM. In 2004, he was one of the first visitors inside the new Manning Center that opened that year. His mother said the graduation was originally supposed to take place in the Grove, but torrential rain “flooded the Grove” and caused the university to move the ceremony indoors.

His cousin also gave Milano a prized possession as a kid – a signed helmet from two pro Ole Miss football players. Neither Milano, nor his mother could recall who signed the helmet, but she fondly remembered the moment.

At the annual Red and Blue game, she said football players were not supposed to be sign autographs, but Milano’s cousin knew two athletes personally and persuaded them to sign the helmet Milano had bought earlier that day. His mother said Milano was the most happy she had ever seen him at that moment.


On their first visit to Oxford, Milano and his family stopped by the famous Old Taylor Grocery restaurant. She wrote Milano’s name on the wall, because many other patrons had written theirs.

Well over 10 years later at Milano’s college orientation, they returned to the restaurant where it all started, sat at the same table and saw the handwriting on the wall.

Milano’s mother said her son is “an old soul.” Even as a kid, he was always mature. She even called him a “grown little man.” He can be “brutally honest” in some cases. However, that’s what people appreciate about him – “straight talk” and a “no B.S.” attitude are what people love the most about him.

Burch Milano with his cousin, Marci. Photo by Grant Gibbons.

Milano has been a sports fan his entire life and is an athlete. In high school, he played basketball, golf and baseball. He attended a baseball camp hosted by the Ole Miss Baseball Team as a young kid, and recalls batting practice and playing in the infield dirt at Swayze Field. Milano gravitated toward basketball and played all four years in college.

During his summers, he works on a farm, and with his uncle’s crop dusting company. Milano tells many stories about his time working on the farm and how different that lifestyle is.

He shared humorous stories about his co workers, stories that are sometimes so outrageous, they are hard to believe. “It’s a different world where I come from,” Milano said.

Growing up in a town where you see the effects of poverty and strife has shaped Milano. From a young age, he was a Rebel fan, and now, as he tries to accomplish something nobody in his immediate family has done before, he is working to be the first Rebel to come out of Keiser, Arkansas


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