“Go with the Fro! Vote for Acacia Santos” read a giant blue and red cut-out sign positioned in front of the Student Union. Who is Acacia Santos? Maybe you know her as Miss Ole Miss. Maybe you have seen her around Crosby Hall. To others, she may be known as the afro-haired girl wearing glasses and a smile.
Santos, 21, is a University of Mississippi senior raised in Southaven, Mississippi who describes herself as “a dreamer, a servant and a friend.”
Santos loves Ole Miss for the same reasons many fellow Rebels love their school. “It felt like the university really wanted me for me,” she said. “They wanted to help me grow to be a better person, academically, emotionally, socially, etc.”
Santos said she loves meeting new people from all walks of life. She believes the best way to learn is to surround yourself with people with diverse backgrounds so we can grow to become “more accepting” and “develop a well-rounded understanding of the world.” She makes anyone feel welcome and accepted with her friendly smile and genuine life attitude.
Santos described herself as a “servant.” What she means is she is a resident advisor in Crosby Hall, a girl’s dorm mostly occupied by freshmen.
Being a resident advisor requires much time and effort. Residential advisors must look out for the girls on their floor, work the front desk, and mentor those around them.
They are also required to move back to dorm living, which includes community-style bathrooms and a diet of Easy-Mac. Most students live for the day they move out of their dorms and into their own apartment.
What is the appeal of becoming an R.A.? Santos understands how difficult the transition from high school to college can be, so she wants to be there for younger students during this time of change.
“If you don’t have a very sturdy foundation moving forward from freshman year, I think it can make college harder than it needs to be. I like helping them [freshmen] build that foundation,” Santos said.
Freshman Kiki Lochner, a resident of Crosby Hall, said Santos made her feel at home.
“In the beginning of the year, I was sitting alone in the laundry room doing homework,” she said. “Acacia came up to me with a smile to ask if I was okay, because she thought I looked sad. She automatically started talking to me and was genuinely interested in getting to me know me.”
In the fall of 2016, Miss and Mr. Ole Miss elections were about to take place. Signs filled the outside of the Student Union. Flyers were on every door, and every student could be seen wearing a few campaign stickers on their shirt.
Miss and Mr. Ole Miss elections are held annually. Students vote by selecting two student representatives who embody the spirit of Ole Miss. Miss and Mr. Ole Miss work together with the university to form a campaign or charity for the year in which the student body can get involved.
Santos was encouraged to run for Miss Ole Miss by a supportive friend. She thinks running for Miss Ole Miss means giving back to the university and student body. She feels forever indebted to Ole Miss and believes that the opportunity to be Miss Ole Miss is the start at a “lifetime of thank yous.”
Although Miss Ole Miss sounds glamorous, Santos is humble. Taking on the role of Miss Ole Miss is challenging, but Santos wants to serve those who have provided for her the “best times in the last four years.” Miss Ole Miss aims to continue “loving the things that make us the same and cherishing all the things that make us different.”
The mechanical engineering major with an emphasis in manufacturing sounds a little like a modern day Wonder Woman. After completing her undergraduate education, she plans to attend graduate school. “That or Disney World,” Santos joked. “I have a lot of options.”
Dreaming big is no foreign territory to Santos. She hopes to teach one day, own a business of her own, develop her own product, and mentor within her field of study.
“I don’t think it’ll happen all at the same time, but I’ll get there eventually I hope,” she said.
Santos said she prefers napping, being with friends, hanging out, or listening to music when she finds a break in her schedule.
She is also an inventor. Her latest invention and senior project is an extending Grove sign. The signs extend into the air, so that Grove visitors will be able to easily find someone’s tent by reading their name in the sky.
Santos seems to be everywhere on campus. Whether she checks you into Crosby Hall or you find yourself buying one of her products in 10 years, she is truly “a dreamer, a servant, and a friend.”