UM students return to campus with a little spring in their step

Francheska Molina taking a break between classes at the University of Mississippi. Photo by Kirsten Faulkner.

By Julia Wickes, Natalie Suk, Kirsten Faulkner, Betsy Veasy, Madison Edenfield, Reagan Smith, Addis Olive, Mallory Smith, Angelica Pecha, Ashley Muller, Georgia Williams, Jack Hall, Jack Newsom, Caroline Luckie, Collin Rivera, Kennedy Glanzer, Peyton Sams, Julia Wickes, Anders Culiner, Wade Johnson, Sarah Henderson, Skye Spieler, Anna Bess Pavlakovich, Kendra Newton, Grant Gibbons, Nancy Jackson

Spring break is the best time of year for some students, but only if weather permits. Sammy Watkins, 19, is a University of Mississippi elementary education major with an emphasis on special needs education from Maumelle, Arkansas.

Watkins and friends planned to spend a week in Destin during spring break and most days on the beach, but weather did not cooperate. “We only made it to the beach one day the whole trip,” Watkins said.

The temperature was in the mid-50s most days, and the wind chill made it almost unbearable to lie on the beach or go into the ocean. Watkins said she and friends spent most days inside their condo playing games or eating at beachfront restaurants.

Midway through the week, the group decided to split ways and go home for the remainder of the week. Because dorms were closed until Sunday at noon, students had nowhere to stay but home for the duration of spring break. Watkins spent the rest of her spring break at home with family, as did her friends.

For the rest of the warm weather months, Watkins plans to attend UM spring parties and spend time with friends. She also plans to visit Colorado when her niece or nephew is born at the end of the semester. Weather permitting, she said she plans to spend as much time as possible outside.

With flowers in bloom, many UM students have taken their work outside, preparing to finish the semester strong after spring break. UM student Francheska Molina, 19, was sitting in the sunny Grove this week finishing an assignment.

“I plan to get through this semester with a good GPA, and sit in the Grove on nice days like today while doing so,” said Molina.

After visiting with family and friends over spring break, Molina was happy to return to Oxford to finish the semester. The Purcell, Virginia native is a pre-med student working on her bachelor’s degree in social work.

Lindsey Munson. Photo by Natalie Suk.

UM student Lindsey Munson, 20, cherished her spring break in Palm Beach, Florida. She enjoyed a beautiful week with friends sunbathing on the beach and enjoying Florida weather in a beach house. The Houston native, studying integrated marketing communications, said she is looking forward to visiting New Orleans in a couple of weeks.

Kelsie Rocconi, 22, is a senior UM communication sciences and disorders major. She must complete one more semester before graduating. The Cleveland, Mississippi, native came to UM for a change of people, pace and scenery.

Rocconi is a member and T-shirt chair of Sigma Phi Lambda, the Christian sorority. This spring, she plans to attend baseball games. She joined a spring softball league that will play each Monday night at 10 p.m. She said she is excited about going to the beach this summer for a much needed vacation from crazy school life.

Anna Thomas, 20, is embracing the sunshine and warm weather. When she’s not working in Farley Hall on the UM campus as a work study student filing papers, answering phones, and running errands, she enjoys going to the pool with friends in Hooper Hollow and walking her friend’s rescue dog.

Last week, Thomas returned to her Tallahassee home for spring break to visit friends and family. Even with the unsatisfying cold, rainy weather the country experienced last week, Thomas said she had a great time catching up with friends and sleep.

IMC major Kelly Zeidner, 21, went on a Caribbean cruise during spring break that stopped in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala “I always love going on cruises,” she said. “They are my favorite type of vacation.”

The South Carolina junior enjoys returning home to see family and visiting friends at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Birmingham native Abby Garrett, 20, spent her spring break at a friend’s apartment in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

“It was so cold,” she said. “Each morning, we woke up, threw on our sweatshirts and sweatpants, and headed to the beach. At night, we stayed in and watched movies. It was the perfect break for me.”

Garrett’s plans for spring are to push through all the school work and finish strong. She also hopes to fit in some pool time on weekends. The UM math tutor said she can’t wait to get home for summer after a tough, math-filled semester.

Sitting peacefully outside enjoying the warm weather, professor David Wharton, of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, 69, was reading a book in the Grove this week. He enjoys traveling and seeing other parts of the world, such as the mountains of Georgia, which is how he decided to spend his spring break. He said reading outside is his favorite thing to do in warm weather.

Preparing for the future

Nick Nimmo, 19, of Biloxi, is a sophomore nursing major who plans to attend the UM Medical Center in Jackson this summer.

“I don’t have much plans for spring,” Nimmo said. “Now that the weather is warm, I can really only think about starting nursing school this summer. I’m sad to leave Oxford and my friends, but excited to start school.”

Nimmo plans to spend as much time with his friends as he can during his last few months in Oxford.

UM freshmen Olivia Parise, 19, loves warm weather. She describes the Oxford humidity as “even better than my spring break weather.” Praise also spent her spring break in Destin.  Although the weather wasn’t as tropical as Parise hoped, she had a great trip with friends and said she takes every opportunity to spend time in the sun.

UM senior, Shelice Benson, 21, was found doing homework inside the UM Meek School of Journalism and New Media. The New Orleans journalism major will graduate in the next few months, and she hopes to become a photojournalist or social media marketing specialist. Benson spent spring break studying and doing homework, but left for a few days to relax in Miami.

Caroline Whigam, 20, grew up in Carrolton, Georgia and dreamed of becoming a geological engineer. She searched for schools that offer the rigorous major and eventually discovered the UM program. When she is not studying, Whigam makes extra money babysitting for local Oxford families or catching up on her sleep, which is what she did over spring break.

Kansas City, Kansas native Ryley Johnson, 20, is a UM general marketing major who is excited about summer and her upcoming graduation. Johnson works at Magnolia Monastery School in Batesville. Over spring break, she traveled to Mexico for a short vacation.

Nick Bonomo, 18, a freshman from Eldersburg, Maryland, has an undeclared major, but is considering becoming a business major with a real estate minor. Although Bonomo enjoys the “warm weather” of Oxford, he has been looking forward to going back to chilly Maryland to visit family and friends.

“It was much needed, getting back home and being with my family and my girlfriend,” said Bonomo. “As much as I love Oxford and being in the South, it’s always nice to get back home … My best friend Tommy, who is going into the Navy, was surprisingly still in town, so I was very excited about that.”

Jessica Moore, 21, a native of Louin, Mississippi, is a UM broadcast journalism major and senior. She is also a UM community assistant for student housing. Moore spent her spring break in Southern California exploring Disneyland, Sea World and the beach. She does not have plans for spring trips. Instead, she is preparing for graduation, graduate school and summer school.

UM sophomore Megan Krynen, 20, is excited about warmer weather, cloudless skies and blooming flowers. The Pass Christian native spent most of her spring break in Gulf Shores, Alabama, before taking a trip to spend time in her hometown. However, the poor weather hindered her ability to get sun-kissed throughout the week.

“I’m planning on lying out at the pool a lot more,” Krynen said, “which is good, because I want to get a nice tan before the summer starts.”

A lover of both Oxford and UM, Krynen is excited about outdoor activities, such as Rebel baseball games and fraternity-sponsored spring parties.

Prioritizing work and relaxation

Sophomore Amber Huggins, 20, an Oxford native has a managerial position at Sonic, while working toward an accounting degree. Like many young adults, she must prioritize work over rest and relaxation.

Huggins worked over spring break and plans to work more now that it’s over. She is an art minor who enjoys acrylic painting, particularly painting landscapes. However, she hasn’t had time to paint with balancing school and her job.

UM sophomore, Annie Peaster, 20, is a double major studying Spanish and nursing. She planned to travel abroad for a year after graduating high school, but had to quickly apply to UM when her travel plans did not work out. Peaster’s family all attended UM, and she said she is glad she pursued an education here.

This spring, Peaster plans on attending baseball games, spending time with family and friends, and looking into studying abroad. She hopes to finish the semester strong and looks forward to summer break.

“Spring semester is so fun because of baseball games, spring parties, and pretty weather,” said Peaster. “I hope to be able to, not only finish well in school, but to have fun and get to participate in some of the fun spring events around Oxford.”

Arkansas native Sara Wallis Jennings has just returned from her spring break mission trip to Matamoros, Mexico. She helped take care of children in the mornings and do construction work in the afternoons. Before this trip, she said she never knew how concrete was made.

The accounting major is using this spring to look for accounting internships for the summer. She was supposed to visit Australia within the next few weeks, but she’s staying in Oxford because round two of her internship interviews begin this month. Jennings also plans to help her sister, who was just accepted to nursing school, move to Little Rock.

Many students view spring as an opportunity to move forward and get organized with their work. UM Junior Angie Jordan, 21, has just returned from a spring break trip to the Bahamas. She saw the trip as a good way to take a break from the first semester’s hectic work schedule. The IMC major knows this semester will be a challenge.

Raised in Atlanta by parents who attended Texas universities, Darby Frisbee, 21, is a junior studying integrated marketing communications who hopes to work in the fashion industry and in public relations.

Frisbie spent her spring break with her father and sister in St. Maarten, where they rented a catamaran and snorkeled in the Caribbean. She plans to attend baseball games this spring with friends, and is looking forward to Oxford’s Double Decker weekend.

“I love weekends in Oxford, but something about Oxford during Double Decker weekend makes it that much more lovable,” said Frisbie.

Chris Pfeiffer, 20, is a biology major who is not ready for spring. In fact, he didn’t even know that spring has arrived. “I should’ve known,” said Pfeiffer “since it was getting a lot warmer, but it’s not something I ever focus on.”

Born in Buffalo, New York, Pfeiffer said he’s familiar with warm weather. “I was a military kid,” he said “so I lived in Florida after we moved from Buffalo, and now we live in Hernando, Mississippi.”

Pfeiffer worked during spring break. “I’m a cook at Panera,” he added “so I just worked all week to make some more money. I want to save up enough money to go on a trip to Florida during the summer, so I don’t have any spring plans besides maybe adjusting to this heat.”

Junior Elizabeth Parker, a Jackson native and nursing major, spent her spring break in Destin with her family. “The weather was a little chilly at the beach,” she said, “but it was sunny, and it made me so excited for spring. The weather the first day back in Oxford was the silver lining I needed for the spring semester.”

Olive Branch native Michael Roberts, 18, is a chemical engineering major who spent most of his spring break in Pensacola, Florida.

“I worked out during the winter, but I didn’t get enough sun,” he said. “I want to get a job working outside, which is why I am going to be working at a golf course this coming summer.”


Quade Clark eats his lunch in Lamar Hall before returning to classwork and studying. Photo by Jack Hall.

University of Mississippi student Quade Clark is a history major from Stringer, Mississippi, who is too busy between school and work to fully enjoy the spring weather.

Clark, 20, is an assistant baker at a local bakery. He spends most of his time working on assignments to earn his degree in history while still balancing work.

“Unfortunately there’s not much I can do,” said Clark. “There’s too many assignments for me to go out and enjoy the nice weather.”

The Grove on campus is in full spring mode with warm weather and green grass. However, some students like Clark will remain indoors studying.

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