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Two UM students share their thoughts about Oxford’s charm

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Eliza McDow
Oxford Stories

Oxford and the University of Mississippi offer opportunities to thrive academically, socially, artistically and spiritually. Some have a unique story about what Oxford has meant to them as a student, resident or visitor.

Anne Russell Webb, a sophomore education major from Sewanee, Tennessee, transferred to UM at the start of her sophomore year after attending the University of Tennessee – Chattanooga her freshman year.

“There are things that I miss about it, but overall, Ole Miss has better opportunities,” she said. “I like the community … the feel that Ole Miss has when you’re walking around campus and the warmth of the sweet people. It’s very welcoming, and it’s challenging at times, because it’s very traditional, but I’ve liked stepping into it and getting a peek at a different kind of life.”

Webb said transferring to UM has made her more comfortable in my her skin.

“You have to put yourself out there,” she said, “and you have to be like, ‘OK, I’m doing the uncomfortable, but I’m gonna take this risk, and hopefully, it will be for a greater benefit.'”

Webb said she feels free to be whoever she wants to be at UM. That could mean being artsy one day and preppy the next, or going out for a weekend, then staying in for the rest of the week.

“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “It’s such a unique community that I can’t pinpoint, and a lot of people don’t understand it, but it’s truly something special, and you don’t realize how much you love until you’re a part of it.”

Webb said there are many ways to get involved at UM. “Do as much as you can, get involved, join things, get a firm foundation of things you’re gonna enjoy,” she said, “but don’t feel pressure to do things you don’t wanna do. Totally be open to whatever comes your way.”

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Mary Claire Hayes, a sophomore art history major from Clarksdale, Mississippi, said UM is a tradition she didn’t want to break. Hayes grew up making a one-hour drive from Clarksdale to Oxford for every home football game.

“I came to every game, cause I’m only an hour away,” she said. “When I was really little, it was before tents, and people would have their cars at the Grove. There are pictures of us tailgating on our cars, but I’m a baby.”

Then her pictures include tables and tents. “My birthday is in October, so in all my birthday pictures, I’m in the Grove with Rebel tattoos on and blowing out candles. My grandparents have Groved in the same spot for however long, and they still have their tickets in the same spot.”

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Hayes, who never planned to attend college anywhere except Ole Miss, said if she could change one thing about the college, she would add more creative departments and programs.

“I wish the creative departments were a little bit more developed,” she said. “There’s not a graphic design major or interior design major, and they have it at Mississippi State. So I kinda wish we had that.”

Hayes is passionate about the arts. She recently had two interviews in New York City for summer internships at art galleries.

Both young women say Oxford is a warm community. “Everyone here … is very welcoming, well-behaved, mannered and just good people,” said Hayes. “I feel like there’s no drama at Ole Miss. They’re just genuine, and asking how your day’s been, and stuff like that … You feel really at home here … You never get homesick, because it’s homey, and your friends are great friends, and you never wanna leave.”

Webb said it’s hard to find a flaw in Oxford and in the Ole Miss community.

“We are so lucky to live in such a charming, historic, and just plain happy place,” she said. “The people and the places are hard not to fall head-over-heels in love with.”

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