During a hospital stay at age 11, Anna Glidewell, now 22, met the facility’s PR director. That experience led her to pursue a career in integrated marketing communications at the University of Mississippi.
“I was in the hospital once,” said Glidewell, seated inside the Writing Center on the UM Tupelo campus. “My sister was in the hospital three times, and my grandmother was in and out of the hospital as we were growing up, where she eventually died.”
Because her family members were often hospitalized, it’s one of the reasons she was homeschooled. Glidewell attended public school from Headstart through third grade. She was homeschooled from fourth grade through high school.
Glidewell, who has worked at the University of Mississippi Tupelo campus Writing Center since she began her studieds, said her family members were hospitalized about six months out of the calendar year. During that time, she discovered a love for communications.
“I got the opportunity to follow around the PR lady at the hospital when I was 11,” she said. “Some of the positive things that I got to see were the hospital getting a new cardiac unit, or the hospital becoming a Level 2 trauma center. My experience at the hospital became much more than just, ‘Oh, somebody died today.'”
Glidewell said she grew up in a poor family. While her father, Buddy, carried the family financially driving trucks during six-week intervals, Glidewell’s mother Margaret stayed home to take care of Anna and her sister, Trina.
“Mississippi is a poor state, yet it still manages to have wonderful celebrities and other highly successful individuals who call it home,” Glidewell said. “That gives a bit of hope to people who grew up with very little, like me.”
Glidewell considers her family’s unique health experience a learning period that helped determine her future. She had originally planned to attend Mississippi State University and major in business administration.
“I ended up having an appendectomy when I was 21, right before I was about to start college at the university level,” she said. “It kinda scared me, and I was like, ‘I don’t want to be two hours from home. I want to go home every day.'”
Glidewell began looking into Ole Miss through Northeast Mississippi Community College, but she later discovered UM’s IMC program. “So I came to Ole Miss Tupelo, since I could come home every day,” she said. ” … This degree ended up being the best of both worlds.”
Glidewell said growing up homeschooled helped with online classes, a crucial part of being enrolled at a satellite campus.
“I have an easier time teaching myself material than a traditionally-schooled person,” Glidewell said. “When I first went to Northeast, I did not take any online classes. I went from being online and in books by myself with no lecture, to being in a classroom with other people. I was kinda culture shocked.”
Taking online classes the next semester proved easier. “From there, I eased my way into lectures and being in an actual class setting,” she said.
Friend and classmate, Brandi Embrey, said Glidewell is vital to the Ole Miss Tupelo community.
“Anna has definitely kept me sane throughout our time together in college,” she said. “She is so focused and knows exactly what she wants to do. She keeps me on task.”
Though Glidewell has managed to ease her way into the traditional class setting, there are a few changes she would like to see at the Ole Miss satellite campuses.
“I wish that classes were easier to get into,” Glidewell said. “For those of us learning via the satellite campuses, it’s not feasible for us to drive all the way to Oxford to take a class two or three times a week. Yet, they don’t want to set up Distance Learning for all of the classes that we need. Several classes aren’t even offered online.
“It’s hard to fit all of that in and still finish your degree on time, even though they advertise that it is absolutely possible and easy to do. It’s not. Eventually, before I graduate, I will have to take a class in Oxford a few times a week. That will be very difficult. It will be difficult to make the two-hour drive.”
As for advising students who might be in similar circumstances, Glidewell keeps a simple approach to life and academics.
“Just do it, even if it’s scary,” Glidewell said. “Just jump in and do it. If you’re having a hard time, figure out what you’re having a hard time with, and find resources to help you out with that. Find someone to talk to if you need to. But just do it. If you don’t, you’ll just be scared forever.”