Many Americans believe one should pack their bags and explore the world after college. However, Marlee Sue Bradley, who was born and raised in small town Corinth, Mississippi, wants to stay rooted there.
The idea may be more common than you think. Internal U.S. migration “seems to have reached an inflection point around 1980,” and migration rates have fallen the past several decades, according to an internal migration study published in 2011 by the Divisions of Research & Statistics and Monetary Affairs of the Federal Reserve Board.
Bradley was born and raised in Corinth. She grew up in a single-family home with her extended family on both sides living a maximum of a five-minute drive away.
Her entire extended family attend the same church and have all attended the Kossuth public schools. Bradley was the first in her family to attend college and the first to attend a four-year university.
Her family was angry that she didn’t want to attend a community college because it was a wiser financial decision. Bradley had to receive scholarship money to attend a four-year university.
In 2014, Bradley began her freshman year at Ole Miss as an education major. She expressed love for Corinth and chose a career that will enable her to return after graduation.
“I have lived my entire life in Corinth and plan to raise my family there one day,” she said. “I had a great childhood, and loved being around my grandparents weekly, and want the same for my future children. Education allows me to work back at home since the schools are always needing teachers.”
Bradley’s goals are different than many college students, who can’t wait to be out on their own away from their parents and make their own decisions. Many students choose a major based on their interests and skills.
College is a time to grow and gain new experiences, but coming from a small town has influenced Bradley’s decisions.
Corinth was a dry county until December of 2012. Bradley said her parents never touched alcohol aside from a shot of Jim Beam they would rarely take prior to bed when they had a cold.
“They would mix a shot of the whiskey with lemon and peppermint for a quick fix Southern cold remedy, but other than that, my entire family abstained from any alcohol use,” she said.
College was an eye-opening experience. Weekends in the SEC are filled with fraternity parties, intense game day tailgating, and football. Student football tickets generally sell out within the hour. The majority of the student population revels in football Saturdays.
Bradley, however, likes to spend her weekends back home in Corinth with her mom, dad, and little brother, Stone. Stone often has baseball games that the entire family attends, or they drive to Collierville, Tennessee to shop. On lazy Saturdays, they occasionally tune into the Ole Miss Football game to check the score.
Bradley’s mom, Christie Bradley said it’s nice having her daughter home on weekends. “It was challenging for the entire family to adjust when she left for college, since she is the oldest and the first one to go farther away for her education,” she said. “Having her home is just so normal for us.”
In May of 2018 after Bradley graduates, she plans to return to Corinth to find a job. “Corinth is my home, and I definitely want to teach in the Alcorn County schools,” she said. “Hopefully, I will eventually be able to return to my high school.”
As a former Kossuth basketball player, Bradley plans to become active in the Kossuth school community as an employee, just like she once was as a student.
“Corinth is ready to get Marlee Sue back in town full time,” Christie Bradley said. “The entire community knows that graduation is creeping up, and we all are excited for her to move back and start the next chapter of her life where she belongs, here at home.”
Corinth is part of Bradley, and she cannot picture her life any other place. Mississippi is her home. It is a place she can return to and pick up where she left off.