Column: I am redefining what it means to be an Ole Miss Rebel

Jordan Majersky

Jordan Majersky 
Oxford Stories  

Coming to Ole Miss was not my first option when I started exploring colleges and what I wanted to study. At a young age, I always wanted to be a teacher like my mother, but as I grew and explored my options, I came across journalism and the excitement of the media.

I was exposed to college options and started college tours my freshman year of high school. 

Academics always came first in my household, and searching for a college was a big step when continuing that search. I had visited schools in Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, the list goes on and on. Never once did I visit any schools in Mississippi, but something in my heart still made me apply to Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Mississippi. 

I have always been attracted to the South, even though I grew up in Aurora, Illinois. Possibly, my reasoning was that I have family in Holly Springs, Mississippi and would visit them often.

Still, when looking at schools, Mississippi never usually came to mind, and when it came time to apply, I applied because they always had a special place in my heart and were somewhat of a “safety” school.

By my senior year of high school, I was receiving acceptance letters, and despite applying to over six schools, I narrowed my choices down to the two schools in Mississippi in which I had never had an official visit.

After visiting both Mississippi State and Ole Miss, I ended up with Ole Miss.

I was excited and nervous. Moving nine hours away from home can be scary, but I was up for the challenge. What I was not expecting was the justification I would have to make to people about my school choice.

Initially, I was so excited to let people know that I was attending Ole Miss, but then I encountered a moment that changed that and made me question if it was the right choice.

I told an individual where I was going, and they said, “Are you sure you will feel comfortable there?” making me question my decision.

Why was I asked this? What prompted this individual to say this? 

I started to realize many individuals still have a certain perception of what the South and Mississippi is like — that individuals in that particular state are stuck in a time warp, and the past is the present for them.

I always questioned why so many people thought this way, particularly individuals in Northern states. I grew up in the North and always visited my family in Mississippi, but never once questioned how someone acted towards me. 

Growing up in a biracial household, my parents raised me to be fully aware of racism. At a young age, I was taught about American history and how it got us to where we are today.

Most of my mother’s side of the family is from Mississippi and grew up during the civil rights movement. My nana, my mother’s mom, was also involved in her young adult years.

In high school, I wrote a biography on her for my history class. The quote that stood out when I was interviewing her was when she said she “experienced more racism after she moved to Chicago rather than being in Mississippi.”

Of course, yes, there is racism everywhere, but the racism in the South was more direct for her, and the racism in Chicago, in some ways, was done behind closed doors. This prompted my interest in the South and why the stereotype is still there.

Lyceum on the campus at the University of Mississippi
Lyceum on the campus at the University of Mississippi

When I made my decision to attend Ole Miss and was asked the question that made me question if I had made the right college decision, it made me angry.

Instead of thinking of what others thought I thought about what it meant for me to be an Ole Miss Rebel, I wanted to show those particular individuals that it’s not what you think. 

Ole Miss does have a troubling past, and there is no denying that, but what you can do is make changes for the future.

I think this university tries very hard to change the reputation that Ole Miss had and works to make this a respected university, even outside of the state of Mississippi. 

Now, I don’t hang my head in shame that I go to Ole Miss. I’m proud to go here. I’m proud of my ties to Mississippi, and I’m proud of this university.

This place is something special. It has opened so many doors for me and given me the opportunity to blossom and find my true passion in life. 

Now, when I am questioned about why I chose to go to school in Mississippi, I don’t look down, but rather up with pride at the fact that I go here. Ole Miss and Oxford are both special, unique places with rich history. 

Those hesitant about the South, Mississippi or Ole Miss because of what they have heard or seen — don’t be.

The best way to experience what we have to offer is to visit, and when you do, hopefully, your heart will be full of hope like mine for the future of these places.

Jordan Majersky
Jordan Majersky

Jordan Majersky, 19, is a UM sophomore studying broadcast journalism from Aurora, Illinois, about 30 minutes from Chicago. She has two younger brothers who are twins. Her mom is a teacher of 20 years, and her dad is a correctional officer.

Majersky swam competitively for 13 years. She graduated with a semi-large class of 745 and was involved in many clubs and organizations. After college, she hopes to pursue a career in sports or news reporting.

Volunteering and giving back is very important to Majersky, which is why she is an advocate for The Big Event at Ole Miss and was a project leader last year for the Oxford Community Garden.

In her free time, she likes to go shopping. She also enjoys traveling and learning about new cultures. She loves to socialize and meet new people.

Majersky also enjoys the little things in life, such as hanging out with her family and friends. This year, she is looking forward to getting more involved with the journalism school. Majersky will be spending her summer as a UM orientation leader and MPower coordinator. She is also excited for football and basketball games.

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