Monday, November 16, 2009

The 64th Annual Miss University of Southern Mississippi Pageant

Every year, the University of Southern Mississippi and the Student Government Association organize and present a pageant entitled Miss University of Southern Mississippi. The pageant serves as a preliminary for Miss Mississippi. This year's took place on Friday, November 13th in Bennett Auditorium. As expected, many tickets were sold and the night was a success. The former holder of the Miss Mississippi title, Christine Kozlowski, served as the Mistress of Ceremonies. This was quite an honor for all who attended.

The pageant consisted of a pre-completed interview with the judges, talent portion, swimsuit and fitness, evening gown, and an onstage question. Seven outstanding USM students participated in the Miss USM pageant.

After the judges tabulated their scores, the night concluded with the previous Miss USM, Maggie Evans, crowning the newest Miss University of Southern Mississippi. This year's winner of the crown was Kristen Benigno from Laurel, Mississippi. The title of first runner up was given to Lee Armstrong and the second runner up title was given to Lyndsay Pleas.

Top left photo: Miss USM 2009, Maggie Evans, crowns Miss USM 2010, Kristen Benigno.
Bottom left photo: Second Runner-Up Lyndsay Pleas performs her talent for the audience.

USM Fall Dance Concert

The University of Southern Mississippi is known for many aspects of campus life, from athletics to greek life to the fine arts. One of the greatest organizations within this field is the Repertory Dance Company, which is located out of the Theatre and Dance Building on the Southern Miss campus. Every year, the dance company puts on a fall show and a spring show during those respective semesters. This semester, the concert was held November 5-8 in the Mannoni Performing Arts Center.

The concert consisted of seven modern pieces choreographed by both students and faculty in the dance department. Some of the pieces consisted of multiple dancers, while others were solo pieces. What sets these pieces apart from other dances is that they each originate from a certain idea that the choreographer comes up with, then set to music. Next, the choreographer sets certain dancers to the piece. Finally, costumes are made and the piece is practiced rigorously. The intense work and the dedication of the Southern Miss dancers definitely shone through in their fabulous performances this semester.

Above is a picture from the first piece, "Thumhare Liya."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chi Omega's 58th Annual Songfest

For the past 58 years, the Epsilon Delta chapter of Chi Omega here at the University of Southern Mississippi has raised thousands of dollars for the Make A Wish Foundation. The Make A Wish Foundation grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses in order to provide them with strength and joy in their time of need. The ladies of Chi Omega take our philanthropy very seriously. We begin preparation for Songfest months prior to the event. Last year, my first year as a Chi Omega, we were able to raise $19,000 for the foundation. This money allowed us to grant two very special wishes to children in the Hattiesburg area. We were able to send a young girl, Haven, to New York City on a shopping spree. In addition, we presented a young boy with the horse of his dreams.

This year, Songfest took place on November 10. Our goal this year was $25,000. Through raising money in the Hattiesburg area and selling raffle tickets, we were able to raise a final amount of $26,000. We were extremely proud of our efforts because we know this money will be very helpful in granting wishes to sick children.

The night of Songfest began with performances by half of the greek organizations on campus. Each sorority and fraternity either sings a Christmas song, or rewrites a popular song with Christmas lyrics. Some even incorporate choreographed dancing. After that half performs, there is a ten minute intermission during which guests can purchase raffle tickets and socialize. The intermission entertainment this year was provided by students from a school in McComb, Mississippi. After intermission, the remaining greek organizations performed. To finish the show, Chi Omega performed three special Christmas songs and awards were given out to the winners. The night concluded with the award to "Most Spirited" given out to the organization whose performance was best according to our special guest judge, a Make A Wish child from the area.

Visit the Make A Wish Foundation at for more information or to learn how to get involved!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

La Familia de Carlos IV

This summer, I was privileged enough to travel to Spain with my best friend and her family. We stayed for two weeks and traveled to four different cities. My favorite city by far was the capitol of Spain, Madrid. We began and ended our trip in Madrid, spending a total of six days there. My favorite day was the day we went to visit El Museo del Prado. We were lucky enough to be traveling around the city with a resident of Madrid, a close family friend who was going to school while also tutoring Spanish children in English. Hilary was of the utmost help. I am not usually a fan of museums, so I did not really have high expectations for this day. However, I was completely incorrect in my assumptions. I easily could have spent days in the Prado taking in all of the culture and brilliance in those paintings and sculptures. In this blog, I want to zero in on my favorite paintings. It was an image I had viewed before but I am not really sure where. I am guessing art class in high school. The painting was the centerpiece of that specific room. It was the first thing you saw when you entered. It was a rather large painting, measured about 280 centimeters by 127 centimeters. Painted by Francisco Goya, La Familia de Carlos IV, is considered by some to be one of the most important paintings of that time period.
I found the painting to be important for two different reasons. The first is simply the appearance. Goya was able to make the family portrait look so incredibly life-like. It looks more like a photograph than a painting. More importantly, though, is how Goya used this breathtaking painting to preserve history. The painting was ordered by Queen Maria Louisa de Parma (center) who was known as the matriarch. This is depicted in the fact that she is placed at the center of the painting while the king is to her left. Goya did not like the queen, and therefore was sure to paint her at an unflattering angle, making her arms look quite large. On the left of the painting in blue is the future king standing next to an unidentifiable woman. Goya left her face blurry so he could later fill in with the face of the prince’s wife. Goya was also sure to include the queen’s illegitimate child in the picture. The most comical aspect is that he painted a large mole on the face of the queen’s cousin standing on the left. To say the least, the queen was not happy when she saw what Goya had done to her family portrait.
For more information on this painting or El Museo del Prado, visit[adv]=0

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jimmy Santiago Baca says hello to USM!

Language is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “audible, articulate, meaningful sound as produced by the action of the vocal organs.” Spoken language is the key to efficient and accurate communication. Some use it to convey insipid concepts or ideas, while others use it as a form of art. I will admit that I have taken it for granted before. For some others, though, language is what they live for and, in a sense, why they are alive.
Jimmy Santiago Baca is a perfect example of the importance of language. At a very young age, his hopes for a giddy, pleasant childhood were squashed. His mother left he and his sister and brother for a rich white businessman and his father comforted himself after her departure with a bottle. Jimmy had no one to turn to, at least no one that could be of any help. By the time he became a pre-teen, he had already been in and out of jail on numerous accounts of theft. His crimes grew more serious as he aged and by twenty he was in a prison cell next door to murderers and rapists. Even though his crime was not this serious, as it was possession of illegal drugs, the system deemed him to deserve this punishment. He obviously was not on a good path. He had nothing to turn to except for the fleeting image of the woman he loved leaving him for a man with a degree. With this image, he wrote his first poem. Its power drove this woman to fly from states away to see him. After observing what power his writing contained, he took this talent and ran with it. Today, years and years later, Jimmy is a nationally recognized poet and author. He is also the proud father of two children. Language saved him from himself and if that isn’t power, I don’t know what is.
On Tuesday, September 15, the University of Southern Mississippi was graced with Mr. Baca’s presence. He spoke at the Honors College forum. Luckily, as an Honors Ambassador, I was required to attend. He was, without a doubt, the best speaker I have heard in all of my time at USM. He brought new insight to campus with him, and he has definitely left a mark on me since his departure. Coming from an extremely poor family in New Mexico, he and I definitely share two completely separate backgrounds and life stories. He opened my eyes to a whole new world, and I wish that all of the students at USM would have been privileged enough to hear him speak.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Cultural Exhibit!

The de Grummond Collection at Cook Library

Prior to the commencement of this class, Library Science, I had never heard of the de Grummond Collection. On the first day of class, we were informed of its purpose and location. As soon as this assignment was given, I knew that I wanted to write about this collection. When I walked through the doors I knew that I had made the right choice. Being that, even though I am a sophomore in college, I am still a kid at heart, this exhibit was perfect for me. I love children’s literature, from the stories to the illustrations. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to view the makings of one of my favorite children’s stories, Curious George. It was so interesting to see how the whereabouts of the authors were tracked. My favorite part, though, was the pages on the makings of the illustrations. All of the zoo animals were planned out so mathematically, and I had never really considered them to be that big of a deal. Now I know how time consuming it must have been to design each and every one of them.
Maybe a little less popular than Curious George but a masterpiece just the same, is the children’s book, The Snowy Day. This was also one of my favorites as a child as well. It was so interesting to see the raw materials used to put together this award winning book. The de Grummond Collection really did make me appreciate the work put into children’s books, which are often not given the respect they deserve.