For each student at The University of Mississippi, the journey to commencement is unique and, at the same time, shared.

While no two journeys are the same, each student develops an unequivocal bond they will carry long after they leave the "spot that ever calls.”

Memories that will last a lifetime often come with challenges that build character and transform students into Rebels.

Scroll through this page to find a collection of stories highlighting UM students and their academic and personal journeys from college student to college graduate.

Mother of Two Develops Passion for Nutrition at UM

Transfer student Emma 'Lee' Floyd balances family, work and education

Every morning, five days a week, after working an overnight shift in the Memphis area, Emma “Lee” Floyd kisses her husband and two children goodbye and drives an hour to Oxford to study dietetics and nutrition at the University of Mississippi.

From the Grove to 30 Rock

Ole Miss senior seeks career in sketch comedy

Mack Hubbell likes to make people laugh.

The University of Mississippi senior grew up a bit of a class clown, used his humor as a campaign strategy while running for Mr. Ole Miss and kept things lighthearted during his time as chaplain for the Kappa Alpha fraternity, a technique that allowed him to break down barriers of communication between himself and his fraternity brothers.

Road to Pediatrics Paved with Spiders, CNN, The Rock

Denise Powell ready to graduate from School of Medicine, give back to Mississippi

Denise Powell has studied spiders in Belize, spent a summer with the Colorado River Indian Tribes in New Mexico, written for CNN in Atlanta and ABC in New York, dined on fries in Quebec and chewed the fat with The Rock in the Big Apple.

Now, she's ready to really go somewhere.

Finding his Place at Ole Miss

Carl Upton credits UM for preparing him to take on public accounting career

Carl Upton, a graduating senior in the University of Mississippi’s Patterson School of Accountancy and graduate of Jackson Preparatory School, will receive his Bachelor of Accountancy on May 11, but he said Ole Miss and accounting were not always in his plans.

Never Dimming Her Light

Lasherica Thornton excels and overcomes obstacles to graduate

The obstacles in the way of pursuing a college education began well before Lasherica Thornton stepped foot on the campus of the University of Mississippi.

A Type 1 diabetic and mother of two before she graduated from Bruce High School at the top of her class, Thornton was never a stranger to adversity.

Reaping the University’s Richest Rewards

Ryan Upshaw earns doctorate while recruiting and mentoring undergraduate students

Over the past 12 years, Ryan Upshaw has experienced several memorable moments at the University of Mississippi. The assistant dean of engineering has earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and received promotions within the university’s Office of Admissions, Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and School of Engineering.

Soon, the Moss Point native will add one more achievement to this list of successes. On May 11, he will receive his doctorate in higher education during UM’s 166th Commencement exercises.

One Call Led to Fulfilling a College Dream

Madison Varner lauds impact of Ole Miss First Scholarship

Growing up, Madison Varner knew the burden of paying for college would rest squarely on her shoulders.

But it was not an obstacle the Brandon native has any bitterness about because her family's spare resources had always been devoted to her physically and intellectually disabled older sister.

Ready for Takeoff

Navy ROTC graduate Garrett Booth spends spring semester on staff

Garrett Booth wasn't quite ready to leave the University of Mississippi.

The Austin, Texas, native graduated from Ole Miss in December with a degree in biochemistry and was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy in January through the university's Naval ROTC program.

He was assigned to flight training and ordered to report to Pensacola, Florida, in late May. While many recently commissioned midshipmen use the break between commissioning and reporting to relax or establish themselves in the town to which they will be moving, Booth decided to remain at his alma mater as a staff member, assisting midshipmen in their journey toward becoming officers themselves.

Hail to the Chief (of Staff)

La Shon Brooks taps into executive leadership experience to fuel doctoral studies

La Shon Brooks is no stranger to wearing several hats at once. As chief of staff to Mississippi Valley State University President Jerryl Briggs, Brooks’ days are filled with the broad duties of an executive cabinet member.

This often means collaborating with a range of faculty, staff and students to help MVSU meet strategic goals.

“I always say I have the best seat in the house because I am not restricted to just one area of higher education,” Brooks said. “Being chief of staff enables me assess what’s working well in every aspect of the university and to identify areas for improvements and facilitate growth.”

Discovering a Second Family Halfway Around the World

Daria Herasymova turns foreign exchange trip into everlasting Ole Miss experience

When Daria Herasymova was a high school sophomore, she left Dripro, Ukraine, as a foreign- exchange student to spend her junior year 5,575 miles away at Oxford High School.

She had been selected as a finalist for the Future Leaders Exchange Program administered by the U.S. Department of State, but little did she know this would lead her to find her "second family" and college.

Saying Yes to Selfless Service

Anatomy graduate Edgar Meyer makes serious impact across UMMC campus

On any given day, you can find Edgar Meyer darting around the University of Mississippi Medical Center, being on opposite ends of the campus in the same day as he goes from Associated Student Body roundtables, alumni events, interfaith dialogues and the anatomy labs on the seventh floor of the old hospital.

How does one student end up serving on no fewer than 20 campus committees while writing a dissertation and handling teaching assistantship duties?

Sacrificing for Success

Aaron White foregoes time with his family to pursue pharmacy

There are no limits to the sacrifices parents will make for their families. Just ask Aaron White.

The first-year student pharmacist from Madison makes a tough choice every Sunday evening as he drives the two-and-a-half hours from Madison to Oxford after spending the weekend with his wife, Lauren, and their 3-year old son, Walter.

Aaron spends Monday through Friday studying at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, often arriving at school at 8 a.m. and leaving after 8 p.m., finishing everything he needs to do so that when the weekend comes around again, he can focus on his family.

Digging Deep for Success

Journey to Commencement: UM volleyball star Caroline Adams to pursue audiology clinical specialty

You might know Caroline Adams as the University of Mississippi women's volleyball star who broke the single-season digs record at the National Invitational Volleyball Championship last year.

Or perhaps you recognize this young libero as one of six students from the School of Applied Sciences who recently was honored with a Taylor Medal, the university's highest academic award.

Faculty in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders recognize Adams as a distinguished May 2019 graduate and a future professional audiologist.

Discovering a New Confidence

Ole Miss First provides Jacob Ferguson path to pursue writing career

Pontotoc native Jacob Ferguson best describes his four years at the University of Mississippi in a single word: incredible.

"I have found a better understanding of myself because I've been able to pursue things I am passionate about in a supportive environment," said Ferguson, who graduates May 11. "The people around me have been so influential and instrumental in helping me grow and allowed me to discover a completely different definition of confidence for myself and how that applies to my life."

Coming from a small high school and community, Ferguson said he gained his new confidence in part thanks to the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, where he served as an ambassador.

Beating the Odds

First-gen student Cellas Hayes seizes opportunities and sets sights on pharmacy doctorate

Coming from a single-parent household in a small, rural Mississippi town, the odds are that Cellas Hayes should not have graduated from high school, much less college. The odds are that as a first-generation college student, Cellas cannot get a Ph.D.

The funny thing about odds, though, is that maybe they are meant to be beaten.

Ludlow is an unincorporated community in Scott County. It has a gas station, a post office and a stop sign. Not much else. As Cellas explains, it is a place of cycles.

Following Precedent

Twins Katherine and Michael Farese become eighth and ninth family graduates of UM School of Law

Twin siblings Katherine and Michael Farese have always been close, so it was no surprise that they wanted to continue their education together. The Ashland natives come from a long line of attorneys, so law school felt not only like a natural progression, but something they were meant to do.

On Saturday, Katherine and Michael both will walk across the stage as the eighth and ninth members of their family to receive their Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law.

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