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Casey Park: Taking Ad Excellentiam to Heart

by Web on May 12, 2017

Casey Park wants freshmen to take advantage of all Millsaps College has to offer, develop strong bonds with their classmates, and get involved on campus and in Jackson.

Park and fellow Millsaps students Gracey Belote, Anna Sit, and Nigel Stinson direct the Foundations program that helps new students adjust to college life. They work with Will Takewell, director of Campus Life at Millsaps, and Jessica Fitzpatrick, coordinator of Campus Life.

“Our goal is to make the experience the best for all incoming freshmen,” Park said. “We all work together and have an equal part in determining everything that deals with freshmen orientation in the summer and with anything that deals with making the First Year program of Foundations most memorable for the incoming freshmen.”

A junior from Greenville, Park remembers a distinct moment during her freshman year at Millsaps when she accomplished more than she ever thought possible.

She agreed to participate in a mock trial tournament without realizing what was involved – and ended up being recognized for her efforts and bolstering her self-confidence.

“It wasn’t until I had met with the mock trial team captain two days before the tournament that I found out I had to memorize two affidavits and also prepare answers for cross examinations,” she said. “I had to play the role of a 15-year-old girl who allegedly shot her best friend. I studied incredibly hard for a day and a half because I did not want to let the team down. In the end, I was proud of myself for even being on the stand. I didn’t expect to win an individual award, but I did, and for the first time, I felt like I had achieved something beyond my expectations.”

Park works as a presidential ambassador in the Millsaps Admissions Office and also conducts research at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

“I like the fact that at Millsaps you have many opportunities to lead others in organizations or clubs that interest you and to come out of your comfort zone to try new things,” she said. “I love the general atmosphere of Millsaps as well as the people who are always there for support. I have made some of my best friends at Millsaps.”

Park learned about Millsaps from one of her high school teachers whose son had graduated from Millsaps and was successful. She initially thought she might attend a large, state university but selected Millsaps after she toured the campus and visited a class.

“I sat in an environmental science class taught by Dr. (Wolfgang) Kramer and I remember him making me feel very welcome in the class,” she said. “There were only four people in the class, and I could see that all of them had a strong mentor to student relationship.”

With a major in biochemistry, Park assists Dr. Damian G. Romero, associate professor of biochemistry at UMMC, and Maryam Syed, a graduate student at UMMC, with one of their research projects. The goal of the project that Park is involved with is to target the role of mir 21 genes in the white matter of patients with depression.

“I participated in the SURE program, a research program for undergraduates, during the summer after my freshman year,” she said. “Dr. Romero was my research mentor, and I continue to work in his lab.”

Park said she is still determining her plans after graduation from Millsaps. She is considering applying for dental school or graduate school at UMMC where she could assist with research or perhaps obtaining a master’s degree in public health.