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Discovering Community and Opportunity: Amber Newell

by Web on November 26, 2018

The opportunity to play basketball attracted Amber Newell to Millsaps College.

“Originally, I had no intention of attending college post high school graduation,” she said. “It wasn’t until Coach Winkelman, the former women’s basketball coach, recruited me to play basketball at Millsaps that I began to have college on my mind.”

Newell, who is from Sallis, Mississippi, visited the campus and decided to enroll.

“It just felt right,” she said. “Now, I am a senior approaching graduation in May 2019.”

Newell was among Millsaps athletes the Southern Athletic Association recently named to the 2018 Winter and Spring Fall All-SAA Academic Honor Roll. To qualify, SAA student-athletes must have had a minimum grade point average of 3.25 or higher for the term and be a regular member of a varsity athletic team in a sport sponsored by the conference.

Playing basketball provide the opportunity to travel and to make friends, she said.

“Before coming to Millsaps, I had never been fortunate enough to leave Mississippi, and basketball opened that door and provided that opportunity for me,” she said. “I appreciate that I have my teammates in my corner because we are all always working toward a common goal. That automatically brings us closer together over time.”

Newell initially planned to major in business administration but chose psychology as her major and sociology as her minor. She finds the personal aspect of psychology fascinating.

“The subject was one that seemed like a way for me to get to better understand people,” she said. “I am interested in sociology because of it focuses not just on individuals, but groups of people in a society and how that society effects them, which is why I wish to further my education in sociology after graduation.”

Dr. Louwanda Evans, assistant professor of sociology, is one of her favorite professors.

“I have taken two of her classes,” Newell said. “The class I plan to take with her next semester is Crimes and Prisons. I am almost 100 percent sure that will be my favorite class.”

Last summer, Newell completed an internship as part of the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty. The consortium, a nonprofit committed to developing curricula and experiential education opportunities for students to better understand the forces of poverty, has its academic home at Millsaps.

“I spent the summer in Baltimore, Maryland, at a therapeutic nursery inside a homeless shelter,” Newell said. “I worked with children from infants to age 3, helping them build their social and emotional needs and cognitive development.”

Newell currently has an internship as a research assistant at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and another as a recreational therapist assistant at Canopy Children’s Solution.

“At UMMC, I conduct research on Child Adult Relationship Enhancement (CARE), a set of skills designed to improve interactions of adults who interact with traumatized children or adolescents in various settings,” she said. “I also learn how to analyze psychology assessments and how to use complex data systems and insert the data gathered. I also conduct research on ADHD and obesity, about which I have presented as a poster at a conference.”

Newell facilitates activities and programs and engages with children at Canopy as part of a behavioral school for at-risk youth who need guidance that they may have not gotten elsewhere.

The internships have been beneficial, she said, because they have taught her how to conduct herself in a professional manner and increased her level of independence, she said.

“I am a lot more capable of interacting with many different types of people and being able to handle difficult situations with a sense of comfort,” she said. “I am better able to articulate myself and maneuver through unexpected situations without being uncomfortable.”

Newell has also distinguished herself as a student worker in the book store/post office on campus and as program and event coordinator for the Pan-African Student Alliance.

“One of the most notable events of the year for the Pan-African Student Alliance is the Mahogany Ball, to which we invite alumni to talk with current students so they can network and build connections,” she said. “It is a formal event that entails a dinner, a speaker, the presentation of awards, and a dance.”

Newell said she appreciates the small size of Millsaps and the student-to-professor ratio but most of all, the self-awareness she has gained.

“I definitely believe discovering who I am and what I am capable of being is the biggest thing I will take with me after walking across that stage during commencement on May 11, 2019,” she said.

After graduation, Newell plans to continue her education by earning a master’s degree in sociology and a law degree.

“I aspire to work in a career where I am constantly helping end inequality and injustice in the world,” she said. “I want my focus to be on the underrepresented and underserved populations that consist of minorities and impoverished communities. I plan to make a change in society that will eventually lead to a change in the world.”