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Education Major Finds Success at Millsaps

by Web on December 17, 2018

Millsaps College student Shamia Hopper has her career mapped out – and she credits her education professors with preparing her for success.

“After graduation, I plan to teach at Smilow Collegiate in Jackson,” said Hopper, a senior from Clarksdale, Mississippi, who is majoring in elementary education. “I plan to travel to different states and countries to observe their education systems and, eventually, return to Mississippi to work in education policy.”

Hopper knows what to expect because she is in third year as an intern/fellow with Republic Schools, a charter school network with two schools in Jackson.

“I completed two years at Smilow Prep,” she said. “Now, I am in my first year at Smilow Collegiate, which is in its first year. Millsaps alumnus Alex Lawson, founding director of operations for the Republic Schools in Jackson, initially offered me my intern/fellow position.”

Drs. Julie Rust, Stacy DeZutter, and Maria Wallace, assistant professors of education at Millsaps, have been helpful in helping her progress from a student herself to understanding students and becoming an educator, she said.

“Those three woman believe in what they're doing and their students to the extreme,” she said. “I feel so prepared to go into the teaching force because I know they have given me the 360 view of what I am stepping in -- the good, the bad, and the breathtaking.”

Hopper credits Millsaps with helping her develop as a student and person.

“Millsaps was one of the best things that has ever happened to me,” she said. “It has challenged and developed me into a person who feels like she can walk into any room and make a contribution.”

Hopper received a grant from the Judy and E. B. Robinson, Jr., International Fellows Program to study in Vienna, Austria and Prague, Czech Republic last May. “I had the opportunity to study the history of music with Dr. Rachel Heard, associate professor of music and chair of the department.”

Hopper said her high school AP English teacher, a graduate of Millsaps, encouraged her to apply to the College.

“I am a first-generation college student, so I did not know what to expect from a college,” she said. “I made my deposit on a leap of faith after receiving a Presidential Scholarship. My first time on campus was the last week of July 2015, when I attended the Challenge program. After engaging in community service and forming friendships during that time, I realized if Millsaps was full of the people like I met at that time, it would be my new home.”

Crowned the 2018 Millsaps Homecoming Queen, Hopper has involved herself on campus as president of the Lambda Iota Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, a director of the Foundations program that helps new students transition to life on campus, and chair of the Senior Year Experience. She also serves as community development chair for the Pan-African Student Alliance, chair of the Academic Consultant Program, and vice president of Sigma Lambda honor society. She is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa honor society and Kappa Delta Pi education honor society.

Millsaps’ greatest resource, Hopper said, is its students, faculty, and staff.

“The people make this place special,” she said. “It is so easy to evolve here as a person, a thinker, a friend, and a leader. You have a network of people ready to help you in any way that you need. You do not receive that care and dedication in many places.”