Ainsley Ash (SMBHC 21)
Major: Public Policy Leadership
Hometown: Meridian, Mississippi
Recipient of Doris Raymond Honors College Scholarship
My time at the University of Mississippi would not be complete if it were not for the SMBHC. I have had the opportunity to take classes only offered to honors students such as Housing Inequality in Oxford, MS and Dystopian Literature. Classes such as these have taught me how to critically evaluate my role as an individual in an ever changing society while learning from some of UM’s most esteemed professors.
The SMBHC’s support for my intellectual curiosity has extended far beyond the UM campus. It is not without the encouragement of SMBHC faculty and staff that I would have applied and been accepted to a 2018 Fulbright Summer Institute to study “Education for Transformation” at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. My desire for experiential learning did not end there. In the spring of 2020, I received an SMBHC fellowship to study abroad in Durban, South Africa. Here, conversations with anti-apartheid activists were informed by rigorous classroom discussion on South African history.
I am grateful for the world class education that I have received as a student in the SMBHC as it has prepared me to confront the questions of the day, both at home and abroad. Thank you to SMBHC donors for contributing to the most rewarding experiences of my undergraduate education.
Johnny Yang (SMBHC 21)
Majors: B.S Chemistry; B.A Biology; Mathematics minor
Hometown: Winona, Mississippi
Growing up and witnessing the minutia of my underserved rural community nurtured a motivation for medicine. Though the University of Mississippi was not my primary choice for postsecondary education, I was particularly drawn to the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College (HoCo). Unbeknownst to me at the time, deciding to embark on the HoCo journey has allowed me to succeed personally and professionally beyond my expectations as a kid from small-town Mississippi.
Coming into college with my rural experiences, I vividly remember the eye-opening experience of meeting my HoCo peers. Through meaningful conversations as a freshman, I learned about HoCo’s diversity in mentality and knew that the HoCo community could nurture my personal, academic, and professional growth. Additionally, through HoCo networking, I have been able to foster my research passion under Dr. Tschumper and as a member of his lab, where I employ quantum mechanical techniques to solve mathematical equations and understand “dry lab” chemistry using supercomputers. Determined to discover medical applications utilizing the research skills that I developed, I acquired a Harvard-MIT biomedical optics research position. Though unable to participate this year due to COVID-19, I am appreciative of the HoCo, which has indirectly connected me to this opportunity. I was able to secure a position because Mallory Loe ’20 met Dr. Gary Tearney through HoCo-sponsored Junior Quest, researched under him during summer 2019, and encouraged me to apply.
Not only has HoCo has equipped me with a “citizen scholar” mentality and connected me to rare research opportunities, but it also cultivates an environment where any and all students feel welcome, which has greatly benefited me. Despite graduating from high school with only 66 classmates and being one of the few to pursue postsecondary education, I successfully transitioned to college thanks to HoCo’s encouraging faculty and student communities. Grateful for an incredible postsecondary experience, I am confident that HoCo has enriched my journey in becoming a competent, compassionate, and ethical physician. HoCo donors, thank you for providing an outstanding experience for me and my peers along with the means to succeed personally and professionally.