Dr. Tara Dunn-Ross ’10
Hometown: Picayune, MS
Current Occupation: District Dean of Student Services | Northwest Community College | Senatobia, MS
What is your greatest professional accomplishment? My greatest professional accomplishment is co-writing and administering Project Gateway, a grant sponsored by the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi that helped women facing financial hardships complete their degree and move on to their desired careers. Project Gateway helped women pay for tuition, books, licensure exams, and even gas cards for students completing their degree at Northwest. Knowing that I was instrumental in creating a better future for women and their families in Mississippi made me both proud and fulfilled. Project Gateway was the perfect blend of my profession and passion; it reminded me that I was aligned with my purpose.
Why did you choose Delta State University to further your education? I felt connected to the college from the first day I visited the campus. On my first tour I met Ms. Betsy Elliott who connected me with an upperclassman who looked liked me, was ambitious like me, and was from South Mississippi like me. That connection was important to me, because it showed me that the college saw me as a person, and not just a recruit.
Share your best memory from your time at Delta State University. I think my best memory was Homecoming 2009. I was president of the NPHC at the time, and my mentor and NPHC advisor, Deandre House had accepted a new position at another college. In years past, I saw the work it took to plan a successful step show, and during the interim time of appointing a new advisor, I planned the majority of the step show with my mentor’s guidance. The planning and the weekend could have gone wrong at several times, but everything worked out with ease. That year I stepped in my first step show, and was crowned queen. Homecoming 2009 was by far my best memory at Delta State.
George Miller ’00
Hometown: Clarksdale, MS
Current Occupation: Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Southern College of Optometry | Memphis, TN
What is your greatest professional accomplishment? The three years (2014-2016) I spent working as Vice President for Development at Operation Smile was extremely rewarding for me. Op Smile is a global health organization providing cleft lip and palate surgeries in over 80 countries. It’s an amazing organization. I had the good fortune of working with some incredible people and grew both professionally and personally during that time. My youngest son, Preston, was born in 2010 with a cleft lip and palate. So, I understood the importance of the surgeries and the impact we were having on thousands of children each and every year.
Why did you choose Delta State University to further your education? Betsy Elliott was Director of Recruitment at DSU back when I was deciding where to attend college. She was an incredible asset for DSU. Betsy visited Lee Academy for a college night fair and encouraged many of us to take a campus tour. For me, spending a day on the campus helped to solidify my decision. I was drawn to DSU because of the size of the campus and the genuine friendliness I felt from faculty, staff, and students. 24 years later, I’d make the same decision again.
Share your best memory from your time at Delta State University. The 2000 football team’s run to a national championship was special. Being a student during that time and watching so many of my friends accomplish that goal was awesome. My fondest memories were experienced with my Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity brothers. There are way too many of those to select just one. I loved my 4 years at Delta State and the lifetime of memories and friendships that developed during my time in Cleveland.
Mandy Gardner ’99
Hometown: Eudora, Arkansas
Current Occupation: Realtor | Jackson, MS
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
Being named “TOP 40 UNDER 40,” by Mississippi Business Journal and “30 UNDER 30 in the Nation,” by REALTOR Magazine
Why did you choose Delta State University to further your education? I wanted to be close to home and because I graduated from a small high school, the size was appealing to me.
Share your best memory from your time at Delta State University. The friends and friendships I made while at Delta State are a big part of my great memories from Delta State. They are still a large part of my life today and many have supported me often through out my Real Estate career.
Tais S. Cotta ’16
Hometown: Belo Horizonte/ MG, Brazil
Current Occupation: International Player Support Specialist | Orlando, FL
What is your greatest professional accomplishment? My greatest professional accomplishment is being able to work with great colleagues in one of the best teams in the NWSL, which is one of the best leagues in the World. Also having the opportunity to support some of the best players in the world!
Why did you choose Delta State University to further your education? I chose Delta State University for the opportunity of being part of the DSU Women’s Soccer team and also for the opportunity to study and get a dual degree overseas.
Share your best memory from your time at Delta State University. All the great times with the DSU Women’s soccer team! So many memories from trips, games, trainings, etc!
Howard Brown, Jr. ’96
Hometown: Greenwood, MS
Current Occupation: Deputy Executive Director
What is your greatest professional accomplishment? My greatest professional accomplishment is progressing from an intern to Deputy Executive Director, the second highest position within the organization, during my 25.5 tenure with the Legislative Budget Office. I was granted this opportunity as a Delta State University student in the accounting department, and I am grateful that it has led to a fulfilling career in state government. During my tenure, I have played an integral role in building a strong cultural family-like bond within our team at the Legislative Budget Office.
Why did you choose Delta State University to further your education? I chose to go to Delta State University because my girlfriend had chosen to go to the school. Twenty five years later, we are happily married with three children. As a bonus, the campus appealed to me because of the small class sizes, diverse student body, and close proximity to my hometown of Greenwood.
Share your best memory from your time at Delta State University. During my freshman year, the Delta State Lady Statesmen won the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament in 1992. That championship team was very special, and I remember attending the games with my friends enjoying every moment of that experience. My fondest memories were experienced with my friends through attending the basketball games, late night study sessions, video game tournaments, card tournaments, and playing intramural basketball on a team affectionately known as “Juice”. I loved my time at Delta State and developed many lifetime memories and friendships.
Melissa Love ’04
Hometown: Madison, MS
Current Occupation: Workforce Development Coordinator
What is your greatest professional accomplishment? About 6 years ago, my sister and I founded and ran a graphic design and marketing consulting business. We had a great time together, we were self sufficient, and created some groovy, productive visual art for some amazing clients. However, we both decided the business side was NOT our cup of tea- but we DID IT! HA! It was a great experience and I learned a lot. And yet, I have had so many great experiences (along with some bad…).
Why did you choose Delta State University to further your education? I was a transfer student from Holmes Community College. My Holmes mentors, Jay Cheatham and Bill Watkins, III, (also DSU alumni) told me how great the art department was. I received the art department scholarship to Delta State, It was a no-brainer. My dad’s girlfriend had also told me for YEARS how awesome Delta State was!
Share your best memory from your time at Delta State University. Too many to mention!!!
-Intramural volley ball, softball, and bowling
-watching football, baseball, etc, and student activities (Springfest bands on the quad!)
-spending many nights in the art department working on projects, alongside my classmates and friends
-painting wooden blocks outside, on a cloudy day, under Sammy Britt
-all my AMAZING classes with Ron Koehler, Pat Brown, and Bill Lester, and more.
Andrew Yee ’99, ’00
Hometown: Greenwood, MS
Current Occupation: Certified Financial Planner, CFP®️
What is your greatest professional accomplishment? I believe my greatest professional accomplishment is helping a client have a worry free retirement. This client was very skeptical of being able to retire with a comfortable lifestyle and was very skeptical of the stock market. He did not know how investments worked or if he would run out of money in retirement. To his credit even with all the skepticism, he took advantage of his company’s retirement plan and accumulated a nice sum by the time he retired. When the time came to move the funds to his IRA, he was still very skeptical and worried. After spending many hours educating him on how the financial markets worked and how certain investments perform in different market cycles, he began to get more comfortable. I have to say it was probably three years after working together that he finally was at peace with his retirement. He had taken monthly withdrawals from his account for three years and his account was worth more now than when he started. He was so shocked and amazed. He did not think that was possible. The joy and relief on his face was worth the difficult conversations. We have now worked together for nine years and his account is still worth more than when he started. He is always so grateful and thankful that I was there when he did not know he needed me. To me this accomplishment is worth more than any plaque or exotic trip that many in the industry yearn for.
Why did you choose Delta State University to further your education? The biggest reason I chose DSU was the size of the campus and student body. I did not want to go to a large university to further my education much to the disappoint of family members. I knew the classes would not have hundreds of other students in them and the learning experience would be more personal.
Share your best memory from your time at Delta State University. This is a tough question to answer. If I had to choose, it would be the people I met from the faculty, personnel, and students. I met many lifelong friends at DSU.
Susan Chow ’79
Hometown: Cleveland, MS
Current Occupation: Former Laboratory Manager at Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare in Memphis, TN. Retired Procurement Coordinator at DSU.
What is your greatest professional accomplishment? I will be forever grateful to Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare – they gave me the opportunity to learn and train with some of the best medical professionals. Later, I was humbled to be asked for my professional opinions and advice from those in the corporate and medical communities. I had come full circle when I, in turn, was able to teach and mentor others.
Why did you choose Delta State University to further your education? I was born and raised in Cleveland and had always planned to attend DSU. I loved the campus and what the university had to offer.
Share your best memory from your time at Delta State University. Dr. Jesse White was my advisor who taught and encouraged students to set goals toward a path to success. He came across as gentle and calm, but he was heard and garnered respect from all.
Also, I never thought that after 30 years, I would return to DSU and work on a grant with a professor, Dr. John Tiftickjian, whose demeanor was very similar to Dr. White’s, and to work within the same science labs in which I had classes in the ’70’s.
Heather Robinson ’01
Hometown: Baton Rouge, LA
Current Occupation: Owner at Heidi’s located in downtown Cleveland.
What is your greatest professional accomplishment? I am very proud to have been serving Cleveland and the surrounding area since 2007. Our embroidery and screen printing services have enabled us to give back to the community in so many ways. I most proud of the good we can do while perpetuating the growth and prosperity of Cleveland and Delta State University.
Why did you choose Delta State University to further your education? Actually, Delta State chose me! I was fortunate to have been recruited to come to Delta State on an athletic scholarship.
Share your best memory from your time at Delta State University. Oh there are so many good memories! College is like everything else in life; you get out of it what you put into it! My favorite memories were made with my Phi Mu sisters and other greek friends, intramurals and the National Championship cheer team. All memories that can never be replaced.