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? I would have to say 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.