STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State students and faculty are winners of top awards given at the Southern Association for College Student Affairs Conference.
Each year, members of SACSA and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Region III gather to discuss the issues facing faculty, staff and students on higher education campuses across the Southeast. This year, they gathered in Memphis, Tenn.
April K. Heiselt, associate professor of counseling and educational psychology and student affairs program coordinator, presented research with a Clemson University colleague as well as with her graduate students. Several graduate students enrolled in the student affairs concentration of the counseling and educational psychology department also made research presentations.
"Each group of students had impressive research projects and SACSA provided them with a venue in which to share that research and to make it stronger as they move these projects into other peer-reviewed venues," Heiselt said.
MSU master's degree student Emilie G. Cravens, of Starkville, won the Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year award, making her the second MSU student affairs master's student in a row to take the top honor.
Cravens, along with Heiselt, also were honored with a SACSA research grant for their work, "Cultivating Student Donors: An Exploration of the Student Affairs Practitioner and Campus Development Officer Partnership."
Doctoral student Sirena Cantrell, of Caledonia, and Heiselt won a research grant for their work entitled, "Leaving Home: Exploring the Academic and Socialization Transition Experiences of Homeschooled Students." Cantrell is director of community living at Mississippi University for Women.
Heiselt said the number of awards MSU brought home speaks for the quality of research and education at the institution.
"Mississippi State is setting a standard in graduate education and this was illustrated through the efforts and achievements of the students honored at this conference," Heiselt said. "It is an honor to teach and advise these students. Their efforts continually make me proud."
In addition to recognitions shared with students, Heiselt alone was presented the association's Melvene Draheim Hardee Award in recognition of achievements in leadership and significant research.
Additionally, Heiselt was cited in a resolution for her work on a new initiative entitled SACSA Serves. The service-learning initiative is designed to provide each conference participant with the opportunity to understand what it means to make a difference in the conference host city.
Among other volunteer activities during this year's gathering, conference participants donated school supplies and uniforms to LaRose Elementary School, cleaned the Hope House playground and yard that serves HIV/AIDS-affected children and families and participated in a Memphis Zoo beautification project.
"As an educator, it was a great opportunity for me to leave a conference knowing that those who participated in SACSA Serves learned something about serving a community that they will take home and implement in the future," Heiselt said.