John Michael and Avent VanHorn (Staff)

John Michael and Avent VanHorn

“If you are willing to put in the effort, Mississippi State is going to give you the opportunity to succeed,” said Avent VanHorn.

She and husband John Michael are walking, talking testaments of that article of faith.

Both hold university bachelors’ degrees in communication/public relations and masters’ in counselor education/student affairs, and both now work in the Division of Student Affairs.

If that wasn’t enough, they were married earlier this year after becoming engaged on the Drill Field.

While the VanHorns first met during high school, they did not start dating until both were in graduate school and working as graduate assistants in the division’s Center for Student Activities.

John Michael now is assistant director of fraternity and sorority life; Avent, marketing and communications coordinator in the housing and residence life department.

“There is just something about working at a place where you are connected and have a passion,” said Avent. “It makes waking up every morning a little bit different.”

Added John Michael: “We grew up here, and we’ve always been here, so it’s like we are working for our own.”

The couple also agrees that the chance to work closely with students is a favorite part of their jobs.

Primarily, John Michael’s focus in on campus chapters of the Interfraternity and National Pan-Hellenic councils, where he works in such areas as risk management, educational programming and advising, among others.

In housing and residence life, Avent supervises production of marketing materials and oversees housing tours. She also is co-adviser for New Maroon Camp, the annual retreat that helps first-year students make successful transitions to university life.

Just as they individually and collectively have prospered from the many personal and professional opportunities Mississippi State provides, the VanHorns said they now are able to help current and futures students flourish during their time in higher education.

Avent: “No matter how you get to campus, whether by car, foot or wheelchair, you are given the same respect and opportunity as the next person, and I think that is something really unique about Mississippi State.”  

John Michael: “If you take care of Mississippi State, Mississippi State is going to take care of you.”