MSMS Alumni Association

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  • 27 Aug 2016 10:51 AM | Anonymous

    One question was posed to the candidates for MSMS Alumni Association President.

    Question: What is your opinion of the Empower Mississippi organization, its goals, its lobbying efforts, and its use of MSMS as an example of the success of charter schools? How do you think Empower Mississippi impacts MSMS's mission and role in statewide education, if at all?

    Answer from Padeletti:

    Empower Mississippi

    Having closely reviewed your comments and links, I know over the past months a number of alumni have voiced concerns over the MSMS success story article. While the mission of Empower Mississippi, to ensure that every child in Mississippi has the opportunity to flourish through access to a high quality education, sounds great and seems aligned to ours; I understand their goals and “charter school choice” platform are different.


    My vision is that Mississippi needs to prioritize the critical few educational initiatives that add the most value to the economy and to the educational needs of its citizens. The data shows that for every $1 that Mississippi spends on MSMS, $10 are returned to the state. The financial impact of MSMS Alumni businesses in the state alone is up to $63M annually. Compared to the general population, Caucasian female alumni are 2x more likely to pursue a STEM career and African-American female alumni are 25x more likely1. Looking at our school’s performance and alumni, MSMS is truly a factual success story and an example of excellence that is vital to the state.

    1: The 2015 MSMS Economic & Social Impact Survey conducted by The MSMS Foundation, Inc.

    Answer from Thompson:

    I am not familiar with the Empower Mississippi organization.  However, after reviewing their website, I find that I do agree with their mission to provide quality education to every child in Mississippi.  This is the key to developing our state and ensuring that the recipients of this education remain loyal to their Mississippi roots. MSMS is definitely a great example of what happens when children in areas with limited educational opportunities are given the chance to excel in an advanced intellectual environment. Empower Mississippi helps MSMS’s mission and role by supporting and lobbying for better education for all children. 

    Please consider these two candidates and click on the link below and vote for one of them.


  • 13 Aug 2016 8:08 AM | Anonymous

    The MSMS Foundation is assisting MSMSAA in holding elections for the position of MSMSAA President. After posting a request on Facebook, the following nominees are presented to the MSMS Alumni as candidates. Please review their information, make your choice regarding who you think would be a great alumni representative, and click on the link at the bottom to vote. Voting will run from August 13 - 27, 2016.

    Candidate #1: Kimberly (Thames) Padeletti

    Ms. Padeletti is a graduate of the MSMS Class of 2002. After MSMS she completed a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Mississippi in 2006. She now works on conventional projects for BHP Billiton. She is an advocate of STEM education and has more than 15 years of experience serving as a volunteer and leader of nonprofit organizations, many of which focused on promotion of STEM education, and she would bring this experience to her role on the MSMS Foundation. She also established the Ole Miss Engineering Scholarship with the MSMS Foundation to assist an MSMS senior in pursuing their education.

    Kim’s thoughts regarding the MSMS Alumni Association role would be “To increase overall engagement within the alumni group, I would like to assist alumni in making new connections and collaborating through sharing ideas, resources, advice, and experiences. I plan to do this via regional in-person meetups as well as through global online networking events. These short virtual events can leverage mobile or desktop devices to connect alumni with other alumni or students by industry, interests, or educational background. Our MSMS alumni -- engineers, scientists, doctors, lawyers, teachers, professionals, change makers -- contribute significantly to the economy while also improving the quality of life for our society. I believe we also have to effectively tell the legislature the stories of the many alumni, current students, and future students we serve. If elected to the MSMS Foundation board, I promise to deliver an effective voice for all of our alumni.”

    Letter from Kimberley

    Candidate #2: Karla Joy Thompson

    Ms. Thompson is a graduate of the MSMS Class of 1998. After MSMS she attended Millsaps College and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Psychology from Regent University. She is a sleep technologist at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Jackson, MS and currently involved in a research study examining the effects of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure on the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  She resides in Terry, MS, and is a mother to 2 girls, ages 4 and 5.  She believes MSMS is responsible for much of her success and provided many opportunities for excellence and enduring friendships.

    Karla’s thoughts regarding the MSMS Alumni Association role would be, "I look forward to helping provide that opportunity to many more students and to share the successes of our alumni with not only my fellow Mississippians, but the entire country.  I look forward to educating my fellow alums on how they can continue to serve our school that has done so much for us.  In particular, I would like to see more alumni coming together in other cities and states to garner support for our beloved alma mater.  By serving on the board, I will work hard and dedicate myself to helping ensure that MSMS continues to provide the spark that many of our brightest need to make their marks on the world in order to shine their positive lights back on our wonderful Mississippi.”

    Letter from Karla


  • 27 Apr 2016 11:11 AM | Anonymous

    To wrap up the MSMS Alumni Weekend, we are reaching out to all alumni in the milestone classes of 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, and 2011 to see if you would like to donate to the Class Gift. We’ve already received some donations from your classmates and you’re well on your way to challenging last year’s classes.

    At this time, MSMS will have flat funding in 2016-2017. It was a tough budget year and we’re very appreciative for the Legislature’s effort on this, but it also means the budget has been flat for six years following cuts in 2010 and 2008. 

    A flat budget hasn’t allowed for things like IT upgrades, text book replacements, etc. It will also likely mean that the Class of 2018 will have fewer students. Last year the MSMS Foundation was able to fill in some of that gap with a computer lab renovation and precal text books due to the donations of our alumni. We were also able to add 4 students to the Class of 2017 through your donations.

    All donations by members of the respective classes will be counted towards the Class Gift if donated between April 1,2016 and June 30,2016. Donations may be made to any fund available online and includes recurring and single donations.


  • 17 Apr 2016 8:48 AM | Anonymous

    We had a blast at MSMS Alumni Weekend 2016 with nine different MSMS classes represented. Planning is in the early stages for the 2017 event with informational pages setup on Facebook and an event with no details included here at MSMSAA website.

    Dates for the event will be finalized in September 2016 when the school finalizes the 2016-2017 schedule. Tentatively, we're looking at April  7 and 8, 2017.

    The Facebook event page is located HERE.

    Event details and eventually registration will be available on this website under Events.

  • 03 Apr 2016 7:04 AM | Anonymous

    The MSMS Foundation reserved a block of rooms at the Courtyard Marriott in Columbus, MS. The discounted rate was only available until March 18, 2016, but their online prices for this weekend are pretty good anyway. It's a great hotel and still very new.

    The hotel location is the Courtyard Marriott, 1995 6th Street North, Columbus, MS 39701. The phone number is 662-245-1540. Website.

  • 02 Apr 2016 7:44 AM | Anonymous

    Schedule for Saturday April 9, 2016

    *Please be aware that ACT testing will be occurring Saturday morning in Hooper Auditorium. While you are free to walk around campus, please keep your voices down around Hooper.

    Dress for the day: Dress is nice casual or business casual

    9 - 10:30 AM

    Location: Hooper Steps

    Campus tours will be available on Saturday morning. Current MSMS emissaries will be stationed on the steps of Hooper Academic Building for this purpose. If you would like to take a tour, simply show up to the steps of Hooper during this time. Tours last approximately 45 minutes.

    9 - 10:30 AM

    Location: Hogarth (where your PO box was)

    Registration will be available in Hogarth from 9-10:30 AM. You can pay by credit card or check. Raffle tickets will also be available for purchase. Raffle items will include Lazy Magnolia swag and gift certificates to The Jackson Square Grill.

    9:30 to 10:30 AM

    Location: Hogarth

    Everyone is encouraged to attend a meeting with MSMS Executive Director, Dr. Germain McConnell. This meeting will be your chance to learn about the direction in which MSMS is going, and discover what you can do to ensure that MSMS continues its tradition of excellence for generations to come. You will also be able to voice your encouragement, concerns, and suggestions regarding MSMS.

    10:30 to 11 AM

    Location: Hogarth

    Cynthia Henderson, the MSMS Foundation President, will conduct the MSMS Foundation's annual open meeting to inform interested alumni about the MSMS Foundation's current projects and answer any questions.

    11 - 11:30 AM

    Location: Hooper steps

    Pictures! Make sure you are on the steps of Hooper and we'll be taking photos of the classes present.

    12:00 - 2 PM

    Location: Huck's Place, 21 S 5th St., Columbus, MS 39701

    Lunch at Huck's Place. We will have a bus available to ride from campus to Huck's. However, the location is close enough to walk or you can drive.  We'll have a buffet lunch provided by Huck's Place. The entire restaurant is reserved for our group, so you and your friends can sit upstairs or down. This lunch is available to everyone who purchased a full weekend registration or the Saturday Day ticket.

    3 - 4 PM

    Location: Hooper Auditorium

    Are you the smartest alumni? Class of 1990 alum Shannon Eubanks dominated the 2015 event. Inspired by game shows like Jeopardy!, the Alumni Trivia Face-Off will pit alumni against current MSMS students to see who is the smartest. Stakes are high - the winner takes home a $100 gift card to!

    7-11 PM

    Location: Columbus Arts Center, 501 Main St, Columbus, MS 39701

    Dress: Business casual/business

    *Note that you must get a wristband when you enter the event. You will not be served without it.

    Mississippi Brews, Bites, and Blues is at the Rosenzweig Arts Center in downtown Columbus. We'll have a great evening of hanging out with friends new and old. There is street parking throughout the area. Carpooling is recommended.

    The evening will get kicked off at 7 PM with beer and mead samples provided by our own Lazy Magnolia Brewery! The beer selection will include Southern Pecan, Lazy Saison, Jeff Stout, Southern Hops'pitality, Dev Ale, Timber Beast, Heirloom Ale, and Mead (honey wine).  From 7-9 the bartenders will be serving small samples of any brew you like. After 9 PM, samples will get larger till be we run out.

    Food will also be available at 7 PM and provided by The Jackson Square Grill. A variety of heavy appetizers will be served. After lunch, this will probably be plenty for a meal!

    During the evening, we will also be raffling off some Lazy Magnolia swag and gift cards for The Jackson Square Grill. Raffle tickets will be available Friday and Saturday for purchase.

    Entertainment will be by The Jukejoint Gypies headed up by Ms. Dawn Barham! We had a great time last year listening to great music and dancing the night away.

    In case you want to hang out and chat with friends in a quieter place, the upstairs of the Arts Center will be open for guests.

    11 PM -

    At 11, the official activities for the Alumni Weekend end. You and your friends, new or old, might head out to downtown Columbus or go back to the hotel lobby. We know you'll have fun whatever option you choose.

  • 02 Apr 2016 7:18 AM | Anonymous

    Schedule for Friday, April 8, 2016

    Dress for the day: Dress is nice casual or business casual

    2-5 PM

    Location: Hooper Auditorium and Hogarth (above where your PO box was)

    Alumni seminars are scheduled from 2:00 to 5:00 pm. Seminars last about 45 minutes and are open to both alumni and students. Topics include open source organizations, geographical information systems, ecosystem restoration, intellectual property law, and how to build a career on an interest in languages. Details are available here.

    5-6:30 PM

    Location: Hooper Lobby

     Registration for the alumni weekend will be open from 5 to 6:30 PM in the lobby of Hooper.  You will be able to register onsite by check or credit card as well as purchasing raffle tickets. You will be able to look around Hooper, meetup with friends and classmates, and get ready for Tales from the Crypt.

    At 6:15 pm a bus will be available for those who purchased a full registration and wish to attend the Tales From The Crypt performance at Friendship Cemetery. *Note that we've moved the time up. Per Mr. Yarborough, they are expecting a big crowd and will begin a little earlier. If you're driving, he recommends arriving at the cemetery by 6:30 PM.

    7-8:30 PM

    Location: Friendship Cemetery, 4th St S, Columbus, MS 39701

    Tickets to Tales from the Crypt were included in the full weekend registration for Alumni Weekend attendees. The tours will begin at dusk. You will still need to line up, but just show your badge to enter. The tour this year includes a tribute to Ms. Judy Morris, one of the original faculty at MSMS.

    8:30 PM -

    Following Tales, you are on your own for the evening. You may want to meet up with friends and enjoy one of Columbus's great restaurants. Possibilities include Huck's, Harvey's (it's still there),  Little Dooey's, or The Jackson Square Grill (same folks as The Cotton District Grill in Starkville). While Tales is going on, the restaurants will tend to be pretty busy, so we recommend you call ahead and make a reservation if you have a group. The names above are linked to their Yelp page where you can find their contact information and menus.

  • 23 Jan 2016 7:52 AM | Anonymous
    Cass Everitt, a Class of 1990 alum, completed the following Q&A on being a software engineer.  It's an interesting glimpse into the career field. He is a software engineer with Oculus and previously worked at NVIDIA.

    What specific degree do you hold and where are you currently employed?

    I have a BS in Electrical Engineering and an MS in Computational Engineering from Mississippi State University. I am currently employed at Oculus, which is now a part of Facebook.

    Describe your engineering field.

    The field I have worked in for most of my career is real-time 3D computer graphics. The chief objective in this field is to synthesize digital images (called "rendering") of 3D scene descriptions as fast and with as much fidelity as possible. Fidelity (the quality of the resulting image) is important, but the critical aspect of real-time is that you need to be creating these new images very fast. Typically that's 30 to 240 new images created every second, depending on the kind of system display.

    In order to achieve these rendering rates, special hardware must be employed. The common term for this hardware is a graphics processing unit (GPU), and you can bet that there's at least one of them in every smart device you own that has pixels (phone, tablet, notebook, pc, set top box, game console). Understanding how these devices work in addition to the conventional CPU based programming environment is key to the engineering that I do.

    What is your current job title?

    Software Engineer, I think. I've had various titles throughout my career. Some companies care about them, some don't. Generally speaking, I don't. What's important is that the things you are working on are challenging and rewarding, and that the people you work with and for value your contributions and you work well together. In some places I have worked, they let you make up your own title. In others everybody that programmed went by "programmer". In yet another, they were fairly rigid in their titles, and would not let me have "graphics" in my title despite that being one of their limited options and it being my field of expertise. So I try not to worry about it if I don't have to. I develop graphics and related software. That's short enough that it doesn't really need a title.

    What duties do you have daily?

    I work on the Oculus Mobile team, developing software for the collaboration Oculus has with Samsung to support Gear VR. Since consumer mobile VR is a new product category, there's a lot of variability to what I do. Sometimes I work on low level system software that every Gear VR app calls into. This software is critical for making sure that new pixels show up on the VR display every single refresh cycle (60 times per second), and that those pixels correspond to the virtual world around you. This is a harder problem than it might seem at first blush because a display mounted to your head moves around a lot, totally unlike a conventional computer monitor or phone, tablet, or laptop display. Getting this timing right is tricky, and requires hardware to be programmed in ways it previously did not need to be.

    I also interact regularly with hardware vendors to communicate the needs we have with them, and to provide feedback to the solutions they provide. Sometimes this is one-on-one with individual vendors, and sometimes it is in the context of industry standards groups like the Khronos group.

    Often I do fairly routine feature rework and maintenance of our existing VR apps and samples. Sometimes it's just working on our build system, which includes some python scripting among other various strange build environments. The Android development ecosystem can be weird!

    Less regularly, I spend time on further out, somewhat research-like tasks, like exploring computer vision options that might be feasible in a mobile environment or enhancing the quality and/or efficiency of 360 video streaming formats.

    There's lots of different stuff to do in my current job. I've had jobs where I worked on one tiny block of a chip for over a year without working on anything else. That was a fun job, and very satisfying, but I prefer to have some variety.

    What is your average work schedule?

    Mostly normal, though I do work from home a lot. I get up in the morning, I start working. I will occasionally meet friends for lunch, but usually I just grab a bite and keep on going. I'll stop working in the evening usually by 6pm, but if I'm in the middle of something, I don't mind working late into the evening. There's a lot of flexibility in my job. The key is to balance getting the work done that I need to while not neglecting the important things outside work. For me that includes time with family, time with friends, unwinding, and (recently) brewing beer. Work / life balance is something my company takes very seriously, and I do think that happy employees are generally more productive employees.

    Describe your educational background from high school on.

    My 11th and 12th grade years in high school, I went to a newly created residential school called the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science. I was in the first graduating class. I didn't have much advanced educational opportunity at my home school, so MSMS was a terrific opportunity for me. I got to take advanced classes in calculus, chemistry, biology, as well as learning about computers for the first time.

    Probably due to laziness more than anything else, when I graduated, I went to the nearest university to where I lived. The choice of EE was the result of poor / non-existent strategy on my part, but it turned out to be a good decision anyway. I got an IT job in the department, and that is where I really started learning how computers worked. After a couple of years of that, a professor who did 3D graphics happened to be in with an IT issue, and I asked him if he had any openings for programmers. He hired me on the spot, with no real experience in programming or 3D graphics. But it turned out to be pivotal for me, as I've done that work the rest of my career.

    The formal education I received was valuable, but my real education has always been on the job, doing things, and learning things as I go that help me do the things I'm trying to do.

    If you had to do it over (education or career) would you change anything?

    I can't think of any monumental changes I'd have made. In hindsight there are some decisions I might have made earlier for greater financial reward, but just about anybody can say that.

    This wasn't "the perfect career for me". But what made it so rewarding was and is that I always liked what I worked on. A lot. And it didn't hurt that the pay wasn't bad. But there are tons of interesting things to work on. A lot of them pay well. I think I'd have had a good chance of being just as happy and successful in other fields as long as I found the work rewarding and engaging, and as long as I could pay the bills with at least a little left over.

    I'm glad I never realistically considered being a doctor or lawyer. Those were the "gold standard" professions that parents hoped for their kids when I was a kid, but it turns out there are a lot of negatives with those professions that I'm sure would have been showstoppers for me. Not least that the hours are less flexible and the tasks less "fun".

    What advice do you have for someone pursuing a similar career path?

    Figure out what a) you're good at, b) that you enjoy, and c) that there's a solid, ideally growing, job market for. This may take some time, but take the time, because it's important. There will hopefully be more than one thing, but realistically, you'll have to pick one initially.

    Learn all you can. Not just from traditional courses, but get a job doing that kind of work if you can. Get a tangentially related job if you can't. Find a way to move closer to the work that you want to do - sometimes this means doing non-assigned tasks on your own initiative. Entry level is great when the job is teaching you valuable things or gives you access to people you'd never come in contact with otherwise.

    Don't stop learning. Find new challenges, unsolved problems, things to keep you engaged and invigorated. Keep it fun.

  • 27 Nov 2015 8:23 AM | Anonymous

    The MSMS Foundation conducted a 2015 survey of MSMS Alumni to gather information about the economic and social impact of our alumni in Mississippi and across the nation. The information has been summarized in a fact sheet.

    As you could guess, our alumni are having a big impact on Mississippi in the nation on both social and economic areas.

  • 25 Nov 2015 6:41 PM | Anonymous

    The alumni weekend is set for April 8-10, 2016, in Columbus, MS.

    Friday will include a career day with alumni speaking to current MSMS students about their career fields.  This day is also open to any alumni who want to attend and volunteers are being sought for the event. Please contact Wade Leonard at to volunteer.

    Registration will be Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. Saturday will include play areas for the kids, school tours, information sessions about the MSMS and the MSMS Foundation, lunch, and a trivia face off between classes. Saturday evening, the MSMS Foundation will host Brews, Bites, and Blues at the Columbus Arts Center in downtown Columbus. Childcare will be available for that evening. 

    A Facebook event page has current details about who else is interested in attending:

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