MSMS Hall Directors, Bledsoe and Jackson, to the rescue
Around campus, they are called heroes. These are the resident hall directors, LaToya Bledsoe and Hansel Jackson. Hall directors are full-time, live-in professional staff members that oversee the day-to-day operation of the MSMS residence halls, Goen and Frazer. They provide direct supervision to their residence staff, are responsible for mentoring students, enforcing campus policies, mediating roommate conflicts, developing programs for the residents, and manage crises.
“The Hall Directors are the glue that holds each building together,” said LeAnn Alexander, Director of Student Affairs. Their leadership sets the tone throughout the building. It's their job to ensure a safe and enjoyable home-away-from-home environment for our students."
“Residence life is a vital part of the MSMS experience,” said Bledsoe. She added, “We set the tone really, once students arrive at New Student Orientation prior to their arrival in August. Assuring parents that their children are safe and in great hands is very important.”
Bledsoe has served as hall director of Goen Hall since 2003. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Arts degree from Mississippi State University where she also earned an Education Specialist certification in college counseling. Jackson joined MSMS in 2015 as an assistant residence hall director. He was promoted to his current position in 2016. He is 2005 graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.
“I can only imagine what it's like to have a child leave home two years earlier than the average freshman in college, making challenging transitions, etc. We act in place of the parent, so once they arrive on campus, they're ours,” added Bledsoe. The culture of all faculty and staff is to treat every student as if they were their own. “We want the very best for them and will help them feel like they are still at home,” said Jackson. “I love when someone asks me if I have any children and I reply ‘yes, about 230 of them.’”
Bledsoe says, “I love impacting students and seeing them grow. Hearing alumni tell us that the residence life experience changed their lives for the better brings me nothing but great joy. It makes me feel good to know that all of us play a role in student success.”
Families are asked to support residential staff as much as possible. “Our jobs are tough and having the support of the families helps, especially when we have to deal with enforcing discipline and policy,” said Bledsoe. Bledsoe added, “We are here to work with parents, and constant communication on our part concerning their child is a win-win.” Jackson expresses, “We want the students and the parents to know that they can call the halls at any time if they have some concerns about anything. We are family here at MSMS and we want the best for our students.”
Residence life programming is an essential part of the role of the staff. “We offer various educational and social programs to prepare our students for life,” said Bledsoe. She continues, “It is our goal to teach responsibility and accountability. We have so many students who come to us lacking social skills and it is our role to teach lifelong skills students can carry with them daily.” Programs also include staff vs. students basketball games, dodgeball games, field days, glow in the dark volleyball games, movie nights, stress relief coloring, cereal nights, and town hall meetings where the students have time to express their concerns.
"The residential hall staff is our secret sauce here at MSMS,” said Alexander. “They serve as mentors, mother/father figures, and so much more to our students.”