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Department of Classics
The University of Mississippi

Classics Student Ambassadors

Sydney Lynch

Photo of Sydney Lynch.Sydney is a Classics and Art History double major with minors in Museum Studies, and Intelligence & Security Studies. She works for the University Museum cataloging their collections as well as facilitating lessons in art and art history for elementary students. She has studied abroad with Dr. Dibiasie-Sammons doing research on ancient graffiti in Pompeii. Sydney also serves as president of Eta Sigma Phi, UM’s Classics Honor Society. 

Why did you choose to attend UM?
I chose to attend UM because of the fantastic opportunities I would have afforded through the Classics department. From studying abroad to a great variety of classes that I could take, my ability to learn and grow as a Classics student at UM was unmatched at any other University.

When and why did you choose your major(s)/minors?
I chose my Classics major in my senior year of high school because Latin was always my favorite class. Similarly, I chose my Museum Studies minor during my first year of college because I loved attending museums while growing up and wanted to learn more about how they are run. During my sophomore year, I added my major in Art History and minor in Intelligence and Security Studies to pursue a possible career in Art/Cultural heritage crime.

Why is your department a special place?
My department is a special place because of the community of passionate professors and students that enrich our classes and extracurricular activities.

Can you tell me about a professor or a class you’ve taken that has had the most impact on you?
Archaeological Ethics, taught by Dr. Dibiasie-Sammons, was one of my favorite and most impactful classes ever. It was actually because of her lectures about antiquities trafficking and cultural heritage protection that I added my Art History major and Intelligence and Security Studies minor.

What would you tell a high school student about your major? What is most important for them to know if they’re interested in pursuing that field of study?
Classics is such a versatile major. Unlike other majors that teach you one skill that only applies to a specific career field, Classics gives students skills in critical thinking, communication, and analytical writing that are useful in various careers that are not only Classics related.

Apart from school, how do you spend your time in Oxford? What are your hobbies, favorite places to go, etc.?
After school, I work at our University Museum and the Writing Center! While they are not technically hobbies, I love both jobs, and they have been a great way to take a break from schoolwork! I also love to go to the gym or do Pilates!

What are you binge watching or reading right now?
I am binge watching Blacklist and The Soprano’s. I also have been reading The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire!

What are some dream travel destinations?
I would love to go to Svalbard island, Egypt, Greece, Peru, Ireland, and Austria!

Miles Thompson

Photo of Miles Thompson.Miles is majoring in Classics with an emphasis in Ancient Greek and minoring Museum Studies. He volunteers with museums near his hometown of Florence, Alabama, where he works in collections research, photographing and cataloging their collections. He can often be found at Square Books or Rice & Spice for Thai food.

Why did you choose to attend UM?
I chose UM because of its great Classics program. I liked that it was undergraduate only, as that allowed for a more personal experience.

When and why did you choose your major(s)/minors?
After taking Latin in high school for four years, it felt natural to continue to build on it and expand my knowledge by learning Greek as well. After working at a local museum, I became interested in how artifacts are classified and presented to the public, which led to the Museum Studies minor.

What are your career goals?
I would like to go to graduate school to get master’s degrees in Classics and Library Science. I’d like to work in an academic library or a museum.

Why is your department a special place?
In the Classics department, every professor knows you, even if you haven’t had a class with them yet. There are also plenty of opportunities to gain more experience, such as study abroad.

What are your 3 favorite things about your major/department at UM?
The department always encourages you to go beyond what you already know by providing interesting classes and programs. You become very close with a small cohort of majors, as you all share the same interest. The Classics major positions you to expand into a variety of fields.

What do you like to do outside of school (hobbies, interests)?
I enjoy Ole Miss sporting events. I have loved every event I have gone to and the energy in the Vaught on a Saturday is hard to find elsewhere. From football to basketball to baseball, it is always to cheer on the Rebs to victory!

What are some dream travel destinations?
I would like to visit Venice, Thessaloniki, Mystras, and Istanbul one day.

What is one thing you wish you knew as an incoming freshman that you’d tell your past self (about the general college experience)?
Don’t be afraid to talk to people, because that is how you will make friends.

Maggie Wallace

Photo of Maggie WallaceA double major in Classics and Linguistics, Maggie is a junior at UM. She is a member of Eta Sigma Phi and she participates in the University Chorus. She loves to read and crochet. She also dreams of traveling around the world.

Why did you choose to attend UM?
I primarily chose UM for the Classics department. I felt that it was the best option for me in the programs that I wanted to complete or even just consider. Also, I felt that the campus life was one of the more diverse that I had seen. It’s easy to find and be a part of one specific niche or explore several different interests or callings. For me, it’s a comfortable environment.

When and how did you choose your major(s)/minor(s)?
The original idea started from how I like people. I like seeing the progression and advancements of people over history, and I’ve always been extremely fascinated in ancient histories and mythologies, specifically that of Ancient Greece and Rome. Yes, I was and still am very much a Percy Jackson kid, and obviously that influenced me, but the more I got around to looking into the actual histories and mythologies, the more invested I became. I also developed a strong interest in the languages of different regions and how it is formed and has developed over time, and the patterns found within language is a very satisfying thing to observe.

What would you tell a high school student about your major? What is most important for them to know if they’re interested in pursuing that field of study?
From a social standpoint, you’re going to be asked the question, “what is that?” nearly every time you tell someone your major. Every now and then, you’ll get the ever-lovely, “And what are you planning to do with that?” And it’s ok to not entirely know yet. If you enjoy what you’re doing and like learning about the funky little histories of ancient societies that were and continue to be super influential in today’s world, then you go right on and do that. There are many, many routes you can take with Classics as well as a near endless amount of invaluable skills obtained from the degree path that will benefit you no matter what you decide on doing later in life. From an academic standpoint, there is also a near endless number of ancient sources and scholarly commentaries, so buckle up, and get ready to read.

Why is your department a special place?
I think it’s special because of its size and because of the people. It’s really easy to become at least acquainted with a good bit of the department, whether it’s through shared classes or one of the events, or even just in passing while waiting for your next class. Just about everyone I’ve met has been extremely friendly and genuinely really fun to talk to. I feel like with some of the much larger departments, it’s harder to get that type of connection with both your peers and your teachers, and I feel like those connections are at least a small part of what makes learning about these things so enjoyable.

Can you tell me about a professor or a class you’ve taken that has had the most impact on you?
Dr. Brad Cook. I’ve only been able to take two of his classes, but he is probably been one of the best and most supportive teachers I’ve ever had. He’s always been so genuinely invested in his classes and so obviously passionate about his field. This is most definitely true of all of the Classics professors that I’ve had, but for Dr. Cook, there have just been specific instances with me and that I have witnessed with other students that have just been so encouraging. I know I have pestered this poor man so much about sources, but he never fails to answer my questions or at least provide the information needed to find the answer for myself. His classes are so enjoyable, and he makes some of the most dense and heaviest topics more comprehensible.

What has been one of your most memorable or enjoyable moments at UM?
I think my most memorable moment was from this past semester’s Taste of Classics event. I got to sit with my friends and listen to people recite classical passages and poetry, and it was just so much fun. A few of my friends actually went up and read their poems in the most theatrical and over-the-top way possible, and I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard since.

What do you hope to do after you graduate? What are your career goals/ plans for postgraduation?
I’m not entirely sure on exactly what I want to do, but I am certain that I want to go to grad school. I’m trying to figure out if I want to further pursue Classics or Linguistics, or, if both, which to go for first, and what all I could do with either. It’s a lot of thinking still yet to be done, but fortunately for me, I do have a little bit of time to decide. I feel that I would be happy in whatever I pursue in either field as I do love them equally. As of right now, I’m content to study my little heart out and learn about what I love. It sounds a little cliché, but only time will tell what happens next.

What is your go-to meal in Oxford?
On Campus: Panda, Off Campus: Toyo, El Agave, or Volta

What are you binge watching or reading right now?
I’m watching several shows at the moment of various genres, but I just started The Witcher and rewatching Sherlock, so I guess those are the main ones at the moment.

Amya Franklin

Photo of Amya Franklin.Amya Franklin first attended Northwest Mississippi Community College and acted as the Vice President and coordinator of NWCC’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Now at UM, Amya is majoring in African American Studies and Classics and is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a PhD in Sociology with an Africana Studies Concentration.

Why did you choose to attend UM?
To be totally honest, I wasn’t planning on coming to the University of Mississippi at first. There were just so many things about it that made me question whether it was the institution for me. I went to Oxford High School right here in Oxford, Mississippi, so I was right near the heart of the University. But, I was only on the outside looking in. My second semester of freshman year at Northwest Mississippi Community College all of that changed. My mentor, Bruce Ware, introduced me to Dr. Ajootian and Dr. Edney on my real first visit to campus, and if you know these two professors then I’m sure you know how my world changed in those moments. It was jarring to meet people so devoted to the betterment of not just learning and academia, but also the world as a whole. Their words in that small conversation were essentially a parallel to the codes of conduct that I live and love by. I could tell that those two professors sitting with me out on the Circle beneath the trees were a testament to the incredible dedication, resources, advancements, and promise that I would be met with at the University of Mississippi. That moment convinced me that this was the place for me.

When and why did you choose your major(s)/minors?
I’ve always been interested in history and writing, the pursuit of history & the betterment of our collective future. I just wasn’t sure where that (and all of my other interests) put me as a student in the expansive (and constantly expanding) world of academia. When I met some of my mentors here at UM, I saw all of these possibilities and I thought to myself “why not cultivate a space where your interests meet and intermingle in a way that not only opens doors, but has the capacity to widen the views of modern history?” And, so I chose the two of the most influential cultures to every exist to study: Greek & Roman history and the history of people of African descent. Two cultures that so greatly impacted (and still continue to impact) this world being studied in tandem has the potential for incredible academic exploration and, in turn, astonishing historical findings leading to the advancement of society as we know it today. I chose these majors because I believe in the betterment of the world around us through learning everything we can about the experiences and interactions that it’s made of.

Career goals?
I hope to get into a graduate program after I leave here and get a masters degree in either history or creative writing. Soon after, I want to get a PhD in Sociology with an Africana Studies Concentration and later pursue a Civil Rights JD. Outside of academia, I genuinely just want to do whatever I can to make this world a better place.

Is there a professor who has been particularly helpful to you?
Dr. Molly Pasco-Pranger has been such a huge help to me over the few years that I’ve been here. She has always encouraged me to be a well-rounded student and learner. She’s always extended so much empathy to me which is so important in a system that often only sees students as numbers. It’s been so wonderful to work with someone who’s so kind, intelligent, and encouraging. Her work with me has encouraged me to be a better learner, a better student, and a better person.

What do you want to change about the world?
I’d like if we, as a society, brought a lot more attention and emphasis to the importance of empathy. Not just how we experience it, but how we teach it, cultivate it, disperse it, view it, and implement it into the things that we deem profitable. I think it’d change our world entirely.

Why is your department a special place?
I think that this department is a really special place because of the professors, who are just such incredibly talented and deeply empathetic people. I think that it really matters to have people who can create community around students and lift them up in a way that stays with them past life after academia (or this particular academic setting). Professors like this create space for lifelong learning, and the space that they cultivate really opens up the opportunity for nurturing lifelong learners and kind, good people.