June 20, 2013 10:50:46 AM
For the past three weeks, the campus of Mississippi University for Women has been filled with 122 upcoming high school juniors and seniors for the annual Mississippi Governor's School.
While most teens may be spending the summer relaxing or working part-time jobs, the students at MGS are earning college credit. While the program will wrap up Friday, the young participants said the lessons they have learned will last a lifetime.
West Point native and Oak Hill High School junior Margaret Hay said the past three weeks have been an invaluable learning experience. Hay, 16, hopes to become a lawyer . She said the program will improve her high school transcript.
During the month-long program, the students stay on MUW's campus and live in the dorm. The program, which was first started in 1981, is funded by the state of Mississippi. Students are offered two concentrations during MGS: a "major" course and an "interest" course. The major course is the student's primary focus of study while the interest course plays to their creative side.
They can choose from a variety of options for both.
Hay and fellow student Dixon Stone, 16, of Vicksburg, are taking a magazine publishing class as their major course. Stone said he opted to take the magazine publishing class because he hopes to pursue a career in journalism.
"We're posting an online literary magazine and a parent magazine. Hopefully, I'll get an undergraduate degree in print journalism or either broadcast journalism so it's kind of right up my alley," Dixon said.
For his interest class, Stone took a course that studies James Bond throughout history.
"You parallel Bond movies with history and what was going on at the time. All of the Bond movies have a root in the history of that time and it's neat to watch them advance from the 1960s and simple technology to the more complex technology used in movies. It's really neat to watch them evolve," Stone said.
Ashlee Bane, 16, of Louisville's Winston Academy also chose the Bond history course while selecting electronic microscopy as her major course.
Bane and her classmates travel to Mississippi State three times each week to use high powered microscopes.
"I want to do pharmacy or something related to that, so this seemed like a good idea for me to study experimenting," she said.
For her interest course, Hay is studying time travel.
"We'll watch time travel movies or read excerpts from time travel stories and talk about the different ways you can write about time travel and all the literary devices you can use, like paradoxes. There are different time travel dimensions and things. It's very interesting," she said.
Although most of the students arrive as strangers, the mutual interests help develop friendships.
"You get to meet all these people that you never would have met," Bane said. "You're still getting to hang out with your friends but it's not your normal friends that you're used to being around. You make a family here."
Hay said her parents encouraged her to apply for the program.
"I have friends that have come in the past and my parents pushed me to get out of West Point for the summer and do something different," she said. "It's been a great experience and gives you leadership opportunities and you meet all new people."
In addition to making new friends, Stone said the program has helped him confirm his desire to get a degree in journalism.
"I have people at my school who have gone (to MGS) before and they said the cream of the crop go and you get to meet a lot of new people that you're going to encounter later in life. I was hoping to meet new people and to gain some experience, like with my magazine publishing class, and maybe get a feel for what I wanted to do. It's been a wonderful experience for my whole life."
Tonight the students will attend Class Night, where they will present projects they have been working on during their major course. Friday, they will head back home and take their experiences -- and new friendships --with them.
The group of teens encourage prospective students to apply for next year's program.
"It was a great opportunity and you'll meet some of your best friends," Hay said.
Sarah Fowler covers crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.
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