Fielder’s Choice

Special day at Ole Miss

I was sitting in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts at Ole Miss Thursday around 2:45 p.m. I was waiting for the Phi Kappa Phi induction ceremony. My daughter, Emma, was one of the honorees. She is a graduate student in the criminal justice program at the University of Mississippi.

My thoughts turned back to 33 years ago, when I was a senior at the University of North Alabama in Florence, Ala. I suddenly remembered – “hey, I was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi, too.”

Technology is amazing. I googled “Barry Burleson Phi Kappa Phi UNA.” And low and behold, I was able to view online a group photo of the UNA inductees way back in 1984, complete with a listing of names.

It was already a special day for this father. But remembering my induction into Phi Kappa Phi, too, made it even more special.

I had not even told Emma that her father was also a member of the honor society. But I did tell her after the ceremony Thursday, and I don’t think she was too shocked.

One of her friends said, “Following in your dad’s footsteps.”

That’s a stretch. She is a lot smarter than me. She has reached new academic heights during her undergrad work at the University of Southern Mississippi and grad school at Ole Miss. Her academic honors just keep building – also receiving one recently for her thesis presentation at the national level.

All I did was make some good grades in journalism.

Founded in 1897 at the University of Maine, Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest, largest, and most selective honor society for all academic disciplines.

Since its founding, Phi Kappa Phi has initiated more than 1 million members into its ranks; all of these members have received emblems and certificates of membership. However, Phi Kappa Phi is much more than an emblem and a line on a resumé. It is a global network composed of the best and brightest from all academic disciplines – a community of scholars and professionals building an enduring legacy for future generations.

Guest speaker for the induction ceremony last week at Ole Miss was a well-known journalist, Otis Sanford.

His first job out of college (at Ole Miss) was in 1975 at The Clarion-Ledger. He then worked as a reporter and assistant metro editor at The Commercial Appeal, then left in 1987 to become assistant city editor at The Pittsburgh Press. He went on to be deputy city editor of The Detroit Free Press before his return to The Commercial Appeal in 1994 as deputy managing editor.

In 2011, he joined the journalism faculty at the University of Memphis and continues to write a weekly column for The Commercial  Appeal. He can also be seen often as a commentator on WREG (Channel 3).

He congratulated the inductees on their outstanding academic accomplishments. He urged them to keep learning and strive for excellence in the professions they select. He encouraged them to set goals and achieve them and to get involved in their communities – give back. His talk was inspiring to everyone.

Holly Springs South Reporter

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