University of Southern Mississippi junior Ashley Barber freely admits that she neglected a wonderful opportunity by passing on a chance to live in the College of Business Honors House last year.
The accounting major from Picayune did not make the same mistake twice.
“I had a chance last year to live in the house and didn’t take advantage of it,” said Barber. “I knew a lot of the people who lived there and they all loved it, so I jumped at the chance to be part of the group this time around.”
Barber and 23 other business students spent time this past weekend making beds and filling closets as residents of the Business Honors House located on fraternity row on the Hattiesburg campus. This marks year two of the unique living-learning facility which includes 13 female and 11 male students under the same roof.
Last year Southern Miss officials renovated the Kappa Sigma fraternity house to create the Business Honors House. Each resident has a separate bedroom, suite bathrooms and two large closets in the three-story structure. Male and female students live in different wings of the house that are restricted by card access.
“I think, if you ask anyone involved, that the first year went above our expectations,” said Brian Lee, the Honors House’s faculty in residence. “From the mentor program, to all the guest speakers we had to the service learning projects, I believe we definitely got off to a great start with this program. There’s no reason to think this year won’t be just as good or better.”
Students from the sophomore-graduate levels are eligible to live in the house. Minimum requirements include 30 semester hours with a 3.5 grade point average or having shown great leadership capability. Residents also receive scholarship assistance ranging from $2,500 to $8,000 per semester.
Chris James and Eyslyn Hunte serve as resident assistants who help Lee oversee day-to-day operations of the program. James, a senior business administration major from Vicksburg, says the cohabitation between genders goes much smoother than outsiders might imagine.
“With them living in separate areas you don’t see much happening outside the ordinary,” said James. “The first year could not have gone better. And that should provide a seamless transition into the upcoming fall semester. We all take learning and living together here seriously but we also have a lot of fun. Oh, it could definitely be a reality show.”
Honors House residents will collect three semester hours of credit in the fall and spring sessions. Part of the curriculum will include weekly seminars led by university faculty, book discussions, outside executive speakers, special topic seminars and 4-6 service learning group projects. Each student will also have a mentor from the business community.
Matt Frank, a junior business administration major from Mandeville, La., returns for his second year as an Honors House resident with increased optimism.
“Last year was great. Everybody here really bonded and we became like a family,” said Frank. “We all helped each other in many different ways. This program is very beneficial to everyone involved and I’m just grateful to be part of it.”