The Mississippi State University Alumni Association is honoring eight prominent Bulldogs as the university’s 2022 Alumni Fellows.
This year’s class will assemble on campus Nov. 3-5 to network with MSU students, faculty and staff, sharing professional experiences and career guidance in university classrooms and informally. The fellows also will be recognized at the MSU vs. Auburn football game. Established in 1989, the program annually seeks to bring alumni of distinction back to their alma mater to showcase their achievements and engage and inspire current students.
“The Alumni Association is proud to bring dedicated alumni from each of the university’s eight academic colleges back to our campus to share their stories, and to mentor and enrich the lives of our students,” said Jeff Davis, executive director of the MSU Alumni Association. “We have had many outstanding graduates among our Alumni Fellows through the years. This annual experience strengthens the Fellows’ connections with MSU and better positions them to serve as strong alumni leaders for current and future members of the Bulldog family.”
The 2022 fellows, who carry the title for life, are among the university’s more than 158,000 living alumni worldwide.
The honorees include (by college):
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Ted H. Kendall IV of Bolton is a fifth-generation farmer and second-generation Bulldog who earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics in 1982. After graduation, he returned home to begin his career in the family business, where he serves as president and co-owner of The Gaddis Farms, a family-owned, diversified row-crop, beef cattle, wildlife management and timber farming operation in Hinds County. Throughout his career, Kendall has invested his time and resources in a variety of areas that help advance Mississippi’s agricultural industry. An entrepreneur, community leader, farmer and advocate, Kendall has held and continues to serve in numerous leadership positions, including vice president of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, delegate and chairman for the state of Mississippi on the National Cotton Council and member of the boards of directors for both Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Co. and Merchants and Planters Bank, among others. He also served as chairman of the USDA Farm Service Agency State Committee for Mississippi and is currently serving as vice chairman of the board of directors for the Mississippi Food Network.
College of Architecture, Art and Design
Ben Jenkins of Dallas, Texas, is the founder and design director of two Texas-based businesses—OneFastBuffalo graphic design and brand strategy agency, and sporting goods company Warstic Sports, Inc. A former student athlete who played as a shortstop and outfielder for the Diamond Dawgs, Jenkins credits MSU with helping him to further his art career. He took several classes in graphic design while earning a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies. After graduating in 1996, Jenkins played minor league baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies for several seasons and later enrolled in graduate school at School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He began producing work as a freelance artist, which eventually led to the 1999 establishment of OneFastBuffalo. In 2010, he founded Warstic Sports, Inc., which began with a focus on designing better baseball bats. Warstic bats were approved for use in Major League Baseball in 2016, and the company is now a multi-sport product development enterprise.
College of Arts and Sciences
Myna Dickerson Sowell of Spring Hill, Tennessee, received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 1991 and has since remained very engaged with Theatre MSU and the Department of Communication. As a student, Sowell learned vital skills such as classical work, technical skills and communication methods, participated in seven productions with the theater program and was a member of the Alpha Psi Omega National Theatre Honor Society. Her lifelong love for theater, bolstered by her MSU education, led Sowell to a meaningful career as a standardized patient at Vanderbilt University’s Center for Experiential Learning and Assessment, where she helps train medical students in interpersonal communications through practice in talking to and treating their patients.
College of Business
Cynthia Cooper of Brandon is an internationally recognized speaker, consultant, best-selling author and advocate. She previously served as the chief audit executive and vice president of internal audit at WorldCom. In 2002, she was named among TIME Magazine’s Persons of the Year for her role in uncovering and reporting fraud at WorldCom, at that time the largest corporate fraud case in U.S. history. Cooper went on to serve for over two years as vice president of internal audit with MCI, WorldCom’s successor, helping the company move forward and successfully emerge from bankruptcy. She has received numerous awards and recognitions for her contributions, including being the first woman inducted into the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Business Hall of Fame and an inaugural inductee of the Institute of Internal Auditors American Hall of Distinguished Audit Practitioners. Cooper is a Certified Fraud Examiner who received a Bachelor of Professional Accountancy degree from MSU in 1986 before going on to pursue her Master of Professional Accountancy degree at the University of Alabama. At MSU, she currently serves on the College of Business advisory board and has been instrumental in helping the college add the NASBA Center for Public Trust Certificate in Ethical Leadership to the curriculum. She began her career in public accounting and currently serves as CEO of CooperGroup LLC in Jackson.
College of Education
John Correro of Starkville has dedicated more than 60 years to Mississippi State through his years as a student and Bulldog football player, his distinguished career at the university and his continued service as a loyal alumnus. As a student at MSU, Correro served as secretary and treasurer of the campus M-Club and later became president. He also was named Mr. MSU and lettered in football for three years. He graduated in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in social studies and physical education, and later earned a master’s degree in educational administration with a minor in counseling. While working on his master’s, the Greenwood native served as a graduate assistant and assistant freshman football coach for the Bulldogs. In 1964, he moved to Natchez, where he accepted a teaching position and also served as an assistant football coach at Natchez-Adams County High School. He later was promoted to athletics director and head football coach before returning to Starkville to serve as MSU Alumni Association field secretary. In 1975, Correro was promoted to associate director and later executive director, a position he held from 1994 until his retirement in 2005. A former sideline reporter for MSU football’s radio broadcasts from 1979 to 2016, Correro was inducted into the MSU Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
James Worth Bagley College of Engineering
Frederick V. “Fred” Buie of Brookhaven is a two-time Mississippi State graduate who earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering in 1978 and 1991, respectively. He began his career with the General Electric Co., where he held project engineering and production management positions in the motors, aircraft instruments and lighting departments. Buie also served in the consulting business and as a manufacturing methods engineer for McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Co. In 1998, he purchased Des Moines, Iowa-based Keystone Electrical Manufacturing Co. The company, which Buie led as president for more than two decades, manufactures protection and control relay panels, medium voltage switchgear, and turnkey control centers used in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electric power, and serves the electric utility industry throughout the nation. In 2020, Buie returned to his native Brookhaven, where he retired following the sale of Keystone to a former competitor. At MSU, he serves on the foundation’s board of directors and the Engineering Advisory Board and was previously honored by the Bagley College as a Distinguished Fellow in 2008.
College of Forest Resources
Zack Parisa of Piedmont, California, graduated from MSU with a bachelor’s in forestry in 2006. He then went to graduate school at Yale University and earned a master’s degree in forest science in 2009. The following year, he co-founded National Capital Exchange, a California data-driven carbon market company, for which he continues to serve as CEO. Over the last decade, Parisa has developed and pioneered precision forestry tools that have revolutionized the way forests are now measured, valued and managed. NCX also has worked with other large companies such as Microsoft to create Basemap—the first high resolution forest inventory in the U.S.—creating a map of over 92 billion trees that now underpins the NCX market. In 2021, NCX created the largest forest carbon project in the contiguous U.S. and was named on the 2021 Environment and Energy Leader 100 list. Parisa was a candidate for the Pritzker Emerging Environmental Genius award from the University of California Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.
College of Veterinary Medicine
Rance M. Gamblin, DVM of Akron, Ohio, is a Jackson native who enrolled at MSU in the fall of 1985 as a member of the first class of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Early Entry Program. He received his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences in 1988, followed by his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1992. After graduating, Gamblin completed a rotating small animal internship at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. He then served as a research associate in experimental radiation therapy before relocating to begin a clinical oncology/hematology residency at Ohio State University. Upon completion and passing certification examinations in 1997, Gamblin became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine’s Specialty of Oncology. For the last 25 years, Gamblin has been a clinical veterinary oncologist in private practice as well as a partner/co-owner of Akron, Ohio’s Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital—one of the oldest 24/7 emergency and referral veterinary hospitals in the U.S.
More information on the 2022 class of MSU Alumni Fellows and the alumni association can be found at www.alumni.msstate.edu/alumnifellows.
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