Alcorn State University alumni, faculty, and staff unite for inaugural Braves Volunteer Weekend

During a weekend event in the Medgar Wiley Evers Heritage Village at Alcorn State University, alumni, faculty, and staff volunteered to paint and clean some of the residence halls for the upcoming fall semester.

“We’re thankful for all of the faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the Alcorn community for their participation,” said Lloyd Nesbitt, associate vice president of Facilities Management.

Alumni first heard about the event at the 2023 National Alumni Association Mid-Winter Conference, where University President Tracy Cook, Ed.D. ’94 extended the invitation.

Burnedean Allen ’85, an educator at Old Town Middle School in Ridgeland, Miss., was in attendance. She stated, “Our president is a hands-on president. He made a request for help. And so we’re alumni. We say we care about the school. We don’t just come for fun times; we come and do the work, too!”

Brenda Gooden ’83 worked alongside Allen in Residence Hall A. Wearing her sorority attire, signifying her membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Gamma Phi, Fall ’80, she stated, “The University put out a call for alumni, and when the University calls, we show up!”

The alumnae were pleased to attend the event and encouraged future students to enroll at the University.

Natalie Ballard, ’02, a former chemistry/biology major and cancer research scientist at Merck & Co., Inc., concurred. She stated, “The president reached out and told us to come, so we came. I would say to prospective students, come here if you want to be supported for the rest of your life by alumni, professors, and staff. You’ll always have somebody you can call on.”

Nickie Tatum Hampton, ’95, who majored in coaching administration, participated in last weekend’s event.

“I came to help out Alcorn. I love my alma mater, and I want to help Dr. Cook. We went to school together, so that’s a great purpose. That, and making a positive change for the students.”

Hampton, who played women’s basketball at the University, participated in the event with a group of former players. All of them were coached by legendary ASU Hall of Fame Coach Shirley Jackson. Coach Lisa Powell ’91, Latina Williams ’98, and Vershonda Grindle ’00 laughed as they mopped, scrubbed, and cleaned.

“I came just to give back to the place that helped me to become the person I am,” said Coach Powell.

Williams, who works in the Alcorn State University Extension program, said, “We’re doing everything for our students. We’ve got to push our youth, so that’s why we wanted to come back to do this [activity].”

As fridges were scrubbed, holes were patched, and paint was spread, University faculty, staff, and senior administrators scrubbed alongside the alumni. Staff members in the Department of Facilities Management also bustled about the dormitory with supplies and paint.

Mattie Jones, custodian, was excited about the day’s event. She said, “As custodians, we work every summer trying to get the dorms up to par. It was just a good idea to get some volunteers to come in and help.”

Stafford Williams ’02, assistant director of housing, provided insight into some of the students who would be positively affected.

“Mostly athletes live here — football, basketball, track…” He said, “We’re here to get a jump on the things that need to be done.”

National Alumni Association Hall of Honor Inductee Jerry Paige ’76 was also in attendance. The former elementary education major reminisced on his time at Alcorn and the fond memories he has of the University.

“My first experience was staying on campus during Upward Bound,” he said. “There’s no place like Alcorn. If you come here, you’ll fall in love and won’t want to leave. I went fishing this morning and yesterday, and the meals were good. I believe in giving back. Alcorn did a lot for me, and people have done a lot for me, so I believe in giving back to the University.”

Dexter Holloway ’83 serves as assistant executive director for accountability and monitoring with the Mississippi Community College Board. He shared, “I came back today for the love of Alcorn, also my son graduated in 2019, and I remember how hard it was for move-in day. You can’t just complain about what things look like. You have to be a part of the solution.”

Alumni had the opportunity to live in the residence halls during the weekend event. Between scheduled clean-up slots on Friday and Saturday, there were also opportunities for fellowship and to become reacquainted with the changes to the campus that was once, and in a sense will always be their home.