New Pathway Graduation Cords Represent Completion of Internship and Reflection Process

December 11, 2017
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Some students earning Pathway cords: Back row, LaQuarius Thomas, Samantha Leonard, Sawyer Walters. Front row, Kristin Evans, Fayla McCoy. (Photo by Kelly Dunn)

Audience members at The University of Southern Mississippi’s Fall 2017 Commencement no doubt noticed many graduating seniors sporting bright turquoise cords for the first time as part of their graduation ensemble.

The cords represent completion of a pathway experience, such as an internship or fieldwork, and reflection and evaluation of that experience. More than 160 students proudly wore the pathway cords during morning and afternoon commencement programs held Friday, Dec. 8 on the Hattiesburg campus.

“The Cord Recognition Program is one example of the University’s commitment to increasing the number of students participating in internships or fieldwork linked to students’ post-graduation goals,” said Lisa Stevens, director of the Center for Pathway Experiences. “Along with strong academic credentials, employers are increasingly placing more weight on experiences such as internships. Student participation in pathway experiences provides opportunities to apply content knowledge and skills in real-world settings and to develop career-readiness competencies.”

The qualifying students must have participated in a meaningful pathway experience related to their career goals and completed the Reflection and Evaluation on the center’s website. The Cord Recognition Program is available to all undergraduate students in all disciplines, whether an internship is required or not for graduation.

The students wearing Pathway cords have participated in experiences all over the country. Many students completed Pathway experiences in cities such as Washington, D.C., Nashville, Atlanta, and New Orleans.

Several students asked about the significance of earning a unique Pathway cord expressed praise and appreciation for the program. Those included:

Kris R. Evans, accounting major, from Forest, Miss., served as an intern with FDIC.

Evans noted that as part of her internship experience she was able to “provide insight based on [her] education and life experiences which boosted [her] confidence in entering the accounting profession.”

Samantha Leonard, journalism major, from Slidell, La., said, “This experience has been very important and beneficial to me. It’s given me a stepping stone for my future as well as the ability to apply classroom topics to real world experiences. The cord is important to me because it’s a symbol of my accomplishments here at Southern Miss. It’s a constant reminder to me of how much Southern Miss is a family and that they really want to see you succeed here.”

Fayla McCoy, therapeutic recreation graduate, from Meridian, Miss., shared that her Pathway experience allowed her to become a CTRS (Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist) after taking her exam in September, and helped land her a job offer in Texas that she will begin January.

Sawyer Walters, criminal justice major, from Hattiesburg, Miss., completed an internship in Washington, D.C., dealing with homeland security. Said Walters, “This experience provided through the university has not only allowed me to further my network, but has grown me as a student to be able to prepare myself to go into the work force and be prepared.”

LaQuarius Thomas, marketing major, from Moorhead, Miss., stated, “Through my internship with Nordstrom, I was able to learn critical skills that have allowed me to become more knowledgeable in retail management and merchandising. Through this experience I was able to network with top executives in the company. I was also offered positions in Nashville and Los Angeles.”

The Pathway Cord Program is administered by the Center for Pathway Experiences as part of the University Quality Enhancement Plan, Eagles Engaged. In addition to the Pathway Cord Program, the Center for Pathway Experiences also offers Summer Pathways Scholarships for students participating in summer internships (applications due March 1, 2018).

The Center for Pathway Experiences is located in McLemore Hall on the Hattiesburg campus. To learn more about scholarships and programs, call 601.266.4153 or visit: