Out-of-State Students Tout MC’s Academic Excellence, Christian Commitment to Education Commission
Many scholars outside Mississippi recognize Mississippi College as one of the best-kept secrets in Christian higher education.
That’s the message Carly Fisher, a senior interpersonal communication major from Shawnee, Oklahoma, and Jackson Breedlove, a junior public relations major from Decatur, Alabama, shared with members of the Education Commission during its annual meeting on the MC campus Jan. 20.
Comprised of high-ranking leaders of the Mississippi Baptist Convention and presidents and administrators of Blue Mountain College, MC, and William Carey University, the Commission cultivates the interest of Mississippi Baptists on behalf of Christian higher education, strengthens the colleges of Mississippi Baptists and unifies their efforts in the Convention program of Christian higher education, and makes recommendations through the Convention Board to the Convention concerning all cooperative efforts in the field of Christian higher education, among other responsibilities.
Fisher and Breedlove said that when they began to search for a college home, they were unaware of the rich opportunities Mississippi College had to offer: the top-notch academic standards, the active campus organizations, and the loving Christian community. Yet when God led them to visit the Clinton campus, they knew they had found where they belonged.
“The culture of MC – the fabric of who we are – is a God-centered core that attracts people who love the Lord,” said Fisher, president of the Kissimee social tribe on the Clinton campus. “But we are still a university with athletics and rigorous academic programs, so we’re also attracting people who are not necessarily believers.
“As part of MC’s Welcome Week crew, I can’t tell you how many times I would have a real, life-giving, Godly conversation with a member of my team in the morning, then later that day have an encouraging conversation evangelizing with someone. What sets MC apart from other similar schools is the way we are able to get involved on campus and the many leadership development programs the University offers its students.”
Fisher would know. Growing up in the shadow of Oklahoma Baptist University, one of the leading Christian colleges in the Southwest – her parents and her older brother are OBU alumni – she understood the value of an educational system grounded in Biblical principles. During her senior year in high school, she took dual-enrollment classes at OBU, and fell in love with its small, like-minded Christian style of education.
The only problem: she was eager to experience life away from home.
“I didn’t have a peace from the Lord about being at OBU,” she said. “So, my family and I started looking at similar schools.”
They searched across the country, from California Baptist University in Riverside, California, to Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, to Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Finally, one of Fisher’s mentors in the Admissions Department at OBU suggested she investigate Mississippi College.
“She knew some people from MC through different admissions gatherings and said, ‘I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something about this school I think you need to look at.’ I only had a few months left to make my college decision. I said, ‘Well, I don’t have anything to lose.”
Fisher discovered that she qualified for MC’s prestigious Select Scholars program, so she and her mother visited the Clinton campus. She was immediately drawn to MC.
“Mississippi College is a place where good people love me and love God,” she said. “That was the draw. That was what stuck with me. Mississippi College: A Christian University is our slogan, but I believe it’s so much more.
“It’s the student experience. The school carries that spirit all the time here, and people in the community really push you to know the Lord.”
Like Fisher, Breedlove had never heard of Mississippi College before Justin McAlpin, an MC graduate and senior pastor of his hometown Westmeade Baptist Church, recommended he pay a visit. A baseball standout and an all-area basketball player at Austin High School, Breedlove was interested in playing basketball or baseball on the collegiate level.
He visited MC on Preview Day and, on just a couple hours’ sleep, participated in an off-season showcase the Choctaws baseball team was hosting. Josh Perez, MC assistant baseball coach, offered the shortstop a walk-on opportunity on the spot.
“One other school reached out to me, but by that time, I had already made up my mind that I wanted to go to Mississippi College,” Breedlove said. “God used baseball to bring me here.
“I’m so thankful he did, because he’s given me a great group of guys to hang out with. They’ve been a great influence in my life.”
He said his collegiate experience has surpassed any expectations he may have had about life at a Christian university.
“I’m the oldest in my family, so I never had an older sibling to watch go through college,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect. But from the initial visit, I thought MC would be a place filled with a lot of people who love the Lord, and it has been exactly that.
“I’ve loved every minute of it.”
The humble student-athlete is also quite a scholar – he received the Hollis and Julia Todd Scholarship. This academic award will help him pursue his goal of becoming a minister.
“When I was 15, God called me for ministry,” he said. “My pastor recommended that I major in something different than Christian Studies, just to have a broader foundation.”
Because the business side of ministry never appealed to him, Breedlove decided to try a major in McAlpin’s field of study at MC: public relations. It seems to be a splendid fit.
“I love public relations, because I can see how God is teaching me things that can help in ministry,” he said.
Fisher has discovered her academic footing at MC as well. She had thought of becoming an attorney, but when she was informed that a degree in political science or prelaw wasn’t required to enter law school, she found interpersonal communications offered her the greatest career flexibility. It also allowed her more time for campus involvement.
“What has played a big role in my staying here, what has given me confidence that I’m right where I’m supposed to be, is the way I have been involved in campus activities,” she said.
She has enjoyed serving in leadership positions with the Freshman Leadership Initiative Program, the Student Leadership Advisory Council, and the Campus Programming Board. While she was serving as director of Dance Marathon in 2021, MC became the first University of its size to raise more than $100,000 within its first five years of participating in the program to benefit Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. It was an incredible achievement that helped fuel Fisher’s passion for serving others.
“What has made these programs so healthy and thriving, and what has made them an incredible experience for me, is that they are all grounded in glorifying the Lord and the character of God,” she said.
The Oklahoma native is hoping to remain in Clinton after graduation – she is seeking a position in the Admissions Department at MC – and intends to pursue a graduate degree.
Meanwhile, Breedlove is focused on attending seminary after completing his undergraduate degree at MC. He wasn’t sure what type of ministry he wanted to pursue until he had an opportunity to serve as a youth intern at Bovina Baptist Church in Vicksburg and Clements Baptist Church in Athens, Alabama, each of the last two summers.
“Through those internships, God has given me a love for students,” he said. “If He were to lead me to become a senior pastor one day, I would love to do that. Right now, I know I would love to serve students – that’s something He’s taught me since I’ve been in college.
“If you want to serve the Lord, Mississippi College is like a tree that branches off into all different types of ministry opportunities. The University does an awesome job of placing them in your lap, whether in missions, being an intern, or serving in a church. I love that.”
Breedlove’s younger brother, Collin, followed him to MC. Older brother had some advice for the incoming freshman.
“College is the first time you are on your own,” Breedlove said. “Through that, God has shown me that He will be a friend to you if you let him. He will walk with you during this time.
“That’s been one of my favorite parts about being in college, and our friendship as brothers has grown since he’s been here.”