By Jared Redding, M.A. in Journalism
Growing up in McComb, Mississippi, Brittney Banks had an interest in studying science thanks to the mentoring she received from one of her teachers at North Pike High School.
However, the biggest hurdle in accomplishing her goal was being able to aﬀord that education. The Grove Scholars program and the Ole Miss Opportunity Scholarship gave her the chance to chase her dream of studying in a Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) field. Banks applied, and her application was soon accepted.
It was a special moment for her, as a first-generation college student.
“My mom was crying. My mom is a single mother. I have five siblings. It was amazing, honestly. Just getting that packet in the mail and to know that I had everything paid for. They were all excited for me and I was myself because I didn’t know how I was going to be able to pay for school. When they offered me, I just knew I was going to be able to make it to where I wanted to be,” Banks said.
As a Grove Scholar, Banks got the opportunity to acclimate to a college environment sooner and to connect more deeply with the University community.
Banks originally majored in chemistry while part of the STEM program, but she says she has found her future career in Allied Health Studies with a minor in psychology.
Banks plans to attend graduate school at the University of Mississippi and to pursue a master’s degree in Counselor Education, with an emphasis in clinical mental health. Her plan is to become a licensed professional counselor and make a difference in her community back home.
“I have an internship with someone in McComb and I got to shadow over there and work with the programs they host a lot. It drove me to get more active in that community,” Banks said. “My sister saw it as a need in my community for counselors like me, African American. I’ve conducted interviews before about what’s holding African Americans back from seeking counseling. Because they feel like there’s not enough counselors that look like them. There’s a need in that community and I want to fill it.”
Banks has looked back fondly at her time in the Grove Scholars program at the University of Mississippi, from the moment she stepped foot on campus. Her advice for future Gove Scholars is to make use of all the resources available and to be proactive in forging good relationships with others on campus.
“Learn how to ask for help. Have a support system, because that’s what’s going to get you through things. It’s helped me with my many opportunities here. Learning how to use those resources that you have, like free math tutoring, chemistry, help desk, the career center. Just learn about them and how to make use of those. If you don’t know how to help yourself and don’t know where to look to get the extra help, ask for it,” Banks said. “If you go home too much, you’ll never make Oxford home. Try to stay here as much as possible. Get out of your dorm room, go do stuff, go find friends and make it Oxford the place you want to be.”