Gazebo Gazette

LONG BEACH (GG) — University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Experiential Learning Coordinator Dr. Lauren Ray radiated Southern Miss grit upon receiving Gulf Coast Woman magazine’s “100 Successful Women to Know” 2024 award, which recognizes her dedication, talent, and commitment to empowering those around her and getting students ready for life.

A Mississippi Gulf Coast native, Dr. Ray works every day to connect undergraduate students at the University with learning opportunities to reach their academic and professional goals through fieldwork, research, volunteering, and study abroad. And she credits those around her for her continued success at USM.

“It means a lot to be recognized as a leader in this community alongside so many women that I respect and admire,” said Dr. Ray. “This award is a reminder that success may look differently at various stages of life. I am a new mom trying to balance work, community involvement, and my family, so this award acknowledges that success can be defined in many ways.”

Dr. Ray praises USM for possessing a workplace culture where women lift each other up and acknowledge each other’s successes, and she’s grateful to have them in her corner every step of the way.

“Receiving this award was a special moment for me, largely because I was supported by other women from USM who specifically attended the awards ceremony to celebrate my accomplishments,” she said.

Dr. Jacob Breland, associate vice president for academic affairs for Coastal Operations, is excited to share Ray’s news with the community.

“We were so excited to learn that Dr. Ray was honored with this award,” said Dr. Breland. “She is committed to student success, enthusiastic about forming partnerships in the community, an all-around rockstar and a perfect recipient for this accolade.”

The “100 Successful Women to Know” campaign seeks to celebrate influential female leaders along the Gulf Coast. For Dr. Ray, her commitment to USM’s Experiential Learning emulates the dedication to creating a powerful community.

“I am most proud of the relationships I have built with students, colleagues, and community partners,” Dr. Ray said. “I value mentorship, and, as the Experiential Learning Coordinator, I believe that I am making a difference in students’ futures by helping them find paths to success.

“Additionally, I’m proud of my collaborations with community partners to develop a prepared workforce and strengthen the economy of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”

Learn more about Experiential Learning at USM Gulf Park.

(Contributed to by Gabriela Shinskie)