“Courtesy of The Democrat Newspaper – Theron Fly, Reporter”
A local woman made history at University of Mississippi last week. Kimbrely Dandridge, a 2009 graduate of Senatobia High School, was elected to serve as the next president of the Associated Student Body at Ole Miss.
While the election itself was no small feat, the barrier broken is what will be remembered. Fifty years after James Meredith was the subject of national headlines following his decision to enroll as the first Africian American student at the university, Dandridge has been elected as the first African American female to serve as student body president.
“I’m so excited to serve as the next Associated Student Body President. It really has not hit me yet, that I won. I’m still in shock. I’m just so overwhelmed with joy. I’m so honored and humbled to have this amazing opportunity.” Dandridge said.
Dandridge said that despite the publicity her election has received, it’s her legacy, rather than her election, that she hopes will define her.
“There has been a lot of talk about me being the first African American woman president, but to me, being the first doesn’t matter. What’s important to me is the legacy that I am leaving for generations to come,” Dandridge said.
Dandridge, who is working toward a double major in Journalism and Sociology, said that her election does display that the university and her students have progressed in the fifty years since Meredith’s admission.
“This is the 50th year of integration at Ole Miss and I am so proud of my university. We have come so far since the enrollment of the first African American student in 1962,” Dandridge said.
Dandridge also says she has big plans for the university during her tenure as president.
“As president I not only plan to provide students with more resources, such as: free printing and more academic support. But, I also plan to unite our campus even more. I think Ole Miss is headed to the top and I want to help lead our university even further,” Dandridge said.
As a senior at Senatobia High School, Dandridge served as the president of the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter and as the vice president of her class. She was named as a member of the SHS Hall of Fame. Several of Dandridge’s former high school teachers were excited to hear of her election and stated that she had always been special, both in and out of the classroom.
“I am thrilled for Kim. She is an outstanding student, always asking the ‘rest of the story’ question. Her class preparation was excellent, which gave her such insight into Economics and U.S. Government,” Government and Economics teacher Gale Cushman said. “Kim is a remarkable young lady who will lead the university student body to the best of her very considerable ability.”
“Kim always represented our school well as a member of the SHS band and other activities. She was also recognized as Rotary Student of the Month during her senior year. Because of Kim’s aspirations, she constantly worked to improve her knowledge base and especially her vocabulary,” Gail Eaves, Dandridge’s former Advanced Placement English teacher, said. “Her personality makes her a ‘natural’ in the spotlight, at whatever level that might be, because she is comfortable with herself. It was a pleasure to have a role in Kim’s preparation for where she is now and wants to be in the future.”
She credits her family and former educators as her biggest inspiration.
“My biggest inspirations have been my family. I cannot go without thanking everyone back home in Senatobia and Como. It is because of my great high school educators like my high school principal Mr. Cory Uselton and my cousin Mr. Cedrick Richardson, who have always inspired me to go above and beyond. They have instilled in me the importance of true leadership and they have led by example,” Dandridge said.” Every teacher that I’ve had has inspired me. I was so blessed to attend Senatobia High School. The world needs more educators like the teachers and administrators at Senatobia High School. It’s because of them that I am the woman I am today.”
Dandridge is the daughter of Deborah and Earnest Dandridge and granddaughter of David and Cloteal Fitzpatrick. She has two siblings: Bryan Meeks and Alana Dandridge.
Dandridge also said that she had to give credit to the community in which she was raised.
“I would like to tell the community thank you for your support. The entire Tate and Panola area has done nothing but show me love and support and I’m so honored an humbled by this whole experience,” Dandridge said.
She also had a message for the young people. “I would like to tell young people, that you can do anything you want to do, if you put your heart into it,” Dandridge said. “The world is yours, it’s up to you to make your mark.”