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On the second Saturday of June, hundreds of Mississippians living near the nation’s capital will flock to the National Mall to dine on farm-raised catfish from the Delta, swig sweet tea, enjoy live music, and take part in yard games in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial.
This weekend, a delegation from Mississippi College will be on hand to welcome them.
Sponsored by the Mississippi Society of Washington, D.C., a nonprofit organization associated with the National Conference of State Societies, Mississippi on the Mall 2022 is scheduled from 2-6 p.m. on June 11, at Henry Bacon Ball Field. MC representatives will greet fellow alumni, hand out Blue and Gold swag, and bring a sense of hometown Clinton to the far-flung Choctaws.
“It’s a different way of life in the nation’s capital, so it’s important to give a taste of Mississippi back to our alums in D.C.,” said Lisa Williams, regional alumni associate in Alumni Affairs. “Every Mississippi college and university will be represented at the event, and I’m excited to have all of our MC alums in the area together in one place.”
Dr. Jim Turcotte, vice president for enrollment services and executive director of alumni affairs, said MC has a significant number of alumni who live and work in the Washington, D.C. area.
“Our alumni are often transitioning in and out of the area,” Turcotte said. “I am so pleased that we also have a strong organization that promotes the gathering of Mississippians in Washington. Due to the pandemic, we have missed seeing our alumni and friends in the area. We look forward to reconnecting with everyone in Washington, D.C. this weekend.”
Williams has coordinated a similar MC alumni event in Atlanta, but this will be her first trip to Mississippi on the Mall. She’ll be in good company at the Blue and Gold booth: joining her will be MC alums Lisa Shoemaker ’03, vice president of government relations for IDEMIA North America in Reston, Virginia; Tony Stringer ’83, owner of Stringer Industries in Tylertown; and his daughter, Mary Elizabeth Stringer ’17, director of business development and communications for Advocacy Associates in D.C.
For the younger Stringer, who also serves on the Board of the Mississippi Society of Washington, D.C., the event presents more than an opportunity to host her father in her newly adopted hometown.
“I want MC to have a large presence in this area,” Stringer said. “We do have a big alumni base here. This is an opportunity to expand MC’s reach and network for all the Choctaws who are working professionals or have families up here.”
When she first moved to the nation’s capital to serve as an intern for Sen. Roger Wicker, Stringer quickly met others with Mississippi connections.
“There are more people here from Mississippi than you realize,” she said. “It’s so much fun living here. It’s a great city, not only to visit, but to live. There are a lot of young professionals in D.C. proper. It has a lot of energy.”
Shortly after her internship, she received job offers that kept her in the nation’s capital, and she joined the Mississippi Society of Washington, D.C. When a board position became available, some of her friends recommended her for the post. She was named to the board about five years ago.
“When I first got on the board, I got involved in the planning process for Mississippi on the Mall,” she said. “I realized there was an opportunity for MC to have a greater presence at the event. My father was on the MC Alumni Board at the time and was helpful in getting support from the administration.
“Now, he comes up for the event every year to help greet the alumni in the area.”
During the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the Magnolia get-together. It was canceled in 2020, and last year, it was rescheduled to September, when it drew only about half of its heyday attendance.
In addition to welcoming Choctaws back to the 31st annual family-friendly event, the MC group will host a “come and go” brunch from 12:30-2 p.m. on Sunday at Succotash, a D.C. eatery known for its classic Southern favorites.
“We’re hoping our alums will drop by, grab something to eat, and visit with the other alumni who live in the area,” Stringer said.
She said Mississippi on the Mall could serve as an untapped resource for recruiting, especially for the MC School of Law.
“There are a lot of politically inclined people fresh out of college who are interning or working entry-level jobs in D.C.,” she said. “A lot of them may be thinking of going to law school. It’s a great opportunity for MC Law to connect with those interested in pursuing a law degree in the future.”
For those who have never attended Mississippi on the Mall, she said it’s worth the trip.
“If you’re ever thinking about coming to D.C., it’s a great weekend to visit. The weather is warm, but not hot, it’s a great event with people who are happy to be together, and families on vacation can see all of what D.C. has to offer.”
For Williams, it’s an opportunity to follow up with an alumni base she rarely gets to see.
“I’m excited, because I normally don’t get to see our northern-based alums,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting updates on their careers and meeting their families. I’ve been at MC for 20 years, so I’ve seen some of our alumni grow up. They’re like part of my family. Reconnecting with them is the best part of going to any of our Alumni Association events.
“We like to give them an update on MC, but it’s just as important to visit with them, find out what they’ve been doing, and let them know MC is still a part of them, no matter where they are.”
Tickets cost $50 each for Mississippi Society of D.C. members and $70 each for non-members. Children 12 and under may attend free of charge. For more information about Mississippi on the Mall 2022, visit www.mississippisocietyofdc.com/mississippionthemall.
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