Chloé Dwyer has advice to share on making the most of the Ole Miss experience
Four years ago, Chloé Dwyer, a Texan, arrived at the University of Mississippi, where she didn’t know anyone but quickly became active in student groups, and is leaving the university as a graduate honored for her impressive leadership skills.
Dwyer, a senior integrated marketing communications major from Southlake, Texas, is this year’s winner of the university’s Leslie Banahan Award for Advocacy and Community Service. She believes the personal growth that got her to this point is a product of the experiences she’s had on campus by making herself try new things.
With this experience under her belt, she said she would recommend that members of the class of 2024 take an aggressive approach to finding as many new campus experiences as possible.
Though all university events are canceled as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Dwyer believes that once life returns to something like what we remember as normal, students need to take advantage of every opportunity.
“Go to everything you can,” Dwyer said. “You have to step out of your comfort zone. You never know what is going to happen, and you don’t want to regret anything. Four years go by really fast.”
Through her approach to college, she has found a passion for working with students and intends to pursue a master’s degree in higher education.
At Ole Miss, Dwyer became an orientation leader and worked with the Columns Society, which are student hosts and hostesses for campus events. This role taught her how to work a room and talk with strangers, both important life skills. It also gave her opportunities to represent the university in an official capacity, which she has enjoyed.
The time spent with the Columns Society has led to her winning the Banahan Award for her work to revamp the organization’s social media presence. The award is named for Leslie Banahan, the longtime UM assistant vice chancellor for student affairs who created the Columns Society. Banahan retired in 2019 and Dwyer cites her as a major influence, which makes the honor even more special.
Dwyer used the Columns Society’s Instagram account to highlight the diverse collection of 14 men and 14 women who make up the group, which is ever-present with smiling faces and blue blazers to assist those who attend Ole Miss events.
She increased the Columns Society’s engagement and grew its audience. She also used the account to show behind the scenes of all the major campus events the group works. The social media account has done a strong job of selling all the group has to offer, and there’s proof to back up this claim.
“We’ve had so many more applications for the Columns Society this year than we did last year,” Dwyer said.
She knows a lot about the potential that lies within Ole Miss and its organizations, which makes her a good salesperson. The lifelong Auburn fan checked out Ole Miss on an official visit and instantly fell in love with the place.
Once on campus, she didn’t find it hard to sell the place to prospective students in the way that the university had captured her imagination on that first trip. It also wasn’t hard for her to find the joy to tell students going through orientation what they needed to know about their new home.
Being from another state and not knowing anyone at Ole Miss at first also gave her perspective to empathize with other students who enter the university the same way. She’s enjoyed that part of the work so much, she plans to attend Auburn University to pursue a master’s degree in higher education.
Martin Fisher, UM associate director for orientation and campus visits, said he’s always proud when students he works with discover their passions and pursue their goals. He said he’s especially proud when talented students such as Dwyer choose a career in higher education or student affairs.
“Chloé accomplished so much during her time here,” Fisher said. “She represented Ole Miss in some of the most visible and highly regarded positions our campus offers, and it has been a privilege to see her growth as a leader during the time I’ve known her.”
Fisher said he’s seen her hard work and commitment to service as an Ole Miss ambassador and orientation leader. She spent two summers with the university’s orientation program; the first summer as an orientation leader and the second as an orientation coordinator, an elevated role that requires peer supervision and leadership.
“Chloé pursued student life in many aspects – service, leadership, sorority life and other activities – and accomplished a lot, yet she remained consistently humble and servant-hearted,” Fisher said. “She has a bright future ahead of her. I look forward to seeing all that she accomplishes in graduate school and in her future career.”
Callyn Fahey, UM coordinator of orientation programs, has enjoyed working with Dwyer for three years and seeing her impact on those around her.
“Her joy of life inspires everyone she meets and has allowed her to truly leave her mark on campus,” Fahey said. “Chloé has pursued leadership in a multitude of ways on campus, and I have watched her grow in each position she’s held.
“She is kind, creative and outgoing and has served this university in more ways than I can count.”
Fahey said she’s excited for the life that lies ahead of Dwyer.
“Her passion for this university inspires me daily and reminds me of why I love my job and Ole Miss,” Fahey said. “I cannot wait to see the impact she leaves at Auburn and beyond.”
Dwyer’s time here will always be defined by the times and the experience she gained through embracing possibility, she said.
“Take advantage of every moment,” Dwyer said. “One of those moments could completely change who you are and you could come out of college a completely different person. “Getting involved challenges you, and it could lead you down a path you never would have known about.”
By Michael Newsom/University Marketing & Communications