Summer vacation: trading lazy for lively


Courtesy Photo

Courtesy Photo
Courtesy Photo

Summer vacation draws nearer each day, and in these times one’s mind naturally turns toward what one will do to occupy the summer break. Many are thinking about ways to relax, trips to the beach, video games to play and other recreational activities. However, with three months of vacation time ahead, one should consider doing something more productive than marathoning Netflix. What is there to do that is productive, though?

Some students already have productive plans in place.

“I will be studying Victorian literature in London with the British Studies Program,” said Emma Reeves, a freshman English licensure major. “Even though  I will be giving up four weeks of my summer to do pretty extensive course work, it’s giving me the ability to go somewhere I’d never be able to see otherwise.”

Venturing abroad for a productive summer does not have to be limited to studying, however.  Wilson Williams, a freshman international studies major, will be going abroad with less of a focus on academia. “Most students picture summers abroad as either religious missions or scholastic pursuits,” Williams said.

“A third option on campus (which) people rarely hear about are the deployments given to cadets in the Army ROTC Program that volunteer to serve abroad over the summer,” Williams said. “In layman’s terms, I – as a part of a team of cadets – will conduct humanitarian missions (in Macedonia), like working with an orphanage to run a camp for the kids, or teaching members of the Macedonian military English. In short, attempting to, in some small way, help make the world a better place.”

For those that cannot go abroad this summer, be it for academic pursuits or to act as an ambassador, there is plenty to do in Mississippi.  For those interested in volunteer work, Christian Services is a soup kitchen in Hattiesburg that serves meals to the homeless or needy five days a week.  Potential volunteers can visit for a volunteer application.

St. Vincent de Paul is another organization dedicated to helping the needy through their outposts in Hattiesburg and Biloxi, as well as others across the nation.  They are always accepting donations and volunteer work, with more information available at,, or, depending on one’s local area.  In addition, volunteers are almost always needed at local animal shelters.

Those interested in academic pursuits should look into taking summer courses at USM, either at the Hattiesburg campus or the Gulf Park campus.  Many courses are still available, and excess financial aid can be applied to the courses under the advisement of the financial aid department.  If one cannot get to either of these campuses, one should consider speaking to his or her local community college about available courses.

While relaxation is wonderful and needed after a hectic semester, a productive summer is best to keep the mind and body in shape for the upcoming academic year.