Sirena Cantrell wants University of Southern Mississippi (USM) students to use their education to succeed personally, professionally and in service to their communities – and support their alma mater by sharing their example of success with those who follow them.
And she’s excited about being a part of that process as USM’s new Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, officially starting Oct. 1.
“To see a person transition from what they were as a student to a successful graduate, and then give back to the institution by sharing their positive experiences about USM with others, that’s a great motivation for me in my work here,” Cantrell said.
Cantrell started at the university Oct. 1, bringing extensive experience in higher education, most recently as dean of students at Mississippi University for Women. At USM, Cantrell will oversee the Dean of Students office; Office of Disability Accommodations; Student Counseling Services; Student Health Services; Center for Military Veterans, Service Members, and Families; and Student Support and Outreach.
“I’m looking forward to meeting and working with our students, getting to learn about the campus culture, and attending the various events where they gather,” Cantrell said. “My door will always be open to them.
USM Student Government Association President Michael Matrick said Cantrell is a “perfect fit” for the position.
“She is genuinely and completely invested in our students’ best interests, wants to make herself known to them and that they see her as a resource,” Matrick said
Cantrell says she’s also passionate about the issue of mental health and plans to focus closely on this area, including work with USM’s CARES (Campus Action Referral and Evaluation System) team and Student Counseling Services.
“We see it in the news every day about mental health issues taking a toll on people across the country and around the world, as well as on college campuses,” Cantrell said. “We have to take care of our people here at USM – students, faculty and staff – and I want to make sure we’re doing that.”