July 21, 2005
Contact: Joshua Hollis
PEP students gain college credit, experience and
COLUMBUS, Miss. – Students attending Mississippi
University for Women’s Pre-College Enrichment Program
are receiving exactly what the program promises:
The program, commonly known as PEP, provides students,
all incoming high school seniors, with an opportunity to
experience college life and earn credit while doing so.
Dr. Thomas Velek, associate professor of history and
director of the international series, heads the program.
“This is the premier program for academically gifted
high school students.” He told the students on arrival
they were “the best and the brightest.”
The program is very selective, with strict requirements
concerning students’ GPAs and ACT scores. Only 32
students were selected for this year’s program.
In participating in the program, the student receives a
full tuition scholarship, as well as room and board. The
student must enroll in at least six hours, but can take
up to nine. When the students leave, not only will they
have their first taste of college, they will also have
their first college transcript with credits that can
almost always be applied for use at other schools.
The students attend several symposiums where professors
speak on their area of expertise. They have heard
presentations from communication professor Dr. Marty
Hatton, who spoke on big media and its consequences, and
humanities professor Dr. Leslie Stratyner, who spoke on
author J.R.R. Tolkein.
Dr. Anne Balazs, interim dean for the College of
Business, will speak on electronic commerce, and
humanities professor Dr. Brian Anderson will speak on
terrorism and the limits of security.
In addition to their classes and symposiums, the
students also attend an international film festival.
They also plan to make a trip to Birmingham, Ala., to
visit an art museum and the civil rights museum.
This year’s PEP program has five states represented:
Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana and Kansas.
This provides, Velek said, a cross section of the
region, allowing all different types of students to
experience and explore MUW.
Tempestt Gilmore, from Jackson, said she received a
package about the PEP program and “decided to apply to
earn college hours.” She said, “I feel like this is as
close as I can get to having a college experience before
going to college.”
Pascagoula native Brittany Pitman said she was told
about the PEP program by an admissions counselor
visiting her school. She said she likes the bonding that
occurs in the PEP program: “It’s fun to live with people
who are going through the same experiences as you are.”
Lee Conner, Nanih Waiya resident, likes the independence
of PEP, saying it’s nice “just to be on your own.”
Brittany Hill, from Ridgeland, agrees with Conner. She
said, “[PEP] is just different from high school. It’s
more thought-provoking. High school can be monotonous.
You can speak your mind [here], be independent.”
Keith Lowe, from Leeds, Ala., summed it up: “I like that
you have enough freedom that it feels like you get
college experience, but at the same time the structure
they give you allows you to build time management
skills. It seems like that’s much more of an issue than
it is in high school.”
Velek said anyone interested in applying for future PEP
sessions should contact him at (662) 329-7393 or email
This year’s program concludes on Aug. 5.