Amanda Williams has seen numerous peers receive Owl Star awards in her 13 years at Mississippi University for Women.


On Dec. 8, Williams received the highest honor when she was named the Owl Star of the Year. Christi Dillion, an administrative assistant in the Department of Psychology & Family Studies; Patricia Brown, assistant to the Tupelo coordinator, Tupelo Nursing; and Jennifer Dowdy, an administrative assistant in The W’s Department of Music, were the other quarterly winners/nominees.

“I am grateful I was elected to receive this award,” said Williams, who is the coordinator of Student Engagement in the Office of Student Life. “I walked around with a big smile on my face all day. I love the fact that my hard work is not going unnoticed.”

To be eligible for the award, which includes a payout of $500, the nominee must be a benefits eligible professional or support staff member, have a minimum of one year of service, demonstrate professionalism and dedication by going beyond the call of duty, works to improve service and image of his/her respected area/department, demonstrate outstanding accomplishments of significance based on initiative, cooperation, and ability to perform a job successfully, demonstrate a high degree of competence and expertise and work beyond the requirements of job in participating in university and/or community service projects.

As coordinator of Student Engagement, Williams ensures students are involved on campus, serves as the adviser of the Student Programming Board and provides community service opportunities and Involvement Coaching. She served as the administrative assistant for Student Life until 2021 when she was promoted to coordinator of Student Engagement.

Dr. Mea Ashley, director of Student Life, said Williams is a joy to work with.

“She’s such a team player and is always willing to help people within and outside of our department,” Ashley said. “I’m not surprised she won. She’s so deserving of this honor.”

Dowdy received the quarterly Owl Star award. That honor includes a $250 payout. It is the first time Dowdy has been recognized.

“I was in shock when I got the news,” Dowdy said. “I always knew I was appreciated for the work I do in my department, but I felt elated to be nominated for such a prestigious award and to be recognized by the other departments and the Staff Council on campus.”

Dowdy started working on campus in 2016 at The W’s Subway and at a couple of Sodexo catering events. She officially started in her current position in May 2019 after she received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music from The W.

“Jennifer is an invaluable member of the Department of Music,” said Dr. Julia Mortyakova, chair of the Department of Music. “The faculty and students all appreciate everything she does to make our program better each and every day. We would not be the same without her!”

Williams, Dillion and Dowdy

Dowdy also serves as coordinator of the annual Music by Women Festival at The W. She said she relishes being a “jack of all trades” and enjoys the variety involved in being an integral piece of a department.

“It means a lot to me when those around me acknowledge I am doing good work for the university,” Dowdy said. “I do my best to give the university my all because I feel my peers, our students and our guests deserve that. I enjoy the challenges I face and overcome, even when they go unacknowledged by others. It’s very rewarding.”

About The W

Located in historic Columbus, Mississippi, The W was founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in the United States. Today, the university is home to 2,227 students in more than 70 majors and concentrations and has educated men for 40 years. The university is nationally recognized for low student debt, diversity and social mobility which empowers students to BE BOLD.

Be Bold. Tower with Blue.