Support for a Lifetime at Millsaps

Amber Ewing

May 30, 2024

"I have found that the skills I use daily in my job are largely influenced by the experiences I had at Millsaps."

Gracey Belote, a member of the Class of 2018, had not given much thought to her college choice until she stumbled upon Millsaps while working on a project during her senior year at Brandon High School.

She chose to research Millsaps because she was curious about the merits and benefits of a liberal arts education. As she learned more about the college, Millsaps captured her heart with its close-knit community and faculty support.

“I didn’t know much about Millsaps, and I wanted to learn more about liberal arts education,” she explained. “As I learned about Millsaps and visited the campus while working on my report, I fell in love with the school. At that point, there was no turning back for me — my heart was set.”

Belote immersed herself in various extracurricular activities at Millsaps, from serving as a presidential ambassador and orientation leader to participating in Chi Omega sorority and as a founding board member for Enable America. These experiences not only enriched her college experience but laid the groundwork for her future endeavors.

More than six years later, her connection to the Millsaps community remains strong, as she serves as a volunteer advisor for the college’s Chi Omega chapter. Her dedication to supporting current students reflects her gratitude for the opportunities she received during her time here.

“It has been a joy to connect with current students and work with them in the operations of their organization,” she said.

Gracey (center) while working as a Presidential Ambassador for the Millsaps Office of Enrollment.

As Belote looked back on her time at Millsaps, one figure stands out in her journey – Dr. Patrick Hopkins, professor of philosophy.

“Dr. Hopkins took note of my interest in the intersection of philosophy and neuroscience and worked to create opportunities for me to explore this further,” Belote said.

Under his guidance, she dove deeper into her academic interests, engaging in research, fellowships and an honors project. Dr. Hopkins’s support extended beyond academia as he continued to encourage Belote while navigating her career path.

“He allowed me to have a guiding role in the directions of our work and my academic experience and was a huge supporter during my graduate school application process,” she said.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in neurophilosophy, Belote began pursuing a Ph.D. in philosophy-neuroscience-psychology at Washington University in St. Louis.

While she enjoyed her studies, she decided to leave the program after a year, head home and pursue a different career path.

Upon her return, Belote became the director of young adult ministries at St. Andrews’s Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Jackson. After four years, she transitioned to the role of director of parish life and newcomer ministries where she manages church events and visitor services.

“I found I truly love working in the Episcopal Church,” Belote said.

She believes Millsaps’ emphasis on student leadership and community engagement had a profound impact on her personal and professional growth, equipping her with the skills necessary for her current role.

“I have found that the skills I use daily in my job are largely influenced by the experiences I had at Millsaps,” she said. “Because Millsaps fosters a community that supports and values student leadership and provides many opportunities for students to make an impact on campus, I felt empowered to make these jobs and volunteer positions a priority alongside my scholarship endeavors.”

Gracey Belote gives a fist-bump to the Gandhi statue after the commencement.

Gracey fist-bumps the Gandhi statue after commencement.

Moreover, the relationships Belote cultivated with her professors have provided guidance and inspiration, empowering her to embrace new challenges with confidence.

“I also cherished the time I had to build close relationships with my professors,” she said.

Those relationships with faculty continued to provide support after graduation, including when she decided to leave academia and pursue a career in the Episcopal Church.

“The acceptance and support I found in my professors gave me the courage to drastically shift my career path from Ph.D. to event planning and ministry work,” Belote said.

Gracey’s journey from a curious high school student to a dedicated professional exemplifies the impact of a supportive academic community. Her story highlights how Millsaps’ emphasis on leadership, community and faculty mentorship not only shaped her college experience, but also equipped her with the skills and confidence to navigate her career path.

As she continues to serve and inspire others, Belote embodies the spirit of Millsaps and its commitment to fostering lifelong growth and engagement.