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Taking a Closer Look



Mississippi native Ginger Stephens, began working for the Memphis-based Universal  Cheer Association and Varsity Spirit as an instructional staff member in 2016. During the summers, Stephens has traveled throughout the Mid-South teaching cheer camps to middle school and varsity spirit squads. The story she wrote for this edition of The Southern Galaxy is about how Varsity Spirit has grown.


This is a photo of Ginger Stephens.
This is a photo of Maddy Bierster.


Madalyn Bierster was born in Suwanee, Georgia, but calls Atlanta home. She joined the WMBB News 13 team in Panama City, Florida in June of 2019 as a general assignment reporter and multimedia journalist. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in broadcast journalism with an emphasis in sports marketing and communication, and she worked as a sports reporter during college. She was also a news/sports intern at WSB Channel 2 in Atlanta and an online sports writer. In this edition, she writes about her cousin, Michael Gallup, who plays in the NFL.


Cameron Watson is from Winter Park, Florida, just outside of Orlando. She lives only a few minutes from Universal Studios and Disney World. She often spends time in New Smyrna, her favorite beach town, where she has a condo. She also enjoys boating on the lakes in the area. Watson, who is studying marketing communication and business, hopes to eventually have a career in real estate or medical sales. She wrote a travel article about the hidden gems of Winter Park.

This is a photo of Cameron Watson.
This is a photo of Will Corley.


Will Corley decided to become a journalist because of the profession’s “allegiance to truth and knowledge.” He enjoys volunteering with Leap Frog, an after-school tutoring program, and attending concerts. He also works as a lifeguard and aqua aerobics instructor. His favorite artists are The Band Camino, Beyonce, and Fleetwood Mac. For this edition of The Southern Galaxy, he wrote a science article about the Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy.



Gracie Farquhar was born and raised in Midland, Texas. She’s a pop culture buff and took her first dance lesson at age 4. Dancing has given her the ability to communicate in new ways and an appreciation for the arts. She loves art in all its forms, and has chosen a career in entertainment journalism. This edition of The Southern Galaxy features her article about surviving a near fatal car accident. If she hadn’t been wearing a seatbelt, she couldn’t have written it.


This is a photo of Gracie Farquhar.
This is a photo of Justin Butts.


Justin Butts was born in Macon, Georgia and grew up in Milledgeville, Georgia. He loves video editing and creating sports videos, playing the drums and guitar, and he said he aspires to always be better than yesterday. He’s always working to better himself, whether that is in football, in the classroom or in his community. His goal is to become a sports analyst and a director/actor. He is a member of the the Men of Excellence organization and Alpha Delta Lambda honor society. In this edition of The Southern Galaxy, he writes about the challenges of being a football player with scoliosis.


Lindsly Penny is a passionate content creator who has worked as a social media manager and photographer for several brands. When she isn’t working, she enjoys yoga, reading, painting, finding new music and fashion trends, and traveling. Last summer, she studied in Dublin. She writes about Nashville songwriter Michael Hardy in this edition.

This is a photo of Lindsly Penny.
This is a photo of Lindsay Carter.


Lindsay Carter spent most of her life in Naples, Florida. She chose a career in marketing and communications because of her love for people, writing and being creative. Football, food and fashion go hand in hand when it comes to game day at some Southern colleges. Carter writes about game day fashion in this edition.


Rachel DePaolo was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, but relocated to Dallas at age 2. She is the second oldest of six children. Her passion has been competitive cheerleading, the perfect combination of gymnastics, dance and cheer. Working out and eating clean is part of her daily routine. Her dream job is to own a gym attached to a restaurant that serves delicious and healthy food. She writes about Spirit of Texas cheerleading in this edition.

This is a photo of Rachel DePaolo.
This is a photo of Breyton Moran

breyton moran

Breyton Moran is a native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The honors student is studying political science, French and legal studies. He enjoys volunteering and plans to attend law school in the future, studying immigration law and “fighting the voiceless fight of millions around the country.” Moran’s story in this edition profiles the journeys of Gulf Coast immigrants.



Mary Arden Guyton participates in organizations and events that support volunteerism and help children. She also loves animals and spends most sunny afternoons walking around town with her 9-year-old lab retriever/chow mix, Abbey. She has also volunteered at her local animal shelter. She profiles several social media influencers in this edition of The Southern Galaxy.

This is a photo of Mary Arden Guyton.
This is a photo of Kyra Treathaway.


Kyra Trethewey was born in Boston and spent the first eight years of her life there before moving to North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Then her family moved to Jacksonville, Florida following her stepfather, who serves in the U.S. Navy.  She enjoys the art of marketing and analyzing what customers do. She also loves photography and videography. In this edition, she researched and wrote about the discrimination of LGBTQ residents of the Deep South.



Stephen bankhead

Stephen Bankhead is originally from the Memphis area. With an admiration for sports analysts like Trey Wingo, Skip Bayless, and his favorite, Stephen A. Smith, Bankhead said it became clear you don’t have to play sports to talk sports. His dream is to eventually work for ESPN, the NFL network, or Fox Sports. Bankhead reviewed Jordan Peele’s latest film in this edition of The Southern Galaxy.

This is a photo of Stephen Bankhead.
This is a photo of Ashley Miles


Ashley Miles is interested in politics, community-building, and is active in several groups, including one that works to prevent sexual assault and another that feeds the hungry. She has worked as a voting poll worker, and has studied campaigns and elections in Washington, D.C. Last summer, she studied global citizenship and leadership in Greece. In this edition, she writes about how young professionals are leaving Mississippi.



Anna Weaver grew up right outside Memphis, Tennessee. She has studied political science and English. “There is a quote by Christopher Morley I have always found to be quite profound when thinking about the world of journalism,” she said. “He said, ‘Read every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to always be part of unanimity.'” She writes about Southern interior design styles for this edition of The Southern Galaxy.

This is a photo of Anna Weaver.

In this issue

Southern States Lack Recycling Incentives

For years, Americans have been wasteful and failed to take care of the planet. After understanding the complicity of wastefulness, it became evident that citizens have to make a change.

Can Youth Today Truly Understand 9-11?

It has been almost 20 years since 9/11 occurred, claiming the lives of 2,996 innocent Americans, who were just going to work on a typical day – fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters. Can today’s youth fully grasp the impact 9/11 has had on the world?

Abuse Survivors Deserve to Be Heard

When you are a statistic, you are confronted with a sense of loneliness, even though you are among many who have experienced the same trauma. Many have experienced a form of force control by a significant other. Trauma can have a variety of short- and long-term effects.

Southern Schools Failing to Support Minority Students

Too often, low-income minority students end up in schools with crumbling classrooms, torn textbooks, and tired teachers. These inequities are caused because schools are mostly funded with state and local tax dollars.

An Exploration of Women in Power in Southern States

You’ve heard it before – the South moves a little slower than the rest of the country. When CityLab.com collected data and graded each state based on multiple factors about the well-being of women, including work opportunities and discrimination, the highest grade any Southern state was given was a C-.

Most LGBT Discrimination Still in Deep South

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in the United States have evolved over the past 15 years. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed all state bans on same-sex marriage and legalized it in all 50 states.

My Dixie Childhood Was Spent Under An Old Oak

My youth was a strange love child of authors Wilson Rawls and Katherine Paterson. I was born on the banks of the rich and muddy Mississippi River in a small two-bedroom, one-bath trailer.

American Dream: Stories of Southern Immigration

For many who journey to the United States, the American Dream and possible opportunities the 50 states offer is a risk worth taking to seek refuge within the borders, and more specifically, the South.

Places We've Written About In This Edition

Memphis, Tennessee
Haleyville, Alabama
Philadelphia, Mississippi
Clemson, South Carolina
Augusta, Georgia
Charleston, South Carolina
Nashville, Tennessee
Okeechobee, Florida
Durham, North Carolina
Atlanta, Georgia
Dallas, Texas
Orange Beach, Alabama
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Raleigh, North Carolina
Natchez, Mississippi

Asheville, North Carolina
Monroeville, Alabama
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Daytona Beach, Florida
Jupiter, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Asheville, North Carolina
Monroeville, Alabama
Savannah, Georgia
Charleston, South Carolina
Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky
Winter Park, Florida
San Antonio, Texas
Wilmington, North Carolina

Orlando, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia
New York, New York
Flagstaff, Arizona
Italy's Amalfi Coast
Stratton, Vermont
Mystic, Connecticut
Laguna, Beach, Califorinia
Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Bourton-on-the-Water, England
Oxfordshire, England

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