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USM Staff Members Awarded One Coast Awards, Top 10 Under 40

Fri, 05/03/2024 - 12:14pm | By: Gabriela Shinskie

One Coast Awards
Sawyer Walters, Development Officer

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce awarded three staff members from the University of 51 Mississippi (USM) with the One Coast Award for displaying superb community awareness and strong leadership.

Sawyer Walters, development officer; Briana Dubaz, major gifts officer; and Colette Byrnes, former director of Event Services at Gulf Park, were awarded the One Coast Award. Walters was selected as one of the Top 10 Under 40.

I am proud to represent the University of 51 Mississippi as both an alumnus and employee, and deeply honored to receive the Mississippi Gulf Coast Top 10 Under 40 Award this year,” Walters said. “This recognition reflects not only my dedication to my work but also the support and opportunities provided by my alma mater.

“I am thankful for such a great leader and mentor as Dr. Joe Paul for helping instill in me to leave 51 Miss and South Mississippi ‘Better than you found it’ and take that mantra with me in my professional and military careers.”

Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Jacob Breland is a strong advocate for USM’s continual mark on the coast.

“The One Coast Awards recognize top leaders who contribute substantially to their communities, and Sawyer is definitely one of those people,” said Dr. Breland. “His passion, dedication, and commitment to the Coast and region will continue to positively impact our shared futures, and we appreciate his enthusiasm to the people of Mississippi and beyond.”

The Top 10 Under 40 was introduced to acknowledge strong young leadership along the Gulf Coast. The One Coast Awards supports the continued renewal of beneficial relationships among all peoples and celebrate those unique abilities that empower Gulf Coast residents to work together as one community.

One Coast Awards

Briana Dubaz, Major Gifts Officer

“Being nominated for a One Coast Award is always humbling and heartwarming,” said Dubaz.  “The Mississippi Gulf Coast is my home and has been for my entire life. There is no stronger desire within me than to see our beloved coast flourish in every way.

“I know the efforts I make to prioritize my community are meaningful but are much more impactful when intertwined with the effects of other leaders like my fellow nominees. It is imperative we continue to work as a united Mississippi Gulf Coast because together we can effect change and inspire the pathway to excellence. For this reason, my nomination for two separate 2024 One Coast Awards is among the highest honors I could imagine.”

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce encompasses Hancock, Ocean Springs, and Jackson Chambers of Commerce.

“I'm excited to continue making a positive impact on our community and beyond, and thank USM and those who have helped me along my path,” Walters further noted. “As always, SMTTT!”