Child Care Assistant
College of Agriculture &
MSU Child Development and
Family Studies Center
Years in position: 1
Years at MSU: 1
Azaria Dandridge plays an important role in children’s lives at the MSU Child Development and Family Studies Center on MSU’s Starkville campus.
She interacts with children, teaches developmentally challenging and interesting activities, observes, supervises, and helps children build their self-esteem.
“I love that when I walk in the front doors in the morning that I get to see people who are so caring and cheerful while they are here with the children,” she said. “My favorite part of my job is how I get to decorate the bulletin boards in whatever way I want; it is a great experience to watch the children get excited about what we have planned for them every day.”
Azaria said that each of the staff members must approach the day with a patient and understanding mindset.
Everyone Azaria works with always seems to have a smile on their face, she said. Along with being positive, a good work ethic goes a long way with her career.
One of the most important traits in her job is the ability to have appropriate communication skills, the ability to develop relationships, and to have a passion for teaching children.
“My main goal every day is to try to make a difference in each child’s life and help each of them reach their potential and to believe in themselves as they get older,” Azaria said.
Azaria is from Tupelo and is the oldest of three children. She graduated from Itawamba Community College in 2015 with an associate’s degree in child development. She graduated from MSU in May 2018 with her bachelor’s degree in human sciences with a concentration in child development. In her free time, she enjoys shopping and spending time with her family.
Extension Agent IV
MSU Extension Service
Years in position: 18
Years at MSU: 22
As a family and consumer sciences agent, Jennifer Russell is an important member of the Extension office in Leflore County. Her primary role is to educate adults and young people on family and life skills. For example, she teaches basic sewing skills, financial literacy, nutrition, exercises, food safety, and cooking skills.
Jennifer’s end goal is to train others to continue to provide leadership to the Mississippi Homemakers Volunteers, Begin with Reading volunteers, and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education program, or EFNEP.
EFNEP is a nutrition program that reaches out to limited-resource parents with ideas for preparing healthy meals.
“I chose this career because I was inspired by an EFNEP educator, Ms. Ellum, coming to my home when I was young,” she said. “Mrs. Ellum taught my mother how to use foods supplied by the Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, program.”
Jennifer has always loved to cook, and she was introduced to recipes and how to read them at an early age by Ms. Ellum.
“My favorite part of what I do is helping others reach their highest potential though education,” Jennifer said. “In my 22-plus years working for Extension, I have gained friends through my work. My Extension family has seen me through happy moments but even more so through times of trouble. It is the strength and love of this organization shown towards me and my family that makes what I do a joy.”
Jennifer said she does not think of her career as a job, but instead as mission work to make the world a better place for those who live in it. She does this by supplying them with necessary skills.
“This career has taught me to be versatile and have a friendly personality, have a love for what I do, and how to be a team player,” Jennifer said.
At each annual DAFVM Summer Celebration, the Staff Spotlight recipients from the previous year will be acknowledged. The DAFVM website will have an archive of all winners listed by month/date.
An employee cannot be chosen more than once during a two (2) year period.