Top 40 Under 40

UM-Tupelo Alumni and Executive Director Named to Tupelo’s “Top 40 Under 40”

Former business students and administrator honored for 2018

Photo: University of Mississippi-Tupelo campus alumnae Albine Bennett (left), Blakely Young (center), and UM-Tupelo campus executive director Dr. Derek Markley (right) were among the 2018 recipients of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's "Top 40 Under 40" award. They were recognized during the annual awards luncheon held on Oct. 25 in Tupelo. Local business and community leaders are nominated each year to receive this special recognition for their outstanding service in the Tupelo community. 

TUPELO, Miss. – Last week, two former University of Mississippi-Tupelo students along with the campus’ executive director were all named to Northeast Mississippi’s “Top 40 Under 40” list of influential leaders.

Hosted by the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, business, civic, and community leaders who are 40 years of age and under are nominated by community members and evaluated by an independent panel. The official awards ceremony was held on Thursday, Oct. 25 at Tupelo’s “The Hub” in Journal Business Park.

Among those selected for the honor were UM-Tupelo graduates Albine Bennett and Blakley Moore Young as well as UM-Tupelo’s Executive Director and Assistant Professor of Leadership and Counselor Education Derek Markley.

Bennett is a 2011 graduate of the UM-Tupelo campus with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Managerial Finance. She currently serves as the director of communications for the CREATE Foundation in Tupelo, where among other duties, she coordinates the annual "Imagine the Possibilities" Career Expo.

“My time as a student at UM-Tupelo helped me not only gain knowledge in my field, but it also helped me gain confidence in myself,” Bennett said. “I was able to meet different people from all walks of life which helped me to broaden my horizons.”

Bennett says she appreciated the connections she made in the community as an active member of various student organizations at UM-Tupelo. She now volunteers for several area non-profit groups including the Sanctuary Hospice House and the Salvation Army. She is also a board member for the local women’s leadership group “New Expectations for Women in Mississippi.”

Dr. Derek Markley has been the executive director of the University of Mississippi Tupelo and Booneville campuses since 2014. He is also an assistant professor of leadership and counselor education and enjoys volunteering as a local youth soccer coach and with several Tupelo area organizations including CDF and CREATE.

“It is a humbling experience to be included with such a great group of hard working people,” Markley said. “As a university I think we’re fortunate to have campuses in northeast Mississippi so we can be a part of the growth and development of this region.”

“I was very honored to be in the same room with so many people committed to the success of Tupelo and the surrounding areas.”

Young is a 2007 graduate of the Tupelo campus with a Bachelor's of Business Administration in Marketing.  She now serves as the digital sales manager for WTVA where she was named one of the Top 50 Leading Business Women in the state from the Mississippi Business Journal. 

“The University of Mississippi-Tupelo campus helped prepare me in so many ways,” Young said. “The classes that I took there provided me with the education and insight I need to now assist my digital agency clients as they look to grow their businesses. As a leader in my organization, my management classes were invaluable to the work I do now.”

Young serves as a board member with the Tupelo Sanctuary Hospice Junior Auxiliary and volunteers with “The Shepard’s Hands” organization that provides assistance to at-risk women and children in North Mississippi. She is also involved with several other professional organizations including the Public Relations Association of Mississippi and Tupelo Young Professionals.

“My time at UM-Tupelo helped to lay the foundation for being involved in my community and giving back,” Young said. “It also provided life-long relationships both personally and professionally that I am forever grateful for.”

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