Kayla Hopper: Educating and Changing lives
By Kinnadi Walker
After a few months of working with the Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program (MASEP) as an undergraduate student, Kayla Hopper has returned as a graduate assistant for the Research and Development team.
Hopper, a native of Madison, Mississippi graduated from Madison Central High School and recently received her bachelor’s in educational psychology at Mississippi State University. She is now working on her master’s in school counseling.
She is excited to be starting her graduate program, which many of her professors refer to as the “honeymoon phase” and stated that she is looking forward to everything that her master’s program has to offer, especially the upcoming projects.
Her assistantship with MASEP and Dr. Angela Robertson, director of MASEP R&D and a research professor at the SSRC, is particularly meaningful because she was affected by substance abuse while growing up. She wants to help educate others about the impacts of substance abuse whether that be alcohol or drugs.
MASEP is a program that is evolving and expanding to other states. Because MASEP has shown itself to be effective, other states are seeking to try it out. “We’re working on the Connecticut project right now and getting everything switched over to them because they bought MASEP for their state.”
With Connecticut wanting to implement its own version of the MASEP program, some changes will have to be made. MASEP curriculum requires 12 hours in Mississippi, whereas Connecticut is seeking to require 18 hours.
“The North is dealing with an opioid crisis. So, we had to make a few changes to include opioids, specifically Fentanyl just because it is becoming a huge concern pertaining to the opioid world.”
Fentanyl will also be added to MASEP’S program as well as cannabis. The goal is to educate people about the dangers of cannabis even as a prescribed drug. Although it may be prescribed there are still restrictions as it is with any other prescribed drug, for example, consuming marijuana and driving under the influence.
CBD, synthetic marijuana, and vaping were all things that were added to the curriculum over this past summer. The sessions have also changed from 45 minutes to 60 minutes to ensure enough time is provided to speak. on marijuana. They will be elaborating a bit more on Fentanyl, as well.
MASEP will potentially be working on a project targeting correctional facilities on substance abuse and how to prevent them from coming in on drug-related charges.
Hopper says that she is looking forward to attending conferences with Dr. Robertson because she’s never been and is interested in seeing what it’s like and also having the opportunity to network.
“Research intimidated me at one point with all the statistics and numbers, but it’s not as bad as I initially thought because it’s in more of a work setting.” Hopper is glad to have given research a chance because she now enjoys it. She is now considering research post-graduation.