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MC Alumni Board Taps Pediatric Dentist, Infectious Disease Specialist for Order of the Golden Arrow

Dr. Susan Fortenberry, left, and Dr. Mindy Mallory Prewitt, 2023 Order of the Golden Arrow recipients, credit the education they received at Mississippi College for helping prepare them for careers in healthcare.
Dr. Susan Fortenberry, left, and Dr. Mindy Mallory Prewitt, 2023 Order of the Golden Arrow recipients, credit the education they received at Mississippi College for helping prepare them for careers in healthcare.

A pair of respected medical professionals whose generosity and heart for service have cemented their reputation as pillars of their respective communities has been selected to receive the prestigious Order of the Golden Arrow at Mississippi College’s Homecoming.

Dr. Susan Fortenberry ‘03, a board-certified pediatric dentist in Clinton, and Dr. Mindy Mallory Prewitt ‘95, an infectious disease specialist in Tupelo, have distinguished themselves as longtime supporters of Mississippi College.

For their commitment to improving the lives of countless patients, their devotion to ministerial opportunities at home and abroad, and their unwavering dedication to their alma mater, the duo will each receive the honor during the annual Alumni Association Awards Brunch from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in Anderson Hall on the second floor of the B.C. Rogers Student Center.

The Order of the Golden Arrow honors individuals, alumni, or friends of the University who have made outstanding personal or professional achievements in their professions, businesses, or careers. It recognizes exceptional performance or leadership beyond the ordinary.

Donna Sharp, MC Alumni Board of Directors president, said Fortenberry and Prewitt’s community service each meet the criteria many times over.

“Susan serves on the steering committee of Little Feet, a ministry to benefit children,” Sharp said. “She uses her abilities on the mission field, including dental clinics in Haiti and But God Ministries. She also teaches Sunday school and Mission Friends.

“Mindy supports the Boys and Girls Clubs of North Mississippi and actively helps with fundraising for that group. She has hosted alumni events for MC and is looking at the possibility of a medical-dental alumni association for the Tupelo area.”

Fortenberry’s concern for others is recognized by those who know her best. Tiffany Brooks, a fellow MC graduate from Clinton and friend since seventh grade, praised her professionalism and compassion.

“Susan is one of the most hard-working and determined people I know,” Brooks said. “Her heart of service for others is evident in her occupation as well as her everyday life. She has a heart for missions, both around the world and here in Mississippi. I am so thankful our paths crossed all those years ago, and even more thankful she is still my close friend today.

“I couldn’t think of a better recipient for the Order of the Golden Arrow Award.”

Another MC classmate, Casey Tuminello, said despite her friend’s determination and drive, Fortenberry has a magnetic personality that is fun to be around.

“Susan impressed me as I watched her navigate enjoying the social aspect of college while prioritizing her studies with such balance,” Tuminello said. “Susan approaches friendships as she approached her studies in college, and as she now approaches her professional life: with complete dedication and intentionality.

“I look up to her in every area of life, and it has been such a privilege to have a front row seat as she has met every goal she set for herself professionally and personally. She sets new goals and pushes herself daily to be the best person that she can be, and even as she has become such an accomplished adult, she is still my fun friend who has continued to take me by surprise and keep me on my toes daily for the past 24 years.”

Fortenberry grew up going to gymnastics class, running, and even eating Sunday lunches on MC’s Clinton campus. She had planned to leave her hometown and attend a state university, but near the end of her senior year of high school, she felt the Lord leading her to attend MC.

“I’m so glad I did,” she said.

She majored in biology with minors in math and English, and found a knowledgeable faculty willing to share their time to help her succeed in life.

“I had so many teachers that truly cared about me and helped guide me in my studies and prepare me for the future,” she said. “Dr. Dean Parks, Dr. (John) and Mrs. (Charlotte) McMath, and Dr. Stan Baldwin were just a few of the many wonderful teachers I was blessed to have.

“I have so many sweet memories! I developed some great friendships I still maintain today and am so thankful for them. I participated in the London Semester program and loved being able to experience another part of the world and still be under the wing of MC.”

She credits the education she received from Mississippi College for helping launch her career in dentistry. She said the science courses were difficult, which taught her how to study more effectively and prepared her for postgraduate work.

After obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from MC, Fortenberry attended the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry and graduated with honors in 2007. She completed her post-doctoral residency training in pediatric and special needs dentistry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, then returned to join her father, Dr. Lee Cope’s practice in Jackson.

She met her husband, Brian, principal at Clinton High School, while both were at MC, and the couple has four children: Grayson, Ellen Claire, Emily, and Caleb. A lifelong member of First Baptist Church in Jackson, Fortenberry teaches youth Sunday school and children’s missions.

She has always loved being involved in missions, from Mission First in inner-city Jackson to international trips with her family and staff to Kenya, Ghana, Honduras, Haiti, and Ecuador. She is involved with the Mississippi Dental Association, serves on the Friends of Mississippi Dentistry board, and is an affiliate faculty at the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry. She has served the last several years on MC’s Alumni Board.

“We live just a few blocks away from MC, so we are always around the school and keep up with what’s happening,” she said.

While she said she feels “quite undeserving” of the Order of the Golden Arrow award, Fortenberry plans to attend the luncheon with her family to receive the award.

“I look forward to a fun day on campus and seeing new and old MC friends,” she said. “I always encourage my teenage patients to consider attending MC. It provides such a great Christian atmosphere while still offering an outstanding education.

“MC helped shape me academically in preparing me for my postgraduation studies, spirituality as I grew closer to the Lord during this time in my life, and personally as I met my future husband while at MC.”

Similarly, Prewitt credits Mississippi College for helping lay an educational foundation that helped guide her toward a successful career in medicine.

“Our lives are made to serve the one true God,” she said. “The journey each of us takes to accomplish that goal is individualized and tailor-made for us by our Creator. No two are the same. Looking back, I can see how MC was a necessary rest stop along the way that provided nourishment, trials, and triumphs for me through relationships and education, as well as a safe haven for exerting my independence as a young adult.

“Professionally, I have to give much credit to the wonderful cheerleaders – my professors – who were so instrumental to me through their wisdom and teaching.”

Prewitt was introduced to MC by a physician recruiter at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science. She visited the Clinton campus for a weekend, stayed in the residence halls, attended a swap and other activities, and went home, convinced MC was the place for her to be.

“MC had a great science department, and I was interested in pre-med,” she said. “Additionally, it was far enough from home to feel independent. Fortunately, I had a full scholarship without the financial burden – otherwise, I would not have been able to attend.”

She became involved in several organizations on campus. A member of Laguna Social Tribe, she served in the Student Government Association, Mortar Board, and the Baptist Student Union, among others.

“As a freshman, I remember the excitement of meeting my wonderful Big Sis from Laguna, Dr. Cindy Melton,” she said. “Singing in the choir was wonderful. My time in the Hederman Science Building was unforgettable. I remember the early morning fruit fly experiments, countless hours studying with friends, and expeditions with Dr. Bill Stark, my college advisor. One of these included a stone fly adventure out west with several of my classmates as we sought to test freshwater streams in Colorado for pollution.

“Dr. Ted Snazelle was my work study professor for the microbiology lab and my inspiration for planting hundreds of daffodils annually, often enlisting the help of my family. He also encouraged me to apply for the Study Abroad Program in London, which was probably one of the most influential experiences of my life.

While obtaining her Bachelor of Science in biology at MC, Prewitt was influenced by Snazelle, Stark, Dr. Prentiss Cox, Dr. Ann Meydrech, and many others in the “super-stellar” Department of Biology to make the most out of her educational opportunities.

“They encouraged and equipped me all along the way,” she said. “MC provided a strong academic backbone, enhanced by gifted professors and wonderful friends in a Christian environment.”

She earned her M.D. at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine, where she also completed her internal medicine residency and infectious disease fellowship. Affiliated with North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, she is a member of the American Board of Internal Medicine, the Infectious Disease Society of America, the American Medical Association, and the Mississippi State Medical Association.

Through the years, Prewitt has made it a priority to remain in contact with MC through friends and former classmates. She said she is looking forward to the luncheon, not only to receive the Order of the Golden Arrow, but “to have an opportunity to say ‘Thank you’ to my alma mater for the opportunities afforded me by attending here.”

Her husband, Brad, an attorney in Tupelo, her twin sons, Brooks and Shaw, her father, Don Mallory, her aunt Mary, an MC alumnus, and her uncle Ernie Dorrill plan to make the trip to Clinton for the occasion. She is looking forward to seeing old friends – especially MC President Blake Thompson, who was a groomsman at her wedding – and showing the campus she loves to her family.

“MC has weathered many storms and is more impressive now than ever,” Prewitt said. “It has a distinguished history with an amazing pedigree of alumni.

“Most of all, students have the opportunity to be well educated and surrounded by diversity, with the unifying acknowledgment of Christian-centered values and a ‘Christ as Redeemer’ world view.”

Tickets to the Homecoming Brunch cost $25 apiece, and RSVP is required. Click here to register or for more information.