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4-H alum finds college niche as MSU Bully
By Kaitlyn Byrne
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE – One of Mississippi State University’s current mascots came close to not being a Bulldog at all.
Chris Wilbourn said he originally planned on attending the University of Mississippi and majoring in foreign languages, but his 4-H youth agent, Jan Walton, encouraged him to “just visit” the MSU campus. With a little help from his aunt, he was hooked.
“Once I started visiting State’s campus with my aunt during football games, I really enjoyed the atmosphere, and I felt more comfortable here,” Wilbourn said. “I started looking at the different aspects of the two (universities), and in the end I came to the conclusion that MSU was the best fit for me.”
Wilbourn said Walton encouraged him to consider MSU and played an instrumental role in his final decision.
“Jan helped me with a lot of college planning,” he said. “She was a big factor in helping me make my decision to come here, and she still influences decisions I am making today.”
Soon after Wilbourn decided to attend MSU, a high school friend told him about mascot tryouts for Bully. After doing a 15-minute skit last spring, Wilbourn was chosen to represent MSU team spirit as one of six Bully mascots.
Walton was not surprised that Wilbourn was chosen as a mascot. She said the former member of Grenada’s 4-H Expressive Arts Club is very good at comical roles and ad-libbing.
“He’s so creative, and he was always really good with our club productions,” she said. “He sent me a message on the day he found out he was selected to be one of the mascots, and I wasn’t surprised at all. It’s just fun seeing students go off to college and hearing about their accomplishments and the organizations they’ve joined.”
Wilbourn, who is majoring in international business and German, said the skills he learned in 4-H have helped him in his college career.
“I’ve used some of the leadership techniques I learned through 4-H in my college career so far, whether it’s with Bully or in class,” he said. “4-H also taught me a lot about using time-management skills, which has been a big help in college.”
Wilbourn said being a Bully mascot is a fun experience and has provided networking opportunities.
“I like making people laugh and just having a good time with it,” he said. “It’s all about being spirited. I’ve also met a lot of people through it, and not just at MSU. We do outside events like birthday parties and weddings, so I’ve met a lot of people in the community and a lot of great networking contacts, as well.”
While filming a commercial as Bully, Wilbourn met a producer and a director from New York. Wilbourn said another one of his favorite events as Bully was an event at the Columbus Air Force Base.
“Those were really great experiences, and I got a lot of networking out of them,” he said.