Gayle Long Wicker has spent most of the past two decades in the spotlight as the wife of Roger Wicker, Missis- sippi’s Republican U.S. Senator and former U.S. Represen- tative. But her husband is not the only Wicker to have run a successful political race. In 1971, Gayle Long made his- tory when she was elected Mississippi College’s first female student body president.
“At the time, I didn’t think anything of being a woman running for office,” Wicker recalls. “But once I was elected, it was big news. After the Jackson newspapers and TV stations called me for interviews, I realized it was a historic event.”
It would turn out to be a historic event in more ways than one. While representing MC at a Mississippi Youth Congress meeting, Gayle Long was introduced to the University of Mississippi Associated Student Body Presi- dent, Roger Wicker. The two continued to cross paths at College Republicans gatherings, and were married in 1975.
Wicker received both her undergraduate and master’s degrees from MC, and served her alma mater as an admissions counselor for two years. The Wickers left Mississippi when Roger Wicker was placed on active duty in the Air Force. Wherever they were stationed, Gayle Wicker found her own niche, serving in admissions counseling posi- tions at colleges in Tennessee and North Carolina. Along the way, the Wickers had three children and the family even- tually returned to Mississippi, settling in Tupelo.
In 2005, Wicker accepted her current position as coor- dinator of student services at the University of Mississippi- Tupelo, a commuter campus serving juniors, seniors, and graduate students. Wicker provides services that enhance the non-traditional students’ college experience, including developing programs geared toward working students and students with families.
Wicker has continued to serve Mississippi College through the years. In 1996, she again made MC history when she was appointed as one of the two first female mem- bers of the Mississippi College Board of Trustees. Wicker is a former recipient of the Department of Communication Distinguished Alumnus Award and was the 2008 recipient of the Order of the Golden Arrow.
Wicker was a featured speaker at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Heart Associa- tion’s “Go Red for Women” event earlier this year, and co-chaired the 2011 March of Dimes Gourmet Celebrity Chefs Gala in Washington, D.C., which raised nearly $1 million. For the past three years, she has co-chaired the Reading Is Fundamental Gift of Reading Gala, which benefits chil- dren’s literacy programs nationwide. Con- sidering her background, it’s probably not surprising that Wicker’s favorite children’s books include House Mouse, Senate Mouse and Woodrow the White House Mouse.
From her campaign for MC student body president to her career helping students and her role as a Senator’s wife, Gayle Long Wicker credits Mississippi College with prepar- ing her to seize every opportunity that has come her way.
“At MC, I learned leadership, adaptability and the importance of friends. I’m proud to see that MC is still a strong, faith-based school that gives students an opportu- nity to grow and mature. For me, MC was literally a dream come true.”