About Me

Originally from Water Valley, Mississippi, Dr. Cassandra L. Hawkins is the eldest child of Rev. Tommy and Rev. Louise Hawkins. In 2000, Dr. Hawkins graduated from Water Valley High School with high honors. She was determined to continue the legacy of her parents, who attended Mississippi Industrial College in Holly Springs, Mississippi and were honor students. Following her parents’ footsteps of attending a Historically Black College and University, Dr. Hawkins arrived at Jackson State University (JSU) in May 2000.  Dr. Hawkins possesses three degrees from JSU: BS – Psychology (minor: political science), MA – English (thesis: A Psychobiographical Study of Death Themes in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “Ligeia,” and The Pit and the Pendulum), and PHD – Public Administration (concentration: policy analysis; dissertation: The Prevalence of Food Insecurity in Mississippi). She belongs to the Golden Key Honour Society, Beta Kappa Chi National Scientific Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta Honor Society, and National Scholars Honor Society. As a student at JSU, Dr. Hawkins received numerous honors, awards, and scholarships, including the JSU Graduate Tuition Waiver, JSU Graduate Assistantship (Master and Doctorate Levels), Dean’s List, Miss Baptist Student Union, and WEB DuBois Honors College Student.

Dr. Cassandra Hawkins

While being a fulltime student, Dr. Hawkins remained gainfully employed. Her first job after undergraduate was working at Antonelli College in Jackson, MS. After this position, she became a certified special education teacher through the alternate route program with the University of Mississippi. From 2005-2011, Dr. Hawkins worked as a special education and inclusion teacher for Jackson Public Schools and Scott County Schools. Her current endorsements include MILD/MOD Disabilities K-12 (221), English 7-12 (119), Psychology 7-12 (171), and Social Studies K-12 (192). Dr. Hawkins’ career in teaching on the post-secondary level started in 2010. Since that time, Dr. Hawkins has taught English for Holmes Community College, Hinds Community College, and JSU and Psychology for Virginia College. Dr. Hawkins currently teaches as a tenure-track Assistant Professor for the Rural Public Policy Graduate Program at Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) and an Adjunct Professor for the Department of English and Modern Foreign at JSU.

While working at MVSU, Dr. Hawkins remains passionate about addressing food insecurity. Her work focuses on agriculture policy, rural public policy, food insecurity, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and food systems. Presently, she is the principal investigator for a research study that is examining food insecurity in the MVSU Community. Vehement about helping rural and minority communities, Dr. Hawkins is actively involved in the community. She serves as an executive board member of the Institute for the Advancement of Minority Health and Mississippi Food Policy Council, a member of the Heir Property Steering Committee for the Southern Rural Development Center at Mississippi State University (MSU), the chair-elect 2018-2019 for the Rural Poverty Research Interest Group with the Rural Sociological Society, and a researcher with the Mississippi Food Insecurity Project at MSU. Dr. Hawkins has published three books and several articles, and her work has been presented to audiences at the local, regional, state, and national levels. Recently, Dr. Hawkins was nominated and selected to be a scholar in the 2019 – 2021 Class of Whisenton Public Scholars project, coordinated by the Joffre T. Whisenton & Associates, Inc. and supported by the Charles F. Kettering Foundation. Excited about this new opportunity, Dr. Hawkins is optimistic about using this professional development opportunity to address food systems and food insecurity, specifically in southern states like Mississippi. 

Beyond her career in education, Dr. Hawkins possesses a spirit of entrepreneurship. In 2007, she founded Sensational Image Consulting, Inc., which as an image consulting firm that educated clients about the importance of their appearance to their personal and professional development. Additionally, Dr. Hawkins taught related courses for the Community Enrichment Program at Millsaps College. When she started her doctoral studies, she dissolved the business but continued to volunteer to assist individuals with enhancing their appearance, whenever time permitted. In 2019, Dr. Hawkins founded Hawkins & Associates LLC, which is a research firm that specializes in program evaluation and conducting research for clients. Her firm focuses specifically on assisting non-profit organizations with their program evaluations for grant requirements. 

When Dr. Hawkins is not working, she enjoys planning in her bullet journal, traveling around the country, reading a book, listening to live music, attending cultural events, and spending time with family and friends. An avid reader and bibliophile, Dr. Hawkins owns an extensive personal library that she hopes to either donate to Jackson State University or to start the inventory for a used bookstore. Additionally, she takes great pride in owning every book written by Dr. WEB DuBois. Adamant about family, Dr. Hawkins loves spending time with her four children, Jasmine, Jacob, Jeremiah, and Jonathan, as well as with her immediate family. 

The 4 Js – Children of Dr. Cassandra Hawkins

Dr. Hawkins’ favorite scripture is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (KJV). Her favorite quote is “If there is no struggle, there is no progress,” spoken by Frederick Douglass. This scripture and quote are often used as a reminder for Dr. Hawkins to continue striving to achieve a goal, finish a task, or just live her life. Dr. Hawkins is quick to share her life story, including going through a divorce, being a single parent, and encountering the trials and tribulations, as a means to inspire and motivate others, especially her mentees. Without her faith in God and the support of her immediate family and friends, Dr. Hawkins knows that she would not have accomplished anything and could not have successfully maneuver through life. ​

For more information about Dr. Cassandra Hawkins, visit her website: www.cassandrahawkinsphd.com.