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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Lecturer Kathleen Olivieri rises to local social media fame

Kathleen+Olivieri+dresses+in+vintage+clothing+everyday+to+teach+at+MSU%2C+showcasing+her+outfits+on+TikTok.
Ivy Rose Ball | The Reflector

Kathleen Olivieri dresses in vintage clothing everyday to teach at MSU, showcasing her outfits on TikTok.

57-year-old Kathleen Olivieri sits in Nine-Twentynine Coffee Bar wearing a khaki-colored vintage Talbots dress. She dons her grandmother’s earrings, lavalier and a favored broach — pieces that hold significance to her. Olivieri is quick to detail the pieces of her outfit, much like she does in her TikTok and Instagram Reels videos.
Olivieri tells of her passion for clothes and describes one of her recent online niches: “outfits of the day” or “OOTDs.” In her posts, Olivieri flashes her vintage collection while she gets ready for the day.
“This has got to be something that, you know, if it’s not going to mean anything to you, don’t wear it,” Olivieri said, offering a piece of fashion wisdom.
Olivieri sips her coffee next to the window on a rainy day. After speaking on her recent fixation, Olivieri sets down the coffee to show off her favorite videos that she has made with her mom. Her mother’s voice sounds through the phone as her most popular TikTok plays.
“Then I was in my sorority at the University of Alabama in 1955, and I didn’t have to go ‘wiggle wiggle wiggle,’” her mother said in the video.
Following the online trend of “RushTok,” the video reveals how the mother-daughter duo are the “OGs of Rush.” Olivieri points out that the video is close to 800,000 views on her TikTok page.
Olivieri’s social media presence is widely recognized at the Mississippi State University campus by students, parents and alumni alike. Her recent posts from the past months include showing off outfits, Famous Maroon Band “MVPs” and her life as a retired woman at MSU.
Olivieri is an MSU alumna, beginning her undergraduate education in 1984. She earned her master’s at Southern Illinois University and later came back to MSU to earn her doctorate. She worked for MSU Information Technology Services and taught at the College of Business before retiring after 25 years with the university.
In her retirement, Olivieri took to teaching technical writing part time for the Bagley College of Engineering and began posting on social media.
Brody Knapp is a student in one of Olivieri’s technical writing classes. Knapp is a junior studying mechanical engineering and is aware of her online hobby.
According to Knapp, Olivieri makes the class “fun and interesting” compared to a possible dull alternative for a teacher. He said that she is relatable during the class partially due to her online presence.
“I feel like her social familiarity with social media really helps out in her teaching, because she can kind of relate to her students a little bit more compared to other professors. So yeah, I’d say that that’s a big plus. You’re being technologically sound,” Knapp said.
Olivieri’s social media presence helps her connect and relate with students, Knapp feels that students must be wary about overstepping boundaries with the professor’s social media presence.
“I think it’s probably better to stay away from [Olivieri’s social media] during the class time because it feels a little bit invasive, in my opinion, to be super interactive with a professor on Tik Tok or Instagram or whatever,” Knapp said.
According to Olivieri, she joined social media to be where the students are. She began to post TikTok videos in 2019, when she posted about her personal life, shared technology tips and documented her weight loss journey. These gained some recognition, earning her a following of around 25,000 and a brief spotlight on PBS NewsHour in September of this year.
Olivieri’s nephew, Ben Collins is a 34-year-old hairstylist who lives in Jackson. Collins and his aunt are very close, speaking every day. The two enjoy gossiping and attending MSU football games together. One day, Collins pointed out Olivieri’s campus fame to her, and she would not give in to the idea.
“She is very, very humble about it. I mean, and I don’t know why,” Collins said.
Collins mentioned how Olivieri includes her mother, his grandmother, into her videos. He explained how his grandmother overcame breast cancer a few years ago. Choking up, Collins expressed his fondness towards his aunt involving family into her posts.
“It’s still just a good social media presence by herself on these videos, and I enjoy from a family aspect seeing that,” Collins said.
Olivieri continues to post on social media, following trends while also marching to the beat of her own drum.
“I like to do things that are different and kind of just venture out, find something new to talk about, and normally I just talked about stuff I’m doing; it’s not very exciting,” Olivieri said. “I mean, I’m 57 for goodness sake! My life is not that exciting.”

About the Contributor
Megan Gordon, Life & Entertainment Editor
Megan Gordon is a senior communication major from Sylacauga, Alabama. She currently serves as the Life and Entertainment Editor. [email protected]
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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Lecturer Kathleen Olivieri rises to local social media fame