Photos from Dec. 20 graduation

Monthly Archives: December 2013

Posted by on 20 December

Mother, daughter among nearly 800 Hinds CC graduates

 The mother and daughter duo of Charlene Allen and Carla Johnson, both of Vicksburg, are particularly pleased they graduated together from Hinds Community College on Friday, Dec. 20. 

“I took extra classes so we could graduate together,” said Johnson, a business office technology major. “We’re both pretty excited.”

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Carla Johnson, Charlene Allen

Allen, Johnson’s mother, an early childhood major, was already scheduled to graduate during the fall 2013 ceremony.

On the same day, Tammie Norwood, 53, received a certificate in business office technology. She will receive another certificate next semester and then graduate with an associate degree in accounting in December 2014.

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Tammie Norwood

She started out, however, getting a General Education Development high school equivalency certificate after dropping out her senior year in high school because of family issues.

Now married with three grown children and three grandchildren, Norwood decided to return to school after an 18-year career as a floral designer. She lost her job and discovered she didn’t have the skills to get another.

“I decided it wasn’t too late to finally go to college and do what I wanted to do when I was younger,” she said. “At times it has been difficult but my family has been extremely supportive. I have been blessed. My approach has been that anything I do, I do the best I possibly can.”

Norwood decided to get the career certificates on the way to a degree because “I feel like it would look good on my resume and help my employer see the skills I have,” she said.

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Jane Flowers, Jackie Jackson

Graduation speaker Jane Flowers challenged graduates to behave like eagles, Hinds’ mascot, instead of chickens. She drew on a Blackfoot Indian story about an eagle that was raised by chickens in her remarks.

“Honored graduates, you are now eagles, and you are responsible for recognizing the potential in yourself,” said Flowers, Work-Based Learning coordinator at Hinds’ Vicksburg-Warren Campus as well as the faculty honoree for the legislative HEADWAE program in February.

Nearly 800 Hinds Community College students graduated over the two days in four ceremonies.  

Of those, a little more than 500 chose to participate in a ceremony. Twenty-eight graduates have perfect 4.0 grade point averages for summa cum laude, 63 have 3.60 to 3.99 grade point averages, magna cum laude and 160 have 3.20 to 3.59 grade point averages, cum laude.

For more information, see the Hinds website at

20 December, 2013 News more
Posted by on 20 December

Hinds CC receives grant, forges partnership to train deckhands

Students in the Hinds Community College barge deckhand training course gather around to study more about safety in their line of work. They are, from left to right, Brock Perry of Pelahatchie, Ryan Watts of Oxford, Justin Burns of Crystal Springs and Logan Heineck of Starkville. Burns and Perry are employees of Magnolia Marine, Heineck is with Golding Barge Lines and Watss with Yazoo River Towing.

Students in the Hinds Community College barge deckhand training course gather around to study more about safety in their line of work. They are, from left to right, Brock Perry of Pelahatchie, Ryan Watts of Oxford, Justin Burns of Crystal Springs and Logan Heineck of Starkville. Burns and Perry are employees of Magnolia Marine, Heineck is with Golding Barge Lines and Watss with Yazoo River Towing.

When his mother was diagnosed with cancer, Justin Burns of Crystal Springs dropped out of high school at age 16 to help his family make ends meet. Working odd jobs, from cleaning deer to landscaping, Burns figured out through the years that he needed something more stable to provide for his family, including his new wife and child. That’s how Burns found himself graduating with a certificate from Hinds Community College, and heading to work full-time for Magnolia Marine, one of Mississippi’s leading barge companies.

Burns and nineteen other young men spent a week in December learning the safety hazards, terminology and expectations of working as a deck hand on a barge. This college’s involvement was made possible by a $2.3 million U.S. Department of Labor grant as part of a larger nine-college, eight-state consortium for community colleges along the Mississippi River. It’s part of the Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Community College and Career Training grant program, a multi-year nearly $2 billion initiative. The grant project is aimed at expanding targeted training programs for unemployed workers, especially those impacted by foreign trade.

Working with the college is Maritime Services Group of Louisiana, a company that provides hands-on experience and promotes safety, team building and educational training. Together, Hinds Community College and Maritime are training employees of three leading Mississippi barge companies, Magnolia Marine, Yazoo River Towing and Golding Barge Line.

“These companies are not required to send their employees to this training,” said Tom McWhorter, CEO and instructor for Maritime. “They pay out of pocket to house and train these guys because they see how important it is. We are teaching these students about safety hazards, how to prevent injury and what to expect when they get out onto the water. They’re ready to jump right in as soon as they’re done, and that’s a benefit to both the employee and the company.”

So far, the program has graduated 20 employees, who all received their certificate of River Inland Decking Skills from Hinds Community College, and are ready to report for duty to their employers. Over the next three years, the college and Maritime will be providing one to two classes per month, graduating more than 300 trained employees, prepared to enter the field.

Some of the things they learn over the course of the week are how to properly wear safety devices such as respirators and protective clothing, which substances are potentially carcinogenic, how to do basic tow work, including soft lines and wire rope skills, and, most importantly, what to expect when they leave home for work.

The seven-day long training is conducted at a hotel in Vicksburg. Once trainees arrive, they are to conduct themselves as though they are on a real vessel; they must sign in with ID, wear appropriate safety attire, maintain the cleanliness of their quarters and spend hours working with equipment. The students are not allowed to leave to go home and have limited contact with their loved ones, all a simulation of what the real job will be like.

According to Casey Stubbs, crew manager for Golding Barge Line, the training is a huge bonus for the company.

“Back before we did training like this, we would hire a new crew and they would show up not really knowing what was expected of them,” he said. “They would spend hours each day trying to figure out the process of how things work. Now, our guys come on board already knowing the majority of what they will be doing. That saves us a lot of time and effort, but, most importantly, it prevents injuries and fatalities. Keeping our crew safe is a high priority.”

Breaking into the barge industry has a huge benefit for the employees, as well. After the training, all the students report to their companies as deckhands with salaries in the $20-30,000 per year range. After a period of only four years, deckhands can work their way up the ladder to become what’s called a pilot, making around $100,000 per year.

According to Dr. John Woods, Hinds Community College’s vice president of economic development and work force training, the college recognizes the great growth potential in river barge jobs. “This TAA grant will allow the college to train entry level deckhands for great, well-paying jobs,” he said.

This particularly enticed one student, Brock Perry of Pelahatchie.

“I knew when I graduated from high school that college wasn’t for me,” he said. “I wanted to find a career that didn’t necessarily require a degree, but offered a chance for me to advance, which is definitely a possibility in this industry.”

Logan Heineck of Starkville and Ryan Watts of Oxford both came into the barge industry after finding they needed more stable income. Heineck drove a delivery truck and Watts worked in fast food. Now they both have goals of becoming successful in a lucrative industry.

Burns says his ultimate goal has less to do with money and more to do with setting an example.

“I don’t want my kid to go through what I did; having to sacrifice to help your family. I want to be successful so that I can set an example of what it means to work hard and provide.”

For more information about the Department of Labor’s TAACCCT grant program, view the latest release here: For more information on Hinds Community College’s programs of study, including career technical programs and certificates, visit


20 December, 2013 News more
Posted by on 20 December

Hinds CC recognizes exceptional employees with Hinds Heroes

Hinds Community College recently named the fall 2013 group of winners in the Hinds Heroes employee recognition program at the November Board of Trustees meeting.

Hinds Heroes are chosen because they represent the college well, provide exceptional customer service to internal and external customers and constantly promote the Hinds mission of service. Winners received a lapel pin, a token of appreciation and one free day off from work.

The fall 2013 Hinds Heroes are:

Norma Jean Scrivener of Clinton, who serves as an assistant registrar in the Admissions and Records department on the Raymond Campus. She is responsible for the online catalog, athletic eligibility, building programs and courses approved by the college. She has been with Hinds for five years.



Randy Wilson of Utica has been with Hinds for nine years. As an instructor for the Raymond Campus, Wilson teaches electrical classes and is an authorized OSHA Outreach Trainer for 10 and 30 hours training.



Margaret Ann Bell of Clinton, an English instructor on the Utica Campus, has been with Hinds for 11 years. She also has worked at Hinds as a librarian.



Catherine McGill of Utica is the director of Housing at the Utica Campus and  manages three residence halls on the Utica Campus. She has been with the college for 10 years.



Amber King of Raymond teaches Beginning English, Intermediate English, Composition I and is an adviser for Associated Student Government and Phi Theta Kappa on the Raymond Campus.  She has been with Hinds for five years.



Timothy Rush of Jackson, a 13-year employee, is the dean of Students for the Utica and Vicksburg -Warren campuses.



Ernest Dixon of Raymond has been with Hinds for seven years.  Dixon is a residence hall director for the Raymond Campus and oversees the hall and staff.



Jean Williamson of Mendenhall has been with Hinds for more than 14 years. Williamson serves as the administrative secretary for the vice president’s office on the Rankin Campus and coordinates day-to-day operations.



Eric Smith of Florence, director of the Career Technical Center on the Rankin Campus, has been at Hinds for 15 years. He is responsible for the high school career and technical center on the Rankin Campus.



Jan Carraway of Utica has been with Hinds for 14 years. Carraway is the district supply buyer for the Raymond Bookstore and is also responsible for ordering supplies and gifts for all six Hinds bookstores.



Patricia Grantham of Brandon has been with Hinds for 27 years. Grantham is a Child Development Tech instructor on the Rankin Campus.  She also advises and implements state objectives for Child Development Technology.



Libby Mahaffey of Raymond, dean of the Jackson Campus-Nursing/Allied Health Center, has been with Hinds for 31 years.  She oversees all nursing and allied health programs.



The next group of Heroes will be named at the April 2014 Board of Trustees meeting. The program is sponsored by the Hinds Community College Foundation and coordinated by the foundation office. To nominate someone deserving of recognition, visit the Hinds web page at or contact the foundation office and submit a nomination by paper. Nominations can be submitted at any time.

20 December, 2013 News more
Posted by
19 December

Nursing, allied health students graduate Dec. 19

Medora McNair of Brandon, who describes herself as “22 times 2,” said getting her associate degree in nursing at Hinds Community College Thursday was “a long time in coming.”

The 44-year-old wife and mother, whose daughter is a pre-law student at Mississippi College, had one degree as a certified nursing assistant and decided to return to become a nurse. Having two college students in the household at the same time made life interesting, she said.



Medora McNair

“I guess it was just my time,” said McNair, who plans to return to her former employer, Premier Medical Group in Jackson. “I’ve always wanted to do it.”

Nearly 800 Hinds students graduate Thursday and Friday, Dec. 20, in a series of four ceremonies on the Raymond Campus.

Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse said those are record numbers for a fall ceremony. “We are pleased with the fact that we are continuing to graduate more students each year,” he said.

Of those, a little more than 500 chose to participate in a ceremony. Twenty-eight graduates have perfect 4.0 grade point averages for summa cum laude, 63 have 3.60 to 3.99 grade point averages, magna cum laude and 160 have 3.20 to 3.59 grade point averages, cum laude.

 “Only you can define your success,” said Charlotte Dupre’, chief executive officer for Central Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, who spoke Thursday to graduates of Hinds Community College’s nursing and allied health programs.

Dupre’ quizzed her staff members about what she should tell the nursing and allied health graduates about post-graduation and came up with a 12-point message

Those include learning how to handle difficult patients and family members, looking professional learning compassion and empathy.

“It is a never-ending story. As we continue to grow our services, we learn new methods and gain new experiences,” she said.

Jane Flowers, Work-Based Learning coordinator at Hinds’ Vicksburg-Warren Campus as well as the faculty honoree for the legislative HEADWAE program in February, is the speaker on Dec. 20 for students whose last names begin with A to J at 10 a.m. and those whose last names begin with K to Z at 2 p.m.

For more information, see the Hinds website at


19 December, 2013 News more
Posted by on 16 December

Utica Campus inducts PTK members

The Utica Campus Alpha Beta Xi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) held its 39th induction ceremony recently that included five student and five honorary inductees. The ceremonial theme was “The Culture of Competition.”



Honorees and advisers include, front from left, Christine Councell of Vicksburg, an early childhood education major; Kimwanna Terry of Utica, a general studies/medical assistant technology major; Beverly Trimble, PTK adviser; Kenjamin Newsome of Hazlehurst, an electronics technology major; Mildred Davis of Raymond, an early childhood education major; Von Shinnie of Jackson, Alpha Beta Xi president, a computer technology major; PTK adviser Denise Taylor and LeKeyo Tyler of Port Gibson, an electronics technology major; back, honorary members Dr. Bobby Cooper, Humanities Division chair; Deborah Danner, computer science instructor; Dr. Mae C. Jackson, Math and Science Division chair, Dr. Debra Mays-Jackson, vice president for Utica and Vicksburg-Warren campuses/Administrative Services, and former PTK president Ollie Riley Jr.

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society serves to recognize and encourage the academic achievement of two-year college students and provide opportunities for individual growth and development through honors, leadership and service programming. Today, Phi Theta Kappa is the largest honor society in American higher education with more than 2.5 million members and 1,275 chapters worldwide. In 1929, the American Association of Community Colleges recognized Phi Theta Kappa as the official honor society for two-year colleges.

For more information, see

16 December, 2013 News more
Posted by on 16 December

Energy management office evolves to oversee recycling

Hinds recently welcomed the addition of a new department, the Office of Sustainability, under Thomas Wasson, vice president for Physical Plant and Auxiliary Services. Jason Pope has been named the director of sustainability, while Mindy Stevens will serve as sustainability projects coordinator. Energy conservation will be the key focus of the department, but recycling will also fall under the office’s duties.

In 2008, the energy conservation effort was implemented district wide. The savings since its inception, which includes all utilities for all campuses, comes to approximately $6.3 million, or 29.4 percent.

“These district wide numbers are the reason the program has been such a huge success for the college,” Pope said. “This reflects a cohesive group effort on the part of our employees to be better stewards of taxpayer dollars.”

With the recycling initiative taking on a more defined role this coming year, with the introduction of desk-side recycling bins, the Office of Sustainability hopes to enhance the already existing program.

“Mindy Stevens was the obvious choice to lead the recycling program; she has demonstrated her passion for recycling in the local community and at the college for years,” Pope said. “Her enthusiasm and energy will continue to lead this program forward.”

According the Pope and Stevens, the college has a duty to help protect the environment through recycling efforts. There is, of course, the added benefit of all the recycling proceeds going toward scholarships in the Honors program and the GED program at the Hinds County Penal Farm, where inmates process and bail all of the recycled goods.

Recent legislation also played a role in the development of the new office. Gov. Phil Bryant recently signed House Bill 1296 during the 2013 Regular Session, which created the Mississippi Energy Sustainability and Development Act. This new law requires each state agency, including Hinds Community College, to submit an official Energy Management Plan to the Mississippi Development Authority.

Currently, the college is averaging about 80,000 pounds of cardboard, or about two semi-truck loads, per month, which is collected from throughout the county.

“Other types of recyclable materials, like paper and plastic, are growing rapidly,” Stevens said. “The college currently recycles paper, plastic, cardboard, aluminum and tin. We are planning on really encouraging people to recycle paper products more often.”

Stevens also spearheaded a program with the college’s cafeteria this fall. All leftover food is now taken to the penal farm and re-used for hog feed. Stevens said she implemented this initiative after traveling abroad to Costa Rica with an Honors group.

“After experiencing Costa Rica’s normal practice of not wasting food, we implemented a similar practice with the Hinds cafeteria,” Stevens said. “Vince Randazzo has been extremely helpful in supporting this initiative. The cafeteria is a huge contributor to all of the recycling on campus.”

All Hinds employees, throughout the district, are encouraged to help with the recycling initiative in the following ways:

– Start using existing recycle bins

– Promote recycling to students and coworkers

– Use the recycling bins for recycling only

-Request bins, if needed, from the Office of Sustainability

– Report recycling issues to the Office of Sustainability

– When in doubt: recycle it

The Office of Sustainability is aiming to get desk-side recycling bins out to eligible employees as soon as possible.

“It’s going to take some time to get all the bins distributed, but we are working diligently across the district to ensure everyone has their opportunity to contribute to the recycling efforts,” Stevens said.

Any employees who wish to get a head start on the recycling initiative may drop off recyclable items to the penal farm.


**Put following information in a break-out box**

District-wide energy savings since 2008 inception:$6,367,053 or 29.4 percent

Campus percentage savings since inception (electric, water, gas):

Raymond:           29%

Utica:                    25%

Rankin:                 34%

JATC:                     31%

Vicksburg:           42%

NAHC:                   31%

Environmental savings for the district as a whole:

MMBTU Avoided: 353,088 MMBTU

This equates to removing 5,801 cars from the road or 826,691 trees planted in a 10-year sequestration.

16 December, 2013 News more
Posted by on 16 December

Hinds CC Alum: Living with a purpose

Rhett and his wife, Juli, relax in one of SMr's hammocks.

Rhett and his wife, Juli, relax in one of SMr’s hammocks.

In 2009, Richard Rhett’s life changed forever.

The Vicksburg native and Hinds Community College alum was traveling to a remote village in Honduras on a mission trip with Woodlawn Baptist Church and an organization called Baptist Medical and Dental Mission International, a medical ministry with the goal of sharing Christ’s love and meeting physical needs of health care for those without. Rhett noticed that many people were sick, with the majority of illnesses stemming from polluted water sources.

“I thought at that moment, ‘What if every drop of water that went down my throat caused illness instead of refreshment?’” he said.

As his trip went on, he learned that water-borne illnesses are the leading cause of death in infants and the second leading cause of death in children across the globe.

“Knowing this and seeing it first hand with my own eyes, I knew I could not disregard those facts,” he said. “So, I set out to become an instrument of change.”

Rhett decided to start a company that sells outdoor gear for a purpose, that purpose being to provide clean water to those in need.

An outdoor enthusiast, Rhett said he has always enjoyed God’s creation.

“My dad took me to Alaska for my 21st birthday, and it was a trip that I will never forget. I was dumbfounded by the mountains and the vast vistas that we enjoyed as we traveled throughout the state.”

In 2008, Rhett’s love for the outdoors turned into a desire to be immersed in the wild, so he started to rock climb, mountaineer, kayak, surf, ski and snow board, doing everything he could to seek out new adventures.

“I was hooked. Also, I found that I really enjoy sleeping outside; it allows me to venture into areas of the world that are not commonly seen or experienced. In this, I am able to enjoy the simplicity of nature.”

Rhett says his inspiration for his number one selling item, his special hammocks, came from a first-hand experience in le Patarique. As he was camping each night, he thought of ways to make a more comfortable camping hammock. Upon his return to the U.S., he bought a sewing machine and made his first prototypes. His company, Sierra Madre research, or SMr, was launched in August 2010 with two products, both camping hammocks, called the Pares and the Solo.

Sierra Madre research illuminate S.A., or SMr illuminate, was incorporated in October 2011 in the city of Managua, Nicaragua. The illuminate was formed as the SMr production company, but more importantly to provide sustainable economic development for those with sewing skills. Currently, the company employs eight full-time Nicaraguan team members, and in November, the company interviewed and hired four additional employees.

“We are steadily expanding to catch up with our current orders,” said Rhett. “We are ecstatic about the opportunity to expand and offer more permanent positions to workers that desperately need the work.”

SMr illuminate manufactures the majority of SMr’s gear, which gives SMr the ability to monitor the entire production process and implement its own standard of quality for each product.

“This also gives reassurance to customers that workers are being paid good wages and working in a good environment made their product,” Rhett said. “SMr illuminate imports hand-picked raw materials from all over the world and then builds gear with a purpose.”

Rhett says his company is aiding in developing sustainable economic change by paying good wages to employees and providing an excellent work environment, which, in turn, gives hope to the entire community.

He plans to expand his company into all forms of outdoor products. Designs for tents, backpacks and sleeping bags, all with unique features, are in the works.

In addition to this, SMr has committed to bringing clean water to those without, so with each piece of gear purchased, a percentage goes directly to funding clean water. So far, the company has participated in the building of three new water wells, one in Guatemala and two in Honduras. They have also participated in a well repair in Haiti.

Recently, the company released a new hammock, the Nubé. Because of the success of the new product, SMr will be able to drill approximately nine water wells in Honduras.

“The way our system works is, when someone purchases a ‘ONE’ product, a portion of that sale gives clean water to one person for an entire year,” said Rhett. “One product, one person, one year of clean water.”

Rhett remembers his time as a Hinds student and reflects on how it has helped him achieve his dreams.

“Gary and Michelle (Davison) at the Hinds Baptist Student Union laid the groundwork in teaching me the two most important ways to live our lives: to love God with everything we have and to love people,” he said. “Hinds, in general, laid the groundwork for me to learn how to dedicate time to a goal, a long-term goal. Getting an education and having the discipline needed to, one day, be a useful contributor to this world, were the two goals I made during that time. I am glad to have Hinds as one of the paving stones in my journey of life.”

According to Rhett, although the success of a company is often measured by revenue, there are many more factors that determine what success really is.

“To me, this is what makes our company successful: people enjoying God’s creation, economic stability in a developing country, and clean water for people that do not have access to it. No, we haven’t made a ton of money, but God has truly provided everything that we have needed and much more.”

Rhett plans to keep his mission as the focus of the company, even as it expands.

“This is the core of SMr,” said Rhett. “To take the hope of Christ to the nations and water to the thirsty.”


16 December, 2013 News more
Posted by on 16 December

Onezime dances his way through Hinds

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a staff member of The Hindsonian student newspaper produced on the Raymond Campus.

By Kimberly Stampley

Marcus John Onezime Jr., a dance performance and education major on the Raymond Campus, is involved in so many campus activities, you never know where you might see him next.

Onezime is a member of the Montage Theater of Dance, plays the clarinet in the Wind Ensemble for the Hinds band, is a member of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and he also serves as a note-taker through Disability Support Services on the Raymond Campus.

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Photo by Kim Stampley

Marcus Onezime, left, performs at a half-time show with Hi-Stepper Kayla Mullen.


Onezime said he had never taken dance lessons until he took his first dance class at Hinds during the fall 2012 semester. “I have always had a love for dance, because I could not sing, and so I decided to move my body to the music,” said Onezime, a Terry resident and graduate of Jackson’s Hillcrest Christian School.

He participated in the Montage fall 2012 concert, “The Dance of Oz,” where he performed as the scarecrow.

He also performed in several dance numbers in the fall 2013 Montage fall concert, held in October on the Raymond Campus. He also performed in the lead role as Moses in the 2012 “Dance of Egypt.”

Dance Department Director Tiffany Jefferson had good things to say about Onezime as her student. She described him as well-rounded – from his intellect, humor and professionalism to his leadership skills.

Some advice she has given Onezime is, “Don’t go through life with regrets. Count your blessings, cut your losses and follow the yellow brick road.”

Onezime plans to apply for the new Jeffrey Gibbs Memorial Scholarship, which was named after a former Hinds student who died in a car wreck.

Gibbs was also a member of Montage. “I will be applying for the scholarship, if possible, in the spring of 2014,” he said.

Onezime is set to graduate in spring 2014 and plans to attend Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., to pursue his dance emphasis in jazz and modern.

“I love the upbeat intensity that comes from the jazz genre and the ability to express myself and my personality in a fun, energetic way,” he said. “On the other hand, the modern genre allows me to express a more earthy, low and deep tone that is sometime required to convey an idea.”

Mackenzie Maslanka, a general studies major, said she has been friends with Marcus since her junior year in high school.

 “Marcus has inspired me by his amazing work ethic and his passion for what he does,” Maslanka said. “He is a very talented performer, and I am glad that being a part of this activity brought us together as friends.”

During Onezime’s spare time, he is most likely in Bee Hall or the Muse Band Hall playing with different dance combinations or creating color guard work. He always seems to be on the move. He has proven that you can do anything if you go after your calling and follow your dreams.

 For more information on The Hindsonian student newspaper, see

16 December, 2013 News more