For Carlie and Kayla Bates, twin sisters, getting an education wasn’t a simple task. The siblings, along with their additional brother and sister, Patrick and Kristin, who are current Hinds CC students, had to work to pay their way through college. On Friday, May 16, the sisters celebrated their accomplishments by walking across the stage of Hogg Auditorium in Cain-Cochran Hall and receiving their diplomas.
“It took a while to find the right school for us,” said Carlie Bates. “But Hinds was definitely it. Our family is so appreciative of everything we’ve experienced here.”
Both Carlie and Kayla were students on the Rankin Campus. Their brother, Patrick, is a Hinds Connection student on the Raymond Campus, and their sister, Kristen, is a freshman on the Rankin Campus.
The Bates are among a record number of Hinds graduates this spring. Preliminary figures show that nearly 1,500 degrees and certificates were awarded in a record-setting seven ceremonies spread over three days. Of those, 250 achieved summa cum laude, a 4.0 grade point average; 146, magna cum laude, 3.6 to 3.99 GPA; and 50, cum laude, 3.2 to 3.59 GPA.
But those numbers don’t even tell the whole story. For the academic year that includes graduations in August and December 2013, preliminary data show Hinds is awarding 2,747 total degrees or other credentials to 2,257 students, some of whom have earned more than one credential, such as a career or technical certificate.
That’s a 22 percent increase in number of credentials over the 2013 academic year and a 9.6 percent increase in the number of students receiving credentials.
“Four years ago, we set out with a goal in mind, and that was to graduate a higher percentage of our students,” said Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse. “Many students were completing their coursework, but they planned on transferring to a university so they didn’t see an associate degree to graduate as important. But there is a lot of direct evidence that shows the opposite of that, that it is very important.”
Muse said education has become even more important “for upward mobility, good jobs and to be able to make a good living to take care of their families in the future.”
Robert Graham, Hinds County District 1 Supervisor and speaker for the 8:30 a.m. ceremony, spoke to graduates from a unique perspective.
“I speak to you as a fellow graduate of this special place,” he said. “My education has been 30 years in the making, and it’s taught me two very important things: It’s never too late to go back to school, and it’s now how or when you start, but how you finish, that counts.”
Graham went on to ask the graduating class of 2014 a very important question.
“Are you ready?” he asked. “Are you ready to handle adversity; to persevere; to stay motivated and enthusiastic; to choose to live life to the fullest; to make changes; to be useful; to excel; to be humble; and to run towards success instead of walk towards it? I know the answer to this question. We are ready. We are absolutely ready!”
Malcolm White, director of tourism for the Mississippi Development Authority, spoke to graduates during the noon and 3:30 ceremonies.
“James Meredith once said ‘Mississippi is the most powerful word in the English language,” said Malcolm. “Mississippi is indeed a powerful word and a powerful place. You – the class of 2014 – has every opportunity to live, work, learn and play here, and thrive while doing it. The time is right for your generation to create the new Mississippi, to rethink Mississippi, and I think one of the best ways to do that is through the creative economy. You are our future. You are the new Mississippi. You are our best hope.”
The Utica Campus graduation ceremony, which also includes Hinds Agricultural High School, will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 18, in the J.D. Boyd Gymnasium. Congressman Bennie Thompson is the speaker. It’s the last joint graduation for the Utica Campus and Hinds Agricultural High School.