Donna Harris of Raymond retired from teaching and decided to fulfill her lifelong desire to become a nurse. So at age 48, she graduated Dec. 18 with an Associate Degree in Nursing from Hinds Community College.
She plans to work with adults at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. “It’s what I always wanted to do,” Harris said.
Likewise, classmate Justin Kuykendall, 45, of Pearl also earned his ADN on Dec. 18. “I’m a former exercise physiologist and I wanted to combine the two fields together,” he said.
They are among the more than 800 students graduating on Dec. 18 and 19 at five fall ceremonies at Hinds Community College’s Raymond Campus. The graduates earned a total 1,260 credentials including career and technical certificates as well as associate degrees, an increase over last December when 734 students earned 808 credentials.
“This is a remarkable increase,” said Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse. “Mississippi is beginning to recognize more and more how important college degrees are to the lives of the people of our state.”
Out of those, 45 are graduating summa cum laude, which is a perfect 4.0 grade point average; 94 are graduating magna cum laude, which is a 3.60 to 3.99 grade point average and179 are graduating cum laude, which is a 3.20 to 3.59 grade point average.
Charlie Mitchell, assistant dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media and an assistant professor at the University of Mississippi, spoke to nursing and allied health graduates on Thursday.
“You are beginning careers of service. I don’t know how much you have thought about that word – service. If not much, I invite you to think about it more,” said Mitchell, whose mother was a nurse. “You already know health care is about so much more than working a shift and picking up a paycheck. You already know or you wouldn’t be here. You would have chosen another way to earn a living.”
Mitchell, who was formerly the editor of the Vicksburg Post, memorialized Robert Pickett, who was president of the Hinds Board of Trustees until his death on Nov. 10. Pickett was also from Vicksburg.
“He was a super educator, an effective leader and a person who worked countless hours to help teachers and students achieve their goals. He always had a smile for us, and we were blessed to know him,” Mitchell said.
The speaker for the Friday ceremonies is Janet Wasson, an English instructor on the Raymond Campus and the college’s representative for the Legislature’s Feb. 17, 2015, HEADWAE (Higher Education Appreciation Day – Working for Academic Excellence) program. The ceremonies are at 9 a.m. for academic and career-tech graduates whose last names begin with A to G; at 12 p.m. for those whose last names begin with H-M and 3 p.m. for those whose last names begin with N to Z.
As Mississippi’s largest community college, Hinds Community College is a comprehensive institution offering quality, affordable educational opportunities with more than 170 academic, career and technical programs. With six locations in central Mississippi, Hinds enrolled nearly 12,000 credit students in fall 2014. To learn more, visit www.hindscc.edu or call 1.800.HindsCC.