PEARL – Lakashia Robinson already had a servant’s heart, having earned a degree from Hinds Community College a few years ago, in surgical technology, and caring for patients at Merit Health River Oaks.
But, she wanted to take her life and career higher. As she pursued her Associate of Applied Science degree in nursing, Robinson, 26, of Jackson, felt it was imperative to share that heart with classmates and the community.
“Every year, we go out into the community and do one big event,” Robinson said. “As vice president of the Mississippi Organization of Associate Degree Nursing Student Association, I organized a group of students to participate in the benefit walk for breast cancer and we raised $1,900 – which is amazing since as students we don’t have to donate – but we did!”
As an OB-tech, her caregiving skills are tested daily.
“You don’t know caring for someone until you have a pregnant woman sitting there in tears and the only thing you can do to comfort her is say, ‘It’s going to be OK,’” she said.
Robinson will be a second-generation nurse once she completes her degree at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, as her mother is a nurse. Among her many sources of inspiration was the family and service-oriented atmosphere at Hinds.
“I didn’t want to just be a nursing student,” she said. “I wanted to be a nursing student who served the community. Our college embodies that very thing.”
Robinson was among more than 1,000 students who graduated in three ceremonies Dec. 15 at the Muse Center on the Rankin Campus, beginning with the nursing and allied health students at 8 a.m.
“The power of education is that it drives our vision for a better life. And, while the graduates who sit upon this stage today represent a diverse set of circumstances, they are connected by their belief that a community college education is a step up to a broader opportunity to build a better life and to contribute to the communities in which we live,” said Hinds president Dr. Clyde Muse in his address to graduates.
Student diplomas this year included a gold seal celebrating the college’s 100th anniversary.
Among the graduates, 129 achieved summa cum laude, a 4.0 grade point average; 74 achieved magna cum laude, a 3.6 to 3.99 GPA and 21 achieved cum laude, 3.2 to 3.59.
Also among honors graduates was Derrick Williams, a classmate of Robinson’s who switched careers.
“I was driving a furniture truck for a living when my sister suggested I get into this,” Williams said before walking across the stage a cum laude graduate. “I gave it a shot and now I want to be a nurse practitioner working with mental health patients.”
Speaking to nursing and allied health graduates was Joy Rhoads, a history and geography instructor at the Rankin Campus and coordinator of the campus’ Honors Institute.
Rhoads told graduates to be open to all the challenges life might bring after graduation, using her own experience as a master’s student as an example.
“I realized quickly, that being Joy the student was a vastly different experience than being Ms. Rhoads the instructor,” Rhoads said. “Discerning how to effectively balance my family, my job, and my schoolwork was another challenge to an already challenging degree path. It truly was an epiphany – my light bulb moment – when I understood that all my students face many of these very things and more. So, when you are navigating what comes next, be open to being humbled.”