Michelle Cotton of Vicksburg considered dropping out of the Health Care Assisting program at Hinds Community College after her husband died unexpectedly in March.
But the two instructors, Elinda Hagan and Greer Duran, she had at the Jackson Campus-Nursing/Allied Health Center begged her to stick with the program. She graduated on May 14 in one of eight record-setting ceremonies.
“I had decided to quit,” said Cotton, 40, with tears on her face after the ceremony. “Ms. Hagen talked me into coming back. I finished, and it’s been very hard.
“But these two ladies were my support group. They got me through this, and, of course, my family.”
It was worth the wait for Ashley Lilley to get put her mortarboard atop her daughter Kailee’s head and clutch a well-earned diploma.
“I already knew I wanted to be a nurse,” Lilley said amongst a throng of fellow graduates Thursday outside Cain-Cochran Hall on Hinds Community College’s Raymond Campus. “But, I had a child first. So, I went for LPN first, so I could get out on my own.”
Lilley, who graduated cum laude, was one of 46 who walked across the stage of Hogg Auditorium as newly-minted registered nurses. While earning her way to the nursing field’s coveted designation, she married and had a second daughter, MacKenzie. As easy as daughter helped mother celebrate, Lilley’s next step in the medical field will be to help people.
“That’s what it just boils down to,” Tilley said. “I love sciences and seeing how things work and putting things together.”
Hinds graduated more than 200 in nursing and allied health programs on Thursday. Lorie Ramsey, chief operating officer at Merit Health River Region, was the speaker for all three.
“If there are any advice or words of wisdom I can provide for you today, it is to seek every encounter you have with patients, coworkers, your peers and even family as an opportunity to learn,” said Ramsey, who has been a registered nurse for 22 years.
“As healthcare professionals, we need to ensure we serve the patient and each other from the heart and we are ‘in the moment’ when providing care. Remember we are all pieces of a puzzle, and with one missing piece in the delivery, we do not appear solid in the patient’s point of view. It matters how we deliver the care and how other healthcare professionals manage the patient’s care, we are all linked together in this road to success in meeting the needs of the patient,” she said.
Those graduates will receive more than 1,500 certificates and degrees since some graduates will receive more than one credential.
“We have a record number of graduates this spring, if you account for students in the college credit transfer area,” Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse said. “We’re proud of that.”
Also among those celebrating was Hayden Smith, of Flowood. She held bouncing baby boy, 6-month old Harrison, near her waist and her diploma in hand as she spoke of her next step in her education.
“I’ll be going through University (of Mississippi) Medical Center for my bachelor’s,” Smith said.
Of the total number of graduates, 73 are graduating summa cum laude, which is a perfect 4.0 grade point average; 151 are graduating magna cum laude, which is a 3.60 to 3.99 grade point average and 238 are graduating cum laude, which is a 3.20 to 3.59 grade point average.
On Friday May 15, academic and technical graduates, except for those attending the Utica Campus, will have ceremonies as follows: 8 a.m., students whose last names begin with A-E; 11 a.m., F-K; 2 p.m., L-R; and 5 p.m., S-Z.
The speaker for those ceremonies is Hinds alumnus James W. Smith Jr. of Brandon, who is formerly chief justice for the Mississippi Supreme Court and a lawyer with Ogden and Associates in Jackson specializing in trial and appellate practice.
Those ceremonies will take place at Cain-Cochran Hall on the Raymond Campus.
The Utica Campus will have a separate ceremony at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 17 at J.D. Boyd Gym. Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr., president of Alcorn State University, will be the speaker. Nearly 100 students are expected to participate in the ceremony.
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, visitwww.hindscc.edu or call 1.800.HindsCC.