Zachary Lilley of Florence couldn’t let his wife one-up him. Last year Ashley Lilley finished her Associate Degree in Nursing at Hinds Community College so this year it was Zach’s turn.
“I’ve been an LPN (licensed practical nurse) for five years now,” said Lilley, 29, who, along with his wife, works at the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield. “I couldn’t let her be ahead of me.”
Lilley commuted back and forth to Hinds’ Vicksburg-Warren Campus for the Transition to RN program and has already begun the RN to BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) at University of Mississippi Medical Center. The couple has three children ages 10 months, 3 and 10.
“It’s stressful. It’s very stressful – but it’s only for a year and you can get through anything for a year,” he said.
But his wife was a true partner. “She could tell me her past experiences what she thought was important and was not so important,” Lilley said. “Getting the kids off when I had clinicals. They had babysitters so I didn’t have to worry about babysitters. She handled all that.”Hinds Community College conferred 467 degrees and certificates to 405 graduates in two graduation ceremonies Friday, July 29
at the Muse Center on the Rankin Campus. “A good number of our graduates are earning more than one community college credential,” said Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse.
Of the total number of graduates, 56 graduated summa cum laude, which is a perfect 4.0 grade point average; 36 graduated magna cum laude, which is a 3.60 to 3.99 grade point average and 66 graduated cum laude, which is a 3.20 to 3.59 grade point average.
“I suspect if we polled each graduate, nearly all would say they went to college to make things better — for themselves and for their families,” Muse said. “The power of education is that it drives our vision for a better life. And, while the graduates here 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.”
The speaker for both graduation ceremonies was Dr. Ed Davis, director of the doctoral program for Rural Community College leaders at Mississippi State University.
“The good thing about the job I have had for the past few years is I have had the chance to go across the nation and work with other community
college programs in a lot of states and in a lot of regions,” Davis said. “There are two things they know when you go to other states: They know Dr. Muse, and they know Hinds Community College. I think that’s a testament to the work and dedication of administrators, the faculty and staff of Hinds Community College and the leadership of Dr. Muse. The quality of programs at Hinds Community College is known nationwide.”
Jeffery Walters of Jackson received a certificate in the paramedic program. At age 49, he already works for AMR in Jackson.
“It is difficult — difficult but rewarding would be the best way to describe it,” he said. “It was difficult finding time to study because I did work fulltime at the same time.
“I told myself that, as old as I am, that after I got out of EMT school I am done with school, too old. But family, friends and coworkers finally talked me into coming back and stepping on up,” Walters said.
One of the happiest people at summer graduation had to be Lotoya Patterson of Vicksburg, who received her practical nursing degree at age 30.
“This was an emotional roller coaster but I thank God because if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here,” she said. “When they say rigorous it was very rigorous. But I thank God because they prepared us to get ready for the world, to be in the hospital showing us what we have got to be prepared for. I’m really thankful to have come to Hinds Community College because their program is very rigorous.”
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 2015. To learn more, visit www.hindscc.edu or call 1.800.HindsCC.