Standing in cap and gown holding a diploma amongst other giddy graduates on a warm spring day was a scene neither Roy Harness nor Cynthia Hollingsworth could have imagined themselves in a few years ago.
“I came back to school because I had been injured in the service, then beaten drug addiction through the VA Hospital,” Harness said, his pride beaming with the midday sun for cellphone pictures taken by friends. He said his Associate of Arts degree for drafting and design was his seventh such two-year degree, and it was worth the wait.
“All I want to do is do something positive and give people hope that they, too, can get out of addiction,” said the spry 61-year-old from Jackson, as he prepares to tackle his bachelor’s work at Jackson State University.
Harness was among a record number of graduates this spring at Hinds Community College. Eight ceremonies were scheduled over three days and nearly 1,200 are to receive credentials. More than 1,500 certificates and degrees will be received, since some graduates receive more than one such credential.
Hollingsworth, 52, of Florence, had “come late to everything” in life.
“I have an 11-year-old son and I had just floated around doing odd jobs,” Hollingsworth said. She had also been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder many years ago, leaving her apprehensive about continuing school.
“Having my son, Peyton, and just the desire to finish inspired me to go back,” said Hollingsworth, who plans to parlay her Associate of Arts into a nursing degree at Belhaven.
Former chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court James W. Smith, a Hinds Community College alumnus, spoke to graduates at four ceremonies Friday, May 15 about achieving success in life.
“I’m pleased that these graduates chose to come to Hinds Community College, trusting in us to provide them with the quality education that they have received. Many of these graduates came to us with all different levels of education and backgrounds. Because of the great teaching staff that we have, along with their own efforts, they’re here today,” said Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse.
“Quality instruction has always been the foundation of Hinds Community College. That’s what we’re noted for. And you know in today’s society there’s not anything more important than an education. An education today helps individuals get their jobs, jobs that pay a living wage,” Muse said.
Smith said he has been a graduation speaker at all three colleges he has attended, including the University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi College.
“An excellent education is a key factor in your success in life. But as Dr. Muse previously said, the quality of that education is the forefront and the cornerstone of it all. Hinds is accomplishing this task with ease. It always has, it always will. The excellent administration and faculty of this college should be justly proud,” said Smith who is now a lawyer in private practice.
Hinds graduated more than 200 in nursing and allied health programs on Thursday. The speaker for that ceremony was Lorie Ramsey, chief operating officer at Merit Health River Region.
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.
The last Hinds ceremony will be at the Utica Campus 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 graduate that day.
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.