PEARL – Justice Munn is a third-generation member of his family’s business, Munn Enterprises, but found himself at a crossroads just a year ago in his young, adult life.
His skills as a mechanic were being tested mightily by the evolving technology of today’s diesel engines. “You can’t even diagnose today’s engines without a computer,” Munn said.
“I’m a mechanic and I wanted to return to school for better pay and a chance to open my own shop,” said Munn, of Sumrall, as he prepared to earn career and technical certificates from Hinds Community College during graduation ceremonies held Dec. 15 at the Muse Center on the Rankin Campus.
Being in the Diesel Equipment Technology program helped him hone his skills and opened doors to earning further credentials down the road – all the while setting him up to earn more money now.
“I enjoyed it at Hinds,” he said. “I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Hinds Community College graduated more than 1,000 students in the three ceremonies.
“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.
The spirit of achievement also reached Hinds faculty who returned to the classroom to build skills.
“In cosmetology, we have to market ourselves anyway,” said Lychanda Brown, of Raymond, an instructor of Cosmetology at the Utica Campus. Brown earned an Associate of Applied Science in marketing, as well as career and technical certificates.
For Jennifer Burnett, a custodian on the Utica Campus, it was a chance to get into computer programming, in which she earned a career certificate. “It was time to move on up,” Burnett said.
Speaking to academic and career and technical education 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, very 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.”