http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=PT+Sans Hinds CC helps Farr dance her way to Mrs. Mississippi title

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Hinds CC helps Farr dance her way to Mrs. Mississippi title
Posted by
02 January

Hinds CC helps Farr dance her way to Mrs. Mississippi title

Note: The following story appears in the winter issue of Hindsight alumni magazine. For more information about the Hinds Alumni Association, see the website. To apply for a Hinds Community College Foundation scholarship, go to the Admissions tab on college web site at www.hindscc.edu or click here.

RAYMOND – Getting back into shape after her daughters were born meant dusting off the old tiara for Marisa Lepard Farr.

“I wanted to set a goal for myself to get back in shape, so I decided to go for it this past January,” Farr said of her decision to compete in the 2017 Mrs. Mississippi United States pageant in Tunica in June, as Mrs. Rankin County.

Marisa Lepard Farr

It was quite the splashy return to the stage for Farr, a Terry native who won this past year’s state title and took it to Orlando, where she competed for Mrs. United States a month later. Though the run ended there, the former Montage Theatre of Dance member at Hinds Community College looks forward to big things during her yearlong reign as the state’s top married beauty queen.

Her platform as this year’s title-holder stems from an experience she had while about a year ago driving along Highway 18 in Brandon. She came upon a terrible wreck scene that resulted in the deaths of two children, aged just three and five years old.

“They were not in proper car seats at all,” she said. “I have always believed in car seat safety for my own children, so seeing the wreck and the negative impact of not using proper car seats took it to a different level for me.”

Farr, who now lives in Flowood, is pursuing certification as a Child Passenger Safety Technician and plans to lobby state lawmakers to strengthen child seat safety laws.

It’ll be a chance to do what she’s done a fair amount of since her college days – teaching.

She was part of the first Montage Theatre of Dance troupe, started by current program director Tiffany Jefferson. After Hinds, she moved on to the University of Southern Mississippi, where she majored in Elementary Education. She taught middle school briefly and still teaches dance, at Northwest Rankin Middle School. Currently, she is a sales agent for Younique, a cosmetics maker. She and husband, Coleman, have two daughters, Sarah and Ava.

She had done Miss Teen Mississippi USA and competed in the Eagle Beauty Revue as a Hinds student. “After I got married, a friend suggested I do Mrs. Mississippi,” she said. “I didn’t know they had pageants for married women.”  She won first runner-up in a few of them before having her two daughters.

Jefferson choreographed a solo routine in one of those pageants.

“Marissa had a strong interest in dance and pageantry even while she was here at Hinds,” Jefferson said. “A course she studied with me was Jazz/Hip Hop, and during that time we studied the Bob Fosse style. She gravitated toward it with fondness and decided to do ‘All That Jazz’ for her talent.”

Her dancing feet led her to what is now the state’s community college system’s only full dance program.

“We had no dance class in high school, so when I came to Hinds I randomly signed up for a jazz dance class,” she said. “It happened to be Tiffany Jefferson’s very first dance class that eventually became Montage.”

“We did a few competitions that first year, and traveled to San Antonio and danced. She’s really taken off since then and helped get opportunities for her dancers.”

Hinds has a special place in her heart, as she and Coleman met while members of the Baptist Student Union and their career paths fell into place after some initial stress.

“It was a blessing to me at that time in life,” she said. “After high school, I had planned to go into fashion merchandising at another university in the state. But the program wasn’t there anymore once I went to apply. I didn’t know what I was going to do. Thankfully, I got a full scholarship to Hinds, which was helpful to my parents at the time. Hinds was like my little sanctuary, where everything fell into place with what I wanted to do with my life, which was to teach.

“My husband and I talk about it all the time, about how if just one thing been different, we’d have never known each other or had our beautiful children. We have Hinds and the BSU to thank for that.”

0 845 02 January, 2018 News more
Mother-son graduates among Hinds CC spring graduation
Posted by
30 April

Mother-son graduates among Hinds CC spring graduation

Melissa Mason, left, and Corey Hulett, share a laugh in between classes at Hinds Community College earlier this month. Mason, who returned to school after two decades, and son, Corey, are graduating May 15.

Melissa Mason, left, and Corey Hulett, share a laugh in between classes at Hinds Community College earlier this month. Mason, who returned to school after two decades, and son, Corey, are graduating May 15.

RAYMOND – Life got in the way of Melissa Mason’s plans more than 22 years ago to start her education at Hinds Community College.

“I started Hinds and really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” Mason said, remembering a sudden move from her home state to New Jersey with the twin challenges of marriage and a new baby. “I found out I was pregnant, then had to move up there with my husband’s job.”

Mason, who now lives in Clinton, had planned to finish her schooling there, but plans collapsed and, within two years, she was back in Mississippi. The next 15 or so years brought a mix of joy and disappointment – a second son, Nathan, was born, while a second marriage ended. In between, Mason juggled jobs in everything from home detailing to law enforcement. The situation left son Corey Hulett, also of Clinton, as a sometime caretaker for his younger brother.

“I was working two jobs and having Corey take care of Nathan,” Mason said. “I wasn’t home but for three hours a day. I just decided it was time to go back to school and have just one job.”

On May 15, Mason, 47, and a now grown-up Corey, the baby boy she had when she first left Mississippi, will join other graduates as Hinds stages a record eight commencement ceremonies to wrap up the spring semester.

By the time Hulett was ready to chart his own course after high school, it took a key question from mom to convince him to do so cautiously.

“In high school, you have big dreams and don’t always see reality,” he said. “I love performing and love to sing, so I wanted to go to New York to be a dancer. I didn’t want to come to Hinds and didn’t care about anything else. My mother said, ‘Well, what happens if you don’t make it through the auditions? If you don’t make an audition, you don’t get paid.’ I’m thankful she talked me into it, because I’ve met some amazing people.”

Mason, a student at Jackson Campus-Academic/Technical Center, will receive an Associate of Applied Science degrees, with certificates in medical data technology. Hulett, a student at the Raymond Campus, is earning an Associate of Arts degree. They performed together on stage as members of the college’s Montage Theater of Dance, where Corey was the male lead at the multitalented dance troupe’s performance at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City and at Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.

They count Director of Dance Tiffany Jefferson among numerous kudos they have for Hinds faculty.

“Corey Hulett and Melissa Mason are what Southerners like to say ‘good people’,” Jefferson said, adding they just needed a place “for their true light to shine. That place for them was Hinds Community College.”

Paula Rodriguez, chair of the Speech Communication, Theater and Dance Department, said she will be sad to see them go “but I know that great things are waiting for them in the future. They have overcome some real obstacles in their lives to become dedicated students with impressive goals.”

Hinds turned out to the perfect place for Mason, particularly, as an older student, said Business Technology Department Chair Jackie Waite.

“Melissa is just one of many students who come to Hinds just because they are no longer in their late teens or early 20s and are scared and unsure if they are doing the right thing,” Waite said. “However, as an educator, I can attest that many times these students turn out to be the best ones in our classrooms.”

“She has overcome many obstacles in life, and she made the decision to complete her education in spite of the circumstances facing her upon her return to school,” said Dr. Marquise Loving, academic dean at the Jackson Campus-Academic/Technical Center.

Awards along the way are a source of pride for both mother and son. Mason has been a Presidential Scholar for three semesters, which means she had a 4.0, and also made the Dean’s List. Hulett received the Jeffrey Gibbs Memorial Scholarship for dance and a Beyond the Stage Award. Both mother and son are members of Phi Theta Kappa.

Both plan to attend Belhaven University, where Mason hopes a four-year degree will help her add physician’s assistant to her resume.’

“I don’t have to encourage my boys to go to college. They’ve seen what I had to do,” she said.

Hulett wants to back up any work in the arts with a solid foundation in business or physical therapy.

“I want to get an athletic trainer’s license to assist injured dancers,” he said.

Each credits Hinds with mending a pair of injured lives, making graduation day possible.

Hulett said Hinds has made him a better person because of the family-like atmosphere and the way he and his mom were treated. “I treat people differently, I’m more humble and sympathetic,” he said.

“All I’ve ever wanted to do is help people,” Mason said, adding her desire to do so has motivated her to instill self-reliance in her sons.

“If you really want to go back to school and get an education, then Hinds Community College will make that happen if you’re really serious,” Mason said.

1 1580 30 April, 2015 News more
Hinds CC Montage Dance presents ‘Willie Wonka’ performance
Posted by
04 November

Hinds CC Montage Dance presents ‘Willie Wonka’ performance

Members of Montage include, from left, Sarah Thames of Pearl, Alyssa Vernon of  Richland, Brook Vernon of  Richland, Dominique Mathis of Clinton, Charlie Wright of Utica, Xiandria Gabby Long of Jackson, LaCia Moses of Jackson, Versace Devine of Madison and Nate Campbell of Clinton, center, director Tiffany Jefferson of Terry; from right, Zairia Bell of Byram, Natalya Burton of Jackson, Walter Jones of Clinton, Chelby McBee of Vicksburg, Timothy Jones of Jackson, Cheryl Harris of Raymond, Josh Knight of Terry and Katrellis Plumpp of Terry.

Members of Montage include, from left, Sarah Thames of Pearl, Alyssa Vernon of Richland, Brook Vernon of Richland, Dominique Mathis of Clinton, Charlie Wright of Utica, Xiandria Gabby Long of Jackson, LaCia Moses of Jackson, Versace Devine of Madison and Nate Campbell of Clinton, center, director Tiffany Jefferson of Terry; from right, Zairia Bell of Byram, Natalya Burton of Jackson, Walter Jones of Clinton, Chelby McBee of Vicksburg, Timothy Jones of Jackson, Cheryl Harris of Raymond, Josh Knight of Terry and Katrellis Plumpp of Terry.

 

The Montage Theatre of Dance at Hinds Community College will present “Willie Wonka and the C&C Dance Chocolate Factory” at 7 p.m. Nov. 11 and 12 at Cain-Cochran Hall on the Raymond Campus.

Advance admission is $5 for students and seniors and $7 general admission. Admission at the door is $7 for students and seniors and $10 general admission. Hinds faculty and staff are free with an ID.

 

 

 

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.

0 3645 04 November, 2014 News more
Montage Theater of Dance to perform with Universoul Circus
Posted by
08 May

Montage Theater of Dance to perform with Universoul Circus

Johnny Burgess Montage UniversoulHinds Community College’s Montage Theater of Dance will be performing the opening act for Universoul Circus on Thursday, May 16 at MetroCenter Mall.

Johnny Burgess of Jackson, a 2012 graduate of Hinds Community College, is living out his dreams traveling the world as a professional dancer for Universoul Circus.

After graduating from high school, Burgess attended a community college in central Mississippi on a basketball scholarship. His goals of becoming a professional athlete soon changed, however, when he was injured and forced to take a break from his sport. Later, in Jackson, Burgess met a young man from the dance program at Hinds Community College at an event, and his interest was sparked.

“I had taught myself some dance in high school, but had never taken any classes or had any formal training,” Burgess said. “I always had dancing in the back of my mind, but didn’t even know who to talk to in order to take that first step. When I made contacts at Hinds, it opened the door for me.”

When Burgess enrolled at Hinds, he planned on taking a few dance classes while pursuing a different major. But he soon fell in love with the art of dance and decided to pursue a career in the field. He auditioned for the Montage Theatre of Dance under Tiffany Jefferson’s instruction and found himself traveling the country doing performances in places such as Carnegie Hall. Now, as a member of Universoul Circus, Burgess performs break dance, hip hop choreography and gymnastics, among other feats, during up to three performances a day, all over the world.

In the future, Burgess hopes to share his wisdom and experience with others, through authoring and teaching.

“I want to be a positive influence and mentor to young dancers, the way my Hinds instructors and peers were to me,” he said. “I have many more professional goals to reach before I’m done, but that goal of giving back is really, really important.”

From May 15-19, Universoul will be touring in Jackson. Hinds Community College’s Montage Theater of Dance will be performing the opening act on Thursday, May 16 at MetroCenter Mall.

All Hinds students, graduates, and community members are encouraged to attend the event wearing their favorite Hinds Community College gear to support the Montage group.
For more information on event times and tickets, visit www.universoulcircus.com.

0 1732 08 May, 2013 Alumni, News more