When Lexus Burns graduated with her associate degree in general studies from Hinds Community College Dec. 19, she got much more than a diploma.

“I have a five-month old daughter out there watching me walk across that stage,” she said. “And even though she’ll be too young to remember this day, she won’t forget that I taught her the importance of perseverance. I’ve worked, been a mother, and gone to school full time, all at the same time, to achieve my goal. I’ve set an example to her that says ‘never give up’.”

Burns, originally from Utica, attended the Raymond Campus and plans to attend Jackson State University where she will major in mathematics. Her ultimate career goal is to become a college professor.

Burns is among the more than 800 students who graduated on Dec. 18 and 19 at five fall ceremonies at Hinds Community College’s Raymond Campus. The graduates earned a total 1,260 credentials including career and technical certificates as well as associate degrees, an increase over last December when 734 students earned 808 credentials.

“This is a remarkable increase,” said Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse. “Mississippi is beginning to recognize more and more how important college degrees are to the lives of the people of our state.”

Out of those, 45 are graduating summa cum laude, which is a perfect 4.0 grade point average; 94 are graduating magna cum laude,  which is a 3.60 to 3.99 grade point average and179 are graduating cum laude, which is a 3.20 to 3.59 grade point average.

Janet Wasson, English instructor on the Raymond Campus and the college’s representative for the Legislature’s Feb. 17, 2015, HEADWAE (Higher Education Appreciation Day – Working for Academic Excellence) program, spoke to all academic graduates Friday, Dec. 19.

“All of you came to Hinds at many different stages in your life – with varying circumstances, and today after much hard work, long hours, and probably a few tears, you will walk across this stage having earned something that no one can take away from you,” she said. “One of our graduates today worked two jobs to support her family while taking a full load each semester and still managed to graduate with honors. I know one of our graduates spent nights in his car because he had nowhere else to stay but was in class every day that his class met. As a community college instructor, I am inspired by you. I’m inspired by stories of personal and academic struggles just as I am inspired by the stories of triumphs and successes. I am inspired by what you students have taught me.”

The speaker for the Thursday ceremonies was Charlie Mitchell, assistant dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media and an assistant professor at the University of Mississippi, who spoke to nursing and allied health graduates.

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