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Derek Starling family creates Foundation scholarship for Canton High School graduates

Derek Starling, a past president of the Holmes Community College Alumni Association, and his wife, Daphenia, are establishing a scholarship at Holmes to return what the college provided to their whole family.

Starling, his mother Alma (whom completed some continuing education classes), his brother Dwayne (’84) and sister Dianna (‘80) all attended Holmes and are grateful to Holmes for jump starting their success in life. The whole Starling family is from Madison County, which is one of the college’s nine-county districts.

A graduate of Canton High School, Starling came to Holmes as a student athlete. He played men’s varsity basketball under Coach Bennie Kimble from 1984-1986.

During Starling’s time as a Bulldog, he was team captain, named to the All-Region 23 Team, MJCAA All-State and chosen to play in the MJCAA All-Star game. Other accolades he received included the Academic Award, the Sportsmanship Award, the Ras Branch Award and the Bulldog Award.

Upon graduation from Holmes, he attended Mississippi State University and earned his bachelor’s in industrial and systems engineering with a minor in mathematics. He is now the owner and principal of SOL Engineering Services, headquartered in Jackson.

Some of Starling’s success have been: Small Business Administration’s Mississippi Business Person of the Year (2015); serving on the Canton School Board for 17 years, eight of which he served as chairman; MSU Department of Industrial & System Engineering Advisory Board member (2018-present); inducted as a Fellow into the Society of American Military Engineers (2022) and lifetime member of the Holmes Alumni Association.

In 2017, he was inducted into the Holmes Sports Hall of Fame for his basketball accomplishments, then in 2022, was recognized the Holmes Alumni Association as Alumnus of the Year.

The Starling family is excited about helping students at Holmes through this scholarship. The Daphenia and Derek Starling Family Scholarship will be for a graduate of Canton High School majoring in a STEM field. The student must be enrolled full-time and maintain a 2.5 grade-point-average.”

“We wanted to do a scholarship because Holmes invested into me with a scholarship that allowed me to afford college,” Starling said.  “My scholarship was the beginning of my preparation for lifelong learning and we want to give other deserving students that same opportunity.

For more information about how to give to Holmes or establish a scholarship, please contact the Holmes Development Foundation 662-472-9017.


Holmes Community College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion,
national origin, sex, age, disability or genetic information in its educational programs and activities,
employment practices, or admissions processes. The following administrators have been designated to handle
inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies of Holmes Community College:

Inquiries regarding compliance with Title VI, ADEA, and Title IX are coordinated by the Vice President for
Compliance and Institutional Research, Henry B. McClellan Administration Building, Post Office Box 369,
Goodman, MS 39079, Phone: 662-472-9429,

Inquiries regarding compliance with Section 504 and ADA are coordinated by the Disability Student Services
Coordinator, M.R. Thorne Vocational-Technical Building, Room 110, Post Office Box 369, Goodman, MS 39079,
Phone: 662-472-9088,
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