Skip to content Skip to footer

Holmes graduates largest class in school history

Holmes graduates largest class in school history

Holmes Community College held its 90th commencement exercises on May 11 in Frank Branch Coliseum on the Goodman Campus. The Associate of Arts (AA) Ceremony was held at 10 a.m. and the Associate of Applied Science (AAS)/Certificate Ceremony at 2 p.m. This was the largest graduating class in the college's history, with 440 graduating with AA degrees and 334 with AAs or certificates.

This year, there were eight valedictorians, all who had a perfect 4.0 GPA, and one salutatorian, with a 3.96. The valedictorians included Blake Bell, Derrel Bilsky, Jonathan Boles, Mackenzie Danaher, Ana-Claire Edwards, Laura Ann Kelley, Sarah Leflore and London Steverson. The salutatorian was Shelby Turner.

Five students were also recognized for receiving special scholarships. Slade Allgood, Ashlee Bennett and Miguel Garcia were recognized for receiving the M.C. McDaniel Scholarship and Bennett, Sarah Donahoo and Lamar Land were recognized for receiving the Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship.

Dr. Robert Harris served as keynote speaker for the AA Ceremony and Dr. LaWanda Herron spoke during the AAS Ceremony. Both of them will retire from Holmes following the end of the academic year.

Dr. Harris has been part of the Holmes family for 32 years. He holds three degrees from Mississippi State University: a B.S. in computer science, an M.A.T. in community college education and a Ph.D. in community college leadership. A few of his honors include: MS Academy of Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018, HEADWAE Honoree in 2004, Lamplighter Educator in 1996 and NISOD Excellence Award in 1995.

He has held a number of positions at Holmes, including his most recent roles as director of placement testing, computer science instructor and associate chair for the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.

Dr. Harris has also served as president and secretary of the Faculty Association, adviser for Phi Theta Kappa and as associate director for the Miss Holmes Pageant. He's a member of the Association for Computing Machinery, the MS Academy of Sciences and the MS Faculty Association for Community and Junior Colleges.

"This day is for you and to celebrate the accomplishment of all of you graduates in being able to complete your Associate of Arts degrees…which brings me to my topic of persistence," Dr. Harris said. "You cannot stop with this degree but rather you need to move forward to the next level of university study in order to complete your bachelor's degrees. It is time for you to take all of the knowledge that you have gained and continue with the next chapter in your educational story. In continuing to the next level, and hopefully beyond, keep in mind that the work expected of you will increase in both amount and difficulty. At some point in the next few years, life may start throwing you some lemons, so you need to be strong and persistent and just make yourself some lemonade…and then keep on going.

"Now it is up to you to make the most out of your talents and the knowledge which has been taught to you, and learned by you, over the years. I have a favorite proverb and it goes something like this, 'Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.' Here at Holmes, we have taught you how to fish and now I think it's about time for you to go catch yourselves some fish for your future! Take care, God Bless and have a wonderful day of celebration!"

Dr. Herron, director of the Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program at Holmes, holds a BSN from Delta State University, an MSA in Healthcare Administration from Central Michigan University, an MSN from Delta State University and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Mississippi. She has been an RN for the past 27 years, a nurse educator for 23 years and a family nurse practitioner for 21 years. Dr. Herron has been employed at Holmes for 19 years and also spent six years as a nurse corps officer in the U.S. Navy.

As director of nursing, Dr. Herron is responsible for managing the day-to-day activities for faculty, students and program oversight. She participates in research and grant-writing activities and presents at nursing workshops at the local, state, regional, national and international levels. Dr. Herron is also a published author. She has taught at the associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. She has received numerous awards and recognitions, including nomination for Advanced Practice Nurse of the Year.

"Personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications and resume are not your life. Life is difficult, complicated and beyond anyone's total control, and the most important thing that you should remember is to be true to yourself. I believe success is to live your life with integrity and to not give in to peer pressure to try to be something that you're not. Success is to be honest and to contribute to others in some way… Follow your passion, stay true to yourself, never follow someone else's path.

"My challenge to you is to cultivate the ability to think for yourself, listen to your heart and tune in to your gut. These are the things for which Holmes Community College has prepared you to do. Relish the journey. I wish any failure that you experience leads to great success, you listen to your inner voice and think for yourself and take time to enjoy life's adventures. And tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, 'Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.' I wish you all adventurous fun-tilled lives."

Anyone interested in purchasing the Commencement Exercises DVD from May 11 can send a check or money order for $10 to Holmes Community College, Attn: Steve Diffey, P.O. Box 369, Goodman, MS 39079. Please mark AA or AAS ceremony and include your name, address, city, state, zip code and phone number when mailing your payment.



1. (top left) 2018 Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship winners included (left to right) Ashlee Bennett, Lamar Land and Sarah Donahoo.

2. (top right) 2018 M.C. McDaniel Scholarship winners included (left to right) Slade Allgood, Ashlee Bennett and Miguel Garcia.

3. (bottom) Pictured is the 2018 salutatorian and valedictorians. They are (left to right) Salutatorian Shelby Turner and Valedictorians Derrel Bilsky, Blake Bell, London Steverson, Ana-Claire Edwards, Jonathan Boles, Laura Ann Kelley, Sarah Leflore and Mackenzie Danaher.

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,
Share on facebook
Share on twitter