Holmes Community College held its Spring Commencement Ceremonies on Friday, May 12, in Frank Branch Coliseum on the Goodman Campus.
For the first time in recent history, Holmes students served as keynote speakers for the ceremonies. Scotty Jobe, Jr. of Farmhaven gave the address for the Associate in Applied Science (AAS), Career Certificates, Technical Certificates and Associate Degree Nursing Ceremony at 10 a.m. followed by Taylor Vance of Grenada speaking at the Associate of Arts (AA) Ceremony at 2 p.m.
Jobe, son of Scotty and Glenda Jobe, was a Construction Technology major on the Ridgeland Campus. He was a President's List scholar, a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and has already earned the Construction Technology Technical Certificate at Holmes. In addition to excelling academically, Jobe also proudly serves his country as a member of the Mississippi Air National Guard at Allen C. Thompson Field ANGB, where he has worked as an Electrical and Environmental Journeyman. Jobe aspires to eventually become an Officer in the U.S. Air Force.
"To each of you sitting in these gowns today, ecstatic about your success, I salute you," Jobe said, addressing his peers. "We are all going to take different paths in this journey of life. The path will become difficult, and I repeat, will become difficult, but the rewards and accolades will be well worth it. Perseverance in your works will lead you to be blessed beyond your understanding.
"No journey is exactly alike, even if the variables seem exactly the same, because we are individuals with our own unique ways and sense of understanding. Remember that time is only a measurement and success is not measured by how soon we reach it!
"I say to each of you, you have the power to control your life. Don't make excuses, take advantage of every opportunity you're given and live to your full potential. Make a change in your life; change is uncomfortable, but it allows you to grow. Conquer your fears and rise as a new person; be profound in the way that you speak and walk with a confidence that shakes the ground with each step.
"Plant your seeds in the world and watch them grow. Leave a mark in the hearts of those around you that you may be renowned for your works and character! Make sure you stay the course and play the game until the end because the only difference between a winner and a loser is a winner plays until he wins."
Jobe's passionate address, which brought the audience to their feet in applause, was followed by Director of Admissions Kay Bates' announcement of each graduate. Jenna Cummings, the historian for the Goodman Campus SkillsUSA organization, had the honor of carrying in the mace for this ceremony and Angela Stowers, president of Grenada Campus SkillsUSA, gave the invocation.
The afternoon AA Ceremony began with a special surprise: Major, Holmes' new bulldog puppy mascot, made an appearance as the Class of 2017 marched in. Payton Earley, president of the Ridgeland Phi Theta Kappa chapter, carried the mace and Griffin Turner, president of Goodman's chapter, gave the invocation. After brief remarks from Holmes President Dr. Jim Haffey, Vance took the podium to address his peers.
Vance, son of Jeff and Leigh Vance, was an English major on the Grenada Campus, where he served as president of the Student Government Association, president of the Alpha Mu Beta Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, editor of the Growl student newspaper, a Writing Center tutor, an Ambassador, and a member on the Baptist Student Union Leadership Team. He was named the William Winter Student Scholar his freshman year, was voted Mr. Holmes Community College and inducted into the Hall of Fame. Vance will attend the University of Mississippi, where he will major in journalism.
"I want to thank Holmes President Dr. Jim Haffey and the Holmes administration for the honor and privilege to speak today," Vance said. "We must remember that education is power and education is change and people would attempt to move mountains to have what we take for granted. We must also remember that education is change, not only for us, but for our families; our communities; and our country. We don't just receive a diploma to increase our bank account and worldly possessions; we must use our blessing of education to serve others and to leave things in better shape for future generations.
"As we leave this colosseum and go our separate ways I want to outline several steps to success that I've gleaned from my experiences inside and outside the classroom at Holmes. First, education without determination is empty and dead. Second, find a close-knit group of friends to hold you accountable. No matter what path we each go on, we all need a group of friends to rely on, who will be honest with us when no one else will, and who will encourage us in life.
"Third, remember that failure is inevitable. Famous screenwriter Aaron Sorkin said, 'It doesn't matter how many times we fall down as long as it's one less time than how many times we get up.' Fourth, remember that change and chaos are the only constant. In times of adversity, lean on the support of others and walk with grace and dignity.
"Fifth, keep in mind that education is not boastful or arrogant. This degree may give us a leg up in the workforce, but it does not give us a pedestal to stand on. We should not belittle others for not having a form of higher education. Finally, have courage. As John F. Kennedy said, 'To whom much is given, much is required.' My fellow graduates and friends, much has been given and entrusted to us with this diploma, much is expected of us when we leave this coliseum."
Following Vance's speech, Dr. Haffey presented special awards to handful of exceptional students. He presented the M.C. McDaniel Awards to Simone Lewis, Ridgeland Campus; Hannah Ritchie, Grenada, and Addie M. Winters, Goodman. The Outstanding Phi Theta Kappa Award recipients were Kaitlyn Legge, Grenada; Anna Mullins, Ridgeland, and Griffin Turner, Goodman.
The Class of 2017 valedictorians and salutatorians were recognized, as well. The valedictorians included Ashley Hatch, Jay Venson Johnson, Simone Lewis, Chelsea Miller, Alexandra Katherine Perry and Addie M. Winters. The salutatorians were Kelli Ray and Micah Redd.
IN THIS PHOTO: Pictured are the 2017 valedictorians and salutatorians with (center) Holmes President Dr. Jim Haffey. They are (left to right) Simone Lewis, valedictorian; Kelli Ray, salutatorian; Micah Redd, salutatorian; Ashley Hatch, valedictorian; Alexandra Katherine Perry, valedictorian; Addie M. Winters, valedictorian and Chelsea Miller, valedictorian.