Adjutant General, Augustus Collins encourages JCJC students to “Dream Big”
Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: email@example.com
Date Submitted: 2014-02-18 09:33:52
ELLISVILLE – The state’s Army National Guard and Air National Guard commanding General, Major General Augustus Collins used history to inspire Jones County Junior College students at the annual Black History Celebration, to “move forward one step at time.” That being the theme for the day, Collins reminded the audience, “We can’t understand American history without understanding all the different parts or groups that make up America….Some of our history we don’t need to repeat. We need to learn from it, moving forward, one step at a time,” said Collins.
Dreaming or having a vision is the first step, Collins shared with JCJC students, faculty and guests. The efforts put into making that dream a reality will likely help make the dream come true. Collins advised, “Follow up or keep track of your progress. Mark those milestones to see if you are getting closer to making your dream a reality. As Dr. King said, ‘We’re not there yet, but we’re on our way!’”
One way to ensure success according to the state’s Army and Air National Guard leader is through education. Collins told the audience he didn’t have the resources to go to a university and was thankful and proud to graduate from Northeast Mississippi Community College. Without the community college degree he earned, he said, none of his other degrees would be possible. Included in his list of academic achievements are a bachelor of business administration from the University of Mississippi, a master of business administration from Jackson State University, the General Flag Officer Homeland Security Program at Harvard University and a master of strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College. He also stated he would most likely not be in the position to be the state’s first African-American Adjutant General, without starting college at NECC.
“Thirty percent of our population is not graduating from high school. That’s an epidemic. It means you can’t come to college, get a job, and it effects the success of our state when we don’t have a pool of qualified people. Other countries will fill the job vacancies,” Collins shared. “The dream can’t be realized if we don’t work together.”
JCJC sophomore from Jackson, Jamie Slaughter’s dream is to be a radio talk show host. After transferring from Mississippi State, she said Collins inspired her to press on towards her goal.
“He wants us to leave a mark and honor our family. We have one life to live and we have to leave it better for others. General Collins reminded me of the importance of doing what is honorable for me and my family,” said Slaughter.
Two Laurel High School Gospel Choir members, senior, Niyoko Brock and junior Kendra Lyons were part of the Celebration, performing with the choir. They said they have big plans for their futures. Today’s program, they said will help keep them on track.
“I’m thankful for these words of encouragement from General Collins. I hope to be a JAG officer one day,” said Brock.
With all of his honors and degrees, Collins utilizes his experience to humbly and decisively lead more than 12,275 citizen soldiers and airmen who are equipped and trained to respond to any emergency.
“He is one person who has moved forward, past the obstacles he faced in his youth growing up in Booneville, Miss., and is someone anyone can learn from,” according to JCJC Dean of Students, Dr. Samuel Jones.
Mississippi’s Adjutant General, Major General Augustus Collins was appointed by Governor Phil Bryant on January 11, 2012 to serve as the commanding General of both the Mississippi Army and Air National Guard. He is responsible for providing the state and the U.S. with a ready military and/or security force. General Collins directs the Mississippi Military Department and oversees the development and coordination of all policies, plans and programs of the Mississippi National Guard in concert with the Governor and legislature.
Prior to this appointment, he served on active duty in Operation Desert Shield/Storm as well as commanding the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team during combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004-2006. General Collins also served as Director, Mobilization Forces, U.S. Army Forces Command from February 2006 to October 2007. Collins was promoted to brigadier general on May 10, 2005 while he was in Iraq, making him the first African American to attain the rank of general officer in the history of the Mississippi National Guard.
Among his many honors, Collins was a 2007 inductee into the University of Mississippi Alumni Hall of Fame, a 2006 inductee into the Mississippi Military Academy Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame, the 2006 Mississippi Trailblazer of the Year, he was awarded the Distinguished Citizen Award by Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., in 2009, he was the 2012 recipient of the Sam Haskell Spirit of America Award and he was twice named the National Guard Bureau’s Minutemen Award.
His military awards and honors include the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Mississippi Magnolia Cross, the Order of Saint George Medallion for Excellence in Armor and the Combat Action Badge.