Olympic gold medalist & Laurel native Ralph Boston keynotes JCJC’s Spring Commencement

Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: teresa.mccreery@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2014-04-29 06:58:10

ELLISVILLE - Jones County Junior College’s Spring Commencement Ceremony will be held Friday, May 16, at 10 a.m. in the A.B. Howard/Bobcat Gymnasium. Overflow seating will be available in the Fine Arts Auditorium with a simulcast of the ceremony. Commencement will also be streamed on the web page, www.jcjc.edu or www.jcjc.tv.
About 600 students are eligible to graduate with either, an Associate in Arts degree, Associate in Applied Science degree, or a Vocational Certificate. Additionally, more than 200 students have already met graduation requirements after the fall semester and may participate in spring commencement ceremonies.
The keynote speaker will be U.S. Olympic gold medal track star and Laurel native, Ralph Boston. In 1960 as a college student, Boston won the National Collegiate Athletic Association title in the long jump, which was just the beginning of his track career. In August of that year, he leapt into the global spotlight when he broke the world record held by Jesse Owens for 25 years, with a long jump of nearly 27 feet.  Boston broke the last of Owens’ world records and he would continue to break the record five times over the next five years.
The youngest of ten children, Boston left Laurel, Mississippi with the plan to pursue a career in biochemistry. However his athletic ability kept him on the track. On the U.S. Olympic team, he went on to win the gold medal in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. Boston won the silver medal at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo and then the bronze medal in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. He was the AAU long jump champion from 1961 to 1966.
After retiring from athletic competition in 1968, Boston graduated from Tennessee State University. Later, he completed his master's degree from the University of Tennessee. The Olympic medal winner and celebrated athlete spent a few years as a consultant to the U.S. Olympic team and as a sports broadcaster for ESPN. He later became a general partner for a Knoxville, Tennessee TV station and an administrator at his alma mater. Boston has also worked as the Director of Customer Relations for Ericsson, Inc.
In 1985, Boston received the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award for college athletes who have gone on to become successful in other areas. He has been enshrined into six Hall of Fames: the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame, the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame, the Helms Hall of Fame in Los Angeles, the Mississippi's Sports Hall of Fame and the Tennessee State University Athletics Hall of Fame. The TSU Wellness Center also bears Boston's name. Ralph Boston was also selected as “World Athlete of the Year” and as the “North American Athlete of the Year.”


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