Jones commemorates Centennial Spring graduation ceremonies

Written By: Kelly Atwood
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Date Submitted: 2012-05-11 15:19:48

    The 596 students who participated in graduation ceremonies at Jones County Junior College Friday (May 11, 2012) each wore a special medallion to commemorate their graduation during the college’s centennial year.

     It was a notable year for many reasons. Due to the large number of guests and graduates, Jones held two Spring commencement ceremonies, splitting the students alphabetically between morning and afternoon ceremonies to award Associate in Arts degrees, Associate in Applied Science degrees and Vocational Certificates.

     Keynote speaker David Garner, who serves as the JCJC Chairman of the Board of Trustees and is a 1987 alumnus, referenced the college’s centennial year, remarking the college has stood for a century with great knowledge and great purpose. He shared with the graduates the goals on which they should focus, goals that promise a future of greatness.

    “If we move forward, we must be men and women of vision. There’s no other place to see that than right here at Jones County Junior College. It wasn’t long ago we discussed building a new liberal arts building. We were blessed with a man of vision. (JCJC President) Dr. Jesse Smith painted for you a dream.”

     That dream was Jones Hall, the college’s three-story flagship building, which opened in Fall 2011 and featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony as part of the college’s centennial celebration.

     Garner told the students another quality they need for future success is the ability to persevere.

     “Don’t be burdened by the failures of the past,” he said. “Where there doesn’t seem to be a way, find a way. Think good thoughts.”

     He also told them to be men and women of service.

     “The lasting impact of your life will not be determined by what we acquired but by what we gave.

    “Be future leaders who seek to solve problems, and today if America needs anything, we need men and women willing to work together for the common good,” he said.

     Garner, who spoke at both ceremonies, told the graduates that Jones has had a successful first  100 years and will continue to flourish in the next century.

    “We’ll be here because we’re an institution of vision, perseverance and service,” he said.

     One of the day’s graduates already exemplified perseverance. Lora Eakes of Bassfield faced many obstacles to accomplish her goal of receiving an AAS in Health Care Data Technology. The 2007 Columbia High School graduate, a working mother of a 3-year-old son, took 18 hours a semester while commuting to college. Eakes said she was surprised to hear her name called as the winner of a “commit to complete” scholarship.

      “I was so excited and surprised I just stood up and started clapping. I didn’t know what else to do,” she said after the ceremony.

      The $2500 cash award was sponsored by the Jones Rho Sigma Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa’s International Honor Society, which held a campaign aimed to raise associate degree graduation rates. The graduation campaign, titled “The Tassel is Worth the Hassle,” won numerous awards at the PTK International conference.
     Students who were eligible for May 2012 graduation signed a “commit to complete agreement” last fall, which entered them into a random drawing for the chance to win the scholarship.

      “As a result of this internationally recognized, award-winning project, Jones has had more graduates walk across this stage than ever before,” said Charlie Garretson, president of Community Bank and vice president of the JCJC Foundation. “We hope our communities will truly benefit from more students being prepared to enter universities and the workforce.  As a college, that is our ultimate measure of success.”


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