Jones College associate degree nursing graduates help alleviate shortage

ELLISVILLE –Thirty-five Jones College associate degree nursing graduates should have no trouble finding jobs. Jones College Associate Degree Nursing Division Chair, Erin Knight said the shortage is still evident in the region.

“Hospitals in our community and surrounding areas are hungry to employee Jones graduates,” said Knight. There are so many jobs available that we know each of these graduates will find the right place to work and be excellent employees. Healthcare institutions in our area have very competitive salaries and great benefits.  We look forward to seeing what a difference this group will make in our area.”  

 At least four Jones College nursing graduates should have no trouble finding the job of their choice. During the graduation and pinning ceremony, Knight praised, Abby Atwood-Hattiesburg, Madison Hall-Petal, Mackenzie Moreau-Collins and Maggie Pittman-Petal, who should make excellent employees because they were not absent or tardy in the five-semester program, over two years.

“This is a very admirable accomplishment and quality to have. I’m sure they will take that work ethic with them to their workplace. I appreciate their dedication,” said Knight.

 Also honored were the graduates in the Student Nurse Organization which held a blanket, socks and hat drive for senior citizens who don’t have heated homes during the winter, clothing for mental health patients, and box-tops for education to assist dyslexic children. The group also raised $4,880 to purchase hearing aids for a young girl.

“These students, Makenzie Baker-Purvis, Tiffany Blair-Magee, Lexi Guthrie-Hattiesburg, LeAnn Dennis-Laurel, Mary Kathryn Dossett-Seminary, Taylor Gordon-Hattiesburg, Madison Hall-Petal, Angelique Hughes-Laurel, Amy Long-Hattiesburg, Diane McPhail-Collins, Maggie Pittman-Petal, Kaprisha Robinson-Hattiesburg, and Amber Walters-Soso, are being commended for their outstanding leadership, professionalism and community service, as well as participation in the SNO,” said Jones College A.D.N. instructor, Nan Pritchard. “Thank you for everything you’ve done to make our community, our college, our nursing program and nursing organization proud.”

 Earlier in the year, nine members of the class of 35 graduates were inducted into the Nursing Honor Society, Alpha Delta, Abby Atwood-Hattiesburg, Makenzie Baker-Purvis, Alexis Bond-Lucedale, Lexi Guthrie-Hattiesburg, Madison Hall-Petal, Amy Long-Hattiesburg, Alexis McNair-Hattiesburg, Kaitlyn McQueen-Seminary, and Maggie Pittman-Petal, met the rigorous requirements to be in the Alpha Gamma chapter of the A.D. Honor Society. The graduates received their honor cords during the special pinning ceremony.

Recognizing the difficulty of graduating from the nursing program, Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith applauded the graduates for successfully completing a rigorous, academic program. He also commended their choice of a noble vocation. However, he also applauded those that supported the graduates.

“Thank you for supporting them. I know it’s hard on family, to give up family time. Your support helped them to become admirable nurses, and to fulfill a dream for many of them,” said Smith.

For more information about Jones College’s Associate Degree Nursing program, contact Erin Knight by email at or online at

2019 A.D. Nursing Graduates

Abigail Atwood-Hattiesburg

Makenzie Baker-Purvis

Tiffany Blair-Magee

Alexis  Bond-Lucedale

Hannah Burks-Hattiesburg

Alexandria (Alex) Cannon-Bay Springs

Lauren Dean-Lucedale

LeAnn Dennis-Laurel

Mary Kathryn Dossett-Seminary

Taylor  Gordon-Hattiesburg

Brandon Green-Hattiesburg

Deborah Gunn-Hattiesburg

Lexi Guthrie-Hattiesburg

Madison Hall-Petal

Jayde Hendry-Ovett

Miles Huff-Taylorsville

Angeleque Hughes-Laurel

Cherish Johnson-Hattiesburg

Kaylee Jones-Soso

Amy Long-Hattiesburg

Hayle Lott-Petal

Jamie McCoy-Hattiesburg

Madison McDonald-Laurel

Alexis McNair -Hattiesburg

Diane McPhail-Collins

Kaitlyn McQueen-Seminary

Mackenzie Moreau-Collins

Brooke Pace-Hattiesburg

Maggie Pittman-Petal

Charlsey Roberts-Waynesboro

Kaprisha Robinson-Hattiesburg

Anna Cathryn Sanford-Seminary

Taylor  Simpson-Hattiesburg

Megean Spight-Hattiesburg

Tristan Tate-Carriere

Amber Walters-Soso

Jones College practical nurse graduates defy odds & persevere

ELLISVILLE –Two Jones College graduates from the practical nurse program defied the odds and received their diplomas this week.  For Courtney Catchings of Jackson, it was her fifth attempt to successfully complete the program.

Delorse Kirkland and Courtney Catchings

“Every time I started again, people told me to just give up,” said the 27-year old Catchings. “This time, I had a friend who helped me study for tests and was interested in my success, encouraging me the entire year through the intense program. I also didn’t want to give up my passion for nursing.”

Also defying the odds was Delorse Kirkland of Petal who decided to launch a new and completely different career at age 60.  She said she started in nursing school 30 years ago, but “life” happened.

“The whole time in nursing school I struggled,” said Kirkland. “I had a successful career in sales and four kids. I should be retired but this is what God called me to do. It is never too late to start over and make a difference in life.”

Both ladies held on to scriptures like Jeremiah 29:11 and the quote by Winston Churchill, “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts,” for inspiration to persevere. Like most practical nursing graduates, Catchings and Kirkland said they have plans to continue their nursing education, with plans to be able to help those most in need.

“I want to work in a nursing home or with underprivileged people who need help the most,” said Kirkland.

Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith shared his admiration with the 38, new, practical nursing graduates for having a “nurses’ heart” and diligently learning the skills to help others.

“There’s nothing more noble than what they are doing, helping others. That’s a gift they are prepared to handle, skillfully,” said Smith. “If this program was easy, we’d all be able to do it. It requires complete dedication, not only by the student but also by the student’s family.”

Additionally, the Jones College practical nursing faculty honored the graduates who stood out in the class exhibiting their special qualities. Seminary’s Chertricia Alvarez earned the highest overall average with superior academic performance. The Rising Star Award was given to the student who showed continuous dedication and exceptional growth in the classroom and in the clinical setting. Faculty picked Jhonna Abuyabor of Ellisville for her positive attitude and perseverance which enriched her nursing knowledge and professionalism. The Florence Nightingale Award was awarded to Mayuri Patel of Hattiesburg for encompassing the qualities of professionalism, integrity, selflessness towards humanity and having a true heart and caring spirit like the founder of nursing, Florence Nightingale.

For more information about the Jones College Practical Nursing program email the program director, Teresa McDonald at

JC’s SkillsUSA gold medalists receive championship rings

ELLISVILLE –SkillsUSA 2019 Gold Medalists and Jones College sophomores, Preston Hammonds of Leakesville, C.J. Hood of Ellisville and Lakelin Smith of Lucedale were honored for their accomplishments by Jones College, their SkillsUSA teammates, along with their organization’s competition technical advisors and Jones faculty, Ryan Hearn and Karen Kirk. Each of the team members and Hearn and Kirk received Championship Rings during the career and technical organization’s last meeting of the year. The three CAD-engineering technology students won first place at State competition in April 2018, and first place at the National competition in July 2019.

“Welcome to ‘Winnersville’ because that’s exactly where you’re at. Four gold medals came back to Mississippi from the SkillsUSA national competition and guess where three of them are? Right here at Jones College,” said JC Career and Technical Dean, Rod Tolbert. “I commend you for your dedication to your project and for your dedication to this organization”

Jones College’s 2018 team won the state competition the first year SkillsUSA added the Engineering Design and Technology category, and then placed seventh at Nationals. The 2019 team of Hammonds, Hood and Smith also won first place at the State competition and Nationals with the “Standi-Strap.”  Made from a 3-D printer, the Standi-Strap is a guitar stand and strap. Confident in their product, the student engineers and musicians said they were also confident in their presentation. However, their competitors from Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, had difficulty grasping a team from Mississippi could defeat them.

“Not only did these students have a great design, but it was also a project they actually believed in. I think that’s why they won first place,” said Ryan Hearn, a JC SkillsUSA advisor and JC civil engineering technology instructor. “Any questions about their project were answered with certainty.”

C.J. Hood said when the team won in Louisville, Kentucky, the college received medals and a banner. Receiving his own banner and championship ring at the meeting amongst friends and family, meant a lot to him.

“This was really cool to receive the rings and banner. It means a lot to the college and it means a lot to me,” said Hood. “I dedicated a big chunk of my life into this project and to win was great. It was also a lot of fun.”

The three students and their advisors proudly showed off the Championship rings and the SkillsUSA 1st place banners they received as friends and family congratulated them for their accomplishment.

“Having my family here means more to me than the ring, but the ring is still pretty cool!” said Preston Hammonds.

As for next year, Hammonds will not be participating in SkillsUSA. He was accepted in the Disney College Program and will be taking classes online while working in Orlando. Part of the appeal, Hammonds said is the opportunity to work with Disney’s Imagineers.

“It’s an amazing opportunity getting accepted since I want to be an Imagineer. Nothing will look better than working at Disney and getting to work with the Imagineers for a week,” said Hammonds.

Despite the replacing a member of the team, Lakelin Smith said he and C.J. are already working on ideas to submit for the 2020 SkillsUSA competition. Their project will be different from the Standi-Strap, which they said has been improved upon and will go into mass production next year.

“It doesn’t make me nervous to have to come up with a new idea with somebody new. We are looking for someone we can work with in the same major. We have some ideas and we appreciate the support everyone has given us,” said Smith.

The State SkillsUSA Competition in Jackson is April 14 and 15. Only the first-place winners will continue to compete in Louisville, Kentucky at the National SkillsUSA competition, June 22-26, 2020. Hood and Smith said they hope they can continue the winning streak.

Jones College students given option to earn a Bachelor of Applied Science degree from Mississippi State University

ELLISVILLE –Jones College students working towards an Associate of Applied Science degree in the more than 20 career and technical programs will now have the option to continue their education with Mississippi State University.  A memorandum of understanding signed by the presidents of MSU and Jones gives community college students more opportunities in technical education to meet current and future workforce demands. MSU President Dr. Mark E. Keenum emphasized to the Jones College students in the robotics lab, MSU now has opportunities for them on the university level and offered this advice to all students.

“Get as much education beyond your associate’s degree. All the great technical knowledge and education you will receive here attaining your A.A.S. degree will give you more opportunities in this 21st century,” said Keenum. “We need more two-year and four-year graduates to move Mississippi forward and this agreement will increase the education attainment for all our citizens. High school students need to know they can pursue an associate degree in robotics or any of these technical programs, and if they choose, they can now continue their education and get a bachelor’s degree.”

The Institutes of Higher Learning passed a measure in August allowing universities to create this new pathway towards a bachelor’s degree for career and technical education students through the applied baccalaureate degree completion program. MSU was the first in the state to develop this program for community college students.

Expanding the pathways partnership between Jones College and MSU not only benefits Jones students, but it also benefits the broader economic development needs of this area according to Mississippi State University Associate Vice President and Head of the Meridian campus, Dr. Terry Dale Cruse. Additional opportunities to advance at work with increased earnings is appealing to Jones College freshmen, Luis Jimenez of New Augusta. He currently enjoys the various aspects of technology in the electro-mechanical technology program at Jones and he looks forward to the chance to excel after graduation.

“I really like working with robots and virtual reality technology. Knowing this agreement with Mississippi State will allow me to continue my education to position me for a better future is also very appealing,” said Jimenez.

To help students understand the economic impact of their Associate in Applied Science degree, Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith shared the new research from a study published by MSU’s NSPARC on the impact of community colleges in the state.

“We know every college credit hour a person takes, they earn $224 annually, in their pocket for their life.  By earning the A.A.S. degree you’ve added about $1.5 million dollars of lifetime earnings to your salary. We know the impact, so it’s only logical that we take this next step,” said Smith.

Additionally, career and technical program graduates seeking the new Bachelor of Applied Science degree are more likely to be considered for management positions in addition to advancing their skills to improve their financial futures.

JC students will be assisted through the new Bachelor of Applied Science program pathways by the current MSU advisor at Jones College, Kevin Entrekin.  Additionally, Jones College and MSU-Meridian will work together to provide classroom space for the delivery of synchronous online courses. Credits in the degree program can be earned through online or traditional on-campus classes, providing flexibility for students. For more information on the Bachelor of Applied Science program, visit

Jones College is an open-door, two-year institution, granting Associate in Arts degrees, Associate in Applied Science degrees, Career and Technical certificates, Adult Education credentials and Workforce credentials. For more, visit Information about MSU is available online at