Jones College faculty and staff accomplishments honored 

ELLISVILLE – Seventeen Jones College faculty and staff members were recently honored for their accomplishments in the workplace over the previous year.  The Employee Appreciation Awards began in 2004 with funds contributed by retired JCJC President, Dr. Ronald Whitehead, and the college’s Foundation, Inc. Finalists were selected and interviewed by the Faculty and Staff Recognition Program’s Selection Committee. Prior to the employee recognition program, a picnic lunch and games were provided by the college and the JCJC Foundation Inc.

“Celebrating accomplishments and offering an afternoon of fun and fellowship is our way of saying ‘thank you’ for making Jones great,” said Joel Cain, VP of Advancement and Athletics, and Dean of Students. “We wanted to honor and appreciate all of our employees who have worked especially hard through a challenging year.”

The Leadership Award for Administrative Excellence was established five years ago to honor a mid-level administrator whose commitment to the profession stands out amongst their peers.  Financial Aid Director, Kari Dedwylder was selected as the recipient of the 2021 Leadership Award for Administrative Excellence. The Ellisville resident has been employed at Jones for six years and works with the Enrollment Management Department.

“Kari was nominated because she goes above and beyond to improve services for students. She has digitized the financial aid and admissions offices creating a more efficient workflow. She also cross-trains the two teams and is always seeking more ways to improve service,” said Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith as he awarded Dedwylder a $500 check and plaque.

English instructor, Amanda Robertson was selected to receive the Barbara and Gary Sauls Award for Excellence in Teaching Humanities. The Humanities Division faculty member exemplifies intellectual integrity in the classroom, and has encouraged independent analytical thinking skills, loves humanitarian pursuits and fosters a positive rapport with students. This award was initiated by JCJC alumni, Mr. & Mrs. Gary W. “Buddy” and Barbara Sauls. Their daughter, Tracy was a 1990 JCJC graduate. Mr. Sauls was a former JCJC Board of Trustees member and Barbara Sauls is currently on the JCJC Foundation’s Advisory Board.  Robertson was awarded a $500 cash prize and an acrylic plaque.

Additionally, 15 individuals from three categories of employees, faculty members, office staff and administrative support, and employees working in, maintenance, housekeeping, campus grounds and campus police were each awarded certificates of achievement. Faculty finalists each received a cash prize of $250 and the overall winner received an additional $750 and an acrylic plaque. Each staff employee finalist was awarded a cash prize of $125 and the overall winner received an extra $500 and an acrylic plaque.

The finalists for the faculty awards were History instructor, Carson Atwood who has worked at Jones for 20 years. Practical Nursing Program Director, Teresa McDonald has taught the Health Care Assistant and Practical Nursing courses at Jones College for seven years.  Chris Robinson has been teaching Health and Leadership classes for 20 years while also serving as the Assistant Athletic Director and the Head Coach of the Softball team. Sociology instructor, Stacy Ruth has 28 years of teaching experience at Jones. Workforce Development and Welding instructor, Tracy Warden has been teaching welding, millwright, machining, heavy equipment and NCCER specific industry standards and OSHA safety training for nine years. McDonald was chosen for the overall JC Faculty of the Year Award.

“The faculty awards appreciation is always a special time for employees to come together at Jones College. I was truly honored to receive the award. We are all family and I consider it a privilege to be part of such an amazing family,” said McDonald.

The 1990 Jones College graduate taught the Allied Health and Health Science programs at the Clarke County Career and Technology Center and the Wayne County Vocational-Technical Center before going back to school herself. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in 2012 and her Master of Science degree in Nursing Education from William Carey University in 2014. The Wayne County resident began her career at Jones College seven years ago working in the Wayne County Center. She has taught in the Healthcare Assistant and Practical Nursing programs in Waynesboro before becoming the Director of Practical Nursing at the main campus in Ellisville in 2014.

Nominated for the Office Staff and Administrative Support Employee of the Year award included Tina Livingston in Student Affairs, Jessica Martin in Accounting, the Wayne County Center’s administrative assistant, Courtney McInnis, Tamara Parrish in Admissions and the Health Clinic EMT, Kristen Register. Livingston was selected as the Employee of the Year for the Office Staff and Administrative Support division.

In the maintenance, housekeeping, campus grounds and campus police departments division, two employees in the Maintenance Department were finalists. Jason Bonner and Jimmy Freeman. Campus Policeman, Jared Hutto and Scott Sumrall in Transportation were also finalists with Angela Parker in Housekeeping. Taking the top spot as Employee of the Year was Jason Bonner.  

Jones College grad earns a spot in the MS Rural Physicians Scholarship Program

ELLISVILLE – Just before graduating from Jones College in May, Matt Burke of Brandon earned a spot in the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. As a member of the back-to-back State Championship Bobcat soccer team, Burke played in the first game of the college’s first appearance in the National Junior College Athletic Association II National Tournament in Wichita, Kansas. However, he left Kansas before playing in the second game because he was eager to begin his journey in the medical field.

“I’m from rural Mississippi and have seen the need for medical care first-hand. This program is a great fit for me and I am ecstatic to be accepted,” said Burke. “I am really looking forward to all the information and experience that I will obtain as a Mississippi Rural Physician Scholar and the opportunity to practice in a rural area in the future.”

Burke said while he loves soccer and even served as the captain of his high school team, he has always enjoyed and excelled in science and human anatomy. His personal experience witnessing the hardships that many endure getting good medical care prompted him to be part of the solution. Furthermore, the death of his childhood friend, 17-year-old friend, Ian Cochran, who was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer exposed Burke to the reality and hardships of the health care industry and inspired him to be a doctor.

“My aspiration is to serve as a medical professional and try my best to never let any family go through what Ian and his family went through,” said Burke. “Another friend’s mother who is a nurse shared her struggles during the pandemic. Hearing about how the Covid-19 Pandemic affected the medical staff who had to be separated from family and the feeling of hopelessness, has only confirmed my love for medicine and justified my pursuit.”

Burke gained some medical experience job shadowing at the Madison Ridgeland Medical Clinic with Dr. Indira Veerisetty, which also exposed him to the realities of medical care in Mississippi. Additionally, he personally realized the difficulty of getting care when he needed a doctor.

“My mom’s main job was downsized, and we lost medical insurance. We didn’t have any way to pay for the clinic visit which really upset my mom. I began thinking about those who can’t pay for medicine but are in actual danger. My minor cold and sore throat would be better soon but thinking about those who may not recover, made me want to pursue a career in medicine to help change this,” said Burke.

To help pay for college expenses at Jones, Burke worked in the Science Department while also keeping a 3.9 GPA. In his spare time, he volunteered at the Jones County Heart Walk and through the Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa, he helped at the annual Blood Drive and Bobcat Pantry Drive. Science Division Chair, instructor and PTK co-advisor, Eric Shows said Matt’s quiet, thoughtful and hardworking traits have served him well in pursuing his goals.

“Matt has a laser-like focus on academic excellence and extracurricular preparation in service of his goals of becoming a doctor. I am elated that his commitment and his efforts are being rewarded. I’m proud as a Jones College faculty member and as a Mississippian to have Matt representing our school and our state as a future medical professional,” said Shows.

Burke’s experiences may have inspired him to pursue being an internal medicine doctor, but he was not sure if he and his family could afford medical school. Receiving the scholarship is very important to Burke because it will relieve the financial burden, but it will also provide a unique training opportunity and mentorship with other physicians in rural Mississippi.

“My mom works two jobs to give my sister and me what we need. Doing well in school and in college has helped me get this far. Medical school would most likely not be an option because the tuition and expenses are high. This scholarship allows me to go to medical school without the crippling debt and saves my family the financial setback,” said Burke.

During medical school, each MRPSP scholar receives $30,000 per year based on available funding. Consistent legislative support of the MRPSP translates to 61 medical students receiving a total of $1,830,000 to support their education this fall. In addition to the legislative support, three privately funded scholarships are also awarded this year from the Madison Charitable Foundation, the Selby and Richard McRae Foundation, and the Medical Assurance Company of Mississippi. Other benefits include personalized mentoring from practicing rural physicians and academic support.

Upon completion of medical school, MRPSP scholars must enter a residency program in one of five primary care specialties: family medicine, general internal medicine, pediatrics, medicine-pediatrics, or obstetrics/gynecology. The MRPSP Scholar must provide four years of service in a clinic-based practice in an approved Mississippi community of 15,000 or fewer population located more than 20 miles from a medically served area.

MRSP provides a means for rural Mississippi students to earn a seat in medical school and to earn a $120,000 medical school scholarship in return for four years of service while learning the art of healing from practicing rural physicians.

For more information, contact MRPSP Associate Director Steven Carter at 601-815-9022, or

Jones College’s All-Mississippi Academic Team named

ELLISVILLE- Two Jones College students earned individual honors through the International Honor Society for two-year colleges, Phi Theta Kappa. Sophomore pharmacy major from Laurel, Faith Houston was selected to Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s All-Mississippi Academic First Team. Biological Sciences major from Leakesville, McKay Lee Bray was chosen for the All-Mississippi Academic Second Team.

“It was an absolute honor to make the All-State Academic Team. I am thankful for this scholarship and all of the opportunities it will give me to continue my education at the University of Mississippi. I am also thankful for Jones College and the way it has impacted my life. Jones has given me so many opportunities and life experiences that have prepared me to continue my education at Ole Miss,” said Bray.

Besides representing the state as Miss Hospitality 2020, Bray served as a PTK officer, and she is a member of the Charles Pickering Honors Institute, Student Government Association, Jones OnStage and Concert Choir. She is a Hall of Fame recipient and was selected as one of five Tullos Scholars at Jones College. She will continue her higher education as a Lyceum Scholar at the University of Mississippi with plans to practice internal medicine in rural Mississippi.

“McKay was a no-nonsense, hardworking powerhouse of a PTK officer. This academic honor is a great recognition of her accomplishments. She was a leader that aptly used a combination of humor, organization, creativity and focus on her local community in her endeavors and ideas, and we benefitted greatly by having her as a part of our PTK leadership team,” said Eric Shows, Science Division Chair and PTK Co-Advisor.

Houston came to Jones on an ACT scholarship and was invited to be a member of the Charles Pickering Honors Institute for both years at Jones. She served as a Senator for the Student Government Association her freshman year and as Secretary of the organization her sophomore year. In the International Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa, Houston performed the duties of Historian despite the challenges of the pandemic. She has been named a Gold Key Merit and Leadership recipient, received the Letter “J” Academic honor and she has been on the President’s List Honor Roll each semester. In her spare time, Houston volunteers at the Glory House in Laurel.

“I am so thankful for being selected as one of the fifteen people chosen for the All-Mississippi Academic First Team. This award will help me earn more scholarship money for pharmacy school,” said Houston.

Shows noted Houston went above and beyond her duties when pandemic restrictions made simple tasks more difficult.

“She completed tasks with aplomb and was the consummate example of servant leadership. This honor is well deserved,” said Shows.

History instructor and PTK Co-Advisor, Sarah Ishee, said she is also very proud of both ladies, who proved to be essential to the Rho Sigma chapter at Jones College.

“They overcame challenges faced during the pandemic and were still able to promote the Hallmarks of Phi Theta Kappa. McKay kept us on track with due dates and other important tasks with her Miss Hospitality flair. Faith reminded us that kindness and a smile are just as powerful as any fancy media promotion in encouraging membership participation. I look forward to seeing where life will take these ladies because I’m sure it will be exceptional!” said Ishee.

Both students were chosen as Jones College’s nominees from a larger pool of Jones applicants that also boasted impressive resumés. The nominees were then evaluated by PTK officials on effective writing skills, the academic rigor of their majors and their leadership impact at their colleges.

“Our nominees distinguished themselves scholastically with excellent grades, and they all had notable records of service and campus and community involvement. Their particular accomplishments and successes are truly highlighted by being named as the college’s nominees for this prestigious academic competition,” said Shows.

The JC students competed with more than 1,800 nominations from each of the 15-community colleges. As part of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society’s annual academic and workforce competition, each student submitted an essay, answered discussion questions, and described their leadership roles and activities while in college

The highest scoring nominees from each of the 15 two-year colleges earned First Team All-Mississippi honors and $500 scholarships provided by the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges. All team members received special medallions, certificates, and printed resolutions from the Mississippi Legislature.

Jones College employees honored for service 

ELLISVILLE – Forty-five Jones College faculty and staff members were recently honored for their years of service to the college during a special Employee Recognition event. Administrators and the JC Foundation treated the Jones College faculty and staff to a picnic lunch outdoors before the end of the spring semester. JC administrators honored employees for their service at five-year increments, beginning with those who have served at least five years.

Estella Chapman and Regina Clark were honored for having the most service years in 2020, with 30 years each. Chapman has worked on campus keeping several facilities clean. Clark has worked in the Student Affairs and Instructional Affairs Offices as an administrative assistant.

Also honored were four employees for serving the college for 25 years: Mary Abbey-CTE Administrative Assistant, Erin Knight-A.D. Nursing Division Chair, Angela Parker-Environmental Services and Theresa Sanchez-Fine Arts Piano instructor.

Twelve JC employees were recognized for their 20 years of service: Carson Atwood-History instructor, Ashley Beard-Institutional

Research, Mary Boleware-Physics instructor, Wesley Dixon-Librarian, Tara Dupree-Enrollment management, Amy Hinton-Paralegal instructor, Sonya Graves-Payroll, Dana Knight-Humanities instructor, Kelly Robinson-Workforce College, Paul Spell-V.P. of Enrollment Management, and Merry Tigert-Jasper County Center, Adult Education.

Celebrating 15 years of employment at JC were nine people: Mark Brown-Visual Arts Division Chair/instructor, Debbie Buckley-Environmental Services, Rosa Conner-Environmental Services, Lucy Flowers-CTE Support Services, Kayla Hankins-Student Affairs/Cheerleader Advisor, Diane Love-Bookstore, Carla Manning-Adult Education, Kristen Register-EMT & Health Clinic Assistant, and Elizabeth Russell-Environmental Services.

Six JC employees were recognized for their 10 years of service including Victoria Johnson-Fine Arts Piano instructor, Karen Kirk-CAD/Engineering Technology, Stan Livingston-Chief of Campus Police, Kandace Martin-Business Office Technology instructor, Scott Sumrall-Special Projects, and Jamie Williams-Dual Enrollment Coordinator.

After five years of employment at Jones, these fourteen employees were honored for their service: Jay Aultman-Heating/AC instructor, Melissa Bilderback-Ladies Basketball head coach, Steve Buckley-Football head coach, Devin Cooper-Ladies assistant coach, Rebecca Covalt-Environmental Services, Latishea Crabtree-Greene County Center, Lakin Craft-OneCard Services, Brad Ellzey-Automotive instructor, Ashley Garick-Practical Nursing instructor, Kisha Jones-A.D.A. Coordinator/Psychology instructor, Bharath Kandula-Physics instructor, Gwendolyn Matuszewski-MiBest Coordinator, Billy Miller-Commercial Truck Driving instructor, Cody Robertson-Electro-Mechanical Technology instructor, and Gary Russell-Maintenance.

Each honored employee was given a special item designed for each level of achievement: 5 years-small plaque; 10 years-large plaque; 15 years-clock; 20 years-small acrylic trophy; 25 years-medium acrylic trophy and 30 years-large acrylic trophy.

Jones College holds community-wide Blood Drive

ELLISVILLE – Jones College is hosting a community-wide blood drive on Tuesday, June 15, in the Student Union, behind the A.B. Howard Gymnasium. Vitalant strongly encourages blood donors to make and keep appointments to give blood between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Scheduling appointments can be made through this link or through the QR code.

“It is very important that we have as many donors as possible at the upcoming blood drive at Jones College because donations are currently running short. The summer months mean more people are out of town on vacation and not available to donate,” said Jons College Blood Drive Coordinator and EMT instructor, Benji Sessums.

Donors that have been fully vaccinated arriving at Jones College are not required to wear masks, but masks are required of staff. There will be no temperature checks at sign in. Vital signs will be checked as part of the normal screening protocol.

To view Vitalant’s current, up-to-date guidelines to support the health and safety of donors and staff, visit the Vitalant website, or call Vitalant Donor Recruitment Representative, Sara Dyess at 601-602-5969.