Jones College’s practical nursing grads are ready for new challenges

ELLISVILLE – A pinning and graduation ceremony for 21 students who recently finished Jones College’s Practical Nursing program was held to celebrate their accomplishments while overcoming many obstacles. Completing the one-year program, was a challenge for some like 31-year-old Le’Chasity Taylor of Hattiesburg. The single mother of a 10-year-old girl previously earned an associate of arts degree in veterinary medicine. After working in the animal world for one and half years, she decided to find a new career working at Forrest General Hospital which lasted nine years working for different departments including the pathology lab, clinic lab and as an acute care tech on the medical surgical floor. Still wanting more, Taylor pursued a career in nursing.

“Without the support and encouragement of my family it would have been even harder without their push. With a few prayers and my family, I am here about to graduate,” said Taylor.

Christi Smith with Teresa McDonald, Assistant Dean of Health Sciences

Christi Smith of Bay Springs also overcame the challenges of raising a 2-year-old, and a 6-year-old with her husband Devan while enrolled in the three-semester program. She left her job at Magnolia State Bank after six years, to fulfill the dream she’s had since high school.

“Nursing school was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, on top of having kids and a husband but I really enjoyed it,” Smith shared. “I couldn’t have done this without my supporters and the amazing instructors. I’m really excited Jones College is expanding the Practical Nursing program to Jasper County to make it more convenient for more people to earn their degree closer to home.”

Smith plans to return to Jones College after working for a year to earn her Associates Degree in Nursing. After earning the Florence Nightingale Award at the pinning and graduation ceremony at Jones College, Smith said it just confirms that nursing is what she needs to do.

“I just about cried when they called my name. I am honored and I hope I can live up to the expectations that the founder of nursing embodied,” said Smith.

Maggie Mason being pinned by Amy Myers, Practical Nursing Director

For Maggie Mason, being a Jones College graduate of nursing is the continuation of a legacy established by Mason’s great grandmother, Martha Clanton and Maggie’s mother, Wanda Mason. The Wayne County family has worked in home health care for 20 and 25 years respectively before continuing their nursing careers at the Wayne County Nursing Home. Maggie hopes to follow a similar path as she celebrates joining the ranks of the nursing profession.

“I’ve always looked up to them as role models since I was in kindergarten, as being really awesome. It is so awesome to be here today, since I waited for this day, forever it seems! There were times I felt like it wasn’t going to happen, but I tried really hard, and I’m really excited about being here,” said Maggie.

Practical Nursing instructor, Ashley Harrison awards Keyera Waters with the Academic Excellence Award.

During the ceremony, the faculty recognized three students for different accomplishments. The Academic Excellence Award was given to the student who demonstrated the ability to not only achieve, but who also excelled in scholastic activities. Keyera Waters of Laurel had the highest average and demonstrated superior academic performance.

Arseunna Hardin from New Augusta was selected for the Rising Star Award. Faculty felt like she had shown continuous dedication and exceptional growth in the classroom and clinical studies. Her positive attitude and perseverance enriched her professionalism and nursing knowledge. The Florence Nightingale Award was given to Smith because like the founder of nursing, Smith embodies the spirit of nursing by exhibiting professionalism, integrity, and selflessness

Practical nursing instructors Ashley Harrison and Jill Burge award Arseunna Hardin with the Rising Star Award.

towards humanity. These are the qualities Nightingale implemented into the nursing profession, along with compassion and dedication for all patients.

The pinning and graduation ceremony culminated with the traditional lighting of the nursing lamp, like Nightingale used to see for the injured soldiers of the Crimean War in 1853. Faculty members lit their lamps and passed the flame to each student as a symbolic measure of passing on their knowledge.

“Graduates, as you leave here and begin your careers, you too will bring light to the sick, the anxious and the suffering…. Let your light shine before men so they may see your good works. Never forget how important you are. You have accomplished a great thing. We are very proud of you so go out there and let your light shine!” said Practical Nursing instructor, Jill Burge.

For more information about Jones College’s Practical Nursing Program at the Jasper County Center, call the Jasper County Center at (601) 477-5473 or check out the website at and to learn more about Jones College’s Practical Nursing program click on the website at

Jones College’s Dr. Lindsey Keay selected for national performance

ELLISVILLE – Jones College’s Assistant Director of Bands and flute instructor, Dr. Lindsey Keay is wrapping up a summer filled with “flutetastic” opportunities. On August 11, she’ll be headed to Chicago to perform a solo and as part of a flute quartet at the National Flute Associations’ annual convention. She was selected by her former University of Texas-Austin Professor, Karl Kraber who is being recognized for a Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 2013, Professor Karl Kraber and Dr. Lindsey Keay had the opportunity to catch up and pose for a picture.

“He retired when I was a sophomore in college in Austin and he worked with me for only two years,” said Keay. “I’m flattered, Professor Kraber remembered me and asked me to play one of his favorite pieces, Ballade by composer Frank Martin. We worked on it for my sophomore year jury, which is like a final exam.”

Originally, the National Flute Association’s convention concert was supposed to take place in 2020. However, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the NFA to cancel its conventions for two years. Now, after “a lot” has happened, Keay is excited to finally be able to perform for her professor as he’s being honored for a lifetime of success.

Ballade is part of the standard repertoire so as a sophomore, I remember being really excited about playing this piece my professor chose for me to work on. It’s not your typical happy flute music I had played so much of before. It’s more of a 20th century piece-kind of creepy sounding and really different, with some incredibly fast runs,” said Keay. “I remember being excited and scared because I really wanted to impress Professor Kraber.”

This was the last piece Professor Kraber heard from his then student play. However, he specifically wanted Dr. Keay to not only play the Ballade solo, but to also perform a Mozart piece Kraber arranged, as part of a flute quartet. Only 10 of Kraber’s former flute students were selected by him to perform as part of the evening concert to honor Kraber’s lifetime of work.

“I want to perform and do well to honor him. In fact, I’ll be performing for both of my former professors, Marianne Gedigian and Kraber, so it’s a little intimidating. Additionally, other high level flute players and professors at major universities will be in attendance. I’m also sharing the stage with other flutists I consider to be ‘super stars,’” said Keay. “I’m also very appreciative of my colleagues, Dr. Burge and Dr. Frans for supporting me in this endeavor while they finish band camp at Jones without me. We all value these opportunities which are important for us in perfecting our performance skills.”

Earlier this summer, Keay spent some time helping her former college friend, Dr. Julee Kim who teaches at the University of Texas A&M-Commerce and isthe founder and coordinator of the Summer Flute Symposium. Besides assisting with the flute choir, Keay taught Yoga and breathing exercises. Her “flutetastic” summer has also been a time of reflecting as she begins her ninth year of teaching at Jones College. A few of the students she has taught, like

Scarlett Sandifer, 2017 JC flute graduate

Jones College 2017 graduate, Scarlett Sandifer is beginning her teaching career at South Jones High School.

“I’m grateful for my teachers and as I reflect on my experience and who I was as a student, and who I am now as a teacher because of them. I’m not sure I appreciated them like I do now.” Keay explained, “I attribute my success as an orchestral player to Professor Gedigian. She presented a whole new world of opportunity and what she taught me has been very applicable to what I’m doing in my professional career.”

Dr. Keay is a member of the Meridian and Gulf Coast Symphonies, and she is a regular substitute piccolo and flute player for the North Mississippi and Baton Rouge Symphonies and the Mobile, Alabama Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, Keay manages to teach private lessons, in addition to her band and teaching responsibilities at Jones College.

Jones College now offers Practical Nursing at Jasper County Center

ELLISVILLE – Jones College is now offering the Practical Nursing program at its Jasper County Center in Bay Springs for the fall semester. Applications for this medical program are now being accepted at the Jasper County Center in Bay Springs. One requirement for all applicants is the TEAS Test. Applications and all supporting documents should be delivered to Jones College’s Jasper County Center located at 3209 Highway 15, in Bay Springs by noon on August 16, 2022.

For more information call the Jones College Jasper County Center at (601) 477-5473 or check out the website at or check out the Practical Nursing website at