Despite challenges, 58 Jones College Practical Nursing students, graduated

ELLISVILLE – The Jones College Practical Nursing Program’s Pinning and Diploma Ceremony was very emotional, especially for those who overcame numerous challenges to reach the end of the three-semester program successfully.  Molly Mize of Sandersville was one of the 58 graduates who had to endure tragedies and took a break before reaching her goal.

Molly Mize with Amy Myers

“Today means everything to me. My dad died, I had a baby and my mom had cancer but she’s doing well now,” explained Mize. “I made it through a very hard year, however, my 11-month-old is my motivation. I had him and came back in the summer when he was four-and-a-half months old. I knew he deserved more.”

Also inspired by her children is 36-year-old Renee Price of Waynesboro. The mother of four children, a 16-year-old, two five-year-old twins, and a one-year-old, worked in another job for 16 years before finally following her dream of becoming a nurse.

“I did this for my baby so they can see and be encouraged that they can do whatever they set their mind to do,” said Price. “At the end, I tripped up a little, and couldn’t get over the finish line but I kept pushing and I did it. Walking across that stage and getting my pin means everything to me and I’m ready to take on the next challenge!”

Nursing is one of the most difficult programs and requires the support of friends and family to make it. Jones College Practical Nursing Program Director, Amy Myers explained to graduates that instructors are also proud and are celebrating their accomplishments.

Renee Price, Sarah Gonzalez and Kia Pruitt

“Seeing nursing students achieve their goals and succeed is one of our proudest moments as instructors. Graduates, you have proved yourself capable of great things!” said Myers. “This semester we have PN graduates in both our full-time and part-time programs. Several of our students struggled to juggle work, home, and school. Several had very difficult personal and family situations to overcome. I am very proud of ALL our students for the hard work and dedication that they showed to further their nursing goals.”

Faculty members honored several members of the graduating classes from the Ellisville full time program, part time night class program and Wayne County Center program. Three students from each program were honored with three different awards for their accomplishments during the three-semester program.

Cyndi Colson with Amy Myers

Cyndi Colson of Magee, Kimbula Ducksworth of Laurel, and Sharrangelia Green of Waynesboro each received the Florence Nightingale Award for exhibiting the true spirit of nursing qualities, like the founder of nursing, Florence Nightingale who showed compassion, dedication, and kindness with professionalism, integrity, and a selfless attitude toward humanity. 

The Rising Star Award was presented to Inez Bridgeman of Jackson, Tameria Bunch of Canton and Shanteshia Morgan of Wayne County for their continuous dedication and growth in the classroom and clinical setting, and their positive attitude and perseverance which has enriched their professionalism and nursing knowledge.

Karen Windham of Hattiesburg, Lakesha Woulard of State Line and Sarah Gonzalez of Leakesville each earned the Academic Excellence Award for having the highest academic average. Gonzalez said she attributes her success in the program to her deep desire to care for people and being a nurse is the only thing she wanted to do.

“I feel it’s my calling and I’m ready to get my first job and build a future for my future kids,” said Gonzalez, who wants to work with geriatric patients. “I enjoy geriatrics because that’s a community that needs the most love. I feel like they should get extra attention because they’ve lived their lives so long and we should be in debt to them.”

Hattiesburg’s Kia Pruitt, who is currently a pharmacy technician also answered a “calling” to become a nurse. The 29-year-old explained she enjoys working in the pharmacy, but the Covid 19 pandemic enlightened her to the need to do more.

“I still like what I do but I chose to come to nursing to lend a helping hand. Pharmacy technicians work behind the scenes but what I do in nursing is all hands on and I can help more people physically and mentally. I also like a challenge!” said Pruitt.

Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith shared with the graduates and audience, the college has high expectations of nursing students. He explained, at the conclusion of the Pinning and Graduation Ceremony, where graduates light each other’s lamps as part of the traditional “Lamp Lighting” inspired by the founder of nursing, Florence Nightingale who carried a lamp to help wounded soldiers during the Crimean War in 1854, is very significant.

“The lamp lighting ceremony is much more than just a moment. It is an actual representation of the enlightenment of your minds, and it is also an enlightenment of love, joy, and the great care that I unequivocally endorse of the health care these ladies will do in the future and be exceptional. We’re excited for your future graduates!”

As the graduates’ lamps were lit, Practical Nursing instructor, Oshaugnessye McCormick, challenged the newest nurses to be more like Florence; innovative, critical thinkers, warm and compassionate and to let their lights shine.

Jones College Practical Nursing Graduates December 2022

  1. Jakeria Bailey, Waynesboro
  2. Miranda (Wright) Beckwith, Laurel
  3. Haley Boutwell, Sandersville
  4. Alexis Boyle, Sumrall
  5. Inez L. Bridgeman, Jackson
  6. Amber Brignac, Seminary
  7. Tameria Raymona’ Bunch, Canton
  8. Cyndi Colson, Magee
  9. Wayn-Keyera Davis, Waynesboro
  10. Kasey Dayon, Petal
  11. Chanece Denton, Meridian
  12. Kimbula Ducksworth, Laurel
  13. Briana Frierson, Hattiesburg
  14. Sarah Gonzalez, Leakesville
  15. Breuna Gray, Louin
  16. Sharrangelia Green, Waynesboro
  17. Makenzie Grimsley, Petal
  18. Kaitlyn Hennis, Hattiesburg
  19. Bailey Hobby, Greene County
  20. Arnissa Holloway, State Line (Wayne)
  21. Tacora Monique Houston, Ellisville
  22. Brooke Sky Hudson, Seminary
  23. Halie Jones, Laurel
  24. Jordyn Kittrell, State Line
  25. Kamecia Love, Hattiesburg
  26. TaQuana Magee, Tylertown
  27. Madison Matthew, Seminary
  28. Ashlynn McLeod, Leakesville
  29. Molly Mize, Sandersville
  30. Jelesia Moody, McLain
  31. Kaneesha Michele Moody, Beaumont
  32. Brittney Paige Morgan, Waynesboro
  33. Shanteshia Morgan, Wayne County
  34. NaToria Moulds, McLain
  35. Miracle Monai Murrell, Hattiesburg
  36. Ni’Esha Nelson, Heidelberg
  37. Megan Noble, Laurel
  38. Charla Packer, Hattiesburg
  39. Joy Dionne Powell, Prentiss
  40. Renee Price, Waynesboro
  41. Kia Deshae’ Pruitt, Hattiesburg
  42. Kasia Rankin, Waynesboro
  43. Hayley Deann Revette, Raleigh
  44. Jakarta Kyannah Ruffin, Laurel
  45. Knija Russell, Waynesboro
  46. Courtney Scarbrough, Ellisville
  47. Mahala Shelby, Richton
  48. Iiesha Stuckey, Mendenhall
  49. Alexis Keonna Taylor, Magee
  50. LaBrittany Triplett, Louisville
  51. Jacey Ann Varnado, Picayune
  52. Jonnah Walters, Ovett
  53. Stephanie Leann Wardell, Laurel
  54. Brooke Lashe’ Williams, Gulfport
  55. Gabriella Noelle Williams, Shubuta
  56. Karen Windham, Hattiesburg
  57. Lakesha Woulard, State Line
  58. Taniya Young, Richland

Jones College Associate Degree Nursing grads’ grit and support help them succeed

ELLISVILLE – Embarking on one of the most difficult professional programs, 27 Jones College Associate Degree Nursing students celebrated the completion of their studies at the Nurse’s Pinning and Graduation Ceremony. Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith commended the newest nurses for never “vacillating from the challenge” because of their grit.

“We’ve been educating students since 1911 and there is nothing harder than what these students have been through,” said Smith. “They have the desire, the grit and certainly the aptitude but they also have the support from you, friends and family, an entire network around them. Without you, they (the nurses) would not be where they are today.”

Ironically, a medical condition almost kept the class president, Kaneisha Fortenberry from realizing her dream of being a nurse. The Laurel resident began having unexplainable cardiac problems over the last three years, which led to visiting doctors from New Orleans to Jackson. However, she never wavered.

“It can be disheartening. I was almost unable to see this day but we’re overcoming,” said Fortenberry. “I’ll be starting in the cardiac bypass nursing unit and hopefully be a labor and delivery nurse. That’s my dream!”

After 10 years working in an office because of a medical condition, Sara Johnson of Laurel also thought her desire to be a nurse would be impossible to achieve. At 18 months of age, she was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a lung disease which affects breathing and overall health. In 2019, a new medicine changed her life drastically, allowing the Laurel resident to reconsider following her nursing dream.

“Until I moved into the adult clinic at UMMC, I had the same nurses for 18 years caring for me and I looked up to them. I wanted to do what they did. These nurses gave me hope and they treated me like family. I want to really make a difference in patients’ lives, and they encouraged me to do so,” said Johnson.

Also, as a young mother, Johnson said her son, Benjamin inspired her to go back to school as a 32-year-old.

“Even though I haven’t been able to spend as much time with my family, it’s going to be worth it, and my son is seeing me follow my dream. I hope it encourages him. However, none of this would be possible without Brandon. He’s been the best husband through all of this!”

Associate Degree Nursing Program Director, Mike Cummings explained to the auditorium filled with friends and family, it takes a lot of hard work and effort to get to this day, the pinning and graduation ceremony. The next step is enduring the five-hour NCLEX licensure exam, after completing five semesters of 12-hour clinicals, six-hour labs and three-hour lecture classes. For Shelbi Sumrall of Laurel, the Covid-19 pandemic delayed her journey. Nonetheless, she’s excited about embarking on a career in the E.R.   

“I’ve been waiting for this day for a very long time because of some setbacks. It took a little longer than expected because I had to repeat a semester, because of Covid and because of some things going on, I didn’t do well in my classes,” said Sumrall. “However, I’m more confident now and will be a better nurse in the long run because of it.”

After working three years at Forrest General Hospital as a medical transporter, Dalton Jenkins of Piave explained the pandemic helped him discover his purpose.

“I transported hundreds of Covid patients. That didn’t bother me, it makes it more special because Covid kept some of my family and friends from seeing their loved ones. I could go into the patients’ rooms and speak to them or bring something to the nurse’s station for them. I got to be that ‘somebody’ when they are isolated.”

While his desire to be a youth pastor led him to the hospital to help people and job shadow, he realized being a nurse would be one of the paths he could take to help make a difference in someone’s life. Even before reaching graduation, Jenkins’ role as a Peer Mentor to the new nursing students at Jones College helped him in ways he didn’t foresee.

“Being a mentor really helped because if they asked me something I didn’t know, it helped me to learn. To teach, you have to know it really well, so it made me accountable. I really like being there for somebody. It also made me study that much harder,” said Jenkins.

Through all the long, challenging hours of studying, labs and clinicals, many members of the class became emotional seeing the support from family as they received their nursing pins and diplomas.

As Jenkins explained, “The last two years were challenging; sacrificing time with family and even sometimes church if there was test on Monday, while also trying to work. But that’s what makes it all the more rewarding today.”

At the conclusion of the Pinning and Graduation Ceremony, graduates participated in the Lighting of the Lamp, a nursing school tradition. This ceremony is a symbol of the passing on of knowledge from nursing faculty to graduates after receiving their official Nurse Pin with a Maltese Cross. For more information about the Associate Degree Nursing program at Jones College check out the website,

Associate Degree Nursing Fall 2022 Graduates

Destiny Bester , Picayune                  

Autumn Broadhead, Heidelberg        

Rachel Dearman, Brandon                 

Courtney DuBose, Columbia            

Kailyn Dukes, Laurel                        

Kaneisha Fortenberry, Laurel            

Kenadi Freeman, Waynesboro           

Chase Hall, Hattiesburg                    

Rondaisha Henry, Bay Springs         

Aja Hersey, Meridian                        

Dalton Jenkins, Richton                    

Sara Johnson, Laurel                         

Kailey Lawrence, Moselle                

Charlie Lowe, Monticello                   

Kaylyn McKinney, Raleigh              

Bridgette McLain, Leakesville          

Hope McNair, Collins                        

Kirsten Nicolosi, Hattiesburg            

Lindsey Patterson, Moselle               

Lauren Powell, Laurel                          

Annie Russ, Hattiesburg                   

Bethany Sanderson, Richton             

Shalena Scarbrough, Wiggins

Dalton Snow, Raleigh                        

Shelbi Sumrall, Laurel                      

Lauren Thompson, Laurel                 

Rebecca Yandell, Petal          

“Jones College Christmas” event helps Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program

ELLISVILLE – With the overwhelming response from the public attending the Jones College Christmas Tree Lighting and musical performance, the Laurel Salvation Army has been able to provide enough toys for everyone but 10 Angel Tree children. More than one hundred new, unwrapped toys were collected for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program as admission to Jones College’s Christmas program. Salvation Army Captain, Keisha McMullin said the Angel Tree Program is personally dear to her heart since she was a recipient as a young child.

“The Salvation Army Tree program is a program where I get the opportunity to serve the kids in the community and give back like someone gave to my family when I was a baby. The 461 children who signed up for the program will hopefully have a happier Christmas because of the community and Jones College’s generosity,” said Captain McMullin.

She is encouraged that all the Angel Tree children will have a joyous Christmas partly because of the generous donations from the audience at the December 1, program at Jones College. Donations for the Angel Tree Program can be received until December 9, at the Laurel Salvation Army Office. If you want to fill the wishes of the remaining Angel Tree Children found at the Sawmill Square Mall, those gifts need to be returned by Friday, December 9.

Gift suggestions include toys, sports equipment, board games and plush animals. All the donations will be given to children in our area this Christmas.  Necessities and Christmas gifts are provided for disadvantaged children from infants to age 12, through the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program in Jones, Jasper, Wayne, Clarke, Smith and Simpson counties. For more information about the Angel Tree project, go to

“Day of Giving” exceeds expectations at Jones College

ELLISVILLE- Bad weather and the numerous holiday activities could have distracted many from contributing to the Jones College Day of Giving. However, this years’ donations exceeded the expectations of the Jones College Alumni Foundation. The Foundations’ fundraising effort, which continued past the National Day of Giving, netted $108,325.66, which coordinators are amazed and very thankful for its generous donors.

“Last year, $71,000 was raised to help the Foundation support the college in its educational endeavors. The number of new scholarships endowed this year is what put us way over the top. These new scholarships not only memorialize or honor someone, but they also create a legacy which lives on through the college and its students,” said Amie McQueen, Jones College Assistant Vice President of Advancement.

Diane Bohannon Smith of Laurel was one of the JCJC alumni who gave in a big way this year. The 1975/76 JCJC football cheerleader chose to honor her brother, Dennis Bohannon on this Day of Giving by endowing a scholarship in his honor. Bohannon taught math at West Jones High School and coached girls soccer for 26 years in addition to compiling the high school football stats every Friday. The former JCJC baseball and football player passed away November 7, 2020, prior to being named a Jones College Honor Alumni in 2018. Both of Bohannon-Smith’s two kids attended Jones College. Diane thought establishing the Dennis Bohannon Athletic Memorial Scholarship would be the best way to honor her brother’s legacy.

“Dennis just loved kids, Jones College, and he was all about community. He was a businessman and opened and managed the KarmelKorn Shoppe/Popcorn Place in the mall with our parents, for 28 years,” said Diane. “Dennis and I came to JCJC a year apart. He loved Jones and he gave to the Alumni Foundation faithfully. For decades he gave a donation of $85.22 monthly which were his football and baseball jersey numbers. He thought it was important to support the college and donate.”

Amie McQueen, Howard and Rebecca Patrick and JoAnna Newcomb

Also giving in a “big way” was Howard Patrick of Ellisville. The 1977 JCJC alumnus endowed a scholarship in memory of his favorite JCJC history teacher, John R. Klem III. Currently teaching history at South Jones High School, Patrick explained Mr. Klem had a major impact on his life. He died in the line of duty as a Forrest County Deputy in 1985 at the age of 44.  Klem taught history in addition to being a craftsman, a pastor, a law enforcement officer, a husband, and a father to three children.

“I wanted to endow this scholarship in Mr. Klem’s memory and in his honor. Maybe his legacy will continue here at Jones College, and it will mean as much to some other folks as Mr. Klem meant to me,” said Patrick. “I always loved history, but Mr. Klem just made it much more interesting. Now, I’ve been teaching history for 22 years and I try to emulate him.”

Every donation, large and small, makes a difference. Jones College students sold bow ties and covered the Bobcat statue on the Pedestrian Plaza hoping to “pay it forward.”

Aubrey Register and Cody Lowe

Foundation scholarship recipient and freshman at Jones College, Aubrey Register of Ellisville shared, “I have a Foundation Scholarship which paid for my tuition. I think everyone should be a part of this Day of Giving event. It’s a great college offering great opportunities for students.”

This was the third year Jones College participated in the national Day of Giving event in an effort to continue the mission of the Jones College Foundation, Inc. While the Day of Giving focuses on donations during one day, the Foundation accepts tax deductible donations all year online at or by calling the Foundation Office at 601-477-4145.