Jones College’s High School Equivalency grads challenged to “keep going”

ELLISVILLE – The more than 120 students from Jones College’s High School Equivalency program were challenged by graduation keynote speaker and Mississippi Community College Board Professional Development Specialist, Brandi Ratliff, to keep going past this “moment” in their lives and pursue excellence in everything. After dropping out of high school in Grenada at the age of 17, Ratliff explained she earned her HSE diploma in hopes of finding better opportunities to position her for success.

Brandi Ratliff

“I felt a strong calling towards education. I wanted other people to have the opportunities that I didn’t know that I had,” explained Ratliff who is currently earning her doctorate degree. “You have unlimited opportunities in front of you no matter what happens, no matter what path you take when you leave here. I hope you know this is only a ‘moment’ right now. The moment continues in everything you do hereafter, and in every life you impact hereafter. Sitting here today, you have already proven it can be done…. My encouragement for you today is that I hope you’ll keep going and I want to say, I’m so proud of you!”

One of the graduates, 49-year-old Jeffry Nichols of Quitman could relate to Ratliff’s desire to find more and better opportunities. He decided in February, after recovering from a year long battle with cancer, to get his High School Equivalency when his 19-year-old daughter, Kathryn decided to get her HSE. She was homeschooled and a little nervous about attending classes alone, yet she dreamed of becoming an author. With a little encouragement from his wife, Cindy, the two came to classes at the Clarke County Center in Stonewall. Soon after, a friendly competition ensued as they learned their scores were similar.

Ava, Reba, Kathryn and Jeffry Nichols and his mother, Nelda McDonald

“I actually stayed with something and achieved the goal of getting the HSE and I did much better than I expected to,” said Jeffry. “It’s kind of a competition, not heated but a friendly competition seeing if I could score well. Once we took the first test, we were pretty close so I thought if I put a little more effort into it, I could get closer to her score. Then, she did better. Kathryn finished with one point better, a 91. She inspired me and I helped with her nerves being in a classroom.”

The Nichols also decided to walk across the stage at the HSE commencement ceremony and celebrate their accomplishments together, with family.

“I was really happy to get to share that moment together, walk together and receive our diplomas on the same day,” said Kathryn Nichols.

Both HSE graduates also earned academic scholarships, with Kathryn earning an Academic Distinction Scholarship and Jeffry earned an Academic Achievement Scholarship. The two also have plans to return to Jones College in the fall.

“I knew the academic side wasn’t really for me, the technical side is what I’m hoping to do, like the electrical program, residential construction or electro-mechanical technology all interest me. I have done some residential carpentry, so I’m also interested in the HVAC program and doing a little welding,” said Jeffry.

Gwen Matuszewski & Ember Mixon with Sabrina Young at the podium

County Supervisors from each of the eight counties in Jones College’s district, awarded an academic scholarship to the highest High School Equivalency test scorer in each of the counties, that will be attending Jones College in the fall. The full tuition scholarship for two semesters was awarded to Covington County’s Kaleb Harrell, Clarke County’s Ember Mixon, Greene County’s Eliza Holder, Smith County’s Sandra Page and Wayne County’s Tyler Freeman. Perry County’s Kylie Atwood and Jones County’s Carmen Pearson also earned the Rising Excellence Scholarship, while Jasper County’s Alex Davis earned the Academic Achievement Scholarship. Additionally, Mixon was awarded the HSE Overall High Scorer Scholarship of an additional $500 presented by the Jones College Foundation Director of External Funding, Sabrina Young.

“Coming to Jones was a simple choice because I earned so many scholarships and it is a great place for an education. I love all the teachers. They make it enjoyable to learn and be inspired,” said Mixon. “I was homeschooled and my older sibling, Tabitha Lee Mixon also earned her HSE diploma and came to Jones so I figured if she could do it, so can I!”

Dr. Jesse Smith

Mixon also earned a Presidential Excellence Scholarship with her high ACT score, which translates to $13,000 over four semesters at Jones College for her to earn a nursing degree. Director of Integrated Pathways at Jones College, Wendy Evans told the large audience at the commencement ceremony that this group of graduates has earned more than $100,000 in scholarships. An additional eight students earned ACT scholarships after the ceremony. Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith proud of the HSE’s accomplishments, concluded the evening with a few rousing words of encouragement for the new graduates.

“Look around the hallways at these Championship banners in the Bobcat Gym. We have so many we had to store them. There’s a word on there that tells you what you are, and I don’t want you to forget it. That word is ‘Champion.’ Don’t forget it. You are a champion today. It is awesome to share this experience with you today. I leave you with the words of Tina Turner, you are simply the best!! You are the best!!!”

HSE Scholars                        Scholarships

Ember Mixon, Stonewall        Presidential Excellence, Clarke County HSE Scholarship, Overall HSE Scholarship

Kaleb Harrell, Seminary        Covington County HSE Scholarship

Eliza Holder, Neely               Academic Achievement, Greene County HSE Scholarship

Alex Davis, Bay Springs        Academic Achievement, Jasper County HSE Scholarship

Carmen Pearson, Laurel         Rising Excellence, Jones County HSE Scholarship

Kylie Atwood, Richton           Rising Excellence, Perry County HSE Scholarship

Sandra Page, Raleigh             Smith County HSE Scholarship

Tyler Freeman, Waynesboro  Wayne County HSE Scholarship

Kathryn Nichols, Quitman     Academic Distinction

Caitlyn Myers, Petal               Academic Distinction

Noah Shows, Stonewall          Academic Distinction

Isman Brady, Laurel               Academic Achievement

Emily Daigle, Seminary         Academic Achievement

Lillian Hall, Moselle              Academic Achievement

Graysen Irvin, Laurel         Academic Achievement

Tristin Johnson, Laurel         Academic Achievement

Nicolas Kelly, Laurel             Academic Distinction

Madison Newcomb, Soso       Academic Achievement

Jeffry Nichols, Quitman         Academic Achievement

Morgan Welch, Ellisville       Academic Achievement

Kaden Dunagin, Ellisville                  Rising Excellence

Keila Escamilla, Laurel                      Rising Excellence

Micah Holifield, Ellisville                  Rising Excellence

Kaleb Harrell, Seminary                     Rising Excellence

Mylee Pitts, Louin                             Rising Excellence

Zoey McAndrews, Bay Springs         Rising Excellence

Memory Smith, Waynesboro             Rising Excellence

Wynstin Strite, Bay Springs               Rising Excellence

Jonathan Westbrook, Taylorsville      Rising Excellence

Jones College High School Equivalency Graduates 2023

Name                                City                                              

Kylie Cheyenne Atwood, Richton                                         

Breanna Charlene Beatty, Leakesville                                              

Courtney A Booth, Laurel                                         

Judith J.B.H. Borboa Hernandez, Laurel                                          

David Eugean Bourgeois, Laurel                                          

Anna Grace Boykin, New Hebron                                        

Kimberly Lane Bradley, Leakesville                                    

Isman Joshua Brady, Laurel                                      

Alyson Jolene Brownlee, Moselle                                        

V Buquoi, Laurel                                           

Carley Elizabeth Cleaver, Buckatunna                                             

Tyler Lee Cleaver, Laurel                                         

Dalton Paul Cochran, Ellisville                                             

Gabe Hayden Cooke, Ellisville                                             

Amil Ranita Cooley, Laurel                                      

Brendan Zane Cosper , Bay Springs                                     

Lillie Sabrina Coxwell, Leakesville              

Caleb Crownover, Ovett                                            

Emily Grace Daigle, Seminary                                              

Hunter Ray Daniels, Raleigh                                     

Micah Lee Davenport, Laurel                                   

Alex Camden Davis, Bay Springs                                         

Bryleigh Lakin Dueitt, Neely                                    

Kaden Dale Dunagin, Ellisville                                             

Jessica Hanna Ezell, Seminary                                              

Rachel Lauren Ezell, Seminary                                             

Tyler Garrett Freeman, Waynesboro                                     

Robyn La’Tora Gaines, Shubuta                                           

Kiana LaQuavier Gavin, Laurel                                            

Gage Michael Graham, Seminary                                         

Ramsay Lee Grimes, Leakesville                                         

Lillian Marie Hall, Moselle                                       

Kaleb Michael Harrell, Seminary                                          

Callie Mackenzie Hawkins, Raleigh                                     

Auderyana Elaine Haynes, Mize                                           

Judith Hernandez, Laurel

Paris Alyssa Hicks, Ovett                                          

Sasha Noel Hogue, Laurel                                         

Eliza Michelle Holder, Neely                                    

Blain Allen Holifield, Ellisville                                            

Ansleigh Brooke Holifield, Stonewall                                              

Kanyen Leighana Hutchinson, Laurel                                               

Wilson Kar Ishee, Bay Springs                                              

Braxton Kirk Johnson, Ellisville                                           

Abigail Alizabeth Kelley, Laurel                                          

Stephen Dakota King, Enterprise                                          

Ardarrin Lavon Kirksey, Shubuta                                         

Christopher David Laznovsky, Laurel                                              

Madlyn Marie Lee, Collins                                       

John Michael Limerick, Laurel                                             

Kimberly Anne Malone, Richton                                          

Becca Elizabeth Martin, Laurel                                             

Zoey Kylan McAndrews, Bay Springs                                              

Cambrie Nicole Mckean, Ellisville                                       

Hanna Jo Miles, Lucedale                                         

Ember Genesis Mixon, Stonewall                                         

Hayden Mackell Moulds, Lucedale                                      

Caitlyn Grace Myers, Petal                                       

Madison Paige Newcomb, Soso                                            

Kathryn Elizabeth Nichols, Quitman                                    

Jeffry Franklin Nichols, Quitman                                          

John Robert Nicholson, Laurel                                              

Leedarius Shondricus Rapheal Owens, Waynesboro                                    

Carmen Pilar Pearson, Laurel                                   

Natalee Bree Peebles, Meridian                                            

Mariah Marsha Pierce, Paulding                                            

Mylee Morgan Pitts, Louin                                       

Cameron Joseph Poolson, Taylorsville                                             

Olivia Jordan Samaniego, Ellisville                                      

Chloe Saul, Hattiesburg                                            

Alleyson Elaina Sellers, Waynesboro                                               

Noah Thomas Shows, Stonewall                                          

Memory Paige Smith, Waynesboro                                       

Chance Jacob Smith, Seminary                                             

Lakyn Alexis Soto, Ellisville                                    

Wynstin Paul Strite, Bay Springs                                          

Essie Lynn Susano, Bay Springs                                           

Preston Thomas Sykes, Louin                                               

Hanna Caroline Tilford, Laurel                                             

Micah Joseph Van Etten, Laurel                                           

Gabriela Vargas, Laurel                                            

Dylan James Claude Vincent, Moselle                                             

Hank Anthony Walker , Louin                                   

Morgan Raine Welch, Ellisville                                            

Jonathan David Westbrook, Taylorsville                                          

Shannon Elizabeth Wheat, Meridian                                     

Jackson Wayne Williams, Seminary                                     

Khloe Williams, Soso                                                

Charles Stanley Williamson, Louin                                      

Phillip Trey Windham, Ellisville                  


Jones College prepares new students for college life

ELLISVILLE – Jones College rolled out the red carpet and introduced first time students to Jones College “Up Close.”  Both parents and students had the opportunity to learn about the college’s policies, academic resources and to take care of business before classes start on August 17.

“I’m looking forward to experiencing college life and begin focusing on my culinary career,” said Journee Moffett of Laurel. “I can’t wait to prepare for the special events on campus as a culinary student!”

Kyren Sanders-Laurel, Journee Moffett-Laurel, Riley Smith-Enterprise, Josie Garcia-Soso & Mackenna Beech-Ellisville

Also looking forward to a new chapter in her nursing education is Mackenna Beech of Ellisville. “I’m excited about starting college at Jones and enjoying some activities on campus, meeting new people.”

Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith encouraged students to make the most of their time here to prepare for their future and become one of the many outstanding alumni like Chapel Hart singer, Devynn Hart, Superbowl MVP, Deion Branch, plastic surgeon to the stars, Dr. Garth Fisher or TOPGUN Navy pilot, Major Nick Laviano.

“I am JC. I live and breathe Jones College and I hope you will also represent us with pride as you journey toward a successful career in life,” said Smith. “Take advantage of the resources available to you and meet new people, network with your peers and faculty. We’re here to help you build a solid foundation for your future.”

For more information about enrolling for fall classes click on the website,

Jones College students awarded Gold Key Honors

ELLISVILLE – Five Jones College students were selected by their peers for the special recognition to be named Gold Key recipients. The Merit/Honor Gold Key recipients were engineering major, Gracye Tower of Runnelstown and business administration major, Brady Williams of Puckett. Williams was also the recipient of the Leadership Gold Key Award along with Faith Collins, a computer science major from Heidelberg. Athletic Gold Key honors went to softball pitcher, Holly Craft of Raleigh, a health-related professions major, and tennis player, Tanner Bevard of Hattiesburg who is majoring in kinesiology.  

Jones College sophomores receiving the Academic Gold Key honor because of their 4.0 GPA are, William Blakeney of Raleigh; Angela Bollinger of Petal; Brooklyn Brown of Ellisville; Faith Collins of Heidelberg; Virginia Fortenberry of New Hebron; Erin Harris of Quitman; Makayla Mason of Laurel; Jessica McAlpin of Stringer; Charity Miller of Laurel; Bralynn Newell of Newton; Brodie Rials of Pearl; Christopher Ritz of Sumrall; Jennifer Shirley of Waynesboro and Reagan Veon of Petal.

Top row: Grayce Tower, Tanner Bevard & Faith Collins. Bottom row: Brady Williams, Holly Craft & Brady Williams.

Jones College FBLA students earn top spots at nationals

ELLISVILLE – Four Jones College students earned top prizes at the 2023 Collegiate National Leadership Conference of Future Business Leaders of America, Inc. (FBLA) which is the nation’s largest Career and Technical Student Organization focused solely on business. The group traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, joining more than 800 college students and educators from across the country for the June 22-25 conference and competition.

Alondra Abad, Elizabeth Blair and Blane Graham

Jones College students placed in the top ten in their individual and team competitions like Elizabeth Blair of Waynesboro and Blane Graham of Stringer who placed ninth in the Website Design team event. Graham also took home fifth place in Programming Concepts. Laurel’s Alondra Abad received seventh place in the Public Speaking competition. Taylorsville’s Destiny Brown, who competed in the Foundations of Accounting category, made the semifinals in the Business Presentation competition.

FBLA’s National Leadership Conference brings students together to compete for cash prizes in dozens of competitive events over four days each year. Students also had the opportunity to engage in learning workshops, network with alumni, and meet with potential employers. For more information about the Jones College Business Division check the website,

Jones Up Close orients new Jones College students  

ELLISVILLE – New Jones College students can orient themselves to campus and academic life during Jones Up Close Orientation on Wednesday, July 12. The first session begins at 9 a.m. with a second session that was recently added to begin at 1 p.m. to accommodate the growing number of students registering for fall classes.

“After seeing the number of students signing up for Jones Up Close, we decided to add an afternoon session to better accommodate the nearly 500 students already registered to attend,” explained Sarah Ishee, Jones College Dean of Students. “Students have until Friday, July 7, to sign up for these informational sessions.”    

To register for Jones Up Close, check out the website  Check-in for the first session is at 8:30 a.m. to attend the 9 a.m. session and check-in is at 1 p.m. for the afternoon session. Both sessions will be held in the A.B. Howard Gymnasium with students attending different sessions on campus for a few hours after the initial overview session. Also on the Jones Up Close website, students will be able to download the JC Mobile App, submit photos for Student ID’s, get a JC Parking Decal and sign up for a Payment Plan.

All new students planning to take classes at Jones College this fall are required to attend Jones Up Close. To “See Yourself at Jones College,” find more information about signing up for classes by browsing this website