Jones College’s “Day of Giving” offers “Bow”tiful opportunities

ELLISVILLE-Jones College’s Day of Giving on Tuesday, November 28, has been tied to the National Day of Giving tradition with some “Bow”tiful opportunities. In honor of and inspired by Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith, who enjoys wearing bow ties, the JCJC Foundation Inc. will be offering paper bow ties for $5 as a fun way to dress up the bronze Bobcat on the C.L. Neill Plaza and to participate in the college’s fourth annual Day of Giving.  

“I really love this idea,” said JC freshman, Hannah Luker of Sumrall. “I think it shows how Dr. Smith is so awesome to us students and I think it’s a great idea. Scholarships are a great help for students, and I think giving back to the community is the best way we can help, so come and give!”

The first official “Day of Giving” at Jones College was in 2019, as an all-day event on campus to encourage faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends to help grow and continue the mission of the Jones College Foundation, Inc. As the event continues into its fourth year, VP of Advancement and JCJC Foundation coordinators believe the “Day of Giving” is even more important and is an opportunity to teach students about the importance of giving.

Jones College students with a “Bow”tiful opportunity to join in the National Day of Giving. Pictured left to right are JC students, Cody Lowe (Laurel), Micaiah Sumrall (Quitman), Carlee Carter (Hattiesburg), Taylor Robinson (Ellisville), Garrison Ashley (Mendenhall), Gavin Barry (Braxton), Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith, Jaythan Comegys (Laurel), Aubrey Register (Ellisville), David Craddock (Florence), Sydney Sikes (Silas, AL), and Hannah Luker (Sumrall).

“Giving transcends generosity; it becomes a profound investment in the future of Jones College students and their communities. Whether large or small, your contribution matters. It fuels the engine of progress, nurtures potential, and lights the path for those striving for a better tomorrow,” shared Vice President of External Funding, Sabrina Young. “The ripple effect is profound because a scholarship can empower a student to break barriers, and educational resources can shape minds and create leaders. Collectively, our giving can build a foundation for a stronger, more vibrant community.”

Joining together as a Jones College community along with the JC family of friends and alumni, helps secure the non-profit Foundation’s mission of supporting the college as it continues to thrive. The main purpose of this concerted effort is to build awareness of how the Jones College Foundation serves JC students and its communities and to show how easy giving can be for our alumni and friends.

Sabrina Young, Vice President of External Funding

“The collective power of giving on this day serves as a catalyst for positivity, shaping the educational journey of Jones College students and fostering a community committed to their success. Together, we can make today a time of not just giving, but also of giving with purpose, and passion, with the shared belief that education has the power to change lives and build a brighter future for us all.

Everything raised by the JCJC Foundation is invested back into the students, faculty, staff, and community in some way. Whether it’s education, professional development, or anything vital in helping us carry out our mission, the JCJC Foundation offers assistance. Alumni and friends are usually the first sources for assistance and that’s why many university foundations utilize similar giving events to support both large and small needs within their community.

However, if you didn’t attend Jones College, many discover Jones touches their life in some way. Whether it’s through the Jones College students working in hospitals caring for patients during clinicals and as employees after graduation or the many other professionals who become teachers, business owners, pharmacists, musicians, welders, engineers, or inventors, Jones College touches communities throughout the U.S. and the world.

The “Day of Giving” is an opportunity for anyone to help Jones College continue to offer excellence in education and inspire another generation to share the vision Jones College established in 1911. Tax-deductible donations can be accepted online at on the JC Day of Giving on Tuesday, November 28, or by phone at 601-477-4145, from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m., or by stopping by the JC Alumni and Foundation Office in Jones Hall on the campus of Jones College in Ellisville.

To keep track of the progress and when we reach various goals, follow us on social media at Facebook-JCJC Alumni and Foundation, Instagram @jc_foundation_alumni/,   Facebook-Jones College, and Jones College-Twitter. For more information contact the Jones College Alumni and Foundation Office at 601-477-4145.

Jones College hosts HMTL’s “Composer Festival”

ELLISVILLE – Jones College’s School of Art, Music, and Performance recently hosted the Hattiesburg Music Teachers League’s “Composer Festival” with about 300 students and guests in the audience for performances participating over the two-day event. On Friday, about 30 teachers attended guest composer and speaker, Kevin Olson’s sessions on topics such as, “Creativity Explosion” and “Teaching and Retaining the Gen Z Student.”  The rest of the festival featured piano students from across the state performing compositions by a contemporary composer whom they also had the opportunity to meet in person.

Piano students from the studios of Laura Broughton, Joanna Burnside, Anne Kathryn DeViney, Marilyn Huff, Victoria Johnson, Elizabeth Moak, and Theresa Sanchez participated in the 40th annual Composer Festival. This was the first time Jones College hosted the event. Additionally, Jones College Visual Art instructors, Mark Brown and Melanie Eubanks judged a poster contest featuring the artwork of 18 students. Winning First Place was John Bridges from Hattiesburg with Second Place going to Hattiesburg’s Georgia Belknap and Claire Lin of Hattiesburg took Third Place. Receiving Honorable Mention were John Howell, Aiyana Li and Kahlan Nguyen, all of Hattiesburg.

Jones College Most Beautiful Pageant winners announced by JC Student Publications

ELLISVILLE – Jones College’s Student Publications and Student Affairs Office held the annual Most Beautiful Pageant on Wednesday, November 8, 2023, in the newly renovated M.P. Bush Fine Arts Building. This year, 32 contestants competed for the title, “Most Beautiful.”

Rylee Howse of Laurel was selected as the winner by a panel of judges as the 2023-2024 Jones College, “Most Beautiful.” Howse said she is honored to represent Jones College in this role.

“I am still in complete shock that I was crowned Most Beautiful,” Howse said. “There were 32 beautiful contestants, and I am filled with so much joy and gratitude to have been selected to represent this college.”

Other winners include First Alternate-Emma Grace Buckley of Stringer, Second Alternate-Molly Griffin of Ellisville, Third Alternate-Anna Bolivar of Laurel, and Fourth Alternate-Breanna Harrison of Laurel. Other contestants chosen in the Top 10 were Isabelle Halley of Laurel, Bailie Bishop of Laurel, Halle Myrick of Petal, Madeline Smith of Sumrall and Mary Taylor Jones of Collins.

The Top 5 Most Beautiful Pageant are pictured left to right, Emma Buckley-first alternate, Molly Griffin-second alternate, Rylee Howse-Most Beautiful, Anna Bolivar-third alternate and Breanna Harrison-fourth alternate.

Breanna Harrison was also voted as “The Audience’s Choice” winner and Bailie Bishop won both “Most Photogenic” and the Essay Contest.

Entertainment was provided by Jones OnStage with former Jones College Most Beautiful winner, Caidyn Crowder performing. The Spring 2023 Most Beautiful, Summer Boyd, returned to crown this fall’s Most Beautiful pageant winner.

This was the first year two Most Beautiful pageants were held within one year at JC. That decision was made by pageant director and Student Activities Director Emily Sullivan, along with the Student Affairs Office. Traditionally, the pageant has been held in the fall, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the contest to be held outdoors in the spring. The pageant continued to be held in the spring semester until last year. To differentiate between the two Most Beautiful winners, the fall winner is titled, 2023-2024 Most Beautiful.

The pageant serves as a fundraiser for the student publications department’s Madge Mailey JCJC Foundation Scholarship, and Student Affairs.

Photos and Story written by Jones College Student Publications

Jones College celebrates, “Christmas Peace, Hope and Joy!” with the Salvation Army

ELLISVILLE – Jones College’s School of Art, Music and Performance and the Salvation Army invite the public to join its celebration of, “Christmas Peace, Hope and Joy!” on Friday, December 1, at 7 p.m. in the M.P. Bush Fine Arts Auditorium. Admission to the celebration of Christmas is a new, unwrapped toy to be donated to the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree toy drive to enjoy performances by the Jones College’s Concert Choir, JC Jazz, Jones OnStage, JC Voices, and the ever-popular, 4-hand piano performance by Dr. Theresa Sanchez and Dr. Victoria Johnson along with a few guest performers. Following the indoor performance, the night will end with caroling around the Christmas Tree on the C.L. Neill Student Center Plaza.

“The focus this year is on sacred music with a modern twist. We’ll do some contemporary and sacred music with a pop element to it. The focus is on the joy of Christmas, the hope of Christmas, and the peace of Christmas, with three movements performed within a 70 to 90-minute time frame,” said Dean of the School of Art, Music and Performance, Bruce Smith. “There will be some classic songs like, “Silent Night” that will expand into the other elements of a hopeful season before moving into my favorite time, the joy of Christmas and you know it is going to be an unconventional joyful ending!”  

The Salvation Army toy drive is an excellent opportunity for our students and community to give back at a time when it’s really critical. This is one way for students to feel a connection to the community. 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.

A few of the toys collected for the Salvation Army’s toy drive at Jones College’s Christmas with the Arts and Tree Lighting event.

For more information, call the Jones College of Art, Music and Performance Office at 601-477-4203 or follow Jones College’s Art, Music and Performance Facebook Page and Twitter. For more information about the Angel Tree project, go to

Jones College’s four “Rising Stars” honored during Homecoming 2023

ELLISVILLE – Of the nine honored alumni during Jones College’s Alumni Association and Foundation’s Alumni Recognition Program held during Homecoming celebrations on October 28, 2023, four alumni were named “Rising Stars.” Included in the distinguished group of alumni achieving great success, included Lewis S. Bateman of Laurel and current Starkville resident, Mason Irby of Meridian and current Madison resident, Alise Mathews of Laurel, and Jermarcus Ross of Laurel.

“These alumni represent various professional fields, and each one embodies the values of excellence that Jones stands for. Today, we are recognizing their outstanding contributions to their communities and celebrating the impact the college has had on their lives. These ‘Rising Stars’ are JC alumni who have demonstrated success early in their careers and have accomplished professional and personal success throughout the community,” Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith explained to the several hundred alumni at Homecoming events honoring a total of nine JC alumni.

When Lewis S. Bateman arrived on the Ellisville campus in 2012, after taking Dual Credit courses, the Laurel High School Salutatorian decided to stay and take advantage of the full “Jones College experience.” The smaller classes, personal attention from faculty and challenging curriculum also gave him a unique opportunity for a leadership experience not offered to many students. As a member of the Charles Pickering Honors Institute, Phi Theta Kappa honor society, Jones Ambassadors, and Bobcat Brigade, to name a few, Bateman was the perfect choice to take on a regional leadership role.

“Technically, by the time I graduated high school, I was already classified as a sophomore here, and I was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. We hosted the Regional Conference in 2013 at JC, and that’s when Gwen Magee asked me if I wanted to stay another year to serve as the Regional President of PTK. And again, I had the time of my life! Dr. Smith told me at graduation, ‘You’ve done a lot for the college and I’m proud of you.’ I responded, ‘If I stay another year, will you give me a four-year degree?’ We laughed, but I had a lot of trust in everybody here at JC, and that really meant something to me and why I came to Jones. I honestly don’t think that I would be where I am in the position that I’m in today, if not for my tenure at Jones,” said Bateman.

Currently, Bateman is the Director of Rehab and Physical Therapy at Oakwood Retirement Community in Brooksville and is a staff Physical Therapist at Noxubee County General Hospital in Macon. Originally, marketing was his career of choice, however, he explained that a personal experience with a physical therapist caused him to explore the healthcare field.

“So, after that first year, I did swap over to more of a pre-medical sciences track. I knew about the lab sciences offered at Jones, and how good they are. I took my biology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, and physics which did help tremendously, once I got to Mississippi State and earned my bachelor of kinesiology degree.” Bateman acknowledged, “I think if I had gone on to a 4-year immediately out of high school, I definitely would not have done as well in a lot of those prerequisite classes. I think there is a level of maturity that Jones instills in people, and it did in me.”

Baseball led Mason Irby to Jones College from Meridian, but he shared it was the JC people who helped him decide to commit to Jones in 2014. The Southeast Lauderdale High School graduate passed up other offers to play for Coach Christian Ostrander and the Bobcat team that would win the Region 23 Championship and the Division 2 National Championship in 2016. For his efforts, Irby was named All-American in both of his years at Jones, and he received the Golden Glove award his sophomore year, as well as Top Defensive Player in the country and the Marucci Elite Hitter award for being a top hitter in the U.S. 

“There was something different about the campus, something different about the people. I remember telling my dad, after the visit that it just seemed like everything was brighter and happier and the people were happier, and I fell in love with the place. And not necessarily just the baseball program, which was great, but more or less just the campus in general,” said Irby.

He continued playing baseball and his education at the University of Southern Mississippi. Irby helped bring two conference season championships and one conference tournament championship. Also, USM earned two berths in the NCAA Postseason Tournament. After graduating from USM in 2018, Irby accepted a job offer from Edward Jones Investments as a financial advisor in Ridgeland.

“I had countless experiences with professors that just seemed like they would bend over backward to help you in any way and not even just in the business department. I had to take classes like the prerequisites that were outside of my business classes which I really enjoyed. But you know, I remember taking a biology class and I had no interest in biology, and Mr. Shows knew that I wasn’t interested in biology, but he was super eager to help in any way that he could. Everybody was just so helpful,” Irby said.

He and his wife, Caroline became parents of their first child, Carsen Olivia Irby in May.

The next two Rising Stars are from Laurel, Alise Mathews, and Jermarcus Ross. Mathews quickly got through college by taking classes while at West Jones High School. Packing lots of classes during both summers, she graduated after one year at Jones in 2014.

“I wouldn’t advise that for most people because I feel like I missed out on all the fun times nine years ago. I was part of the Student Government Association and Bobcat Brigade, and I was super involved on campus, but I didn’t live on campus; that is my one regret because I feel like everyone who lived on campus became a tight-knit group. It was a wonderful experience though and I felt like this was my home away from home, even though I’m from here in Jones County,” Mathews shared.

 The lady who was once going to be an orthodontist said now, she helps give cavities with her sweets and candies at the first business she opened six years ago, Shugs Cookie and Candy Bar. Recently, she opened her second business, Shugs Boutique employing lots of JC students from the community.

“Thank you for giving me the foundation of changing a major and being able to pursue a dream. You know, I had wonderful leadership in the Bobcat Brigade with Kayla Bradley (Farris); she was a huge mentor to me. I could walk into her office and Sonya Dykes who was over SGA, and she had that yellow couch…. But their leadership and just letting me know that like, hey, you can do this. I would just say thank you to the people who really were mentors in that chapter in my life and I still have great relationships with both of them. My memories from SGA, I was the first chairperson for the Mardi Gras Ball and that just set the example for me,” shared the young entrepreneur.

Mathews earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing from Mississippi State University in 2016. She is an active member of the Laurel Junior Auxiliary and Laurel Main Street.

In 2014, as Alise graduated from Jones, Northeast Jones High School graduate, Jermarcus Ross was headed to JC. He kept the campus enthusiasm at a record high as the Bobcat Mascot and member of the Jones College Cheer Team that placed 4th at the National Level Competition at ESPN Sports in Buena Vista, Florida. Presently, Ross is the Tumble Director and Ambassador for the ACE Competition and Recreational Cheer Company for high school and collegiate level athletes. In his “spare time,” he often returns to Jones to assist with recruiting events.

“Every time I come to Jones College the feeling is so nostalgic. It’s almost like I’ve never lived, because once you attend Jones College you kind of realize that it always has a partin your heart.For me to come back and see the impact around the community, Jones gave me a foundation when I didn’t really understand what I wanted to do. It’s wonderful to look back and think, I never thought I would have been at Jones and to look and say I was at Jones, and now I’m here for this honor, let that sink in for a second. To come back and affect these students? Just like my advisors, teachers and cheer coach affected me. I’m just returning the favor and the love that I once got from here and I’m forever thankful for it here at Jones College,” Ross shared.

Since graduating from Jones in 2016, Ross has served as the MAIS Cross Country Head Coach and Physical Education Teacher at Laurel Christian High School, and he is the youngest Board Member to serve on the “Laurel Leap” event as part of the Laurel Main Street organization. He is the CEO and co-founder of Ross & Co. Investments established in 2021, along with Ross & Co. Athletics which he began in 2019. This company hosts a three-day sports camp for the community’s youth, providing an opportunity to mentor local students and student-athletes. Originally, Ross had plans to move to Texas and even become a professional athlete, but his perspective changed after touring the JC campus.

“My experience at Jones College completely changed the path of my life. I feel like I’ve been going in the right direction ever since I chose to come to Jones,” explained Ross. “Being in the marketing program with Miss Ginger Keeton, she helped me open up my eyes and realize, there’s so much more to life than just sports. Even with me being able to coach and give back to the community. Marketing is not just a name. Marketing is you. I am Jones College. Like I am and I feel like she instilled those little traits in me to help me.”

Ross has also worked with Ben and Erin Napier on several projects for HGTV’s Home Town and even found his house on the show.

Other Jones College alumni honored included “Achievement and Excellence Award” recipients, Dr. Leander Bridges II of Laurel, Ashely Dean of Clara, and current Lebanon, Tennessee resident, and Richton native and current Petal Resident, Austin Smith, and Dr. Dewey Garner of Raleigh, and current Oxford resident, received the “Legacy Award,” and Laurel’s Jim Rasberry received the “Outstanding Alumni of the Year” Award. All the honored alumni received a medallion during half-time of the football game.

Jones College’s honored alumni recognized during Homecoming events are pictured left to right with Jennifer Smith & Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith, Rising Star-Jermarcus Ross, Achievement & Excellence-Ashley Dean, Achievement & Excellence-Leander Bridges II, Outstanding Alumni of the Year-Jim Rasberry, Legacy Award-Dewey Garner, Rising Star-Mason Irby, Rising Star-Alise Mathews, Rising Star-Lewis S. Bateman and Achievement & Excellence-Austin Smith.