Jones College’s A.D. Nurse grads ready to “transform” the world

ELLISVILLE – For almost 60 years, Jones College’s Associate Degree Nursing program has been sending its graduates into the healthcare field. On December 7, during the Graduation and Pinning Ceremony at Jones College, administrators, family, and friends, congratulated 24 new graduates who will join the thousands of nurses before them and transform their communities as new nurses.

Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith

“Thank you for investing in these students because there is not a single thing that we do that’s more important,” Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith declared to friends and family at the A.D. Nursing program’s Graduation and Pinning ceremony recently. “A nurse doesn’t just get a great job and work in healthcare. One nurse in the community transforms the lives of our families and our communities. The trajectory of a nurse not only enhances that family’s income, but also the health of everyone they see, their children, and their parents. You can see the impact grows. From my perspective as a college president, we see those investments and they add value for the greater good. It reminds me of the book of Matthew in the Bible. ‘You are the salt of the earth….’ A nurse graduates, works in their field and literally transforms the health of an entire family.”

Katelyn with her mother, Michelle Green

Stringer’s Katelyn Green is one of the nurses who answered the call. After considering being an athletic trainer, she was inspired to make a difference as a nurse after her father’s passing.

“God really touched me and showed me this career actually needs me. I truly want to try to help everyone and anyone I can who has gone through something similar to me. Even if I can help just one person, that will make everything so worth it,” said Green, who plans to work in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

Now that Laurel’s Sarah Boone has her associate degree in nursing, she aspires to work in the hospital emergency department. Initially, she was inspired by her sister and 2021 JC Practical Nursing graduate, Hannah Boone Swindall.

Hannah Boone Swindall & Sarah Boone

“It was kind of scary watching her go through this program because it looked very stressful, but it was worth it,” shared the younger Boone. “It’s very rewarding to have your patients thank you at the end of the day, even when you feel like you haven’t done your best. That’s the most rewarding part, I think.”

Continuing his education and working in the ICU is on the horizon for the A.D.N. Class President, Shakeeb Anderson. The Quitman resident wants to work in the ICU while continuing his medical training in hopes of becoming a doctor. While addressing his classmates during the Graduation and Pinning Ceremony, he challenged them to always remember the essence of their profession regardless of their future endeavors.

Shakeeb Anderson

“See beyond the illness or injury of your patients and embrace the humanity of every individual who crosses your path. Each patient has a unique story, fear, hope, and dream. It is our ability to listen attentively to our souls and to provide care that goes beyond the physical, encompassing the emotional and spiritual aspects of healing. Be advocates for your patients, ensuring their voices are heard, their rights are respected, and their needs are met,” shared Anderson. “Our degrees are not an ending as much as a new beginning. As Colin Powell said, ‘A dream doesn’t become reality through magic. It takes determination and hard work.’ Our dreams are now becoming real.”

Mike Cummings

Acknowledging the grit of the 24 new nurses, A.D. N. program director, Mike Cummings also praised this class for overcoming numerous obstacles during the pandemic.

“They had to wear masks at different times, and all the things that it took to get through this program, yet they showed up for work and it’s impressive. They persisted and they remained flexible as the world changed in front of them. Job well done!” Cummings told the graduating class.

Ultimately, both the graduates and college administrators also praised the support of friends and family. The help and assistance provided to these nurses while in school for five semesters, allowed them to reach their goals and dreams of earning an Associate Degree in Nursing while working through unprecedented challenges.

Jones College Associate Degree Nursing Graduates December 2023

Shakeeb Anderson-Shubuta

Sarah Boone-Laurel

Jana Bounds-Hattiesburg

Sydney Brady-Madison

Amber Butler-Waynesboro

Isabella Cherry-Waynesboro

Nadalyn Cluff-Moselle

Shakema Cobb-Paulding

Bailee Dental-Tampa, FL

Kravian Gillum-Heidelberg

Katelyn Green-Stringer

Nia Henderson-Waynesboro

Stacey Higgins-Hattiesburg

Robert Little-Laurel

Nancy Long-Lucedale

Nikki Magee-Forest

Gracie McCullough-Stringer

Kourtney McDonald-Sand Hill

Mary Kimble Pearson-Indianola

Alexys Price-State Line

Stephen Schmidt-Mobile

Austin Stringer-Laurel

Shelby Thibodeaux-Perkinston

Marci Walley-Leakesville

Jones College Practical Nurse grads “Bridge” the healthcare gap

ELLISVILLE – Twenty-six Jones College students in the Practical Nursing program successfully completed the three-semester program and are now ready to help bridge the healthcare crisis. One way to accomplish that is through the Nursing Bridge Program offered at Jones College and many other colleges and universities statewide, to help fill the demand for nurses.

“All of our practical nursing students can go on from here in their education. In fact, nearly 50% of ours do continue their education,” said Amy Myers, Practical Nurse Program Director. “Here at Jones, there is a Bridge Program for our students and the Associate Degree Nursing program. They can work and take classes, and it takes them a little less time to earn the next degree. There are Bridge programs across the state for the bachelor’s degree in nursing too.”

This is one of the many options 53-year-old Regenia Hamilton is considering as she celebrates finishing the Practical Nursing program. The Columbia mother and grandmother and her sister, Theresa McHenry had planned to be in nursing school together, however, her 51-year-old sister had to take a few more prerequisite classes and will begin the program in January.

“When I finish the practical nursing program, I plan on bridging to the Associate Degree Program,” said McHenry. “I am also very proud of my sister today. She deserves it because she works hard. She’s going to be a great nurse and she has had it in her all these years.”

Theresa McHenry and her sister, Regenia Hamilton

Ironically, the Jones College nursing faculty also believes Hamilton most emulated the founder of nursing, Florence Nightingale. During the Pinning and Graduation Ceremony, Hamilton was selected as the recipient of the Florence Nightingale Award for her compassion, dedication, and kindness with professionalism, integrity, and selfless attitude toward humanity.

“It has changed my life coming to Jones. Every instructor has become family and I’m so excited about today,” said Hamilton. “You have endless opportunities as a nurse. I have yet to decide what I’ll do next, but it’s not a burden to think about. I’m so excited and I just want to choose the right path because at my age, you know, I want to make the best decision for me.”

In her challenge to the Level 1 Nursing students, Hamilton encouraged the group to “start over” whenever they make a mistake. “That is the one thing that I carry with me through life as an older student, but I’m here,” explained Hamilton. “When you come to that bump in the road. Start over. Regroup. Never quit and keep going.”

Dr. Tessa Flowers

Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Tessa Flowers shared with the graduates, family, and friends at the Pinning Ceremony, that the nursing program has a special place in her heart. Her grandmother is a graduate of the JCJC Practical Nursing program and is confident the newest graduates are ready to serve. She said she is also thankful for their desire to help others.

“I’m thankful for the students here today who will help bridge the gap with our current health care crisis. We need good nurses. We need nurses who are trained to take care of us. These students have the training and education. I’m also thankful for the faculty, qualified caring faculty, who have helped these students through some of the hardest days they have faced yet. They have persevered.”

LaKirria Everett pinned by Amy Myers
Shelby Brazell and Rod Tolbert

One graduate, LaKirria Everett of Waynesboro was selected to receive the Rising Star Award for showing continuous dedication and exceptional growth in the classroom and clinical setting. Her positive attitude and perseverance have enriched her professionalism and nursing knowledge, her teachers explained. The Academic Excellence Award was given to Shelby Brazell of Waynesboro who achieved the highest average and superior academic performance. The ceremony concluded with the traditional Lamp Lighting Ceremony which is a representation of the enlightenment of your mind. The traditional “Lamp Lighting” was inspired by the founder of nursing, Florence Nightingale who carried a lamp to find and help wounded soldiers during the Crimean War in 1854.

Practical Nursing Graduates December 2023

Layesha Brianna Bâ, Clarksdale                               

Brittany Michelle Barnes, Laurel                  

Madelyn Berry, Prentiss                    

Catie Booth, Heidelberg

Shelby Brazell, Waynesboro 

Jada Jamya Brinson, Prentiss                        

Kyra Nicole Brown, Indianola                                  

Kaila Ja’Maya Clemons, DeKalb                  

Emily Grace Edwards, Richton                                 

LaKirria Aaliyah Everett, Waynesboro                     

Adisyn Mae Gainey, Waynesboro                

Regenia Hamilton, Columbia                        

Mallorie Harris, Stringer                   

Shaqueria Polk-Harris, State Line

Bailey Holifield, Laurel                                

Laneshia Chanea Jackson, Laurel                 

Jermeneshia Jordan, State Line                     

Kaneshia Monique Kirk, Laurel                                

Taneshia LaSha Leverette, Waynesboro                   

Sidney Matthew, Moselle      

Haley McSwain, Petal           

Karli Rhyne Mills, Greene County                           

Abigail Grace Rigney, Buckatunna               

Emma Shepherd, Ellisville                           

Kendell Smith, Greene County                     

Rachel Ryuka Womack, Richton  

Jones College celebrates reopening of remodeled auditorium

ELLISVILLE – Jones College’s M.P. Bush Fine Arts Auditorium has held thousands of events over nearly 55 years since it opened in 1969. The first group of performers and the public that attended the Christmas with the Arts program on Friday, December 1st, enjoyed a newly remodeled auditorium. However, before the doors were opened to the public, college administrators and fine arts faculty celebrated by cutting a big red ribbon.

“We held the last event in the M.P. Bush Auditorium last December at the Concert Choir’s Christmas concert. A year later, we’ve re-opened it tonight for our Christmas program,” Jones College President Dr. Jesse Smith shared with the audience before the program. “This has been an exciting time and now we’re pleased to offer you an even more spectacular theater experience.”

Dean of the Arts, Music, and Performance College, Bruce Smith said the renovations didn’t just change the look of the auditorium. “We no longer have cinder block walls since we added the sheetrock on the walls making it feel a lot warmer, more modern. Painting the ceiling enhances the lighting, like when we use lasers, and the new sound equipment is in stereo.”

The eight-month renovations included removing the old theater seats and flooring and adding new lighting, a new sound and camera operation station, new carpet, seating, and new railings, as well as drywall in the auditorium, hallways and lobby. Patrons will also notice new lighting and lobby furniture and perhaps fewer seats. The seating capacity in the auditorium was reduced by about 100 to accommodate the new sound and camera booth. Dr. Smith told the audience that by managing the project in-house and using Michael Bradshaw, Assistant to the President for Facilities Management to oversee the project, about one million dollars was saved. The $900,000 remodel was funded primarily by state capital improvement funds.

Jones College students receive Pearl River Valley EPA Scholarships

ELLISVILLE – Eighteen Jones College students are amongst the 142 students from throughout Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association’s 12-county service area receiving a $650 scholarship through the Round Up for Education scholar’s program. This is the eleventh year the scholarship program has been able to offer a financial boost for community college students because members round their bills up to the nearest dollar amount each month. Scholarships are available to members who do the “round up,” as well as for their spouses or dependent children who are enrolled as freshmen this fall. The state’s community college students can thank the generous spirit and support of the Association’s 52,000 members for the added financial boost to their education.

“The Round Up for Education program is an example of how electric cooperatives, and their members can improve their communities through education,” said CEO/General Manager Matthew Ware.  “Education is vital to improving the future for all of us in south Mississippi.”

Since the Round Up program began in November 2012, nearly $2.5 million has been collected and deposited in an account overseen by the PineBelt Foundation. Ten percent of each year’s funds are set aside in an endowed fund for future use. The remaining money is divided equally between the number of eligible applicants. In the program’s 11 years, 2,167 students have now received scholarships.

“Sometimes the smallest gestures, like donating 50 cents, can make the biggest impact in our communities,” said Ware.  “While it may not seem like your spare change can do much, but when combined with the generosity of your fellow Pearl River Valley Electric members, you can help change the life of a fellow member and improve the quality of life in your communities. Working together is the cooperative way and that can make a big difference.”

In addition to 18 Jones College students receiving scholarships, 94 students attending Pearl River Community College, and 20 at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College students each received the $650 PRVEPA scholarship.  Ten other students attending three other state community colleges also received scholarships. Overall, students came from 18 different high schools and home school programs.

Round Up for Education funds collected after August 1, go toward next year’s scholarships. Applications for 2024 scholarships will be available beginning in November. Pearl River Valley Electric is a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative that distributes electricity to more than 52,000 members in 12 counties in central and south Mississippi.  It is headquartered in Columbia and has offices in Hattiesburg, Purvis, and Wiggins.

Jones College student recipients of the PRVEPA Round Up for Education Scholarship

  1. Georgia Boudreaux, Hattiesburg
  2. Kamron Brooks, Hattiesburg                                                                                    
  3. Madelyn Brown, Purvis                                                                                
  4. William Carlson, Hattiesburg                                                                                   
  5. Colby Daughtry, Sumrall                                                                              
  6. Christopher Goolsby, Hattiesburg                                                                             
  7. Aylesia Hartfield, Wiggins                                                                                       
  8. Natalie Holmes, Kokomo                                                                                           
  9. Julio Martinez, Hattiesburg
  10. Miller Ethan, Hattiesburg
  11. Mitchell Morgan, Hattiesburg                                                                                   
  12. Manning Moody IV, Wiggins
  13. Brooks Newell, Hattiesburg                                                                          
  14. Ta’Nia Patrick, Columbia
  15. Garrett Stephens, Hattiesburg                                                                                   
  16. Madison Swales, Hattiesburg                                                                                    
  17. Campbell Wood, Hattiesburg                                                                                    
  18. Lillian Yawn, Hattiesburg                                                                                                                 
Leif Munkel, PRVEPA Member Services Manager and Dr. Finee’ Ruffin, Jones College

Jones College’s “Christmas with the Arts” & Salvation Army Toy Drive vital to the community

ELLISVILLE – After 11 years, Jones College’s Christmas with the Arts toy drive continues to serve as a vital part of the annual Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. The community’s donations of new unwrapped toys for admission to the Jones College Christmas program have often provided hundreds of families some happiness during the holidays with these gifts. Toys will be distributed on Monday, December 11, to the nearly 250 families who signed up for the program, with 611 children needing a little Christmas joy. Salvation Army’s Commanding Officer in Laurel, Captain Keisha McMullin explained that an additional 150 kids were added to the list this year, but she’s grateful for the tremendous response from the Jones College family.

“There are several ‘Angels’ still hanging on the tree in the mall in Laurel and if no one adopts them, these gifts will fill those needs, so we don’t have to purchase gifts. We are so thankful for what the college community does to help every year with this program. I wish everyone could see my smile right now looking at all these gifts!” exclaimed Captain McMullin.

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

For more information, call the Jones College of Art, Music and Performance Office at 601-477-4203 or follow Jones College Art, Music and Performance Facebook Page and Twitter.