Jones College’s All-Mississippi Academic Team named

ELLISVILLE – Two Jones College students earned individual honors through the International Honor Society for two-year colleges, Phi Theta Kappa. Sophomore psychology major, Aliyah Watts of Sandy Hook was selected to Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s All-Mississippi Academic First Team. Accounting and Finance major from Waynesboro, Pablo Lopez was selected for Second Team honors.

“Pablo and Aliyah are such fitting recipients for these honors,” said PTK Advisor, Eric Shows. “There are many things that set these two genuinely, wonderful students and leaders apart besides their academic performance. Their work ethic, their commitment to service, their ability to unite and connect with others is unwavering and authentic. They are the epitome of what it means to be servant leaders.”

At Jones College, Watts was actively involved as a member of the Charles Pickering Honors Institute, Concert Choir, Chorale, Jones OnStage, Gospel Choir, and she served as the Student Government Association Vice President and the Vice President of Fellowship for Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Watts also performed in the spring musical productions, “STARCROSSED” and “Grease” and was selected for Hall of Fame and is one of only five sophomores to be a Tullos Scholar.

“This feels surreal to me to be nominated for this program because sometimes I feel like I’m not doing enough when it comes to my academic career. I work hard, but I am also really busy with classes, performing arts and organizations on campus. Moments like this reassure me that my work is important. It’s so motivating for me to lean on academic accomplishments, especially when I feel overwhelmed and exhausted. I am thankful to the PTK Advisors and team for this opportunity,” said Watts.

 In addition to earning her bachelor’s degree and doctorate degrees from either the University of Southern Mississippi or William Carey University, Watts plans to become a forensic psychologist in hopes of helping youth.

“I want to be a voice for teenagers and young adults who are struggling with mental health issues. I personally struggled in middle school with panic attacks and depression when my parents divorced. Learning to cope on my own, left unresolved trauma as a college student but I’ve since learned how important it is to take care of my mind. Hopefully, I will not only be able to help teenagers and young adults navigate the things they encounter daily, but to also be the person I wish I had telling them it’s okay to not be okay,” explained Watts.

Her volunteer work involves student ministry at Venture Church in Laurel and performing at Salem Heights Baptist Church’s Ark Event. Tamara Pittman and Chris Watts are her parents.

Pablo Lopez served as the Vice President of Leadership for PTK and was a member of the Charles Pickering Honors Institute and he was a member of the Intramural Soccer Team. He was also selected as a member of the academic Hall of Fame, and is one of only five sophomores to be a Tullos Scholar. Additionally, Lopez serves as a Deacon, and he is on the Board of Directors of his church in Waynesboro, while also volunteering for Tim Tebow’s “A Night to Shine” and the “Giving Back Project” where he gathered gifts for foster children during the Christmas season.

“This honor is a tangible representation of what hard work and dedication are and it has great significance to me. It reminds me of the economic principle, ‘If the benefits of doing something are greater than the costs, then do it.’ I am pleased to say, that all those costs are nearly nothing compared to the benefits. All of what I do is never only for me, but it is for my parents as well. This honor represents their hard work in the past, today, and their hard work tomorrow, all to have me here,” shared Lopez.

After earning his bachelor’s degree at Mississippi State University, Lopez’s goal is to get a job with a corporation and eventually start his own business.

“My parents, Pablo and Marlen Lopez, have been the foundation of my life and the ignition to my drive to succeed. Without them, things would have played out very differently for me. At home, my parents raised me with the highest values and ensured that all I did was done at its best. They are my biggest supporters and inspiration and I hope to be only half of who they are. Papi y Mami los amo mucho. Gracias por su apoyo. Ustedes son mi mas grande orgullo,” said Lopez.

The two JC students competed with more than 1,800 nominations from each of the 15-community colleges in Mississippi. As part of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society’s annual academic and workforce competition, each student submitted an essay, answered discussion questions, and described their leadership roles and activities while in college.

The highest scoring nominees from each of the 15 two-year colleges earned First Team All-Mississippi honors and $500 scholarships provided by the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges. All team members received special medallions, certificates, and printed resolutions from the Mississippi Legislature.


Jones County Junior College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees. Degree-granting institutions also may offer credentials such as certificates and diplomas at approved degree levels. Questions about the accreditation of Jones County Junior College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 3033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (

Statement of Non-Discrimination and ADA Statement: Jones County Junior College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability in its programs, activities, or employment practices. The (ADA/ Section 504) ADA Coordinator, Student Affairs, phone 601-477-2673, and (Title IX) Title IX Coordinator, Hutcheson Hubbard Administration Building, phone 601-477-4127, have been designated to handle inquiries and grievances regarding the non-discrimination policies. Jones County Junior College, 900 South Court Street, Ellisville, MS 39437.