Pearl River Community College

April 2018

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Picayune alumnus funds two scholarships

Picayune alumnus funds two scholarships

  Future teachers and nurses can receive assistance with the cost of attending Pearl River Community College through two scholarships funded by a PRCC alumnus.
  Craig Griffing established the Zoe McGovern Griffing Teacher’s Scholarship and the Craig Griffing Nursing Scholarship through the PRCC Development Foundation.
  Griffing grew up in Picayune and has returned to his hometown. He earned undergraduate degrees from PRCC and the University of Southern Mississippi and the Masters of Business Administration from Loyola University New Orleans. He lived most of his adult life in New Orelans where he had a successful career in the health care administration field.
  “That’s when I realized how important nurses are to the health care industry,” he said. “There always seems to be a shortage of nurses so I thought I would do my little part to help with that.
  “I’ve always admired PRCC’s nursing school so I wanted to do my small part to help local people become nurses and hopefully work in the area.”
  The teacher’s scholarship is in memory of Griffing’s late mother, who taught in the New Orleans public schools for many years.
  “The College Foundation Board of Directors and staff are very appreciative of Craig Griffing’s desire to support Pearl River Community College students through the establishment of these two scholarship endowments,” said Ernie Lovell, foundation director. “Craig has a long time involvement as an administrator in the health care field and is giving back to help those students in our nursing program be successful in their field.
  “Craig has also made a commitment to helping students who want to pursue a degree in education. He has recognized the need to support our school systems with qualified and energetic teachers. We are so proud of this investment that he has made in our young people.”
  To apply for either scholarship, go to the PRCC website and click on prospective students, scholarship opportunities and foundation scholarships.        

Craig Griffing

April 2, 2018 - 10:33am
Sigma Kappa Delta inducts new members

Sigma Kappa Delta inducts new members

Sigma Kappa Delta, Pearl River Community College’s English Honor Society, Alpha Epsilon chapter, held its induction ceremony March 26 at the Forrest County Center. Inductees included front row from left, Emilie Williams and Scarlet Burge, both of Hattiesburg; Katlyn Marie Storey of Petal, Kaitlyn A. Gory, Allison Pickett, Sarah-Ashlyn Barber, Hannah Lee and Jaclyn Marie Standley, all of Hattiesburg; second row, faculty advisor Heather Peerboom, Dewayne B. John Jr. and Thaddeus Barncastle, both of Hattiesburg; Patrick Peerboom of Purvis, Catherine D. Jointer and Jarmard R. Keys, both of Hattiesburg; Lauryl Leigh Nguyen of Petal, Maria Zuniga of Hattiesburg, and faculty advisor Dan Childers. Additional faculty advisors are Greg Underwood and Drs. Terri and Ryan Ruckel. Chapter officers are Michael Evans, president; Yolanda Laster, vice president; Caitlyn Penton, secretary; and Dylan Nguyen, social media officer.

April 3, 2018 - 8:36am
Said Otwane receives Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship

Said Otwane receives Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship

Director of Public Relations
  A Pearl River Community College student, Said D. Otwane, is the third in four years to win the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Transfer Scholarship.
  Otwane is one of 47 scholars nationwide to achieve this $40,000 per year award to further his education.
  “I am still in a state of shock because this is a dream come true,” said Otwane. “It means that I can confidently walk down the path that I have chosen in life. It means that I can show my mother (Fatma Otwane) that the sacrifices she has made were not in vain. Doors that seemed sealed shut have now been flung open for me.”
  Otwane, 20, is a native of Mombasa, Kenya. He graduated from Petal High School before choosing to attend PRCC. His mom and his aunt are PRCC graduates.  
  “I knew from the start that I was heading to a fantastic place,” said Otwane. “I chose PRCC because they offered me lots of scholarships. PRCC has wonderful staff and faculty. The teachers are overqualified and passionate about their work.”
  One of those teachers is Dr. Terri Ruckel, Dean of the William A. Lewis Honors Institute at PRCC & Phi Theta Kappa advisor.
  “Coming up with a few remarks about my experience with Said (pronounced “s ay ee d) is a difficult task,” said Dr. Ruckel. “Said is a once-in a-lifetime kind of student about whom I cannot possibly say enough good things. He is gracious to all, uncompromisingly authentic, and is always where he said he would be doing what he was assigned or volunteered to do. I am delighted that his ambitious bid for the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship has been rewarded.”
  Otwane’s major is computer engineering. He is not exactly sure where he will transfer but Princeton is high on his wish list.  
  Said Dr. Ruckel, “He will make his family and PRCC proud no matter which university he decides to attend, though just now, I’m pulling for Princeton.”
  A president’s list scholar, Otwane has been recognized for a host of academic honors. They include: President of the Beta Tau Gamma Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, ambassador of the William A. Lewis Honors Institute, president of the Chess Club and a member of Sigma Kappa Delta, Mu Alpha Theta, the History and Humanities Club, the Video Game Club and the Student Government Association.
  Dr. Doug Donohue a math faculty member, echoed Dr. Ruckel’s praises. “When I first met Said, he struck me as a quiet, thoughtful, respectful young man. As I got to know him over the course of teaching him Calculus I, II, III, and IV, and Statistics, as well as serving as one of his Phi Theta Kappa advisors, I discovered that not only was he thoughtful and respectful, but Said is also hard-working, intelligent, funny, generous, and very capable.”
  His path from Kenya to the U.S. when he was 12 years old was not a simple one, as he explains.
  “My mother would travel between Dubai and Kenya for work,” he said. “She planned to relocate our family there because it would make a lot of things easier. One day, she got the opportunity to move to the United States. She decided that the U.S would provide us better prospects and opportunities. She also chose the U.S because my siblings and I would face a huge language barrier if we were to go to Dubai. She is the only one who speaks Arabic.”
  World traveler he is not. “I haven’t done much international travel beyond my home country and here. I have been to England, but I want to see as much of the world in person as I can.”
  As he works his way towards a May 2018 graduation, Otwane reflects on all his experiences and those who have helped him along the way.
  “PRCC has allowed me the opportunity to lessen the burden that my mother faces,” he said. “It has allowed me to grow and become a better individual. It has led me to grow as a scholar. It has given me a home that I did not know I needed. It has brought wonderful, caring, and supportive individuals to my life.”

Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship recipient Said Otwane of Petal with his mother, Fatma Otwane.

Said Otwane of Petal with, from left, Dr. Ryan Ruckel, Dr. Terri Ruckel and Dr. Jana Causey.
PRCC Public Relations photo

April 11, 2018 - 9:54am
Alumni inducted into Hall of Fame

Alumni inducted into Hall of Fame

  Pearl River Community College saluted five alumni Thursday, April 12, with induction into the PRCC Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame.
  Recognized for their accomplishments were J.P. Compretta of Bay St. Louis, Dr. Benny J. Hornsby of Hattiesburg, J. Larry Ladner of Kiln, Dr. Pamela Johnson Rowsey of Durham, N.C., and Judge Jon Mark Weathers of Hattiesburg.
  “Your example provides us the opportunity to show our students that with the right approach dreams do come true,” PRCC President Dr. Adam Breerwood said.
  The five honorees left Pearl River to further their educations at several different institutions and followed different paths to accomplish their goals.
  “They were all built on the same foundation,” Breerwood said.
  Compretta spent one year at PRCC, graduating in 1965.
  “It was one of the best years of my life,” he said. “It set the foundation for me. It’s hard to express how honored I am to receive this award.”
  An attorney, he served in the state House of Representatives from 1976-83 and from 1988-2011. Although semi-retired, he maintains a private law practice.
  Hornsby’s high school grades were too low to get into Pearl River, so he enlisted in the Navy. During 36 years of service, he enrolled in colleges and universities every time he had shore duty and earned degrees from most of them.
  “All those years I was in the military, it was my goal to teach at Pearl River Community College,” he said. “It turned out real well.”
  Retiring with the rank of captain, Hornsby earned an associate’s degree in automotive technology from PRCC and was chair of the social sciences department at PRCC’s Forrest County Center. He still teachs English and sociology part-time.
  Ladner, known as Mississippi’s Ambassador for Basketball, graduated from Pearl River in 1958 and earned a bachelor’s degree at Louisiana College. Pearl River prepared him well.
  “My first two years of college were more difficult than my last two years,” he said.
   He coached high school basketball for 11 years in Picayune and was an assistant professor at the University of Southern Mississippi for 20 years.
  “It’s an honor to be associated with Pearl River Community College,” he said. “I’m thrilled to be selected to the PRCC Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame.”
  Johnson came to Pearl River from Picayune as a 16-year-old reared by an aunt after the deaths of her parents.
  “This is where I first learned to play the game of Spades and the first place where I skipped class to play that game,” she said.
  She holds a PhD from the University of Michigan and is chair of the Adult Health Department in the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. She has researched the factors that contribute to blacks having a higher incidence of chronic illness than whites and holds her dream job of mentoring nursing instructors  - a path that began at Pearl River.
  “It was here that I had the opportunity to dream and dream big,” she said. “It’s where my quest for science began.”
  Weathers wasn’t sure he could reach his goal of becoming a trial lawyer when he enrolled at Pearl River on the advice of a high school teacher who said he wasn’t ready for a university. But, he learned academic discipline and, as student government president, got his first taste of public service.
  “When I left the River, I knew how to study and I had the confidence to know I could reach my goal,” he said.
  Weathers served two stints as district attorney in Forrest and Perry counties, represented USM and was in a private law practice before being elected to the circuit court bench in 2015.
  “To be recognized as successful in your career in this manner is an honor and humbling,” he said.
  Photographs and biographies of the honorees will hang in the Dr. William Lewis Honors Institute to inspire students of today and the future to set lofty goals. Videotaped interviews with each will also be available.

Alumni inducted into the Pearl River Community College Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame are, from left, J.P. Compretta of Bay St. Louis, Dr. Benny J. Hornsby of Hattiesburg, Picayune native Dr. Pamela Johnson Rowsey of Durham, N.C., J. Larry Ladner of Kiln and Judge Jon Mark Weathers of Hattiesburg.
PRCC Public Relations photo

April 13, 2018 - 2:37pm
Sumrall wins international DECA award

Sumrall wins international DECA award

  POPLARVILLE - A Pearl River Community College student placed third in the Collegiate DECA International Career Development Conference competition.
  Caitlin Sumrall of Poplarville competed in the hotel and lodging category at the conference held April 11-15 in Washington, D.C.
  The competition was in the form of a case study in which she was given an hour to review a business or marketing issue and 20 minutes to present her ideas to the judges.
  Sumrall also teamed with two students from other schools to win first place in a mini-case study competition, receiving a $50 cash prize.
  DECA advisor Katie Ball accompanied Sumrall and six other PRCC students to the conference.

Caitlin Sumrall of Poplarville, left, won third place in hotel and lodging competition at the DECA International Career Development Conference recently in Washington, D.C. Pictured with her is Katie Ball, PRCC business marketing and management instructor and DECA advisor.

April 16, 2018 - 1:04pm
BBB chief talks about good, bad and ugly in business

BBB chief talks about good, bad and ugly in business

  POPLARVILLE - Business owners and managers must know how to deal with the good, the bad and the ugly and John O’Hara brought insight on how to do that to a Lunch and Learn at Pearl River Community College.
  O’Hara is the chief executive officer of the Better Business Bureau in Mississippi. The event was co-sponsored by the Poplarville Area Chamber of Commerce.
  Transparency - part of the good - allows customers to easily find ownership, address and contact information, licensing, length of time in business and warranty/guarantee information.
  “It always surprises me when businesses don’t want to be transparent,” O’Hara said. “If people trust you, they’ll do business with you.”
  Complaints come under the bad category but proper response minimizes the damage.
  “Read the complaint, take a breath, respond, don’t take it personally,” he said. “Identify and address the issue and be professional.”
  Businesses should also invite reviews or comments through a website, Facebook page or other avenue.
  “Make it easy for customers to send reviews,” O’Hara said.
  A variety of scams come under the ugly heading, including bogus office supply orders and demands for payment before a service is disconnected.
  Owners and managers need to stay aware of the latest scams and train employees on how to handle them, he said.

John O’Hara, CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Missisisppi, makes a point during a Lunch and Learn event co-sponsored by Pearl River Community College and the Poplarville Area Chamber of Commerce.
PRCC Public Relations photo

April 17, 2018 - 1:55pm
Internships give students real-world experience

Internships give students real-world experience

  POPLARVILLE - An internship program through Pearl River Community College has two students already seeing the benefits of the degrees they will soon receive.
  Cierra Plaisance and Hannah Rester, both of Carriere, work part-time at the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission while finishing the requirements to complete the business management technology program.
  “We started off as interns,” Plaisance said. “Then they hired us as temporary employees.”
  The internship program is funded by the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act through the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District.
  Plaisance and Rester will receive their Associate in Applied Science degrees on May 11 and go back to work.
  “They’re actually going to keep us until June,” Rester said. She is working as an administrative assistant while Plaisance is working with economic development marketing.
  No permanent jobs are open right now but the women will be at the top of the list when one or more becomes available.
  Both think the intermship program is the only reason they already have real-world work experience in their field.
  “We would probably still be working minimum wage jobs in a retail store,” Rester said.
  PRCC has two other students working as interns for NASA at the Stennis Space Center through the same program. Alex Hernandez of Picayune works in human resources services processing forms for incoming employees.
  “It’s been a new experience,” he said. “I’m used to basic jobs - I’m a server full time.”
  The job is teaching him new professional skills, he said.
  “I’m learning life lessons, too,” he said.
  The internship lasts for 12 weeks, and Hernandez doesn’t know if he will be hired when it ends.
  “I think they’ve put enough time and resources into me that they’ll hire me, but nothing’s definite,” he said.
  Brittany McLaurin of Picayune also is interning at NASA while in school. She also is working in human resources but is formatting and editing documents and assisting technical writers.

Cierra Plaisance, left, and Hannah Rester, both of Picayune, work part-time at the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission after completing internships there.

Alex Hernandez and Brittany McLaurin, both of Picayune, are working as interns for NASA at the Stennis Space Center.

April 18, 2018 - 12:50pm
Fine Arts Hall of Fame honored

Fine Arts Hall of Fame honored

  POPLARVILLE - Pearl River Community College installed its first members of the Fine Arts Hall of Fame Tuesday, April 17, during a choral concert in the Brownstone Center for the Arts.
  Dr. Kyle Hill, chairman of the Department of Fine Arts and Communication, presented them between the performances of the RiverRoad pop choir and the PRCC Singers.
“  It is an opportunity to honor former students and instructors in all areas of the arts, those who have contributed to the success of the department over the years,” he said.
  They are:
 Connie Holmes of Hattiesburg, retired drama and speech instructor and director of the String of Pearls dance team.
  Dr. Mark Malone, music professor at William Carey University and former PRCC choral director.
  Howell Purvis of Purvis, 1955 graduate of PRCC who has played Taps at 502 military funerals since his retirement from the U.S. Secret Service.
  Archie Rawls of Poplarville, Pearl River graduate and retired PRCC director of bands, chairman of the Department of Fine Arts and Communication and Brownstone director.
  Michael Sprinkell of Gulfport, a music student at PRCC who was killed in a 2003 traffic accident. His parents, Connie and Becky Sprinkell, and his brother, Daniel Sprinkell, accepted the honor.
  “Your names are going to be cemented in the legacy of the fine arts of this great institution,” said Dr. Adam Breerwood, PRCC president. “You are part of the rich history of this institution.”

The first class of the Pearl River Community College Fine Arts Hall of Fame was presented Tuesday, April 17, during a choral concert at the Brownstone Center for the Arts. They are, seated from left, retired speech and drama instructor Connie Holmes of Hattiesburg, alumnus and trumpet player Howell Purvis of Purvis; standing, Dr. Kyle Hill, Fine Arts and Communication chairman who presented the awards; Daniel, Connie and Becky Sprinkell of Gulfport, the family of student Michael Sprinklell who was killed in a traffic accident; and Archie Rawls of Poplarville, retired band director and department chair.  Not pictured is Dr. Mark Malone of Hattiesburg, William Carey University professor and former PRCC choral director.
PRCC Public Relations photo

April 18, 2018 - 1:01pm
Three advance to SkillsUSA national competition

Three advance to SkillsUSA national competition

  POPLARVILLE - Three Pearl River Community College students placed first in state SkillsUSA competition and will advance to the national conference.
  Wayne Halcomb of Poplarville and his helper Joseph Gilkey of Lumberton won the masonry competition. Gabriel Ericson of Silver Creek was first in technical drafting, and Brandon Fletcher of Picayune came in first in architectural drafting.
  Fletcher, Ericson and Halcomb will compete during the SkillsUSA Leadership Conference June 25-29 in Louisville, Ky. Because the national organization arranges for masonry helpers, Gilkey won’t go to the conference.
  PRCC’s Quiz Bowl team also placed first in state competition but didn’t score high enough to advance. Members are Bethany Harris of Hattiesburg, Chelsea Jeffries of Perkinston, Terrel Ladner of Bay St. Louis, Justin Ladner and Colin Leake, both of Kiln.
  Tyler Terwilliger of Pass Christian won third place in welding competition. The team of Jacob Cuevas of Kiln, Seth Davis of Slidell, La., and Nathan Hartfield of Purvis also placed third in welding fabrication.

Pearl River Community College students who won SkillsUSA state competition are, from left, Wayne Halcomb of Poplarville, first in masonry; Jacob Cuevas of Kiln, Seth Davis of Slidell, La., and Nathan Hartfield of Purvis, third in welding fabrication; Tyler Terwilliger of Pass Christian, third in welding; Justin Ladner of Kiln, Quiz Bowl team which placed first; Brandon Fletcher of Picayune, first in architectural drafting; and Colin Leake of Kiln, Quiz Bowl team.

April 19, 2018 - 10:54am
Top students honored at Awards Day program

Top students honored at Awards Day program

  POPLARVILLE - Top students at Pearl River Community College received awards Tuesday, April 17, during a program in the Brownstone Center.
  Recipients of the new The Wildcat Way Award exemplify the PRCC motto of Pride, Respect, Class and Character.
  They are Camden Dusang, Alejandra Alcantara and Taylor Martinolich, all of Carriere; Tyler Ladner, McKinsy Harris and Dalton Spiers, all of Poplarville; Will Lee and Taylor Ramsey, both of Hattiesburg; Carmen Douglas of Sumrall, Calynn Ladner of Pass Christian, Samuel Palode of Pearlington, Hannah Ladner of Kiln, Stanton Ladner of Perkinston, Austin Warner of Franklinton, La., and Ryan Barnes of Slidell, La.
  Alcantara and Gage Kennedy of Kiln were recognized for their selection to the 2018 Phi Theta Kappa All-Mississippi Academic Second Team.
  Basketball player Jerrod Rigby of Bay St. Louis and soccer player Kayla Nobles of Hurley were honored as Scholar Athletes of the Year.
  The Leadership Award at the Hancock Center went to Haley Roberts of Gulfport and Madison Roberts of Kiln received the Hancock Center Citizenship Award.
  Other awards are as follows:
Medical billing and coding - Aubrey Witsell of Poplarville.
Barbering- Tara Williamson of Hattiesburg.
Family and consumer science - Jennifer Cooley and Rebecca Kelly, both of Hattiesburg.
Theater - Lucas Williams of Picayune.
Music - Andrew Chase Mitchell of Hurley.
Speech - Courtney Sones of Carriere.
Special studios - Kaley Lambert of Poplarville.
Political science - McKinsy Harris of Poplarville.
Creative writing - Morgan Campbell of Hattiesburg.
Criminal justice and history- James Dyess of Prentiss.
English - Bailey Fornea of Sandy Hook.
Psychology - Jake Runyan of Picayune.
Sociology - Robert Holman of Poplarville and and Melanie Daley of Foxworth.
Spanish - Emily Lane of Picayune.
Fundamentals of nursing - Caroline Olvera of Picayune.
Medical/surgical nursing I - Caroline Whitfield of Picayune.
LPN to ADN bridge - Tyler Wagner of Slidell, La.
Women’s health and newborn nursing - Stephanie Ardis of Columbia.
Nursing care of children - Kailey Kemp of Hattiesburg.
Mental health nursing - Lauren Abercrombie of Carriere.
Medical/surgical nursing II - Lindsey Martin of Lumberton.
Electronics technology - Christian Mitchell of Picayune.
Accounting - Garyn Miller of Columbia.
Biology - Kayla Stein of Picayune.
Business - Ryan Counts of Carriere.
Chemistry and physics - Brandon Ashe of Picayune.
Computer sciences - Tyler Ladner of Poplarville.
Mathematics and engineering - Gage Kennedy of Kiln.
Anatomy and physiology - Mollie Lee of Poplarville.
Hancock Center English - Alexus Palode of Pearlington.
Hancock Center history - Sabrina Zazueta of Kiln.
Hancock Center mathematics and psychology - Savannah Hedden of Diamondhead.
Hancock Center sociology - Amanda Green of Kiln.
Hancock Center welding - Ray Pomeroy Gulfport. 

Students who demonstrate the Pearl River Community College mantra of Pride, Respect, Class and Character recieved The Wildcat Way Award at the annual Awards Day on April 17. They are, seated from left, Carmen Douglas of Sumrall, Camden Dusang of Carriere, Calynn Ladner of Pass Christian, Tyler Ladner of Poplarville, Samuel Palode of Pearlington, Alejandra Alcantara of Carriere; standing, McKinsy Harris of Poplarville, Hannah Ladner of Kiln, Stanton Ladner of Perkinston, Will Lee of Hattiesburg, Dalton Spiers of Poplarville,Taylor Martinolich of Carriere, Taylor Ramsey of Hattiesburg, Austin Warner of Franklinton, La., PRCC President Dr. Adam Breerwood, and Ryan Barnes of Slidell, La.
PRCC Public Relations photo

April 19, 2018 - 12:26pm
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