WARRIOR THE The Official Publication of the East Central Community College Alumni Association Volume XXX, No. 2 • May 2022

New Alumni O n -C ampus C ommencement C eremonies H eld M ay 5-6 in H uff A uditorium


A Message From the President East Central is the college With You In Mind! There is much to be learned from the history of our college. As we move forward as a college family toward our centennial, we must envision our future while always embracing our past. For nearly 100 years, East Central Community College has had the best interests of its students in mind. This is evident in many ways. Taking care of the academic and life needs of our stu- dents is what we are known for and what makes this small college in rural Decatur, Mississippi, so special. We have always had our students in mind. Likewise, we have each other in mind, which makes our college one of the best places to work, not only in Mississippi, but in the nation. This is evidenced by our national recognition in recent years as a “Great College to Work For”. With that said, it was time that we started telling this story again. East Central Community College adopted With You In Mind as its new—yet somewhat historic—tagline. Many of you might remember With You In Mind used in marketing campaigns several years ago. While our use of these four words faded over the years, our college’s culture of care did not. With You In Mind is not a replacement for our college logo, but a return to the promise we have long kept that our students will be our No 1 priority. In the past, in the present, and in the future. With You In Mind is much more than a tagline. It’s a promise. It’s our promise to our current stu- dents, our future students, and even our former students that this college will always make them its top priority. Therefore, we will ensure that it is always true. As Lou Holtz once said, “Don’t ever promise more than you can deliver, but always deliver more than you promise.” With You In Mind has been incorporated into our communications in many ways, including college advertising, social media, videos, the website, and much more. To see some of these communica- tions, visit www.eccc.edu/with-you-in-mind. We will update that page as we go forward in this effort. With You In Mind

Dr. Brent Gregory President East Central Community College #WYIM

WE’VE MADE GIVING TO YOUR ALMA MATER EASIER! Give securely online by visiting www.eccc.edu/foundation OR, scan the QR Code at right.


In This Issue


4 6 7 8

Carson Band Hall Opens Retirees Recognized Student Hall of Fame Announced Vickers Remembered



14 16 17

Warrior Sports Wrap-Up Tennis Courts Named for Donors Shields Named Men’s Basketball Coach



18 20 26 28

Surgical Technology Grad Sees Success Alum Pens Music for Big Screen Movie Golf Classic Recap Alumni Updates

On the cover: East Central Community College held four on-campus commencement ceremonies May 5-6 in Huff Auditorium. Nearly 300 students participated in the ceremonies.


ACCREDITATION East Central Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award the Associate Degree. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of East Central Community College. N ONDISCRIMINATION East Central Community College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, or qualified disability in its educational programs and activities, employment practices, or admissions processes. The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non- discrimination policies of East Central Community College: Inquiries regarding compliance with Title VI, ADEA, and Title IX are coordinated by Dr. Teresa Mackey, Vice President for Instruction, Walter Arno Vincent Administration Building, Room 171, Post Office Box 129, Decatur, MS 39327, Phone: 601-635-6202, Fax: 601-635-4011, tmackey@eccc.edu. Inquiries regarding compliance with Section 504 and ADA are coordinated by Dr. Randall Lee, Vice President for Student Services, Eddie M. Smith Student Union, Room 201, Post Office Box 129, Decatur, MS 39327, Phone: 601-635-6375, Fax: 601-635-3247, rlee@eccc.edu.

The Warrior is printed two times annually and is distributed to alumni of East Central Community College and other friends of the college. Editorial staff members include Office of Public Information personnel: Bill Wagnon, Lucas Calvert, Maria McLeod, Karen Robertson, &Amy Thompson

.edu www.eccc.edu.



Find us on LinkedIn at East Central Community College.

www.facebook.com/EastCentralCC www.facebook.com/ECCCAlumni


Carson Band Hall N ew F acility O pens W ith R ibbon C utting H eld M arch 8

East Central Community College officially opened its new Thomas W. Carson Band Hall with a ribbon cutting ceremony March 8 inside the facility’s state-of- the-art band practice hall. The new facility is named in memory of Tom Carson, who was associated with East Central for more than half his life, including two years as a student and 30 years as an employee. He served as director of bands, music instructor, and for three years as chair of the Fine Arts Division. In addition to the practice hall for the college’s Wall O’ Sound Marching Band, the nearly 11,000-square- foot, $3.5 million Carson Band Hall houses music practice studios, music teaching studios, instrument storage, a music library, and office space. It is adjacent to the existing Vickers Fine Arts Center on North 6th Avenue on the Decatur campus. The event included the ribbon cutting, tours of the building, and performances by current and 1983-84 members of the college’s Collegians rock and roll band and by the current Jazz Band. In top photo, at left, members of the late Tom Carson’s family at the opening of Thomas W. Carson Band Hall; at left, cutting the ribbon to open the new Thomas W. Carson Band Hall were ECCC President Dr. Brent Gregory (second from left) and Brenda Carson, widow of Tom Carson (third from left). Also participating are (from left) Dr. Jimmy Hollingsworth, chair of the college’s Board of Trustees; Dr. Teresa Mackey, vice president for instruction; and Chas Evans, Fine Arts Division chair.


as a teacher and a friend. He was a shining light on what a teacher and mentor should be to their students.” Carson’s relationship with East Central began as a student in 1973, where he was a member of the marching, concert, and stage bands; the newly formed Collegians group; and the chorus. In 1975, he was selected to the college’s student Hall of Fame, the highest honor a student can receive at East Central. After graduation, Carson went on to receive bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from Delta State University. He was named the Delta State University Music Alumnus of the Year in 2013. Carson joined the East Central faculty in 1982 as director of bands. Over the years, he increased the size of the band from 17 members in his first year to 180 members at his retirement. In 1996, he officially changed the name of the band on its 50th anniversary to the present day Wall O’ Sound Marching Band. Carson retired in 2012. He passed away on May 6, 2013, at age 57. ECCC’s Wall O’ Sound Band currently consists of nearly 200 students. Members receive scholarships for participation in the marching band, as well as for those chosen for the concert band, pep band, jazz band, and percussion ensemble. The full band plays at various events during the year, including home football games, pep rallies, and parades. A pep band performs at away football games and home basketball games.

“It seems like only yesterday we started this project, and here we are today opening this im- pressive Carson Band Hall,” said ECCC President Dr. Brent Gregory to open the event. “I can’t think of a building on this campus that will be used more than this one will or that was needed more than this one was. This is a wonderful oppor- tunity for East Central Community College and named for an individual who meant so much to our college and our band program.” Tom Carson’s widow, Brenda Carson, is the college’s director of financial aid. She said when her late husband retired after 30 years at East Central he had accomplished all he set out to do except one thing, the building of a new band hall. “This day has finally arrived,” she said. “Here we are inside this beautiful facility where for many years to come beautiful music will be made. Our family is so pleased to be here today sharing in the realization of a dream Tom Carson had so many years ago. Tom worked long and hard to make the band program the best it could be. This new building will now provide the much- needed space for the continued success of the band program to grow and excel. I know that Tom would be so excited and proud for EC and for the band students to have this wonderful new band hall.” Chas Evans studied music under Tom Carson as a student at East Central. He is now chair of the college’s Fine Arts Division and a music instructor. “Tom was a huge influence on my life,” noted Evans. “Not only as a musician, but

“ T om was a huge influence on my life . N ot only as a musician , but as a teacher and a friend . H e was a shining light on what a teacher and mentor should be to their

students . - C has E vans

Members of the 1983-84 Collegians who participated in the official opening of the Carson Band Hall were (from left) Chuck Robertson of Starkville, Robin Gray of Philadelphia, Lee Weeks of Madison, Bob Sullivan of Northport, Ala., Johnny Walker of Louisville, Diane Griffin Huey of Decatur, Amy Cox Clay of Lake, Jennifer Hatcher Kight of Nanih Waiya, Lisa Dooley Hodges of Louisville, Cindy Haralson Greer of Crystal Springs, and David Boydstun of Louisville. 1983-84 Collegians



2021-22 Retirees F our F ull -T ime E mployees R epresent a C ombined 68 Y ears T otal S ervice





He has participated on numerous councils and committees in addition to serving as a sponsor for the college’s SkillsUSA chapter. Eason received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Mississippi State University. Hughes joined the East Central staff as Burton Library Director in 2010 after serving as Librarian/Technology Coordinator at the Choctaw Tribal Schools with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. He participated on various campus committees and was co-sponsor of the college’s Native American Club. Hughes is a graduate of Copiah- Lincoln Community College, received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi, and the educational specialist degree from Mississippi State University.

Training Professional Certificate. Davis joined the ECCC staff as a biological sciences instructor in 1994 after having served in the same position at numerous area high schools and as an adjunct professor for ECCC. During her tenure, she served on various campus committees and was an advisor for Sigma Sigma Mu Tau. Her honors include selection as a Lamplighter, Who’s Who Among College and University Instructors, and ECCC Instructor of the Year. She is a graduate of East Central Community College, received her bachelor’s degree at the University of Southern Mississippi, and a master’s from Mississippi State University. Eason began his employment as Director of Career & Technical Education in 2003 after previously serving in the same position at Ross Collins Career & Technical Center in Meridian.

Four full-time employees retired from ECCC during the 2021-22 college year. The group represents a combined 68 years total service to the college. They were honored by fellow employees and presented resolutions from the college’s Board of Trustees during an end-of-the-year Employee Recognition Reception on campus. The retirees included Assistant Chief of Police William Burton of Newton, Biology Instructor Patti Davis of Decatur, Director of Career & Technical Education Wayne Eason of Collinsville, and Dean of Learning Resources Leslie Hughes of Union. Burton began his employment in 2011 as a Campus Police Officer and was promoted to Assistant Chief in 2012. He is a graduate of the Law Enforcement Training Academy in Gulfport and earned the Board of Law Enforcement Officer Standards and

F ormer G ospel C hoir D irector B renda K. J ohnson H onored

The East Central Community College Gospel Choir and its alumni hosted a Retirement Gala and Recognition Banquet April 23 in honor of former director Brenda K. Johnson. Johnson of Lawrence, a graduate of East Central, retired as director of the student group in January after providing leadership for the ECCC Gospel Choir since 1988. At the event she was presented a retirement plaque by the choir and also received a proclamation from Mississippi Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and State Sen. Tyler McCaughn. Proceeds from ticket sales benefited the Brenda K. Johnson Gospel Choir Scholarship at the college. Additional donations to the scholarship can be made by contacting the ECCC Foundation Office at sholling@eccc.edu or 601-635-6327.


Career STEP Program T roy B lakeney G ains N ew C areer

Chris Clark, ECCC’s workforce development coordinator, introduced Blakeney to the Career STEP Program, which covered Blakeney’s tuition, testing fees, and supportive services while in the Electrical Utility Lineman program. “I believe it was God calling me there,” said Blakeney. “After looking into it, everything about that career seemed like something I knew I would enjoy, getting to work outside and alongside others who are all helping people.” Blakeney began the Electrical Utility Lineman program on August 6, 2021, and completed the training on Dec. 6. Two days later, he began his career with Chain Electric in Hattiesburg working on transmission lines in Alabama for Alabama Power. “Finding a job wasn’t difficult at all,” said Blakeney. “With the assistance I received from instructor Curtis Bradley and the rest of the people at ECCC, I was able to quickly find employment.” Blakeney says that thanks to East Central and the financial support of the Career STEP Program he was able to settle into a career from which he hopes to one day retire. “This is my first real job in a field that I desire to retire from,” said

Troy Blakeney was looking for a career job that he could one day retire from. Thanks to East Central Community College and the Southern Mississippi Planning & Development District’s Career STEP Program, he is well on his way to achieving that dream. The Southern Mississippi Planning & Development District’s Career Skills Training Education Pathways (STEP) Program is a workforce program that covers the cost of short-term (less than one year) training, such as workforce and career-technical education courses. The program partners with local community colleges, such as East Central Community College, to connect participants to training opportunities and ultimately to career pathways. Blakeney of Raleigh was pursuing a nursing degree in spring 2021 when he decided to change career paths. He had heard about ECCC’s Electrical Utility Lineman program through friends who had already enrolled in the fall 2021 class. The 16-week program was launched in February 2019 to prepare students for entry-level employment in utility power transmission and distribution construction, troubleshooting, and repair to meet a need in that field.

Troy Blakeney

Blakeney. “This experience in the Electrical Utility Lineman program has had a huge impact on my life. I can prepare now to do many things such as get a first home for me and my soon-to-be wife. For more information on the Electrical Utility Lineman program at ECCC, contact Clark at 601-635-6245 or cclark@eccc.edu. For more information on the Career STEP Program, contact LeVar Robinson at 601-635-6430 or lrobinson@eccc. edu, or Jaqueline Dedeaux at 228-868- 2326 or jdedeaux@smpdd.com. East Central Community College students inducted into the Student Hall of Fame during the 2022 Awards Ceremony held in Huff Auditorium April 21 and their respective hometowns include (from left) Keshawn Davis of Morton, Gianna Esposito of Union, Mabry Mayfield of Carthage, Maggie Kirk of Louisville, Heston Harrison of Little Rock, and Annabelle Miller of Lucedale. Selection to the Hall of Fame is considered the highest honor a student can receive at the college. To be considered for the prestigious honor, students must demonstrate exemplary character, superior scholarship, worthy leadership, and contribute to the betterment of East Central Community College.

2022 Student Hall of Fame



Among those in attendance at the Vickers Legacy event were (from left) Morton High School men’s basketball coach Maurice Bowie, a former Warrior basketball player and ECCC men’s basketball head coach (2006-2013); Jennifer and Marty Cooper, former men’s basketball assistant and head coach, respectively, (1991-1998); and former Warrior basketball player and NBA second round draft pick Marcus Mann, now a Baptist minister. Marty Cooper, who serves as head men’s coach at Belgreen High School in Russellville, Ala., provided remarks about his friend and former co-worker Carol Vickers and Mann gave the invocation.


director of the ECCC Foundation, said, “Many of us at the college had been thinking of ways to honor the Vick- ers and to celebrate all that they have meant to us. I was so thankful when the family contacted the college about plan- ning a memorial event on campus giving us all an opportunity to remember them together.” Vickers Honored B eloved I nstructors O vid and C arol V ickers R emembered at G ala

because of the many memories they created there, whether it was celebrat- ing the annual May Day festival, attend- ing a homecoming dance, or watching a Warrior basketball game.” Ovid Vickers, who died March 31, 2020, joined the then East Central Junior College faculty in 1955 when he was just 24 years old and would later serve as chair of the English Department for many years. Throughout his career, he was not only a teacher, but was also a published poet, newspaper columnist, public speaker, playwright, practicing folklorist, and a collector of antiques. Carol Vickers, who died August 19, 2020, was a well-known quilter and author, whose professional talent and greatest career achievement were as a classroom English teacher in the Deca- tur public schools from 1966-1982 and as an instructor at East Central from 1983 until her 1992 retirement. Dr. Stacey Hollingsworth, executive

East Central Community College, along with the family of the late Ovid and Carol Vickers, hosted “Gladly Would They Teach, Gladly Would They Learn” in April, a legacy fundraiser honoring the lives of the Vickers who were two of the college’s most beloved and influen- tial educators. The event was held in the Brackeen- Wood Physical Education Building and included a plated luncheon and special program featuring former students and co-workers of the Vickers. Proceeds, which are already more than $17,000, are being designated to renovations of Founders Gymnasium on campus. Daughter Nona Vickers of Trussville, Ala., said, “Our parents’ goal as educa- tors was to make sure that every stu- dent they encountered had opportunity for success. That passion for education is summed up in this quote—‘Gladly would they learn and gladly teach’— which they chose from The Canterbury Tales for their headstone. We’re proud their legacy lives on through lessons we and others learned from their teaching, and that it will be passed down from generation to generation.” Daughter Harriet Vickers Laird of Starkville agreed. “They always showed an excitement for helping improve the lives of others and had an enthusiasm for doing that at East Central. We know that choosing to build on their legacy by supporting the renovation of Found- ers Gym would have thrilled them A few of the Vickers family members in attendance included (from left) Jim Laird, Harriet Vickers Laird, Becky Farish Smith, Nona Vickers, Brooks Pierce, Carol Ann Pierce, Hannah Laird, and Harper Laird. “

For more information or to donate to the Vickers Legacy Fund benefiting Founders Gymnasium, contact Hollingsworth at 601-635-6327 or e-mail sholling@eccc.edu. Online donations can be made at www.eccc.edu/ foundation.

W e ’ re proud their legacy lives on through lessons we and others learned from their teaching , and that it will be passed down from generation to generation . - N ona V ickers



Fresh Faces at ECCC T iffany E lkins N amed N ew D irector of B ands

for ECCC. The college’s new Thomas W. Carson Band Hall was officially opened last month. Elkins received a bachelor’s degree in instrumental music and master’s degree in education from the University of North Alabama in Florence and a master’s degree in trumpet perfor-mance from the University of Florida. Since joining the ECCC faculty in January,

East Central Community College has named Tiffany Elkins as director of bands beginning with the 2022-23 school year. Elkins has been serving as temporary band director and music instructor at ECCC during the cur-rent spring 2022 semester. She will officially begin her new duties on July 1. In her new role, Elkins will direct the nearly 200-member Wall O’ Sound Marching Band, as well as the college’s Concert Band, Jazz Band, Pep Band, and Percussion Ensemble. “I am thrilled and honored to be selected as the director of the Wall O’ Sound band and other bands at East Central Community College,” said Elkins. “I hope to continue the tradition of ex-cellence in music education set by Tom Carson and others before me. I am excited to have the opportunity to work with students and colleagues who share my joy and passion for music and the arts. The students I have worked with thus far have impressed me with their dedication, resilience, and optimism, and I want to continue to improve the quality of their education by giving them every opportunity to perform at a high level.” The late Tom Carson was the longtime director of bands

Elkins has conducted the college’s Jazz, Concert, and Pep bands and taught Music Appreciation courses. Prior to her time at East Central, she was an adjunct professor of music at the University of North Alabama and a student teaching intern with Florence City Schools, as well as a graduate assistant at both UNA and the University of Florida while working on her master’s degrees. She has performed with the Huntsville (Ala.) Symphony Orchestra and Shoals (Ala.) Symphony Orchestra, the University of North Alabama and University of Florida bands and ensembles, and at Trinity Episcopal Church in Florence. Elkins is a member of the Tau Beta Sigma national honorary band sorority, the Association of American Educators, and the International Trumpet Guild. ELKINS

F ormer O le M iss C heerleader B ailey G ibson N amed ECCC C heer C oach

instructor at East Mississippi Cheerleading in Meridian and as a fitness instructor, also in Meridian. She is an ACE (American Council on Exercise) certified Group Fitness Instructor. Gibson and her husband, Cade, reside in Clarkdale. “I’m thrilled to be asked to take over leadership of the ECCC Warrior Cheer Team,” said Gibson. “The Cheer Team at East Central has a long history of supporting our student- athletes, bringing energy and enthusiasm to Warrior fans, and being important members of the campus and greater community. We want our cheerleaders to be held to a higher standard as they represent the college publicly

Meridian native and former Ole Miss Rebel cheerleader Bailey Swearingen Gibson is the new cheerleader coach at East Central Community College. She began her new duties with the Warrior Cheerleading Team following the completion of the 2021 football season. Gibson has been the college’s Warrior Wellness Coordinator since August 2020. Gibson is a graduate of Northeast Lauderdale High School and helped cheer the Trojans to three state high school cheer championships. After graduation, she continued her academic and cheerleading career at the


at many times during the academic year.” Gibson said her goal is to eventually transition ECCC Cheer into a competitive program. “That transition is a couple of years away, but our goal is to build a foundation of hardworking, energetic, driven, and talented student-athletes so that one day we will compete in the Game Day Division of the Universal Cheerleaders Association College Nationals,” explained Gibson. More details will be posted when available at www.eccc.edu and on our social media accounts. To schedule a special reunion group, contact Maria McLeod, director of external relations, at mmcleod@eccc.edu or call 601-635-6303.

University of Mississippi, where she was a member of the Rebel Coed Cheer Team for three years, earning the Chucky Mullins Cheerleading Award during the 2018-19 school year. She was also a member of the Ole Miss Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She graduated from Ole Miss with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science with a minor in education. Gibson previously has worked as a cheerleading


HOMECOMING 2022 Thursday, Oct. 20


East Central Community College President Dr. Brent Gregory (far right) signs the grant agreement while Meridian Community College President Dr. Tom Huebner (far left) and Mississippi Office of Workforce Development Executive Director Ryan Miller look on. The $1.4 million grant will allow the two colleges to expand their Utility Lineman programs.

Accelerate MS Grant ECCC, MCC R eceive J oint $1.4 M illion to G row L ineman P rograms

to grow this program, a program that gets individuals out in the workforce, not only in an area of need but in a job where individuals are able support their families and stay in our communities. “From a community college standpoint and from a workforce standpoint, we’ve been hearing for years why can’t we work together. Industry crosses barriers and I think this is a first step between these two institutions, but not a last step in working together to provide workforce education and training for this area of Mississippi.” ECCC’s 16-week Utility Lineman Program was launched in February 2019 to prepare students for entry- level employment in utility power transmission and distribution construction, troubleshooting, and repair to meet a need in that field. Over the duration of the class, successful students earn certifications including a Class A Commercial Driver’s License, First Aid CPR, and OSHA 10-Hour. Also, as part of the preliminary screening of applicants, students obtain a National Career Readiness Credential.

have connectivity. This is a sector we need to grow because we know there’s a great need in the state of Mississippi. “Both of these colleges have years of experience in pouring themselves into their communities in lasting ways. What brings us here today was an opportunity where there was a sector in need and partners identified that collectively we can move the needle for this community and for the entire state of Mississippi.” ECCC President Dr. Brent Gregory and MCC President Dr. Tom Huebner both stressed the importance of their colleges, located just 30 miles apart, to work together, not just on growing the Utility Lineman programs through this grant, but on future workforce development and training projects that benefit the counties they represent: Lauderdale, Leake, Neshoba, Newton, Scott, and Winston. “We are extremely excited about this partnership and the funds to grow these two programs,” said Gregory. “East Central Community College has had a Utility Lineman Program for quite some time and this grant will enable us

ECCC and Meridian Community College are teaming up to grow their Utility Lineman programs thanks to a $1.4 million grant from the Mississippi Office of Workforce Development, also known as Accelerate Mississippi. The grant will allow both colleges to expand their programs by hiring additional instructors and purchasing equipment. Accelerate Mississippi, the lead office for workforce development strategy and coordination, was created in 2020 by legislation signed by the governor. Its mission is to align educational, training, and economic development initiatives to position Mississippi and Mississippians with diverse, productive, and well-paying employment. Mississippi Office of Workforce Development Executive Director Ryan Miller, who made the grant announcement, said there’s a great need for utility line workers in the state of Mississippi. “These are first responders,” Miller said. “These are men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to make sure we have power, to make sure we

R obinson T abbed as N ew G ospel C hoir D irector

as an ECCC student. He was also a member of the Wall O’ Sound Marching Band and the Concert Choir. He returned in 2015 to assist Johnson and serve as volunteer director. He received his bachelor’s degree in business administra- tion from Belhaven University.

variety of settings, both on campus and in the college’s five-county district. The choir annually performs a fall concert in November and a Black History Month concert in February. Robinson, who has been a career coach at East Cen- tral since 2020, began his

LeVar Robinson was selected to serve as sponsor and director of the college’s Gospel Choir. Robinson, of Morton, took over for Brenda K. Johnson, who retired from the position. Johnson provided leadership for the ECCC Gospel Choir from 1988-2022. The ECCC Gospel Choir performs gospel music in a

association with the Gospel Choir in 1996




News Briefs EC S tudents N amed to PTK A ll -M ississippi A cademic T eam

of Phi Theta Kappa, Student Body Association treasurer, and a member of the Warrior Corps, Wall O’ Sound Band, and Collegians rock-n-roll band. Davis, a graduate of Morton High School and a computer science major, was vice president of membership for Phi Theta Kappa, president of the President’s Council, co-president of Warrior Corps, and president of Alpha Alpha Epsilon. A graduate of Lake High School and a surgical technology major, Sanders was secretary of Phi Theta Kappa, a representative for and member of the ECCC Gospel Choir, and a member of Warrior Corps and Presidents’ Council.

ECCC sophomores Madison McLemore of Forest, Keshawn Davis of Morton, and Myla Sanders of Lake were named to the 2021- 22 Phi Theta Kappa All-Mississippi Community College Academic Team.

McLemore was named to the All-Mississippi First Team and received a $1,000 scholarship, while Davis and Sanders were named to the Second Team. The students received medallions and certificates at the college’s Awards Ceremony April 21. The All-Mississippi Community College Academic Team recognizes scholarly achievements and leadership accomplishments of students enrolled in the state’s two-year colleges. A graduate of Sebastopol Attendance Center and a pre- nursing major, McLemore was vice president of honors in action project research for the college’s Theta Xi chapter

(From left) ECCC students Madison McLemore, Keshawn Davis, and Myla Sanders, along with EC President Dr. Brent Gregory.

The All-Mississippi Academic Team program is coordinated by Phi Theta Kappa, Mississippi Association of Community Colleges, and Mississippi Community College Board. PTK is the international honor society for two-year colleges.

EC S tudent A lex S harp S elected S tate DECA C ollegiate P resident East Central Community College student Alex Sharp of Philadelphia was selected as the new president of the state of Mississippi’s DECA Collegiate Division for the 2022-23 year at that organization’s state conference. national DECA conferences, organizing ways to reach out to colleges to create more Mississippi DECA local chapters, and working with the vice president to plan next year’s DECA State Career Development Conference.

DECA is an international association of high school and college students and teachers of marketing, management and entrepreneurship in business, finance, hospitality, and marketing sales and service.

Sharp, a graduate of Union High School, is a freshman business administration major. As state collegiate DECA president, his responsibilities will include organizing and attending state DECA conferences, attending

S harp S elected H umanities T eacher of the Y ear

ages. He has also worked extensively on numerous projects in the development of music curriculum. A graduate of ECCC, he continued his education in music at Mississippi College where he received a Bachelor of Music degree. In 2002, he began graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin. He received a Master of Music (2005) and a Doctor of Musical Arts (2010). In addition to his work as a pianist, he is a composer and arranger, with performances of his music at numerous music festivals and conferences throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Dr. Justin Sharp, a music/keyboard instructor at East Central, was selected the college’s Humanities Teacher of the Year and presented a special program in March. His presentation was titled The Nocturne: Listening to Music Through Imagery and Imagination. Sharp was also recognized during the Mississippi Humanities Council’s Public Humanities Awards Ceremony in Jackson in March. A native of Sebastopol, he has been employed at the college since 2015. Before this, he taught piano in various schools and privately to students of all


The college honored its instructor and staff member of the year at an end-of-the-year Employee Recognition Reception. Honored as Staff Member of the Year was Karen Robertson (left) of Philadelphia. Robertson is the administrative assistant to the vice president for public information. Honored as the Instructor of the Year was Chris Ryals (center) of Decatur. Ryals is engineering technology instructor. They were each presented with a plaque and a $500 check from ECCC President Dr. Brent Gregory (far right). The ECCC Foundation supports the Staff Member of the Year award and the ECCC Alumni Association supports the Instructor of the Year award. Top Instructor, Staff Member Honored

Trey Nichols of Morton and Taylor Gregory of Louisville were selected Mr. and Miss East Cen-tral Community College for the 2021-22 school year by vote of the student body. Nichols, a graduate of East Rankin Academy, is a pre-nursing major. At East Central, he is a member of the Concert Choir and Vocé vocal ensemble. He is the son of Jimmie and Tracy Nichols of Morton. A graduate of Winston Academy and a pre-medicine major, Gregory serves as co-president of the Baptist Student Union, fundraising chairman for Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and is a member of Warrior Corps and serves as an officer for the Student Body Association. She is the daughter of Christal and Neil Gregory of Louisville. N ichols , G regory S elected M r ., M iss ECCC

New SBA Officers Selected

Student Body Association Officers for the 2022-23 school year at ECCC were elected this spring by the student body. Serving as SBA officers next year will be (from left) Alex Sharp, a business administration major and graduate of Union High School, president; Reagan Tolbird, a pre-medicine major and graduate of Newton County High School, vice president; Hannah Kreuz, a criminal justice major and graduate of Scott Central High School, secretary; and Anslee Boyd, an agriculture major and graduate of East Rankin Academy, treasurer.




of Jones College in Ellisville for the MACCC Tournament, but ECCC had a tough draw as the team fell to ICC, 6-5, and Northeast, 6-2, to close out the year. Baseball The

and were forced to try a variety of lineups, but found themselves competing in every game with three games going into overtime. The Lady Warriors’ biggest win

The East Central Community College athletics programs had some strong showings in the spring portion of the 2021-22 season, along with many successes on the fields and courts. The student-athletes got to enjoy full seasons that were played without can- cellations. Men’s Basketball The East Central

Warrior baseball team was in a familiar position at the end of the 2022 season as the team qualified for

Community College bas- ketball team rounded out the 2021-22

of the season came against No. 21 Jones College as ECCC rallied in the final minutes of regulation with big three-pointers from Cori Keats and Mirial Cannon, before securing the 75- 69 victory in overtime. The Lady Warriors missed the Mis- sissippi Association of Community Colleges Conference (MACCC) playoffs but got an automatic bid into the NJ- CAA Region 23 event where they fell to the Lady Bears. Softball The Lady

basketball season in the first round of

the NJCAA Region 23 playoffs. The Warriors finished the regular season 29-15 and 15-13 in conference play after splitting seven conference series and sweeping four. ECCC went into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed and had to travel to Scooba to take on the No. 3 seeded East Mis- sissippi Lions in a best-of-three series. The Warriors fell in a tight first game, 9-8, but rallied in the second for an 11- 10 victory to even the series. Unfortu- nately, the Lions took game three, 11- 1, to earn a spot in the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament played in Poplarville on the campus of Pearl River Commu- nity College. Golf ECCC was excited to field a golf team for the 2021-22 seasons as the Warriors hit the links for the first time since 2018. Coach Chris Clark led the Warriors as they competed in seven events on the year. The Warriors posted two top-five finishes in the always-competitive MACCC field with a 5th place finish at the ICC Invitational at the River Birch Golf Club in Amory, before posting an- other 5th place finish at the Warriors home event held at Dancing Rabbit in Choctaw. Along with the impressive team finishes, ECCC’s River Maskew and

the NJCAA Region 23 Tourna- ment. The Warriors qualified for the tournament after defeating the Copiah-Lincoln Wolves in the play-in round, 90-85. The Warriors finished the year 5-17 overall and 2-12 in MACCC play after No. 18 seeded ECCC fell to the No. 2 seed Northeast Tigers, 75-65, in the first round of the tournament. The Warriors opened the season with a pair of wins over Hinds and the Royal Ambassadors, a prep academy, but fell into a losing streak before grabbing an 82-77 road win over Coahoma to end the winter portion of the season. ECCC came into 2022 with a 104-77 rout of Hinds but again found themselves in a losing streak until the playoff win at Co-Lin. Women’s Basketball The Lady Warrior basketball team finished the 2021-22 season 11-11, 7-7, and advanced to the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament as the No. 12 seed. The Lady Warriors fell to the No. 5 seed Baton Rouge Community College Lady Bears, 52-41, in the first round of the tournament. The Lady Warriors battled through numerous injuries throughout the year

Warrior softball

team found themselves in the MACCC playoffs in 2022 after posting a 16-12 conference record during the

year. ECCC went on a tear over the final week and half of the regular season as the team won five straight games with a win over Hinds, a sweep over Meridian, and a sweep over Coahoma. Other big wins during the year were the split with top-five nation- ally ranked ICC, a sweep against Gulf Coast, and a split with the then-ranked No. 1 Copiah-Lincoln Lady Wolves. The stellar play throughout the year sent the Lady Warriors to the campus


Simunovic and Joseph Fletcher earned indi- vidual bids for finish- ing runners up at No. 1 doubles for their 11-6 record throughout the season. Simunovic also got the

Bryce Denley earned bids to play in the NJCAA DII Gulf District Championship as individuals at the Kirkwood National Golf Club

SOCCER ALUMNI MARK YOUR CALENDARS! Friday, October 14, 2022 Alumni Night at Warrior Field ECCC vs. Meridian Tentatively set for 4 p.m. More details will be available this fall at ecccathletics.com or on social media accounts: Instagram: ECCC_WSoccer Facebook: EC Women’s Soccer or East Central Warrior Soccer Twitter: @ECCC_WSoccer or @ECCCSoccer

in Holly Springs.

Mississippi Gulf Coast, Meridian, Copiah- Lincoln, Northeast Mississippi, and Pearl River competed in the event as teams, while

nod on the singles court after finishing the year 13-5, which was second-best in the MACCC. Along with solid team play throughout the 2022 season, the Warriors had a pair of players named ITA x Universal Tennis Player of the Week in the men’s JUCO division in Kaleb Parish and Orren Ladner. Football The Warrior football team will be the first team to report to campus in the summer as the team arrives in July for summer classes and training before the 2022 season kicks off with men’s and women’s soccer action in the early weeks of August. Football is slated for a September 1, 2022, start date.

Maskew and Denley joined players from Itawamba and East Mississippi competing as individuals. Individuals were selected based on their scoring averages for the season. Maskew finished the event with a two-day total of 162 for a 19th place overall finish while Denley finished 26th with a 174. Women’s Tennis The ECCC Lady Warrior tennis team had a rebuilding year after posting back-to-back trips to the NJCAA DI National Tournament. The team wrapped up the year with a 7-14 overall record and were 6-12 in MACCC play.

WE’VE MADE GIVING TO YOUR ALMA MATER EASIER! Give securely online by visiting www.eccc.edu/ foundation OR, scan the QR Code at right.

The Lady Warriors’ biggest win of the season came against a non-MACCC opponent

as the team defeated the Belhaven Blazers in Jackson, 8-1. Men’s Tennis For the third season in a row, the East Central Community College War- rior tennis team earned an at-large bid to the NJCAA DI Men’s National Tournament. The nod came after the Warriors finished the year 13-11 overall and 9-9 in MACCC play. Along with the at-large bid, ECCC’s Dominik



DO YOU KNOW OF AN OUTSTANDING ECCC ALUMNUS OR FORMER ATHLETE? If you know East Central Community College alumni who would be good candidates for Alumni of the Year and Athletic Hall of Fame awards, which are presented each year during Homecoming festivities, please nominate them online at www.eccc.edu/homecoming- honoree-nomination-forms. For a printed copy of the nomination forms, please contact Maria McLeod at 601-635-6303 or e-mail mmcleod@eccc.edu. The deadline for submitting nomination forms each year is December 1. Nominations are good for five consecutive years. You are encouraged to submit additional information about nominees. Attach all additional information to the nomination form. Selection is based primarily on printed materials submitted.

The eight courts at the ECCC Tennis Complex on campus were recently named for various donors to the tennis program. Eight individuals and/or families who donated to the college’s Tennis Pa- vilion Fund Project were recognized in a ceremony April 29 by the unveiling of new court signs. The names of the eight courts now include: • Cheryl L. Comans Court, named for former ECCC women’s tennis player Cheryl Comans of Cleveland. • Brent and Bart Gregory Court, named for former ECCC tennis player Bart Gregory of Nanih Waiya and ECCC President Dr. Brent Gregory. • Raymond McMullan ECCC 1968-2000, named for former ECCC Director of Admissions, Records, and Research Raymond McMullan of Ridge- land. • Smith & Peoples Court, named for former Lady Warrior tennis players Hannah Peoples of Jackson and Macken’z Smith Bradford of Hatties- burg. Peoples and the then Smith teamed to win the Mississippi As- sociation of Community and Junior Colleges state and National Junior College Athletic Association Region 23 No. 2 Doubles Championships in 2015. • Brian and Stephanie Shaw Court, named for former ECCC tennis players Brian and Stephanie Shaw of Madison. • Wellerman Court, named for Bethany Wellerman Everett of Forest who won the 2018 MACJC state and NJCAA Region 23 No. 5 Singles Titles. • Bill and Becky Wheeler Court, named for former Warrior tennis player Bill Wheeler and his wife, Becky, of Gaffney, S.C. • Lucille Wood Court, named in memory of former ECCC instructor and coach Lucille Wood. The ECCC Tennis Complex, which was completed in 2017, includes eight lighted courts to serve the college’s men’s and women’s varsity tennis teams, as well as the campus and local communities. Those interested in donating to the college’s Tennis Pavilion Fund Project can contact Dr. Stacey Hollingsworth, executive director of the foundation, at sholling@eccc.edu or 601-635-6327, or donations can be made online at www.eccc.edu/foundation. In above photo, shown at the dedication of the newly named tennis courts at East Central Community College are (from left) Lois and Raymond McMullan, Bart Gregory and Brent Gregory, Hannah Peoples and Macken’z Smith Bradford, Cheryl Comans, and Bethany Wellerman Everett. Unveiled E ight T ennis C ourts N amed for D onors


Back Home in Decatur F ormer A ssistant D ylan S hields N amed H ead M en ’ s B asketball C oach

in the posi- tion for the 2015-2016 season. His duties ing camps, budgeting, schedul- ing, and organizing travel. Shields was raised included organiz-

During that two-year stretch, the Warriors had 24 wins and advanced to the MACJC and NJCAA Region XXIII Tournament. Shields not only served as an assis- tant coach but led all recruiting efforts for the Warriors and helped guide five players to NCAA Division I scholar- ships. “I am beyond excited to be named head coach at East Central, and I am ready to begin developing our student- athletes into strong men on the court and in the community as they repre- sent the college,” said Shields. “There are only 216 NJCAA Division I head basketball coaches in the country, and I am humbled and honored to be one of them. East Central is very special to me, as it is where I got my first assis- tant coaching job. I love the sense of community and at-home atmosphere the college provides, and I am thrilled to raise my family in such an environ- ment.” Along with coaching and recruiting experience, Shields is well versed in all areas of collegiate athletics as he served as the video coordinator and graduate assistant at the University of North Texas for the 2014-2015 season, before moving into the assistant direc- tor of operations role. Shields served

Former ECCC assistant basketball coach Dylan Shields has returned to Decatur as the new head men’s basket- ball coach. “We are excited to have Dylan Shields return to East Central in a head coaching role,” said ECCC President Dr. Brent Gregory. “Dylan rose to the top of a very talented group of ap- plicants for this position, and we are very excited for the future of our men’s basketball program as he is a proven winner. We look forward to the leadership and experience that he will provide as he prepares our student- athletes for success, not only in com- petition but in all areas of life.” Shields comes back to ECCC after serving as the assistant men’s basket- ball coach/redshirt program coordina- tor at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, for the previous four seasons. Under Shields’ leadership, the Buc- caneers picked up 75 wins in four seasons, had eight NJCAA All-Region IX players, and sent 10 players to NCAA Division I programs. Shields was named the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Assistant Coach of the Year for his efforts during the 2019-2020 season. Prior to Blinn, Shields was an as- sistant at ECCC from 2016 to 2018.


in El Dorado, Ark., where he was a three-year letterman on the Parkers Chapel High School basketball team. Upon graduation, Shields continued his education at the University of Arkansas where he began his coach- ing journey under the direction of John Pelphry and Mike Anderson as a student assistant. He earned his bach- elor’s degree from Arkansas in kinesi- ology in 2014. He earned a master’s in kinesiology and coaching from Southern Arkansas University in 2021. Shields is married to the former Taylor Smith of Choudrand, La. They have a daughter, Finley, and a son, Wesson.

ECCC has several sports camps lined up for all ages this summer!

Click the QR Code at right, or visit www.ecccathletics.com/camps/2022 to see the list and sign up.



Daewoo to Denali H ard W ork P ays D ividends for ECCC S urgical T echnology G rad

meet some very interesting people, including Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, also known as Dr. Now, made famous by the television show My 600-lb Life. “I met Dr. Now at St. Joseph Hospital in Houston. I was able to work right beside him. It was so awesome to meet someone not only famous, but to really work with them. I remember I kept telling myself if I had never traveled, I would probably have never experienced this. It was an absolute honor. He says he has also met and worked beside surgeons who invented different types of surgical instruments as well as equipment designed for the operating rooms. Burgin is quick to give credit to the many people who encouraged and helped him along the way as he was preparing for his career. “My family means so much to me,” he said. “My Mom was an incredible woman. She passed away in 2016 from cancer. She taught me to never give up and always try to be thoughtful of others no matter what. She will always be my biggest love and supporter. I am such a Mama’s boy! I remember telling my mom that it’s hard not having money while in college and I don’t have a car to get to clinicals. I was blessed to have one of my classmates, Veronica, to take me to and from my clinicals whenever she could. I also remember Mrs. Shirley taking her own money and giving it to me to give to Veronica for gas money. I was so shocked and just so grateful for both of my instructors.” With tears in his eyes, Burgin added, “It was during that time I was thinking about dropping out of the program and Mrs. Shirley was like ‘No, no, no. You are going to finish this program.’ All of these individuals were my guardian angels and still are.” Shirley said of Burgin, “He has always had the best outlook on life even in difficult times. I remember he had some hard times as a student financially. He always kept his positive outlook on life. He was a very hard worker as a student. No matter what you may ask him to do he was always willing to give his best. This can-do

getting to that interview. My dad’s car broke down a week before, but he was more determined than I was to make sure I went. His nephew was able to drive us to ECCC which is a two-and- a-half hour drive from my home. I remember talking to Mrs. Shirley and Mrs. Pilgrim and I just knew within my heart I was in the right place. I just knew from that moment ECCC would be my home away from home.” Burgin knew from an early age he wanted to work in a profession in which he could make a difference in the lives of others. He said he found that opportunity as a surgical technologist. “I chose to become a surgical technologist because I knew that this would really impact the lives of people. I still to this day love that I am able to help others. There is something so special about this career. It is definitely stressful at times, but that doesn’t matter because I am able to help other people.” At the time of this writing, Burgin was on assignment as a traveling surgical technologist in Albany, N.Y. After a six-week stint, he will return to his home in Florida. He said he enjoys traveling around the country because he is able to see and learn other ways to do things in the operating room. Traveling is something new for Burgin who admitted that he had never left the state Mississippi before he started his career. “Allowing myself to travel has helped me to grow and learn so many different things. The first thing people say is ‘Oh did you start traveling because you could make more money?’ My reply is ‘Absolutely not.’ I actually made less on my very first travel assignment than I did when I was permanently employed in one place. I started traveling because I wanted to see many more operating rooms and I wanted to learn more and grow stronger with my skills. I knew eventually I would make more money but it was never the reason I started traveling.” In addition to seeing new places and learning new techniques of his trade, traveling has also allowed Burgin to

Columbus native Terrance Burgin knew he wanted a career in the medical field, but it wasn’t until he took a medical technology class during high school that he fell in love with surgery. While attending Columbus High School, Burgin learned about a two-year vocational course for sophomores and juniors from his sister, Kisha Burgin McGregory, who had earlier taken the class. “This program allowed us as tenth and eleventh graders to job shadow several different careers within the hospitals. I fell in love with the surgery department! It sounds silly, but even the smell of the Bovie ( the brand name of an instrument used for electrosurgical dissection and hemostasis) was so amazing to me. I remember like yesterday running home and telling my mom and dad I wanted to work in the operating room.” Burgin said his parents were both very supportive and encouraging and so he began to research different colleges and universities. He said East Central was the one that he kept coming back to. “I saw on the ECCC website information about the Surgical Technology Program and was certain that I wanted to at least give this a try. Once again, my mom and dad were definitely my biggest supporters.” After applying for the program, Burgin was scheduled to interview with instructors LeAnn Shirley and Kristie Pilgrim. Pilgrim said, “When I think about Terrance, all these years later, I still picture his smile, laugh and kindness that lights up a room! He absolutely loves what he does, and it shows. He has often told me how thankful he is for having the opportunity to attend our Surgical Technology Program. I know that he has faced many trials in his short life, but he overcame and persevered through every one of them. He has such determination to do well and really try hard.” One such trial he faced was simply making it to that first interview. “I will never forget the struggle of


Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online