The accomplishments of more than 120 graduating high school seniors representing East Mississippi and West Alabama will be highlighted during the annual Salute to Outstanding Minority Youth Program.
Sponsored by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Delta Nu Zeta Chapter, the program will be held in a new location, the Meridian High School Auditorium.
"Over time many students have received these awards and the program continues to grow each year," said Jaclyn Buford, sorority member and a program coordinator.
"Many of the youth who will be honored are leaders in their communities and the schools they attend. Many of our past recipients are now doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, and all other professions," Buford said.
In addition to highlighting the accomplishments of outstanding minority students, the program also places emphasis on Zeta Phi Beta Sorority's founding principles of scholarship and community service.
Dr. Eric Cook,
The Salute to Outstanding Minority Students Program has a history of phenomenal keynote speakers – from college presidents, lawyers, doctors, elected officials and inspirational ministers and community leaders. Dr. Eric Cook, who currently serves as the Mississippi State Director for Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., will be the speaker for this year's program.
A 1990 graduate of Newton High School, Cook received his bachelor of science degree from Jackson State University in 1996, his master of science in education degree from JSU in 1998 and doctor of philosophy degree in 2002 from Jackson State University. He has completed post-doctoral studies at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., and Fordham University in New York City, N.Y.
Cook is currently employed with Jackson Public Schools as assistant principal of Boyd Elementary School. He previously served as principal at Lee Elementary School, assistant principal at Van Winkle Elementary School, Isable Elementary School, Lanier High School and high school mathematics teacher at the Mississippi School for the Deaf in Jackson.
Cook has received numerous awards and recognitions for his service to Phi Beta Sigma during his 21 years of membership in the organization, including the State Director’s Award (1995), induction into the Southern Region Collegiate Hall of Fame in the area of Leadership (1995), Outstanding Leadership Award for NAACP (2005), Brother of the Year Award-Alpha Beta Chapter (1995), Sigma of the Year Award-Alpha Beta Chapter (1996), Pi Lambda Theta Service Award (2005), JSU Department of Special Education Alumni of the Year Award (2007), Outstanding Sigma of the Year-Mu Sigma (2004), NAACP Member of the Year Award (2000), Advisor of the Year Award-Southern Region (2011) and Presidential Distinguished Award-Mu Sigma (2012).
Most notably, Eric was inducted into the Outstanding Sigmas of the Southern Region in 2012.
Cook is a member of numerous civic, professional, and fraternal organizations, including Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, Pi Lambda Theta, Beta Kappa Chi, Beta Beta Beta, NAACP, SCLC, National Association of Elementary School Principals, Mississippi Association of School Administrators, National Education Association, JSU Sonic Boom of the South Marching Band Alumni Advisory Council and JSU National Alumni Association.
He is a member of Sand Ridge Missionary Baptist Church in Lawrence, where he serves as superintendent of Sunday Schools and church musician.
Cook and his wife, Lisa (who is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.), reside in Byram.