Meridian Community College will be putting a couple of new twists on its summer commencement programs this Friday, according to MCC Dean of Student Services Soraya Welden.
One new twist is MCC holding its regular commencement program in the McCain Theater at 7 p.m., marking the first time since the late 1990s that graduation exercises have been held on campus.
Second, MCC will hold a separate commencement program for its Practical Nursing (PN) graduates. That PN program will be starting at 2 p.m., also in the McCain Theater following a nursing "pinning" ceremony the hour before.
Welden noted that some 138 students will receive their Associate Degrees and certificates during the commencement ceremonies.
“Having two separate commencement programs will enable us to return graduation to campus, at least for the summer,” Welden explained. “Had we not done so, the McCain Theater would not have the capacity to accommodate the crowd. We’re going to give this approach a try to determine if it’s something that will work for MCC in future commencement programs. Nursing is the biggest single occupational program we offer at MCC, and by holding a separate ceremony for our nursing graduates, I believe we’ll be able to manage the crowd.”
MCC President Dr. Scott Elliott chimed in, pointing out that the college holds its biggest commencement of each school year in May at the Evangel Temple, which features the largest auditorium in Lauderdale County. Yet, the crowds that the May commencement is drawing have almost exceeded the capacity of Evangel Temple from a seating and parking standpoint.
“The last thing we want to do is limit the number of friends and family who can attend commencement programs,” Elliott said. “We know that earning a college degree is a momentous occasion for both the graduate and their friends and family. So, we’re going to try to come up with strategies to accommodate as many people as we can.”
At the Practical Nursing program some 19 students will be graduating. MCC administrator Cathy Webb will be the featured soloist for the event.
At the regular commencement program later that evening, seven students will be honored as members of MCC’s “Circle of Excellence,” in recognition of their academic achievement and community service activities. Special music for the program will be provided by Andrea Alonso, a member of the MCC Dimensions show choir.
MCC holds three commencement ceremonies each school year in December, May and August. In the aggregate, this year MCC has produced one of the largest number of graduates in the 75-year history of the institution. Moreover, according to statistics released earlier this year by the Obama Administration, MCC has the top graduation rate among all of Mississippi’s 15 public community colleges.
“I’m very proud of that record of achievement, “ Elliott concluded. “It can be attributed to a highly dedicated faculty and support staff and lots of students who are determined to reach important goals that they have set for themselves.”