Special to The Star
The Meridian Star
An all-time record number of spring term graduates will be awarded their Associate Degrees and certificates when Meridian Community College holds its general commencement exercises at Evangel Temple at 6 p.m. tonight. MCC Dean of Student Services Soraya Welden reported that some 512 students had applied to graduate, marking the first time in its 76-year history that the college has eclipsed 500 honorees for a single commencement program.
Welden explained that MCC holds three commencement exercises per year in August, December and May. Cumulatively, MCC will graduate almost 900 students for the entirety of the school year.
“It used to be that some schools would only hold one big commencement a year,” Welden said, “but we have held three programs per year for some time now because we want to honor students at the end of the semester in which they qualify to graduate, rather than making them wait for several months to participate in commencement. We feel that’s the student-friendly way to do business.”
MCC President Dr. Scott Elliott said he is “elated” that MCC broke the 500-student graduate mark.
“We have been really emphasizing graduation for a couple years now in our student orientation and marketing efforts,” Elliott said. “The basic message to students is finish what you started. When you get in the routine of setting high goals and working hard to attain them, it becomes habit-forming. You build on your successes, rather than being diminished by your shortcomings.”
Elliott said that many MCC students must overcome significant barriers to reach this pinnacle in their educational journey.
“Many of our students have to juggle work, school and family responsibilities,” he said. “Many have to deal with issues like child care and lack of transportation, yet they have the fortitude and desire to overcome those kinds of barriers. That’s one reason we’re so proud of our graduates. We hope that MCC provides them with a launching pad to future successes.”
Welden noted that the commencement program will begin earlier than usual ( 6 p.m. rather than 7 p.m.) in an attempt to lessen congestion on Highway 45, as the Clarkdale High School graduation program will be held that same evening. She noted that another commencement program just for MCC nursing graduates will be held earlier in the day at 11:30 a.m. in another effort to make the crowd and parking more manageable.
“I still suggest that anyone planning to attend the evening commencement program come early to avoid traffic problems,” she cautioned.
Elliott thanked Brother Mike Boles, Evangel Temple pastor, for permitting MCC to hold commencement in the church’s expansive sanctuary, equipped with a state-of-the-art sound system.
“Brother Mike and the Evangel Temple family have been very supportive of MCC for years now,” Elliott said. “Evangel Temple is the only air-conditioned indoor facility in the county that can facilitate a crowd of this magnitude. MCC is very lucky to have a friend like Brother Mike.”
Musical selections for the commencement programs will be provided by MCC’s Dimensions show choir for the general commencement program and by Courtney McDonald and Zach Gibson for the nursing program. Other highlights will be the announcement of the H.M. Ivy scholarship recipients by Tony McDaniel, president of the MCC Foundation; and the Phil Hardin Foundation scholarships. Additionally, MCC’s highest-achieving students will be inducted into the “Circle of Excellence.”