from staff reports
The Meridian Star
Meridian Community College sophomore Emily Sollie and MCC English Instructor Dr. Cedric Bradley will be among the outstanding students and faculty members from 34 Mississippi public and private universities and colleges who will receive special recognition from the Mississippi Legislature today.
Sollie and Bradley are MCC student and faculty representatives, respectively, for Higher Education Appreciation Day, Working for Academic Excellence – HEADWAE — and will be saluted at a reception in Jackson.
“I was really excited, so surprised about being named,” said Sollie, who holds a 4.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. Her career goal: to garner a career in speech pathology. “I want to work with children to enhance their quality of speech and to build their confidence.” She explained her sibling went to a speech pathologist when she was younger and it helped. After researching the field, Sollie discovered she wanted to help others, too.
Being active is second nature to Sollie. At MCC, she is vice president of leadership and scholarship with the Nu Upsilon Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for community and junior college students, and is a member of Baptist Student Union. She’s also been the recipient of scholarships including Central United Methodist Church, Lauderdale County, Leadership, MCC Gold, Rotary, Scholarship America and PTK.
Sollie sees her MCC experience as rewarding from the challenging coursework to making new friends. “So much has gone on … I’ve grown a lot and I’ve had time to think of what I want to do.” She’s also pleased that her MCC classes will transfer to the University of Southern Mississippi, where she plans to study in the fall.
Bradley, who was an instructor of Sollie’s, is also excited about being MCC’s faculty representative for HEADWAE. “Since there are so many faculty, staff and administrators here at the college I try to model each day, I was honored to know that these same people believed I would represent MCC well,” Bradley said.
A seven-year instructor at MCC, Bradley teaches English and believes in the importance of teaching. “You get to make an impact in students’ lives, and this is not just academically,” Bradley said.
“When you ensure that the impact is a positive and not negative, you are truly being a servant leader. As Dr. King once said, ‘Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.’ What better way is there to serve than to teach?,” he said.
Bradley continues to make a difference; he has been selected as MCC Humanities Professor of the Year, the Clarence Roberts Teacher of the Year, MCCer of the Month and was named Biltmore Who’s Who of Executives and Professionals.
In addition, he serves as a mentor for the Meridian Public School District and a volunteer for Meridian Main Street.
When Sollie and Bradley travel to the Capitol, they’ll have stories to share – Sollie – and her older sister Audrey – was a student of Bradley’s. “Being able to represent the college with one of the best students I’ve ever had is simply great,” Bradley said.
He added, “even though it has been a few semesters since I’ve taught Emily, I’m glad that we still have a great relationship. There are not many people who have all of the positive characteristics that Emily does. You do not get a chance to have an Emily Sollie in your class every semester, and I am truly glad that I got to have her in my Composition I and II classes.”
HEADWAE was established by legislative resolution to honor individual academic achievement and the overall contribution of the state’s public and private institutions of higher learning.
The honorees will begin the day with a visit to the State Capitol where they will be welcomed and recognized by the Senate and House of Representatives and given a tour of the Capitol. An awards luncheon is on the agenda, too.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education William J. Bennett will deliver the keynote address Tuesday.
Bennett has held two White House cabinet positions. He served as Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan and was the nation’s first Drug Czar under the first George H.W. Bush. He has taught at Boston University, the University of Texas and Harvard and is the author of more than 24 books, including two New York Times number one best sellers. His latest book, entitled "Is College Worth It?," will be released in May. His three-volume set of the history of the United States, America: The Last Best Hope, has been widely praised.
He and his wife, Elayne, reside in North Carolina and are the parents of two sons.