DECATUR — After dropping out of high school at age 18, Jonathan Bullock had a decision to make: He could continue working six days a week at his minimum wage job, or he could return to school, get his GED (General Educational Development) diploma and continue the family tradition as a member of the legal profession.

Bullock, 33, now a successful attorney with Shell Buford, PLLC in Jackson, provided his inspirational testimony as he addressed the 41 students who received their high school equivalency diplomas at East Central Community College’s GED Commencement ceremony in Huff Auditorium.

During his address, Bullock — whose road to success also includes eight years of military service — not only praised the graduates for their accomplishment, but also urged them to encourage others who do not have their high school degrees to enroll in a GED program and better their lives.

“I made many mistakes when I was younger and I was unable to finish my high school education,” the third generation attorney stated. “But I realized that it would be difficult, but it was not the end of the world, and that by getting my GED I could still pursue my dream of becoming an attorney.”

Bullock said now he is in a position to give back to those who need encouragement, inspiration and even certain guidance in following their own goals and dreams.

“It is rewarding for me to be able to help others in this regard; and I feel honored that others look at my hard work and dedication to getting an education as an example of what can happen when you create goals, and then pursue and achieve those goals,” he said.

Bullock’s area of practice includes all forms of civil litigation defense, including professional liability, products liability and medical malpractice defense, general liability, fidelity and surety litigation, personal injury litigation, commercial litigation, workers’ compensation defenses and construction litigation.

He is admitted to practice in all State courts in Mississippi; the United States District Court for the Southern and Northern districts of Mississippi; and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (2004).

Bullock is involved in various civic organizations and donates numerous hours toward voluntary endeavors, including his service as a member of the Mississippi Department of Education’s Drop-Out Prevention Task Force Committee.

A native of Des Moines, Iowa, Bullock attended Clinton High School and receive a GED diploma in 1991. His college work began at Hinds Community College and continued at Mississippi State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1998. He also attended Mississippi College School of Law and the University of Tulsa College of Law, where he received his juris doctorate in 2003.

He is married to the former Sarah Catherine Warriner and they have two daughters, Jordan, 6, and Dylan, 4. They attend Madison United Methodist Church in Madison.

In addition to Bullock’s testimonal was that of Teresa Harrison of McCool, 52, who spoke prior to receiving her GED diploma. Harrison quit school after completing seventh grade in 1969.

Dr. Lavinia Sparkman, vice president for instruction, awarded diplomas to the graduates, who also included: Lachelle Moss, Mecedric Cortez Kirkland, Jessica D. Williams, Gary Massey and Jeana Rose Ingram, all of Carthage; Krista Sherrice Patrick, Lena; Meagan L. Addison, Stacie Lynn Miles, Brian Thomas Chandler, Bronson Lane Tubby, Rodriquez K. Gavin and Monte C. Issac, all of Philadelphia; Samantha Kaitlin Leigh Kinard of Noxapater; Brandon Scott George, Michael Louis Averett, Richard Louis Horton and Whitney Sierra Walton, all of Union; Ering Marie Shearin of Choctaw; Mary Rose Hickox and Keli Jo Barrett, both of Decatur; Joby Edward Foshee IV of Newton.

Kayla Renea Craig of Pelahatchie; Elizabeth Yates of Walnut Grove; Betyna Gage and Selinea Yvette Harper, both of Forest; Rebecca Dianne Jolly, Amy Kyzar, Nathen Patrick Donald Jr., Jerri Settlemire, Benjamin R. Kelley, Jonathan Tyrone Pace and Joshua A. Dunnavant, all of Morton; De’Shawn Curlin Montral of Hickory; Ruby A. Johnson of Pulaski; April Irene Dixon of Louin; Jody E. Garrard and Angela Martin, both of Louisville; and Sheronda Martin of Preston.

Candidates for graduation were presented by Gene Davis, dean of adult and continuing education, whose office coordinates the ECCC’s ABE/GED program.

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