SCOOBA — Four East Mississippi Community College alumni were honored Saturday, Oct. 9, during Homecoming events on the college’s Scooba campus.
Dr. Emily Warren was named the college’s 2020 Alumna of the Year and Charlie Studdard received the 2020 Distinguished Service Award. The 2021 Alumna of the Year is Cheryl Sparkman, with 2021 Distinguished Service Award honors going to Teresa Hughes.
Warren, a clinical pharmacist specializing in adult medicine at Anderson Regional Medical Center in Meridian, was a freshman in high school when her parents moved from Flomaton, Alabama to Kemper County, where her father was raised.
She graduated from Kemper Academy in 1992 and enrolled at EMCC where she was a member of the Student Christian Fellowship. She had prior ties to EMCC.
After graduating from EMCC, Warren earned a Doctor of Pharmacy in 1998 from the University of Mississippi and completed her Pharmacy Practice Residency in the Huntsville Hospital System.
2020 Distinguished Service Award
Charlie Studdard’s roots run deep at EMCC. He was a standout baseball and football player at EMCC in 1969-70 who was inducted into the college’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.
He has been an active member of the EMCC Alumni Association for more than two decades and has served as president of that organization. He is the current president of the EMCC Development Foundation Board of Directors.
During his senior year in high school Studdard was offered both baseball and football scholarships to attend what was then East Mississippi Junior College. He decided to play baseball his freshmen year and forgo football, but was reluctant to tell football Coach Bob “Bull” Sullivan, a large, imposing man who many said left them feeling intimidated.
During his sophomore year he met Margie Briggs, who was also attending EMJC. He married her in his junior year at Mississippi State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science.
Studdard was interested in studying constitutional law, but as a married man with family obligations, he entered the workforce in the home remodeling and construction businesses before becoming a partner in an outdoor motor and marine business in Columbus.
He later went to work with a friend, Don Davis, who had opened Electric Motor Sales & Service in Columbus, working his way up to general manager within a year and later becoming a partner in the company.
They added seven more shops across the South, but in later years closed or sold all but the one in Columbus. Studdard retired at the end of 2020 after 44 years with the company.
Studdard is an elder at Beersheba Cumberland Presbyterian Church and was a lay minister for 30 years, filling in for pastors who were sick or on vacation. He and Margie Studdard have three children and six grandchildren.
2021 Alumna of the Year
Cheryl Sparkman is a lifelong resident of Kemper County who first started attending athletic sporting events at then East Mississippi Junior College when she was still in high school at the DeKalb Attendance Center.
After graduating from high school in 1968, she enrolled at EMJC and was selected for the cheerleading squad her freshman year. She served as the cheerleading captain during her sophomore year and was named among the “EMJC Beauties.”
In 1972 she did her teaching practice internship at Northwest Junior High School in Meridian and was promised a fulltime job at Kate Griffin Junior High in Meridian in the fall. Meanwhile, a position for an eligibility worker came open in her hometown of DeKalb with the State Department of Public Welfare, the predecessor of the Mississippi Department of Human Services.
She worked her way up to the position of MDHS state director of economic assistance and retired in 2011 after 38 years of service. She has remained active in the community throughout her career and up to the present day.
She has served on the EMCC Development Foundation Board of Directors since the 1990s, is a past president of that organization and is a member of the EMCC Football Inner Circle for Excellence. The first big project she worked on for the foundation was securing the land for the Chapel in the Pines and helping with fundraising efforts to get it built.
She is a 2000 recipient of EMCC’s Distinguished Service Award, the Kemper County Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Citizen of the Year and was named among the “50 Leading Business Women” in 2007 by the Mississippi Business Journal.
2021 Distinguished Service Award
Teresa Hughes was still enrolled at Noxubee County High School in the mid-1970s when she first started playing in the EMCC band.
Hughes, who played flute and piccolo, accepted a band scholarship to attend EMCC, moving into the residential dorms on the Scooba campus in 1977 for her first term. Two weeks after classes began she was diagnosed with diabetes and was told she would have to go on a special diet.
Hughes flourished at EMCC. She joined the choir and was awarded a scholarship for New Friends, which is Reflections now. During her sophomore year she was named “Most Original” and her classmates voted her among the “Sophomore Class Favorites.”
After graduation, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Southern Mississippi and later earned professional development education certifications from Mississippi State University and the University of West Alabama.
After a three-year stint as a retail manager, Hughes accepted a job at Earl Nash Elementary School in Macon, where she worked for 27 years. She taught third grade for 10 of those years and served as lead teacher for 15 years. After retiring, she returned to the school and worked two more years teaching gifted students.
She also gave back to her alma mater, serving on the EMCC Board of Trustees from 1998 to 2020. Hughes said she has seen a tremendous amount of academic and workforce progress at EMCC since her early college years.
One of the projects for which she is most proud is the construction of a new 147-bed residence hall at EMCC’s Scooba campus that opened to students in January of 2021.
“I tell people I matured quickly at EMCC and I love EMCC,” Hughes said. “It has become one of the leading community colleges in Mississippi.”