Honoring PRCC’s Finest: 2024 Alumni Awards Ceremony Pays Tribute to Remarkable Graduates and Partners

May 17, 2024

Alumni, their family and friends, community partners, and current faculty and staff of Pearl River Community College gathered on May 9th to honor this year’s recipients of Alumni Awards. The Alumni Association and Development Foundation hosted the evening at the Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg.   

During the ceremony, individuals and one organization were recognized for personal and professional achievement while displaying the PRCC’s values. 

Four men in suits stand in line with three women. Three of the men and two of the women hold clear, diamond shaped awards.
Alumni Awards 2024 Recipients. (Left to right) Dr. Adam Breerwood, Dr. Gale Harris, Mrs. Karen Ladner Moore, Dr. Courtney Taylor for AccelerateMS, Representative Jansen Owen, Mr. Alton Pierce, and Delana Harris.

Young Alumnus of the Year: Representative Jansen Owen 
Alumnus of the Year: Mrs. Karen Ladner Moore 
Distinguished Service Award: Mr. Alton Pierce 
Outstanding Partnership: AccelerateMS 
Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr. Gale Harris 

PRCC Foundation Board member Mark Wallace served as Master of Ceremonies. Dean of Career and Technical Education Forrest County Campus Dr. David Collum provided the Invocation. PRCC President Dr. Adam Breerwood greeted attendees prior to the awards being given. Breerwood provided a glimpse at the college’s current successes as well as what is coming. 

Executive Director of Development Foundation/Alumni Association Delana Harris ended the evening by congratulating the honorees again and thanking those individuals and companies who support the Foundation. 

Woman wearing black dress holds hands with palms facing up while talking behind a podium. Ferns are placed on either side of the podium.
Executive Director of Development Foundation/Alumni Association Delana Harris

“As sponsors and supporters of Pearl River Community College, you have all played a role in assisting students with reaching their educational and career goals,” said Harris. “Remember that PRCC is home and that we are forever proud to call you Wildcat PRCC alumni supporters. 

More information about the Alumni Association and Development Foundation is available at prcc.edu/alumni/. Nominations will open on July 1 for the 2025 Alumni Awards. 

Award Recipients  

Representative Jansen Owen 

Man wearing light blue checkered suit smiles while talking from behind a podium.
Young Alumnus of the Year: Representative Jansen Owen

Owen completed his A.A. with high honors at Pearl River Community College in 2014 and graduated with honors with a B.A. in political science from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2016. He then pursued his juris doctorate at Tulane University Law School, graduating in 2019. During his time at Tulane, he held various roles, including Managing and Symposium editor of the Tulane Law Review, student attorney at the Tulane Criminal Justice Clinic, and student prosecutor at the District Attorney’s Office for Mississippi’s 2nd Circuit Court District in Gulfport and Bay St. Louis. Additionally, he served as a law clerk at the County and Youth Court of Pearl River County for two years, starting in 2017. 

In 2019, Owen entered the Mississippi House of Representatives, representing Pearl River and Lamar Counties. As the youngest legislator, he serves on various committees, including House Judiciary B, Agriculture, Transportation, County Affairs, and Youth and Family Affairs. 

Owen currently serves as the Municipal Court Public Defender for Poplarville and as the Public Defender for Lunacy Court in Pearl River County, Mississippi. 

“I want to thank everyone for this amazing award,” said Jansen. “It is truly an honor to accept it today. I believe it is a testament to the product that is coming out of this institution. 

“PRCC is by far the best education I have received.” 

Mrs. Karen Ladner Moore 

Woman in bright pink top speaks from behind a podium with ferns on the floor.
Alumnus of the Year: Mrs. Karen Ladner Moore

A native of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, Moore graduated from Pearl River Community College with her A.A. before completing a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing management at The University of Southern Mississippi. Moore further enriched her knowledge through the NRECA Robert I. Kabat Management Internship Program at the University of Wisconsin.  

With 34 years of experience in the electric utility sector, Moore has spent the last 20 years at Baldwin Electric Membership Corporation (Baldwin EMC) in Summerdale, AL, the largest electric cooperative in Alabama. In 2015, Moore assumed the role of CEO, marking a historic milestone as the first woman to lead an electric cooperative in the state. 

Moore serves on the Board of Trustees for the Alabama Rural Electric Association and the PowerSouth Energy Cooperative Board of Trustees. In 2022, Moore received the CEO Outstanding Communicator of the Year award from the Cooperative Communications Association, followed by the Touchstone Energy Power and Hope Award in 2023. 

Moore and her husband Ken have been married for 35 years and currently reside in Loxley, Alabama. She remains deeply engaged in Baldwin County’s local communities, contributing her time and efforts to the chamber of commerce, various charitable causes, and serving within her church. 

“Thank you to Pearl River Community College, you have been a wonderful part of my story and also my family story,” said Moore. “For me it was the perfect setting for the chapter that followed my four years of high school. It was the best two years of my college years. 

“I have been very blessed with a long career in the electric utility industry and having a good education was one of several important pieces of my story that I can attribute to my success.” 

Mr. Alton Pierce 

Man in navy suit points to the distance while talking behind a podium. Ferns flank the podium.
Distinguished Service Award: Mr. Alton Pierce

Hattiesburg native Pierce attended Jones College and Pearl River Community College and received many trainings through Toyota University. His wife, Julie, taught for PRCC at the Forrest County Campus for 23.5 years. 

He is President/Owner of Toyota of Hattiesburg and Hattiesburg Cars, a dealership originally founded by his father, Max R. Pierce, in 1975. In 2022, he and his wife founded the Max R. Pierce Memorial Scholarship to support students in the Automotive Technology program. His company also participates in career fairs hosted at area schools. 

Pierce is active in the community as a volunteer with the YMCA, Homes of Hope, Boy Scouts, Elks Member, and a variety of community fundraisers. 

Pierce and his wife are the parents of Colton and Skylan Pierce. 

“My dad always said the greatest need in America is education,” said Pierce. “My dad loved PRCC. I took classes, and my wife, Julie, taught there for 26 years. PRCC provides both the education and a family environment.” 


Woman wearing red shirt and dark business suit speaks from behind podium.
Outstanding Partnership: AccelerateMS (Dr. Courtney Taylor accepting.)

AccelerateMS is Mississippi’s leading office for workforce development strategy and delivery. AccelerateMS strives to align educational, training, and economic development initiatives to position Mississippi and Mississippians with diverse, productive, and well-paying employment. By providing awareness of pathways and resources to improve lives through training and education, they serve the needs of business, industry, and Mississippians. 

In 2022, AccelerateMS awarded PRCC a $1.7 million grant for workforce development projects and equipment. Grant funds designated for the Advanced Manufacturing and Distribution Support initiative were utilized to create a mobile mechanical classroom. Additionally, the grant allocated for Healthcare Training aided in launching a new Diagnostic Medical Sonography program at the Forrest County Campus. It also facilitated expanding the ADN nursing program to evenings on the Poplarville campus and contributed to establishing an ADN program at the Forrest County Campus. 

Dr. Courtney Taylor serves as the Executive Director of AccelerateMS, spearheading efforts to enhance Mississippi’s workforce development landscape. In her role, she collaborates closely with community colleges, universities, employers, economic developers, and other stakeholders to bolster the state’s workforce initiatives. 

“It’s been a long few years in Jackson and there’s nothing that we have done that would have been possible without partners like Rebecca and her team in Pearl River,” said Taylor. “Mississippi has done great work to set ourselves up for our future, and I appreciate the award and our team appreciates it and we’re really excited.  

“But mostly we’re just really excited to keep doing the work that we’ve been able to do with you guys and the partnerships that you guys have created here at Pearl River.” 

Dr. Gale Harris 

Man wearing blue suit looks off to the distance while standing behind a podium.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr. Gale Harris

Dr. Gale Harris graduated Hancock High School in 1971 and attended Pearl River Community College on an athletic scholarship playing football for the Wildcats in the 1971 and 1972 seasons. After graduating from Pearl River Community College in 1973, Dr. Harris earned his Bachelor of Science in Animal Science at Southeastern Louisiana University. Dr. Harris also played football for the Southeastern Lions. He furthered his education with a Master of Science in Animal Reproductive Physiology from Texas A & I in 1978 and then earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Louisiana State University in 1983.  

After graduating from LSU, Dr. Harris returned to Poplarville and opened East Poplarville Veterinary Clinic in 1983. The practice is still operating today, and Dr. Harris specializes in small animal and equine medicine.  

Dr. Harris has remained a strong supporter of Pearl River Community College. He served on the Board of Trustees for over 18 years.  He also serves as the attending veterinarian for the PRCC Rodeo team and events. He and his family established two scholarships through the PRCC Foundation to benefit students. Dr. Harris is an avid supporter of LSU football and baseball and all the Pearl River Community College athletic teams. He served on the School Advisory Committee for the Southeastern University Agriculture Committee and the Interview Selection Committee for LSU’s School of Veterinary Medicine.  

A dedicated horse enthusiast, he spends much of his leisure time caring for his equine companions. Dr. Harris served as a board member for the Beefmasters Youth Committee.   

Dr. Harris treasures moments with his eight (soon to be nine) grandchildren (Cooper, Grant, Kamryn, Blakelyn, Hayden, Caroline, Claire, and Olivia) engaging in family activities and fostering strong bonds. He has served as a Deacon and Sunday School Teacher for First Baptist Church of Poplarville for over 20 years. In addition to watching PRCC athletics, Dr. Harris enjoys supporting youth sports. He has sponsored and coached baseball at Poplarville Youth Athletic Association when his children played and later when his grandchildren played.  

Dr. Harris is married to Catherine Carr Harris of Picayune who also attended PRCC and was on the String of Pearls. The couple has been married for 48 years and they have four children; Jared (Delana), Justin (Stephanie) Megan Harris Fuller (Jo Fuller) and Stephen Harris (Colby). All four children attended Pearl River Community College and were involved in athletics at PRCC. Jared and Justin were on the first PRCC team to play in the JUCO Baseball World Series in 2002. Megan and Stephen both played soccer at PRCC.  

Dr. Harris’s father, Mr. Aubin Gale Sr. attended PRCC as well as his three siblings (Daun Harris Tolar, Glenda Harris Ball, and Paul Harris).  

“This award is one the greatest honors I’ve achieved,” said Dr. Harris. “Everything I have accomplished or given in my life was done to help and never with the intention of special recognition. PRCC is a special place and will be for years to come!” 

For the latest news on Pearl River Community College, visit PRCC.edu and follow us on Twitter (@PRCC_Wildcats), Instagram (PRCCWILDCATS), Facebook (@PRCCMKTG), and TikTok (@prcc_wildcats).

Article by Laura O’Neill. Photography by Rudy Melancon.

Photo Gallery from the Evening

Each community college president is asked to bring two (2) wrapped door prizes, minimum value of $50 each. We will have a station set up at the conference for you to drop off the door prizes.

Each community college is asked to provide name tags for their Board members, administration, and staff attending the conference.