POPLARVILLE – Dr. Ross Setze and Belle Failla represented Pearl River Community College Tuesday, Feb. 2, at the annual HEADWAE events in Jackson.
HEADWAE – Higher Education Appreciation Day, Working for Academic Excellence – was established by the Legislature more than 20 years ago to honor academically talented students and faculty.
Honorees were welcomed to the Capitol by Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, then introduced to the House of Representatives and the Senate. They were introduced by name at a luncheon at the Jackson Marriott Hotel attended by their guests, institution leaders, corporate sponsors and legislators.
Setze has taught physics, mathematics and engineering courses at PRCC since the fall 2000 semester.
“I was surprised and humbled to be chosen for this award,” he said. “I have been blessed at Pearl River to work with a wonderful group of faculty and staff, and any recognition I happen to receive is a reflection of their hard work and dedication.”
As is customary, Setze selected the student to be honored.
“Belle Failla is one of those rare students who combines excellent academic achievement with a bright, outgoing and infectious personality,” he said. “In addition to her success in the classroom, Belle is involved in many extracurricular activities. From Phi Theta Kappa to the homecoming court, Belle’s involvement in Pearl River Community College demonstrates her fitness to represent the college with this award.”
Failla is the daughter of David and Cindy Failla of Picayune. She is a mechanical engineering major and plans to attend Mississippi State University and participate in the co-op work program. She is co-president of the Iota Mu chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and was named to the PTK All-Mississippi Academic Team. She received a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) Scholarship awarded through NASA.
Failla was a sophomore maid in the 2015 Homecoming Court and was named first alternate and Miss Congeniality in the 2016 Miss PRCC Wildcat Scholarship Pageant in January.
Setze served six years in the U.S. Navy as a nuclear-trained machinist’s mate aboard the ballistic missile submarine USS James Madison before returning to college at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He taught undergraduate physics labs for two years as a junior and senior and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physics with a minor in math.
He earned the master’s degree and PhD from Duke University in nuclear physics and did post-doctoral research there. While affiliated with Duke, he performed experiments at Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory, Ohio University and the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF, now known as the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility) in Virginia and collaborated with scientists from Poland, Germany, Serbia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Canada on research at TUNL, Los Alamos, CEBAF and Erlangen, Germany.
Belle Failla Dr. Ross Setze