Lifelong Wildcat appointed Pearl River Chairman of the Board of Trustees

POPLARVILLE, Miss — Pearl River Community College has appointed a lifelong Wildcat as Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Tessa Rawls Smith. 

“Ms. Tess Smith is a trusted and well respected member of our Board of Trustees,” Pearl River President Dr. Adam Breerwood said. “Her forward thinking and innovative approach to education has provided valuable perspective. I look forward to her continued leadership as we work to provide higher education opportunities to our surrounding communities. I am thrilled with the Board of Trustees’ decision to appoint Ms. Smith Chairman for the next two years. In the ever changing world of higher education we have numerous challenges that lie ahead. She is the ideal candidate to lead the efforts of our Board.”

Twenty-eight years after first stepping on Pearl River’s Poplarville campus as a college freshman, Smith is taking on the role of Chairman of the Board of Trustees.  

Smith is a lifelong resident of Sumrall. She attended and graduated from Oak Grove schools before joining the Wildcat Family in 1987 as a college freshman on the Poplarville campus. 

After PRCC, she moved on to earn her Bachelors of Science in 1992 from the University of Southern Mississippi and began her teaching career at her alma mater, Oak Grove High School. After earning her Masters from USM in 1997 she transitioned into a school counseling position. Smith then earned her Specialist from USM in School Administration and became assistant principal at Oak Grove Middle School.

In 2014, Smith returned to Wildcat Country as a member of the board when she was named Superintendent of the Lamar County School District. She is currently working on her Doctorate degree from William Carey University. 

“It has been truly amazing to see the growth and change that has taken place on the campus from then to now,” Smith said. “I feel truly blessed to play a role in PRCC's future.”

Smith and her husband, Ray, have two boys who both chose a military path including participating in ROTC while at USM. Smith and her husband are expecting their first grandchild in April. 

“I have taken each role on the PRCC board very seriously,” Smith said. “I believe in lifelong learning. Anything that we can to do support all levels of education is of critical importance.”

Superintendent of Education for Hancock County Schools, Alan Dedeaux preceded Smith in the Chairperson position for the years of 2018 and 2019. Smith will serve for all of 2020 and 2021. 

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Pearl River Community College offers equal education and employment opportunities. The College does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, veteran status, or disability. For inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies or to request accommodations, special assistance, or alternate format publication please contact Tonia M. Seal, Director of Admissions and Records/ ADA/Civil Rights Coordinator at P.O. Box 5559, Poplarville, MS 39470 or 601-403-1060 or Maghan James, Assistant Vice President of Student Services/Title IX Coordinator at P.O. Box 5805, Poplarville, MS 39470 or 601-403-1132.

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.