May 12, 2023
Alumni with their family and friends, community partners, as well as current faculty and staff of Pearl River Community College gathered Thursday evening to honor this year’s recipients of Alumni Awards. The evening was hosted by the Alumni Association and Development Foundation 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 values of PRCC.
Young Alumnus of the Year: Dr. Kellye Bolar
Alumnus of the Year: Mr. Todd Jackson
Distinguished Service Award: Mrs. Carol Williams
Outstanding Partnership: 2nd Chance Mississippi
Lifetime Achievement Award: Mr. Joel Carver
The Distinguished Service Award and Outstanding Partnership awards do not have a requirement that the recipient must have attended PRCC for at least one semester. The other three awards do.
PRCC Foundation Board member Mark Wallace served as Master of Ceremonies. 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.
“This was truly a special night for our college and for our Foundation,” said Harris. “To our honorees this year, it is a privilege to know you and call you a part of the Wildcat Family. Thank you for choosing Pearl River Community College and for continuing to share the value our college.”
More information about the Alumni Association and Development Foundation is available at prcc.edu/alumni/. Nominations will open on July 1 for the 2024 Alumni Awards.
Dr. Kellye Bolar
Dr. Kellye Bolar is a proud Pearl River Community College alum from Picayune. While at The River, she was a member of the award-winning String of Pearls Dance Team, River Road Show Choir, PRCC Student Council, River Navigators Leadership Team, and a member of the PRCC 2008 Homecoming Court.
She’s the owner of KB Education, LLC, providing educational services to teachers and students. Dr. Bolar is also a passionate teacher herself, having taught 4th-grade math, science, and social studies, as well as high school Algebra 1.
Her love for education runs deep in addition to her passion for dance and performing. She owns KB Dance, where she teaches various dance styles at dance studios and schools across Mississippi. Dr. Bolar is the founder and CEO of The Cool Kidz Club, a non-profit organization that empowers underprivileged youth through STEAM and life experiences.
Dr. Bolar’s mission is to share her knowledge and love to help others understand how positive thoughts, consistent action, and the eagerness to learn can bring success and happiness. In her free time, Dr. Bolar enjoys spending time with her nieces, Kinsley and Suri, reading, being active, listening to music, and relaxing on the beach. Among her highest values are God, family, fulfilling friendships and relationships, and helping others grow and improve.
“I am grateful for the recognition, to be surrounded by so many great people, and to be able to represent Pearl River Community College,” said Bolar. “Attending Pearl River was the best two years of my whole life. I was able to form friendships and relationships with people that I still keep in contact with today.
“If I was not given the opportunity to have the strong education I received at Pearl River, my life would have probably turned out a lot different. PRCC is Pride, Respect, Class, and Character. I truly try to embody that every day.”
Mr. Todd Jackson
A native of Poplarville, Mississippi, Jackson attended PRCC before transferring to Mississippi State University to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering. The first seven years of his career were spent in the engineering ranks of GE Plastics in New York, Indiana, and Alabama as a part of GE’s Operations Management and Leadership Program.
Jackson serves as Executive Vice President of the Area Development Partnership, providing leadership to the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development divisions.
“Pearl River has been a staple of my life from childhood to today, and I can’t overstate the impact the institution has had on me,” said Jackson. “Pearl River gave me the tough love I needed as a college freshman that set my life on the right trajectory, and I probably wouldn’t be where I am today without the impact that Pearl River Community College had on me.
“Now I get to work with the passionate Pearl River team on a daily basis to make a positive impact on our community, and for all of this, I’m eternally grateful.”
In 2013, Jackson was honored by his Leadership Pine Belt Class with the Susan Walker Community Leadership Award for exemplifying outstanding leadership and commitment to the enhancement of Greater Hattiesburg. He is also a graduate of the 2018 Leadership Mississippi class. Outside of work, Jackson serves as a Deacon at Crosspoint Community Church and is very involved with the United Way of Southeast MS through his service as a volunteer, Board Member, and Chair of the Board in 2021. Jackson and his wife, Jennifer, enjoy adventures with their two boys Nolan (13) and Grant (9).
Mrs. Carol Williams
Originally from Brandon, Williams has been a resident of Poplarville for 41 years. She is a graduate of PRCC with an Associate of Arts degree. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Marketing Education from The University of Southern Mississippi.
She taught Business Marketing Management Technology at PRCC for 23 years before moving to the Public Relations Department for the remaining 5 years of her career.
Williams is responsible for founding Backpack Buddies of Poplarville Inc. This program provides food for children within the Poplarville school district who have little or no food over the weekend. She is also responsible for creating the Station on the Poplarville campus of PRCC that provides food and clothing, free of charge, to on-campus and commuting students. In 2020, the station was renamed to be the Carol Williams Station.
Williams shared that she is overwhelmed to have been chosen for this honor.
“To say that Pearl River has been instrumental in my life is an understatement,” said Williams. “Had Pearl River not been in Poplarville I would never have gotten a degree, nor would I be the recipient of an award.”
She is the wife of Jon Williams, mother to Kyle Williams and Leslie Ortego, and grandparent to six. Williams is very involved with her church, Poplarville First United Methodist Church, and the Poplarville Area Chamber of Commerce. She loves to be outside and one of her favorite things is to mow grass and weed-eat.
2nd Chance Mississippi
2nd Chance Mississippi’s mission is to promote and support adult education and work skills training in Mississippi. They partner with community colleges across the state on programs and initiatives to help Mississippians get the education and training needed to obtain and keep a family-sustaining, wage-earning job. Programs focus on removing barriers to obtaining a high school equivalency and/or employable certification.
Since its founding, 2nd Chance Mississippi has provided over $70,000 to PRCC. In 2023, they awarded $25,000 to help market the adult education program and $12,500 to continue paying workforce tuition for adult education students in financial need.
Zac Scruggs is the Executive Director of 2nd Chance Mississippi. His work with adult education and literacy began in 2008 while he served a year sentence in federal prison. There, he served as a GED and literacy instructor for federal inmates. After his release, he volunteered at the Lafayette County Detention Center Library in Oxford.
Under Scrugg’s leadership since 2016, 2nd Chance MS has assisted over 1000 adult students. Through this support, 306 adults have obtained their High School Equivalency, 302 adults have obtained an employable workforce credential, and another 239 adults have obtained either a Career Readiness Certificate (“CRC”) and/or Smart Start credential.
“We are honored and humbled that that 2nd Chance MS is being awarded the Outstanding Partnership Award from PRCC.,” said Scruggs. “From the beginning, it was evident that PRCC is invested in Adult Education and Workforce Training for its lower-income adult students.
“Every step of the way, PRCC has been 2nd Chance MS’ best and most effective partner in our mission to support and remove barriers for lower-income adult students who are working hard to get their High School Equivalency and employment training. We are grateful for our partnership with Pearl River Community College.”
Mr. Joel Carver
Carver, a Poplarville native, is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Carver, an Atlanta-based hospitality infrastructure company. Carver Hotel Group, founded by Carver in 2013, was named one of the “Top Startups in Georgia” just two years later. In 2018, Carver received the Pacesetter Award and was named one of the “Fastest Growing Privately Held Corporations in America” by INC 5000.
Carver and his husband, Dr. Van Millin, are residents of LaGrange, Georgia. They’re both active in their local community and are members of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, where Carver serves as Sr. Warden. The Carver-Millin family enjoys giving back to their community and supporting global and local non-profits through the Carver-Millin Donor Fund.
Carver Cares, the company’s charity initiative, partners with The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, The Human Rights Campaign Fund, ICEF, In the Spirit Awards, and The Point Foundation, which empowers promising LGBT students to achieve their academic and leadership potential.
Carver and Millin are also connected to Backpack Buddies, an organization that helps at-risk children have adequate food and essential items outside of their schools. Backpack Buddies is led by Carol Williams and Dale Adams. Adams, who was mentored by Carver’s grandmother, Vivian, is also dedicated to helping the less fortunate.
“PRCC is special to me in many ways,” said Carver. “It is where my parents met, and it is where I made some of my fondest memories in band, jazz band, and theater.
“I am excited about the future of PRCC, as it continues to offer both high quality education and professional development opportunities that will help people succeed in the workforce. I am proud to continue to support PRCC in its mission to provide quality education to students from all walks of life.”
In 2017, The Carver Companies, in partnership with Carver personally, presented the Pearl River Community College Development Foundation with a check to open the Harold P. and Bertha S. Carver Endowment and Smith-Carver Family Criminal Justice Scholarship. The endowment honors Carver’s parents, while the scholarship remembers the Smith-Carver family members who served the law enforcement community and recognizes those who risk their lives every day to protect ours.
Article by Laura O’Neill. Photography by Jacob Cochran.