Submitted by Laura O’Neill on June 1, 2022
It was another record-setting year for the Adult Education program at Pearl River Community College.
More than 250 students graduated. During commencement Thursday, May 26, at the Lake Terrace Convention Center, 110 students walked across the stage to receive their high school equivalency diplomas.
“This is a night for true celebration,” PRCC President Dr. Adam Breerwood told the graduates. “You have trusted us with your futures and you have overcome a lot to get here. You guys are heroes. You are special. You are family. This is such a special time.”
Graduation speaker was Dr. Raymunda Barnes, Assistant Vice President for PRCC’s Hancock Campus in Waveland. He challenged graduates to continue to fulfill your dreams.
“You made it. You finished. Now what?” said Barnes. “The journey is not over. Achievement is an ongoing process. As you leave here tonight, the work continues. Too many eyes are depending on you to show them the way.”
Some graduates, like Meghan Galarza of Bay St. Louis, see this as a life-changing experience. She is a CNA and plans to enter the PRCC nursing program.
“I am very excited and proud,” said Galarza, 25. “I have three children and two step children, so for them to see me finish this means a lot.”
The same goes for April Ulerich, 52, of Picayune who pursued her GED to advance in her job as a cafeteria manager.
“I am very grateful for the adult ed program,” she said. “Thanks to this degree, I am now able to receive a promotion at my work.”
Kris Jordan, 27, of Tupelo, a CNA and EMT, sees endless possibilities in her future.
“Being able to go at my speed and to meet incredible teachers who helped me stay focused and stay on track was important to me,” said Jordan.
Donavon Clark, Jr., 34, of Hancock County wants to become a drone technician.
“This diploma means I can do anything,” he said. “This is the beginning of another life for me.”
LaTynia Allen, 49, of Hattiesburg wants t open her own daycare one day.
“This feels awesome,” she said. “It took me six- and one-half years, but I never gave up.”
Sandra Kelley, who came from Fulia, Venezuela, moved to Hattiesburg because of her husband’s work. She would like to teach Spanish in school.
“This was an amazing experience for me, especially with the people at Pearl River,” said Kelley, 32. “The support I received and their help inspired me, and I got to make very good friends. It feels refreshing and good to achieve this.”
Some of the graduates not only got their diplomas, but also received workforce certificates for completing additional courses during their GED journey.
The Director of Adult Education at PRCC is Ruby Smith. Chris Maul is the Adult Education Coordinator; Michelle Wilson-Stokes, the Dean of Students; and Rebecca Brown, Dean of Workforce and Community Education.
GRADUATES FROM FORREST AND LAMAR COUNTIES
Graduates from Forrest and Lamar counties included from right: Seated – Serena Skabialka, Jeremy Brackett, Jacob Johnson, Morgan Herrin, Lindsey Muirhead, Tiani Jackson, Rebekah Stewart, Mechelle Holden, Jasmine Jones, Destiny Murphy, Cayleigh Hamill, Landon Trahan, Zaire Simpson, and Kerri Simpson. Second row – Andrew Green, Dustin Simmons, Jerri Daughtrey, Zoey Sheets, Sandra Kelley, Kris Jordan, Jessie Blackwell, Shelby Clark, Asia Henderson, LaTynia Allen, Elizabeth Picazo, Jordyn Jenkins, Brianna Hernandez and Sonya Boggs. Back row – Blake Wardle, Lindsey Cuevas, Channing Powell, Christopher Leggett, Joseph Conner Hall, Lavelle Williams, Ervin Lopez, Marissa Lee, Emily Easterling, Abby Grantham, Christopher Turner, William Ian Rushing, Bridget Tidwell, Terry C. Pinter, Nick Walker and Cole Burrell.
GRADUATES FROM HANCOCK AND MARION COUNTIES
Graduates from Marion and Hancock counties included from right: Front row – Michele Guerrera, Victoria Denney, Kaylyanne Hinman, Ashley Boswell, April Ulerich, Seanna Cooper, Cesley White, Jaelyn Dillard and Laura Boone. Back row – Jonathan Thompson, Joseph Curry, Alex Gray, Raymond Davis, Nicholas Molinary, Kimberly Chisholm, Jonah Parker, Chad Dillard and Tiara Patrick.
GRADUATES FROM PEARL RIVER COUNTY
Graduates from Pearl River County included from right: Front row – Zykia McDonald, Ethan Joseph Cuevas, Lanny Picou, Mikaela Meyer, Mercedes McCarty, Scarlett Zazueta, Bonnie Trotter, Talina Charlot, Meghan Galarza, Lila Brewer, Callie Ortiz, Madison Hope Seal, and Skyler Pasquarello. Second row – Donavon Clark, Alexander Roberts, Nasiah Richard, Grant Matheny, Trent Matheny, Gi’Armani Torregano, Hunter Elkins, Simone Chiasson, Tiffanie Hill, Rachel Meadows, Dalton Ledet, Logan McCullough, Gillian Moore and Mariah Mason. Back row – Dakeljin Gray, Sofia Huff, Kaden Ray, Justin Woodham, Noah Williams, Kaitlyn Stephens, Dale Cuevas and Da’Zyaha Gray.