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Millsaps College Holds 119th Commencement Ceremony

May 13, 2013


Two-hundred-seven students received undergraduate degrees, and 50 students received graduate degrees from Millsaps College during the 119th commencement on May 11 at Christ United Methodist Church in Jackson.

View a photo slideshow from the Ceremony

Taylor Brittany Scyster of Destrehan, La., recipient of the Founders' Medal, delivered the commencement address. The Founders' Medal is awarded to the graduating senior with the highest grade point average and an excellent on comprehensive examinations.

Scyster reminisced about moments members of the Class of 2013 shared during their years at Millsaps and read the poem, "If I had My Life to Live Over Again," by 85-year-old Nadine Stair, who provided the words after someone asked how she would have lived her life differently if she had the chance.

"What I have taken away from her words is a personal challenge to live a life full of moments as I begin my own life after college, a challenge to not become so fixated on our next steps - whether starting a career or attending graduate school - that we do not allow ourselves to have moments ... We must not remain stuck in our past but must allow ourselves to have new moments in order to succeed in this next phase of life," Scyster said. "Here's to having a life full of moments. Congratulations Class of 2013!"

Scyster received a B.A. in elementary education and plans to be a teacher.

Victoria Amanda Wheeler of Carrollton, the recipient of the Frank and Rachel Anne Laney Award, read a portion of her award-winning essay that reflected upon the value of a Millsaps liberal arts education. Wheeler related in her essay the connections between a study abroad trip to the Galapagos Islands, an English class during which she tutored Sudanese refugees, and other experiences at Millsaps.

Wheeler received a B.S. in English and is currently deciding whether to pursue a career as a physician or English professor.

James Russell Morrison of Vicksburg, who was recognized as the Outstanding M.B.A. graduate, challenged graduates in his speech to do things that scare them for the opportunity to reach beyond their comfort zone, to develop strong relationships, to find a mission and support it with their gifts and talents, and to be lifelong learners.

Morrison is the founder of S.O. TEREC, a t-shirt company that has partnered with the Mississippi Food Network to help eliminate hunger in Mississippi. For every shirt sold, S.O. TEREC makes a donation to the Mississippi Food Network.

The College conferred honorary doctorate degrees on three individuals for their accomplishments and service to their communities. Dr. Aaron Shirley, a long-time physician and civil rights activist; the Rev. R. Edwin King, a retired Methodist minister and civil rights activist; Seetha Srinivasan, director emerita of University Press of Mississippi.

Chelsey Lynn Overstreet of Oxford was named the recipient of the Don Fortenberry Award, which recognizes the graduating senior who has demonstrated the most notable, meritorious, diligent, and devoted service to the college with no expectation of recognition, reward, or public remembrance.

Millsaps Professor of Art Sandra Murchison, whose latest series of work responds to the historical markers along the Blues Trail in the Mississippi Delta, received the Distinguished Professor Award. The award recognizes faculty members who inspire students through their excellence as teachers and whose writing, research, and artistic accomplishments are of the highest quality and serve to enhance their teaching and their students' learning.