On Saturday, May 6, 2022, Millsaps College celebrated its 128th commencement. The celebration marked the first time since 2017 that the college has hosted commencement in its traditional location of the Bowl on the Millsaps campus. The college awarded undergraduate degrees to more than 140 students and graduate degrees to 16 students.
Dr. Keith Dunn, provost and dean of the college, presented the Founders’ Medal to seniors Anna Grace Boxx of Bay St. Louis, Miss. (B.S., environmental science), Mary Frances Dickie of Jackson, Miss. (B.A., literature in English), Newlon Gillihan of McComb, Miss. (B.S., biology), Paul Thomas of Hattiesburg, Miss. (B.B.A., with a double major in business administration and economics) and Taylor Weintritt of Metairie, La. (B.B.A., with a double major in business administration and economics). The Founders’ Medal is awarded to the senior student with the highest grade point average for their entire college course of study at Millsaps and who has received a grade of excellent on their comprehensive examinations. This was the first time in the college’s history the Founders’ Medal was awarded to five students.
Founders’ Medal recipient Paul Thomas reflected on his time at Millsaps during his commencement address. Thomas noted how the class of 2022 faced extraordinary circumstances during their time at Millsaps, including changes to normal campus activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic and water infrastructure disruptions during the February 2021 ice storms. He shared his belief that these circumstances gave the class of 2022 a certain level of gumption not experienced by other classes, which brought him and his classmates closer during difficulty times.
Thomas urged his classmates to look back on what they have accomplished and use it as motivation to go forward. He ended his address with, “Millsaps changed our lives; I think it’s time we start changing others’.”
In addition to the Founders’ Medal, 11 seniors were named finalists for the Frank and Rachel Anne Laney Award, which is given to seniors who have written the finest essay reflecting on the value of a Millsaps liberal arts education. Dr. Dunn presented the award to Yuki Nogawa for her essay, “A Perfectionist’s Nightmare.” Nogawa’s essay, which spoke of the challenges she and her classmates faced during their time at Millsaps, will be required reading for all students and faculty entering the college in the fall of 2023.
Other awards included the Charles Sewell Outstanding M.B.A. Award and Outstanding Masters of Accounting Award. Harvey Fiser, professor and interim dean of the Else School of Management, presented the awards to Jenna White of Knoxville, Tenn. and Abigail Tew of Brandon, Miss., respectively. Dean of Students Megan James awarded the Don Fortenberry Award to Kamaljyot “Kamal” Bhalla of Clinton, Miss. in recognition of Bhalla’s diligent and devoted service to Millsaps College. Dr. Dunn also presented the 2022 Distinguished Professor Award to Dr. Kurt Thaw, professor of psychology.
The class of 2022 will go in many directions after graduation. Many students plan to attend graduate school, like Walter Johnson, Jr., of Kenner, La. Several students will begin medical school in fall 2022, including Dhruv Patel of Hattiesburg, Miss. (B.S., mathematics). Many already have employment in place, including Lindsey Gordon of Sylacauga, Ala. (B.A., communications studies) who will be working for the Walt Disney Company. Others are opting to take a well-earned break before entering the workforce, such as Magill Grunfeld of Jackson, Miss. (B.A., psychology) who will be venturing to Mexico to excavate ancient ruins before returning to work for the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.