Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College held its annual commencement ceremony on May 8 at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum. More than 900 of the 2,134 students receiving degrees participated in the commencement ceremony.
Dr. Mary S. Graham congratulated students on their achievement and pointed out that 3,130 degrees were awarded this year, a 37.9 percent increase in degrees earned compared to 2012-2013. “The increase in degrees earned this year is a true testament to your dedication to furthering your education, and to our dedication to see our students succeed. Your success is a credit to you, as well as to the institution,” she said. “This year Gulf Coast produced many outstanding students who have brought recognition to themselves and to the college. We commend the academic excellence achieved by this year’s graduating class.”
The guest speaker at this year’s commencement ceremony was Dr. Walter Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges. Bumphus has a long history of involvement in higher education in the United States. Prior to this position as CEO of AACC, he served as a professor in the Community College Leadership Program and as chair of the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Texas at Austin. He also served as the president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, 2001 to 2007, and is now president emeritus of the system. He holds a bachelor’s degree in speech communications and a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from Murray State University, and a doctorate in higher education administration from the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin.
Bumphus encouraged students to continue with the positive strides they have made by receiving their two-year degrees as they continue with education at a university or education in the workforce. “You should be proud of your accomplishments, and as you leave here tonight, look to your future,” he said. “Remember that education is the key to success, so continue to seek learning opportunities throughout your life.”
Graduate Bobby Buntyn, who received a Lyceum scholarship to attend The University of Mississippi, said he is looking forward to the next phase of his life. “I have had such a wonderful time at Gulf Coast, and I feel it has prepared me well for attending the university,” he said. “I’m sad about leaving the great faculty and staff and the friends I’ve made at the Jefferson Davis Campus, but I’m also excited to move on.” Buntyn plans to major in pre-medicine and eventually become an oncologist.
Stacy Moseley, a graduate from the Perkinston Campus, said that commencement marks a significant milestone in her life. “I work full time and am a single mom,” she said. “ I also struggle with fibromyalgia, which sometimes makes working and school difficult for me. Having made it this far and being here tonight to celebrate that achievement is wonderful.” Moseley is planning to major in education and special education, with acknowledgements in science.