Carissa Virgilio escorted by her father, Damian Virgilio, on the field at A.L. May Memorial Stadium during MGCCC’s Homecoming Day festivities.
Kristiana Payton escorted by her father, Kevin Payton, on the field at A.L. May Memorial Stadium during MGCCC’s Homecoming Day festivities.

Two Gulfport High School Seniors Win Homecoming Honors at MGCCC

Two Gulfport High students, both in Collegiate Academy at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, were named to the 2017 Jefferson Davis Campus Homecoming court. Carissa Virgilio and Kristiana Payton are both sophomores at MGCCC and will graduate from Gulfport High School in May. Both say they plan to walk at the MGCCC commencement ceremony this year.

About Carissa Virgilio

“I decided to run for homecoming maid at MGCCC because I never ran for it in high school and thought it would be great to give it a try,” Virgilio said.

Although I was a little nervous, I wasn’t too worried because it was just for fun.

She said that she has gotten to know quite a few college students at the campus through her participation on the Campus Activities Board and in Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. These campus connections, plus campaigning on social media and individually reaching out to people, helped in her campaign for Homecoming maid.

Virgilio said Collegiate Academy has been a great opportunity for her. “I highly recommend Collegiate Academy to others wanting to jumpstart their career paths. It gives you the taste of having to take responsibility for many things, including making the grade and committing to the field you’re interested in pursuing.”

Her mother, Susan Virgilio, said she was pleased with the opportunities offered to Carissa through Collegiate Academy. “It is an awesome program. She will be able to finish her associate degree and already be halfway through college when she graduates from high school. Plus, we know MGCCC is a great school and will help prepare her for the nursing program at the university level. I am thrilled she has done so well in the program, and I hope it continues to grow.”

About Kristiana Payton

Payton, a political science major, plans to attend law school and become a criminal defense attorney. On top of her school activities, she currently interns for a law firm in Biloxi.

“Collegiate Academy had been one of the greatest experiences for me,” she said. “Yes, of course going from being a high school junior to a college freshman in the blink of an eye was a big adjustment for me last year, but I made it work and had a great time doing it.”

She said she knew more of what to expect this year and made more connections at the college campus. “This year, I decided to get more involved in the school. I spend majority of my time with, MGCCC! I joined the Campus Activities Board and ran for sophomore Homecoming maid and made it!

I am, hopefully, representing not only the college in a bright light, but Gulfport High as well.

Planning to attend law school means several extra years of college, and Payton said Collegiate Academy made that more attainable for her. “I am excited about graduation in May and going into college in the fall as a junior with my associate degree already behind me! I’m so thankful for my parents, the high school and, of course MGCCC, for providing me with this great opportunity. Go, Bulldogs!”

Collegiate Academy is currently in operation at the George County Center, Jackson County Camps and Jefferson Davis Campus, and the college is in the process of expanding it to include the Perkinston Campus as well.

“Currently there are 74 students involved in Collegiate Academy from four high schools,” said Dr. Mary S. Graham, MGCCC president. “It will continue to grow as the students and their parents see the program as an exceptional opportunity to get ahead in college and in their careers. We would love to see students from all of the high schools in our district involved in the Academy.”

For more information on Collegiate Academy, visit or Dr. Jeremy Daughtry at 228.896.2510 or at the Jefferson Davis Campus; Dr. Terri Sasser at 228.497.7633 or at the Jackson County Campus; Bobby Ghosal at 601.928.6346 or at the Perkinston Campus; and Will Overstreet at 601.766.6434 or at the George County Center.

Want to begin your college journey? Learn more about enrolling at MGCCC.

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