Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College faculty members Ryan Pierini and Kate Sawyer, as well as student Anna Geter, were named William Winter Scholars this year. The three were recognized at the 33rd annual Natchez Literary & Cinema Celebration (NLCC) held February 24-26. They were among several dozen outstanding Humanities Division students, faculty members, and professionals from Mississippi’s universities, colleges, and community colleges honored at the celebration.
Pierini, who teaches performance arts at the Harrison County Campus, has a Master of Fine Arts from The University of Mississippi and a Bachelor of Arts in theatre arts from Georgia College and State University. He has taught at MGCCC for 21 years, has served as department chair, and is currently an advising coordinator. He is the former chair of the Mississippi Theatre Association’s College/University Division. In 2012, Pierini was named one of MGCCC’s Instructors of the Year and in 2019 he received the Mississippi Theatre Association’s Outstanding Contributions to Theatre Award.
Sawyer has a Master of Music in vocal performance from Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Music from Loyola University New Orleans. She is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and is president-elect of the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior College Choral Association. She has worked at MGCCC for six years as a music instructor and choral director at the Jackson County Campus. She was a Teaching Fellow at the International Performing Arts Institute in July 2021. She is the soloist and choir section leader at First Presbyterian Church Pascagoula, and is also a member of the PEO International, chapter D, service organization.
Geter of Ocean Springs is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, Baptist Student Union, Jackson County Campus Voices ensemble, and Jackson County Campus Choir. She received the Excellence in Applied Voice Award (2020 and 2021), Excellence in Public Speaking (2021) Award, and 2022 Who’s Who Among Students at MGCCC on the Jackson County Campus. She received the Elizabeth Thompson and JC Voices scholarships. In 2022, she was a finalist and placed third overall in the Musical Theater category of Opera Mississippi’s John Alexander National Voice Competition.
Winter Scholars are chosen by their educational institutions as the Humanities Division’s most outstanding student, faculty member, or professional. This award allows winners to attend the NLCC free of charge. The annual award also carries with it prestige and public acknowledgment of how highly the person is regarded by his or her institution.