Graduation photos of: : (1) Benjamin Fugatt (2) Casey Rutledge (3) Michael Peacock (4) Candace Robinson (5) Lyndzie HardyMississippi Gulf Coast Community College held its Spring 2024 Commencement Ceremonies on Wednesday, May 8 and Thursday, May 9 at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.  Nearly 900 students participated in the ceremony, and 3,262 degrees and certificates were awarded.

On Wednesday, May 8, the Adult Education Graduation Ceremony was held with more than 100 students participating and more than 130 individuals receiving their high school equivalency in the past academic year.

Among those walking across the stage were Benjamin Fugatt and Casey Rutledge. Fugatt, a husband and father originally from Gadsden, Alabama, moved to the Coast to become a general manager at a car wash in Biloxi.  He knew he wanted to go back to finish high school, and this past year seemed like a good time to make that goal a reality.

“I wanted to be able to better provide for my family,” he said.  “Education is the way to do that.  Next step, college at MGCCC and the cybersecurity program.”

Rutledge, who currently works at Shaggy’s in Biloxi, said her decision to return to school was much the same.  “I knew it was what I wanted to do when I left school but had never gotten around to doing it.  My boyfriend had continued to encourage me to finish, and I am so glad I did.”  She plans to attend MGCCC first and hasn’t decided what direction she wants to go in after that.

Prior to the college commencement ceremony, the School of Nursing and Health Professions held its Pinning and Recognition Ceremony. This event celebrated the accomplishments of nearly 300 students from various programs including Associate Degree Nursing, Emergency Medical Sciences (EMT), Practical Nursing, and more. Of those graduates, 250 participated in the Pinning Ceremony.

Michael Peacock, a graduate in Respiratory Care Technology, said he looks forward to starting a new job at University Hospital in Mobile.  He is scheduled to start in June. “I haven’t decided what’s next for me just yet.  I may go back for my bachelor’s degree at some point, but right now I just want to gain experience.”

Candace Robinson, who was in the Respiratory Therapist to RN Transition Program at the college’s Bryant Center, said she is excited about what lies ahead for her. She has an interview for a job the day after graduation. A single mother of two teenagers, she drove from Hammond, Louisiana, for her classes at MGCCC. “I’ve always known I wanted to work in health care and loved my job in Respiratory Care.  MGCCC has such a great reputation for its nursing programs that I knew this is where I wanted to come.  I am so glad I did. I am looking forward to working more closely with patients as a nurse, something I have wanted to do for a long time.”

The speaker at the College’s Commencement Ceremony held at 3 p.m. on Thursday was Brandon Elliott, owner and CEO of Elliott Homes in Gulfport. Not only has Elliott donated eight St. Jude Dream Homes and raised nearly $7 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, but he is also deeply involved in his community, serving as a leader in various capacities. He spoke to the students about facing adversity in life and how important it is to successfully navigate that adversity and see it as an opportunity for growth.

The college’s annual commencement ceremony is always a time of reflection for graduates, who are excited about the future but also remembering the happiness of their past few years at MGCCC. Among the students recognized at the commencement ceremony was Lyndzie Hardy, Reflections team leader, member of Phi Theta Kappa, and work study student at the Perkinston Campus. Hardy will be starting the Disney College Program in August.  “I am so excited to start this next phase in my life, but I will never forget MGCCC,” she said.  “The college has truly been a vital part of my life, in fact, I even graduated from Stone High School at the stadium on the Perkinston Campus. I am so thankful for everything I gained at MGCCC, from making good friends to learning so much that will prepare me for what lies ahead.”

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