Southwest's Class of 2012 Encouraged to "Be a Part of the Solution"

Numbering 1,791; our largest graduation class ever, the candidates of Southwest's 2012 graduating class had marched three-point symmetry into the Landers Center arena in Southaven, MS and taken their seats to receive their seal of approval on May 5. They had, after all, done the work and put in the time said student speaker Erin Mullinax. "We all spent countless hours bent over textbooks, wrote what felt like thousands of papers and took just as many tests. But most of all we all reached for our dreams and no matter how many obstacles were thrown in our way, we overcame them all and made it here today," Mullinax proudly said to her fellow classmates.

Commencement speaker, the Honorable Mark Luttrell, Shelby County Mayor, took a vicarious look at the challenges the graduates experienced in their pursuit of a college degree, "the many hours put into papers, note taking, doing research … it finally all paid off," said Luttrell. Having met that benchmark, he set a goal for the graduates' future success. "Now that you are here, I welcome you to 'be a part of the solution.' For years you've been the recipient of the wisdom of the faculty of this great school. Now with the degree of challenges that lie ahead of you, we ask you to be a solution to all the issues that face us as a society," he said, laying out edicts: "Challenge yourself to perfect your abilities; use your toolbox of knowledge and experience; learn to let go, learn the jargon, learn the culture, best practices, and a range of career opportunities; and build relationships." He added, "Cultivate those relationships, they will be your way to continued success."

In each graduating class are students who've overcome extreme odds to reach this pinnacle. Among those Southwest President Nathan Essex recognized was Maria Gonzalez, an immigrant from Mexico who knew no English until she enrolled in the English as a Second Language Program. Gonzalez graduated with a 3.61 GPA. Robert Hale, laid off from the casino industry, persevered to graduate summa cum laude and was employed by MLGW. Also, dually enrolled Christopher Michael Taylor received two technical certificates; one in Electrical/Electronic Fundamentals and the other in Industrial Computer Fundamentals. He will also be receiving a diploma from Bolton High School. And graduates who served in the armed forces were honored.

Special guest U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen also extended congratulations to Southwest's Class of 2012.


Photo caption: Southwest Tennessee Community College 2012 Commencement.

Photo caption: Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell

Photo caption: Student Speaker Erin Mullinax (L) with Southwest President Nathan Essex.