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Kids Kollege Robotics class learn programming and design techniques

Students in Robotics at Northwest Mississippi Community College’s Kids Kollege are learning basic programming for robots and designing and building robots to solve problems. Participants and leaders in the class are first row (l-r) Matthew Crawford of Looxahoma, Riley Turner of Senatobia, Pate Carter of Hernando, Thomas Hall of Senatobia, Tucker Waddle of Hernando, Carter Freeze of Nesbit, Max Horton of Robinsonville, Omarion Geter of Senatobia and Michael Lamb of Strayhorn. Second row (l-r) are Lane Peeples of Coldwater, Isaac Howlett of Hernando, Tyler Sartain of Lake Cormorant, Joe Thompson of Coldwater, Michael Williams of Byhalia, Evan Lynch of Hernando and Abby Grace Yancey of Senatobia. Third row (l-r) is Micah Crawford of Looxahoma, Darren Adams of Senatobia, Alex Freeze of Nesbit, Stephen Bateman of Coldwater, Landon Armstrong of Senatobia, Mark Peeples of Coldwater and Cooper Hadley of Senatobia. Instructors are Shelia Hadley and Amy Peeples. (Photo by LaJuan Tallo)

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Spots available at Sept. 14 Northwest 2+2 Golf Tournament

Spots are available for the annual BancorpSouth and Northcentral Electric Power Association 2+2 Scholarship Golf Tournament, which benefits students at Northwest Mississippi Community College and The University of Mississippi at the DeSoto Center. The tournament will be held on Thursday, Sept. 14 at the Cherokee Valley Golf Club in Olive Branch. The money raised from the tournament will go to the 2+2 Scholarship Initiative for scholarships to both colleges. Since its beginning, the tournament has generated over $200,000 toward scholarships. The entry fee is $100 per person or $400 per team and includes greens and cart fees, goodie bags, beverages, lunch and dinner.  Participants may choose to start at either 8 a.m. or 1 p.m. There will be first, second and third place prizes, a $5,000 putting contest, closest to pin and longest drive contests, a silent auction and complimentary range balls prior to tee off. In addition to teams, the tournament is also looking for sponsors. Platinum Sponsors, which are $7,500, will receive four complimentary teams with recognition as a Beverage Cart Sponsor. Gold Sponsors, which are $5,000, will receive three complimentary teams with recognition as a Practice Range Sponsor. Silver Sponsors, which are $2,500, will receive two complimentary teams with recognition as Sponsor of the Longest Drive or Closest to Pin contest. Bronze Sponsors, which are $1,000, will receive one complimentary team with recognition as a Hole Sponsor. Putting Contest Sponsors, which are $1,500, will receive a banner recognizing the sponsor at the $5,000 Putting Contest. These sponsors will all be recognized with their name on the sponsors’ appreciation board and on the entry form. A Team Sponsor is $400 for a four -person team. A Hole Sign Sponsor is $200. For more information, contact Mike and Debra Herrington, tournament founders and directors at 901-831-1134, Patti Gordon, director of Alumni Affairs and Development Operations at 662-560-1112 or pgordon@northwestms.edu  or Kacy Dixon, coordinator of Student Services (University of Mississippi) at 662-231-4988 or kdixon@olemiss.edu.  Pictured:  The annual BancorpSouth/Northcentral Electric Power Association 2+2 Scholarship Golf Tournament, which benefits students at Northwest Mississippi Community College and The University of Mississippi at the DeSoto Center will be held on Thursday, Sept. 14 at the Cherokee Valley Golf Club in Olive Branch. Last year’s first place winners were (l to r) Wayne Williamson of Olive Branch, Trey Goode of Memphis and Perry Arrington and Cameron Thomas, both of Oxford. (Photo by Julie Bauer)    

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Northwest alumnus pursues his passions in writing and music

World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma once said, “Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you're passionate about something, then you're more willing to take risks.” Following his passions is one of the things that defines Michael Lacey, Northwest Mississippi Community College alumnus and DeSoto Center tutor. In addition to helping his students succeed, Lacey has taken the risk to follow his passions in pursuing a career in music and in becoming a published author. Both of these passions have enabled him to spread his Christian faith to others. Lacey grew up in Southaven until eighth grade, when his parents moved their family to an area near Branson, Missouri. His parents had owned their own cleaning business, and sold their company to take their sons to a quieter place. “They didn’t like the kids we were hanging out with, and felt we needed a change. So, they sold everything here, bought land and built their own house. We worked and lived off the land, selling firewood and lumber. They sold everything here, bought land and built their own house. It was one of the best things they could have done for us, although I didn’t like it at the time,” Lacey said. He attended Reeds Spring High School in Stone County, Missouri and then went to University of Missouri-Rolla for three semesters to pursue engineering, before transferring to Arkansas State University. “I realized that was not the path for me and I changed my mind a couple of times,” Lacey said. He and his family then returned to the area and Lacey started attending Northwest’s DeSoto Center studying and earned his Associate in Arts in Business Administration. He went on to the University of Mississippi-DeSoto and earned his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with a minor in English. He met his wife, the former Ashton Allman, when he attended church at Kirby Woods Baptist Church. Ashton is an eighth-grade teacher at Lewisburg Middle School. They are the parents of an 11- month old son, Nathan. When Lacey was a student, he took a class called “Career and Life Planning” from Charlie Aaron, psychology instructor at Northwest, that required him to do a mock job interview. One of the people who interviewed him was Kitt Albritton Brand, who was the former CTE Disability and Support Services Coordinator at DeSoto Center. Brand was so impressed with Lacey, she offered him a job in the Tutoring Center. Lacey has been a tutor at Northwest for nine years. He also teaches a Business Mathematics class. “I love tutoring here and connecting with the students. It is wonderful to build relationships with my students,” Lacey said. “Since I transferred to Desoto Center six years ago to work with our ADA students and to oversee the tutoring lab, I have had the privilege of working closely with Michael.  Although he is a quiet and fairly private person, he is one of the smartest and most talented people I know.  He knows his math and has a special way with students. He has helped more students than I can count go from a failing grade in math to a C, B and even an A in several instances and is an asset to our tutoring lab,” said Patsy Gardner, CTE Support Services coordinator. Lacey is also a part-time worship leader at his church, Life Fellowship Church, where he plays guitar and sings. “My mother was a big influence in my pursuit of music. She wrote songs and sang to us all of our lives. I don’t feel I was naturally musical, but she encouraged me to chase that dream. I worked on it and taught myself,” Lacey said. He started playing guitar at age 20, using online resources to teach himself.  In addition to playing at church, he plays alone, with his wife or with a band at local venues. In July 2016, Lacey cut his first CD at Blue Sky Studio in Jackson. The CD is entitled “The Diver and the Deep.”  All the songs on the CD were written by Lacey. “These are the songs that people seemed to like the best when I was playing either by myself or with a couple of guys, so I put them together on this CD,” Lacey said. “In between tutoring students, Michael is constantly reading, writing or preparing for worship at his church.  He is also a wonderful husband and father. I am proud of him and all of his accomplishments and appreciate his faith, integrity and the impact he has had on our students here at Desoto Center,” Gardner said. His other passion has been to write a book. He had started a couple of books and never finished them. He says he decided to follow a mantra he had heard in the past, “done is better than perfect” and give it a try. He found a program online called the “Self-Publishing School,” which he followed and ended up self-publishing his book, “As We Fight: A Weekly Guide Through the Warfare of Worship,” which came out in February 2017. Lacey had already been making notes to put together devotionals to encourage his worship team. He put together 52 devotionals for each Sunday of the year as the basis of his book. “It is about the four fights we face: against our flesh, the enemy, our culture and the fights we face together with leadership,” Lacey said. Lacey’s book is available through Amazon, he said.  To learn more about his book visit aswefightbook.com and on Instagram. His music is available through MichaelLaceyMusic.com and Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Noisetrade. Lacey explained that his book and his CD are exclusive of one another. He has followed two passions in his life and reached a milestone in both. “I hope one day they will be more consistent with one another. I’ve just chased passions whenever they were in front of me,” Lacey said. He will be doing some book signings and also concerts in and around North Mississippi this summer and into the fall.

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Northwest Nursing Division implements new admission requirements

Northwest Mississippi Community College’s Division of Nursing has announced new requirements for application to the college’s Associate Degree Program in Nursing. According to Nursing Division Director Dr. Denise Bynum, the new changes will go into effect for the class beginning in January 2018. “This is not going to apply to people who have been accepted for the classes beginning this fall. It will start with the applicants who apply between August 1 and September 15, who will start their classes in January of next year,” Bynum said. She explained that the changes are a result of researching other schools in Mississippi and around that have high board pass rates and good completion rates. She and her faculty also looked at current literature. “We wanted to see what we needed to change to make sure our students are successful,” Bynum said. Bynum stated that applicants will now be required to take an entrance exam before applying to the nursing program. The National Nursing League’s (NLN) PAX Entrance Test, is a basic math and reading test, and not a test of nursing knowledge. According to NLN, the primary purpose of the PAX is “to facilitate admission decisions by providing nurse educators with a standardized instrument to use as a common ‘yardstick’ for evaluating the academic ability of applicants to nursing programs.” She said that the test can be accessed on the Northwest website, so that students can sign up easily. The cost for the test is $39. Students must make a certain score to be considered for application. A $20 proctoring fee (cash or money order) is due on the day of the test. Another change to the application process is the addition of two more prerequisite courses. In addition to the current prerequisite course of Anatomy and Physiology (A&P) I and its lab, applicants must also have completed A&P II and its lab, and College Algebra before applying to the program. “The courses need to be completed and on their transcript before they apply,” said Leslie Legendre, Nursing Division administrative assistant. The composite ACT and the ACT Science score will now be considered, Bynum said. She said that previously, ACT composites and Reading scores were considered. Lastly, the required grade point average (GPA) will be 2.50, which is up from the current 2.0 that is currently required. “All of the prerequisite classes must now have a 2.5 with all attempts only in the past seven years counted. Those are all averaged into the GPA for those three classes only. Research shows us that it is science and math that matters in learning nursing,” Bynum said. The Nursing Division will hold two free Informational Sessions for anyone interested in applying to the ADN program. Interested applicants may attend on either of these dates: Sunday, July 16 at 2 p.m. or Thursday, Aug. 3 at 2:30 p.m.  “There is no prior sign up required for the sessions. Anyone who is interested in applying just needs to come and bring a friend or family member,” Bynum said. According to Bynum, those attending the sessions will have an opportunity to meet some of the faculty and get a tour of the building to include a tour of the state of the art simulation laboratory. Attendees will learn about admission criteria, the application process, competitive criteria for admission and how to increase their chances of being admitted to the program. For more information on the new admission requirements or to sign up for an informational session, please visit the nursing section of the Northwest website at northwestms.edu/nursing or contact Bynum at dtbynum@northwestms.edu

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Kids Kollege continues with new "Light your spark" class

Students in “Light Your Spark” at Northwest Mississippi Community College’s Kids Kollege are engaging in active and hands-on projects to find out what they are passionate about. Participants are first row (l-r) Christopher Moore of Horn Lake and Garrett Taylor of Coldwater and second row (l-r) Destinee Lopez of Senatobia, Joseph Thompson of Coldwater, Hannah Rivero of Senatobia and Alonna Shankle of Hernando. Back row (l-r) are Maria Lopez of Senatobia, Jacey Kowalski of Sarah, Amiracle Smith of Senatobia and Laura Brambaugh-Robertson, Mississippi State University Extension agent, instructor. (Photo by LaJuan Tallo)

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Northwest student overcomes struggles to pursue degree  

Danielle Henry’s journey has always been a difficult one. But the recent Northwest Mississippi Community College graduate is not one to let obstacles and struggles dictate her life. Henry, who has Asperger Syndrome, recently graduated from Northwest with special honors. Henry, who lives in Walls, studied accountancy at Northwest. On May 12, she received her Associate of Arts. She has been on the President’s List and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She plans to attend either Mississippi State University or the University of Mississippi. Both have offered her scholarships. “Danielle is very aware of everything she struggles with on a daily basis and those struggles are real, but she has overcome a lot of those struggles. She is a hard worker and has great grades, despite the fact that this was her first time being away from home,” said Gerald Beard, Northwest Disability Support Services coordinator. “Aspergers is an extra hurdle, and Danielle has jumped that hurdle on a regular basis.” Henry was not diagnosed until she was in the spring of her junior year of high school. She says that one way she overcomes her struggles is by keeping busy. She does take some medication for anxiety, which she says helped her tremendously in her senior year of high school. “I’ve always had a narrow way of thinking, to the point where it caused me a lot of strain. By that I mean, I always wanted to stick on a path, and if anything else happened, it would irritate me. So taking this medication kind of relaxed that,” Henry said. Henry lived on campus during her time at Northwest, which for her was a big step. She dealt with that challenge by keeping busy. “I resisted the urge to go home,” Henry said, smiling. She felt she had a pretty good roommate experience, but usually keeps to herself, she said. Henry says that her overall experience at Northwest was a positive one. “Most of my teachers have been very good. Mr. Beard has been a big help in the whole experience,” Henry said. She has clear goals in mind. After finishing her bachelor’s, she plans to become a Certified Public Accountant. “I’ve always been good in math, which is why I am studying accounting,” Henry said. Beard said that he has seen Henry make great strides, especially in communication with others, since coming to Northwest, and that it was because she took ownership of her experience. “It is best when students with disabilities do what Danielle did. She came to orientation, decided what services she needed and made a plan. Lots of times, students try to navigate through on their own, and I don’t see them until there is a crisis and they are already behind in school,” Beard said. Henry had some advice for others facing challenges in coming to college. “Make sure your teachers know that you have a mindset that is different from other students. Consult regularly with your adviser at the Disability Center. It’s kind of up to you to keep them well-informed, because they cannot help you if they don’t know that something’s wrong,” Henry said. For more information on Northwest’s Disability Services, contact Beard at 662-562-3309 or email gbeard@northwestms.edu.    

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Joe Beckum Endowment established at Northwest      

  The Joe B. Beckum Endowment was established by his wife, Jean, his daughter, Dolores, and by many friends, in recognition of his service as a U. S. Marine during World War II and of his successful business career. Beckum was born in 1926 to Joe Robert and Minnie Beckum. He died in 2012 at the age of 86.  At the time of his death, he and his wife had been married for 66 years. A graduate of Minter City High School, Beckum worked with IC Railroad in New Orleans prior to enlisting in the U.S. Marines Corps, where he fought in the historic World War II Battle of Peleliu.  He continued to serve in China until the end of World War II.  After returning to the Mississippi Delta, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Business from Delta State University and later earned a law degree from the University of Memphis in 1962. Most of his business career was spent with Holiday Inn where he worked in the franchise division until his retirement in 1985.  He continued his entrepreneurial skills by managing his personal rental property for many years. Joe and Jean enjoyed many years of travel literally around the world.  Their travels took them to the majority of the European countries, Australia, New Zealand, and China.  His love of fishing took him to Alaska on five different occasions.  In addition, they took tours of the United States, traveling to almost every state. An avid University of Memphis Tigers fan, Joe would, on many occasions, treat the football team to a fish fry at his home.  In addition, he used to gather up the neighborhood teens on Friday night to take them to football games at Crump Stadium in Memphis, treating them after the game to barbecue at the famous Leonard’s Barbecue. It was after he and Jean moved to Senatobia that Beckum joined the McDonald’s Coffee Group each morning, where he endeared himself to a group of men who met each morning for coffee and lively discussions of world events.  One of those men, former Northwest Head Football Coach Bobby Franklin, influenced Joe to begin attending church which led to a personal faith decision by Beckum at the age of 81, at which time he was baptized. Joe and Jean are the parents of two children, Jon Charles Beckum and Dolores Beckum Wooten, and the grandparents and great-grandparents to five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Sybil Canon, associate vice president of Development and Special Projects knew Beckum  for many years. “Mr. Joe Beckum was a self-made man. He used his intellect, his initiative, and his creativity to be a generous provider for his family, all of whom he loved very much.  He used his strength and his courage to become a decorated soldier during World War II.  He used his good nature to become a part of the community in which he retired. He used his heart to follow the Lord.  We are truly honored to have a scholarship that bears this distinctive name,” Canon said. The first scholarship has been awarded for the 2017-18 academic year.  Future scholarships will be awarded to students demonstrating promise and financial need. For more information about the Northwest Foundation, contact Canon at 662-560-1103 or e-mail srcanon@northwestms.edu.  

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Patricia Miller Endowment established at Northwest        

The Patricia Miller Endowment was established by the Northwest Mississippi Community College Division of Natural Sciences, under the leadership of the director, Robin Robison. Family members, friends, and colleagues also contributed to the endowment. A native of Oxford, Miller’s higher education began at The University of Mississippi where she studied for three and a half years before transferring to the University of Tennessee at Martin. She received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from UT-Martin. She received her master’s degree in Biological Sciences from Mississippi State University.  Her master’s thesis was on “Foraging Ecology of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker,” an endangered woodpecker in the Southeast. Prior to coming to Northwest, she was the curator for the Mississippi Entomological Museum at Mississippi State University and was also an adjunct assistant professor at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah.  Her interest in spiders began almost 40 years ago, and her massive spider collection of over 140,000 specimens representing over 600 species from Mississippi alone is presently housed at Ole Miss. In her retirement, she continues to publish on spiders.  Her most recent submission is on a genus of wolf spider, “The Genus Trochosa in North America,” coauthored with a colleague in Canada. Miller began teaching at Northwest in August 1989 and retired in 2014, after 25 years of teaching biology on the Senatobia campus. When she began teaching, Bobby King, her division director, told her that he wanted the non-major students to have a consistent and excellent experience in biology and the labs.  She taught nine sections of the same lab every week with a motto that endured until her 25th year - “Every class, every lab deserves the very best.” Miller’s other interests include genealogy, photography, gardening (flowers and vegetables), and her church.  Her son, William, lives in Baltimore where he is a lead computer game designer.  Her partner, Gail Stratton, is also a biologist and a recently ordained minister. Her desire after retirement was to “do” biology rather than teach it.  Immediately after retirement, Miller took a course in mycology, the study of fungi, at Ole Miss.  She has collected, measured, photographed and identified over 1,000 specimens of fungi and is uploading them to a worldwide, searchable database.  Her collection will be deposited in The University of Mississippi Pullen Herbarium. For more information about the Northwest Foundation, contact Sybil Canon, associate vice president of Development and Special Projects at 662-560-1103 or e-mail srcanon@northwestms.edu. Pictured: The Patricia Miller Endowment has been established at Northwest Mississippi Community College by the Division of Natural Sciences. Miller taught biology at Northwest for 25 years. (Photo submitted)

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Renasant Bank Endowment established at Northwest   

The Renasant Bank Endowed Scholarship has been established through gifts to the Two Plus Two Scholarship Initiative, according to Sybil Canon, associate vice president of Development and Special Projects. When the initiative began, Renasant Bank pledged $25,000 to the initiative, which was divided between the Northwest Mississippi Community College Foundation and The University of Mississippi Foundation. Under the leadership of Shawn Clayton, Renasant Division president, the decision was made to increase the pledge to $40,000, making it possible for a named endowment at both Northwest and Ole Miss. In addition to the named endowment, Renasant has served as a bronze sponsor for the Two Plus Two Scholarship Golf Tournament, held annually at Cherokee Valley Golf Club in Olive Branch.  Thus, the total giving to the Two Plus Two Scholarship Initiative is $56,000. In establishing this endowment, Clayton emphasized Renasant’s commitment to the communities they serve. “Our bank is dedicated not only to serving our customers with the highest banking standards, but also to reaching out into the communities to provide a helping hand in many endeavors, not the least of which is education.  We are pleased to partner with Northwest with this scholarship,” Clayton said. “The banking community has been extremely supportive of our efforts to provide scholarships to students. Since 1999, Renasant Bank has been wonderfully generous to Northwest and its students. We are very appreciative of their gifts and their interest in helping our students,” Canon said. The Renasant Bank Endowed Scholarship will be awarded to DeSoto County students.  The first scholarship for the 2017-18 academic year has been awarded to Destiny Roberts of Horn Lake. For more information about the Northwest Foundation, contact Canon at 662-560-1103 or e-mail srcanon@northwestms.edu. Pictured: The Renasant Bank Endowed Scholarship has been established through gifts to the Two Plus Two Scholarship Initiative, divided between the Northwest Mississippi Community College Foundation and The University of Mississippi Foundation.  Recently, the decision was made to increase the pledge to $40,000 from the original $25,000 pledge, making it possible for a named endowment at both Northwest and Ole Miss. Pictured (l-r) are Sybil Canon, associate vice president of Development and Special Projects, Shawn Clayton, Renasant Division president, scholarship recipient Destiny Roberts of Horn Lake, Jeremy Isome, dean of DeSoto Center and Richie Lawson, Northwest vice president for Education. (Photo by Julie Bauer)    

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Wooten scholarship announced at Northwest Foundation board meeting               

  At its second quarterly meeting, the Northwest Mississippi Community College Foundation honored Dolores Wooten, Northwest director of Alumni Affairs and Foundation Operations.  Wooten will be retiring at the end of June, and this was her last board meeting as a Northwest employee. Sybil Canon, associate vice president of Development and Special Projects, announced that the Dolores Beckum Wooten Endowed Scholarship has been fully endowed and that the Foundation Board of Directors, both present and past members, provided over $9,000 toward the $12,000 that has been raised for that effort. Former board members were also invited to attend the meeting.  Among those was Dr. Robert L. Smith of Hernando, who has also served as past president of the Northwest Alumni Association.  “Dolores Wooten has worked tirelessly for the Alumni Association in helping alums to organize reunions and to re-connect with their first college.  She will certainly be missed,” Smith said. Gale Cushman, president of the Northwest Foundation Board of Directors, commented on Wooten’s service to all areas of the Foundation. “The annual audit was presented at our meeting, as it has been for all of the years Dolores has handled the accounting for the Foundation and, as usual, it was a clean audit with no findings.  Our board is deeply appreciative to Dolores for her due diligence with the Foundation records, and with her servic e in so many areas to the Foundation,” Cushman said. Wooten began working at Northwest in 1995 as secretary for the Recruiting Office.  She later joined the Foundation Office.  Shortly after joining the Foundation Office, she was tapped to manage the alumni program and has planned and coordinated alumni Homecoming reunions and the Sports Hall of Fame.  Dolores coordinates the fundraising events sponsored by the Foundation Office, to include golf tournaments and rodeo events. In a tribute to Wooten at the meeting, Canon noted that Wooten earned her associate degree at Northwest and her bachelor’s degree at The University of Mississippi while she worked at Northwest.  She also informed the board that Wooten was in her third term as a Tate County Election Commissioner and that she was an active member of the Senatobia Lions Club and First Baptist Church. Following the tribute to Wooten, the board had its quarterly meeting and celebrated year-to-date earnings on the Northwest endowment of 4.1 percent, bringing the endowment value to $9.8 million with an additional $4.6 million awarded in scholarships since 1996. For more information about the Northwest Foundation, contact Canon at 662-560-1103 or e-mail srcanon@northwestms.edu. Pictured:  Congratulating Dolores Wooten on her upcoming retirement at the second quarterly meeting of the Northwest Foundation Board of Directors were (l-r) Mike Boren of Tunica, board member and president of the NWCC Alumni Association and board members Marty Allison of Sarah, and Gary Anderson of Byhalia. (Photo by Patti Gordon, scholarship coordinator/assistant, Development)    

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