PEARL – Chase Ezell, of Brandon, was among those who participated in graduation ceremonies held at Hinds Community College this week.
He considers himself and others in his graduating class survivors of not just the first two years of college, but of the biggest challenge the world has faced in their lifetimes.
“That common denominator we all share is our experience at Hinds during COVID-19,” Ezell said as he delivered his remarks to fellow students. Ceremonies were held with only graduates in attendance and under proper COVID-19 protocols. Ezell was among three student speakers in as many ceremonies May 13 inside the Muse Center on the Rankin Campus, which replaced the traditional guest speaker format. Families and friends watched via livestreaming.
A ceremony will also be held inside the J.D. Boyd Gymnasium at the Utica Campus May 15. Ezell is among 651 graduating either cum laude, with a GPA between 3.2 and 3.59, magna cum laude, with a GPA of 3.6 and 3.99, or summa cum laude, with a 4.0 GPA.
Nearly 1,000 students participated in one of the four ceremonies, including students eligible to participate in previous ceremonies cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, Hinds graduated 1,761 students.
“We want to fulfill our mission of helping you find your purpose, your passion and also your profession,” Hinds President Dr. Stephen Vacik said. “It’s not enough for us to educate this generation. We need you to stay here and help make Mississippi the very best it can be, to make our culture the very best it can be.”
Ezell described what it was like to be a student when the spring 2020 semester was interrupted by the pandemic and all classes went online.
“In addition to changes in our education, we have all had to deal with being unable to see our extended families during holidays, birthdays, and events like this one today,” he said. “And sadly, some students who started out in classes with us at Hinds are not here today because the virus caused issues that made it impossible for them to continue their education. But, for those of us here today, we made it. We persevered and we shared this unique experience.”
He is a member of the Gamma Lambda chapter of Phi Theta Kappa honor society and has worked as a tutor and in the Writing Center on the Raymond Campus. In addition, he held a membership in Student VOICES, the International Students and Friends Club and Alpha Beta Gamma, which is the international honor society for business students.
His instructors saw leadership skills in him throughout his time as a Hinds student.
“Chase Ezell is a model student – and I don’t mean a small imitation of the real thing,” said Mike Lee, who taught Ezell’s political science classes. “He contributed to class discussions and he studied. He has all the attributes of someone who will contribute positively to society.”
He attended Hinds on a presidential ACT scholarship and plans to continue his education at Mississippi College, in political science and psychology.