“President Holtzclaw’s vision was that everybody, regardless of color, regardless of background, regardless of anything that might be in their way, deserved the opportunity to have an education. That’s still our mission here. That’s still why Hinds Community College and why the Utica Campus exist,” said Hinds President Dr. Stephen Vacik.
A highlight of the program was the annual surprise presentation of the William H. Holtzclaw award given to the person who best exemplifies Holtzclaw’s commitment to the students of Utica. Retired Utica Police Chief Percy Terrell was the recipient this year.
Retired Utica Campus Police Chief Percy Terrell, center, received the William H. Holtzclaw award at the Founder’s Day ceremony on March 24. With him are Hinds President Dr. Stephen Vacik, left, and Vice President Sherry Bellmon.
“Our honoree today warmed the students through his words, but backed them up with concrete actions through his many years of service to the students of this institution. He worked with students both in celebrating their moments of personal triumph and working through moments of distress, but always with the same caring spirit of our founder,” said English instructor Dan Fuller during his introduction of Terrell.
Dan Fuller presenting.
Terrell thanked everyone for the recognition and said he is enjoying his retirement. “I enjoyed my time that I was here. I enjoyed my job and I did the best I could, and with the help of the Lord I succeeded, he said.
Keynote speaker Dr. Casey Fisher, a local church pastor, talked about the importance of dreams, especially Holtzclaw’s dream to build a school for African American students in need of an education, especially during a time when Jim Crow laws ruled Mississippi.
Keynote speaker Dr. Casey Fisher
“In a time in America when we needed change, real change, God inspired those dreamers who were willing to be instruments of inspiration, when mountains were high and valleys were low. Only a God-sent man like William H. Holtzclaw could arrive in a rural town like Utica, Miss., on an old bike, with a pocket watch, two dollars and a dream could have impacted a town. His dream was to educate and emancipate regardless of ones financial or educational status,” he said.
Utica Campus students led the Founder’s Day ceremony. Program participants include, from left, Tiara Jackson, Faith Hanks, Devin Anderson, Vice President Sherry Bellmon, Hinds President Dr. Stephen Vacik, keynote speaker Dr. Casey Fisher, Jada Henderson, Sydney Burks, Jhada Carmel and Ezekiel Harris.