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Warm blanket, new heart for Port Gibson womanTomorrow. Every Day.Mississippi Miracles RadiothonLocal students among record number of graduates at UMMC's 57th Commencement
Published in CenterView on May 29, 2012
Keisha Bell, left, with mother, Leesha Bell
Keisha Bell, left, with mother, Leesha Bell

Commencement signifies new beginnings’ for many UMMC graduates, relatives

By Patrice Sawyer Guilfoyle

For some students, the University of Mississippi MedicalCenter’s Commencement on May 25
signified a new beginning.

 “What a great learning experience this has been for me,” said Dr. Zelma Cason, who received her Ph.D. in clinical health sciences. Cason was the Medical Center’s first cytotechnology graduate, earning a certificate in 1967.

“Young people, if you have a chance to maximize your education, go for it. I am a renewed and re-energized person right now, with a totally reinforced belief in the ultimate power of knowledge,” Cason said.

For other students, the reward of a dream realized was bittersweet.

Dr. Morgan Leigh Cowan, who earned the Waller S. Leathers Award for the medical student with the highest academic average for four years, was overwhelmed and surprised by the honor.

Her mother, Dr. Harriet Hampton, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, beamed with pride at her daughter’s accomplishment. Cowan is the daughter of the late Dr. Bryan Cowan, former chair and professor of obstetrics and gynecology.

“Morgan lost her dad last year, and she would have made him so proud. Making it through school through all that and caring for her dad, we are very proud of her,” she said.

A total of 614 physicians, dentists, nurses, allied health professionals and graduate students in the health sciences were awarded degrees during UMMC’s 56th Commencement at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.   

Dr. Dan Jones, University of Mississippi chancellor, and Dr. James Keeton, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, presided over the ceremony.

Jones reminded students of the honor of being a part of the Medical Center’s rich history of training health-care professionals.

“Those of you who will receive your degrees today and soon begin practicing the healing arts share a common legacy with all who have gone before you –and that is a mark of quality,” Jones said.

Keeton encouraged students to remember four things as they embark on their next journey.

“No. 1, this is only the beginning of your learning process,” he said. “Two, deal with others and those you serve with a deep respect for their differences. Third, our nation will continue to struggle with ways to care for the sick, and you can play a role in finding a solution to this struggle.

“The last one, just from me, is to have fun.”

In addition to Cowan, the four other students who received top honors were: 

•  Jon Thomas Flint of Meridian, who received the Wallace V. Mann Award for the dental student with the highest academic average for four years;

•  Adam Baker Welch of Madison, who received the Christine L. Oglevee Memorial Award as the outstanding School of Nursing baccalaureate graduate;

•  Melissa Brooke Porter of Clinton, who received the Dr. Virginia Stansel Tolbert Award for the highest academic average in the School of Health Related Professions; and

•  Scoty Michael Hearst of Clinton, who received the Charles Randall-Trustmark Award for
outstanding research achievement.

Dr Jones Commence 2012
Dr. Dan Jones,University of Mississippi chancellor, addresses  the graduates and their families.

Keeton Commence 2012
Dr. JamesKeeton, vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine,presents diplomas to medical school graduates.

SOD commence 2012
JerrickWalter-Lavar Rose, School of Dentistry class of 2012 president, receives hishood.

SON Commence 2012
Senior nursingstudents line up to recieve their diplomas.

SHRP Commence 2012
School of Health Related Professions graduates were amongmore than 614 to receive degrees at commencement.