Scholars are honored at Monday event

THE DAILY LEADER / RHONDA DUNAWAY / Lincoln County Mississippi Scholars graduates for 2014 were honored Monday night at a special program at Easthaven Baptist Church.  Students from  every high school in the county were represented in the graduating class of Scholars.

THE DAILY LEADER / RHONDA DUNAWAY / Lincoln County Mississippi Scholars graduates for 2014 were honored Monday night at a special program at Easthaven Baptist Church. Students from every high school in the county were represented in the graduating class of Scholars.

Area colleges and businesses contributed more than $123,000 in scholarships to area seniors bound for college at the Lincoln County Mississippi Scholars Banquet Monday night.

State Secretary of Agriculture Cindy Hyde-Smith spoke to a crowd of Mississippi Scholars, their families and friends in Easthaven Baptist Church. Every student in the Lincoln County Mississippi Scholars program who applied for a scholarship received one.

Emcee for the event and Mississippi Scholars sponsor Kenny Goza said this is the ninth year for Lincoln County to recognize scholars. In the first year there were only 26 students in the program. Monday night, 174 local seniors received money to go to college.

The Mississippi Scholars program encourages students to take a more rigorous course of study. It requires a 95 percent attendance rate, a 2.5 GPA and community service. Working with the local Scholars each year are Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce officials, elected officials, area businesses persons and other volunteers.

This year’s program also recognized the inaugural class of a new program, the Mississippi Tech Master Scholars. Ten members of the graduating class

State Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith speaks during the Mississippi Scholars recognition program Monday night.

State Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith speaks during the Mississippi Scholars recognition program Monday night.

earned this distinction, with nine of those also graduating as Mississippi Scholars, too.

Goza said the community in Lincoln County enthusiastically supports the best in education and thanked local businesses, legislators and educators in the room for being a part of that.

“We have the best group of people in education to work with here in Lincoln County,” Goza said. “The teachers, staff and parents are passionate about education.”

He added that the businesses in the Lincoln County area are big supporters of the scholars program and contributed $42,000 in scholarships to area students.

Mississippi’s Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith was the keynote speaker and brought words of wisdom and encouragement as a send-off to seniors heading off on their own.

“Always count your blessings,” she said. She cautioned, “Freedom is right around the corner, and the watchful eye of mom and dad won’t be around, so remember, respect your body. When in doubt about a social situation, say no.”

She told seniors to surround themselves with people who are where they want to be.

“You are as successful as those you surround yourself with,” she said, “so, surround yourself with those who encourage you and inspire you.”

Hyde-Smith had good advice for building personal growth and character, too.

“Be afraid of the life you never lived because you were too afraid to take the first step,” she said. “The harder you work, the luckier you get, so whatever career you decide upon, do that thing better than anybody else. If you are a painter, do it better than anyone else. If you are a doctor, be the best doctor, if you are a widget-maker, be the best widget maker.

“Don’t let your insecurities hold you back. Everyone has insecurities. Start today accepting the apologies you never got – don’t let old anger and grudges hold you back.”

Hyde-Smith had one last strong piece of advice for scholars.

“And, know this seniors, employers will check Facebook, so make sure you are OK with what is on there,” she said to chuckles from the crowd. “Remember, you can be anything. So, get out there and ‘be.'”

 

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