This is a news release from Jones County Junior College
As a part of Jones County Junior College' Homecoming festivities last week, the college recognized three graduates as the school's 2014 Honor Alumni: Derrick Dease from the Class of 2002, Robin Robinson from the Class of 1976 and Dr. Milfred Valentine from the Class of 1961.
"These individuals all come from very diverse educational and career backgrounds, yet all of them began their studies at Jones," said JCJC president Dr. Jesse Smith.
A graduate of Taylorsville High School, Derrick Dease is the son of John and Cora Dease. He majored in forestry at Jones and was very active in the Forestry Club and also as a student worker in the Student Services Offices.
While at Jones, Dease was selected to participate in a summer internship at Colorado State University where he researched the preservation of wildlife and vegetation habitats in South Mississippi using global information systems.
"Soon after Derrick joined the JCJC Forestry Program we realized there was something different about him; he was a 'cut above the rest,' said instructor Jeff Keeton. "He displayed a very strong work ethic and moral background along with a willingness to learn. He was the prefect blank canvas for any instructor to work with. Derrick simply aspired to do better and to be better in all aspects of his academic career and, for a teacher, it is a joy to work with someone with that attitude."
Upon graduation from Jones, Dease attended CSU, earning his bachelor's degree in natural resource management. He then earned his master's degree in environmental management from the school of forestry and environmental studies at Yale University.
For his master's project in 2007, Dease founded the Resources for an Inclusive Future as a method to get young students from rural and urban communities interested in the environment around them. Dease partnered with Yale to sponsor the first RIF summer camp in Mississippi in conjunction with Mississippi State University, Alcorn State University, the Mississippi Forestry Commission and International Paper as co-sponsors.
"Jones laid the foundation that my time at Colorado State, Yale, and my career with International Paper were built on," Dease said. "It allowed me an opportunity to interact with faculty and administrative staff members that not only cared about my success at Jones, but also about me as an individual. I never felt like just a number on someone's enrollment sheet or just another student passing through campus. Without at doubt, I know everyone at Jones wanted me to be successful then, and they continue to root for my success today."
Dease resides in Murrels Inlet, South Carolina with where he is an environmental engineer for International Paper's Georgetown Mill in South Carolina. He has worked at other facilities in Vicksburg, Bastrop, Louisiana, and Memphis, Tennessee.
Robin Robinson came to JCJC as a graduate of Northeast Jones High School. She quickly became quite active in campus clubs and organizations. Robinson was the Student Government Association president and Homecoming Queen during her sophomore year. She was a class favorite and class president both of her years at Jones.
Robinson was the vice president of JCJC's Phi Beta Lambda Business Society and represented Jones at the PBL National Business Leadership Conferences from 1975-1979 and was a delegate to the Southern Regional Leadership Conferences from 1975-1977.
After graduating from Jones in 1976, Robinson attended the University of Southern Mississippi where she earned her bachelor's degree in business administration with an emphasis in accounting.
Soon after her USM graduation in 1978, Robinson began working at Sanderson Farms in Laurel. Since starting with Sanderson Farms as a cost accountant, she has held several positions with the corporation before attaining her current position as director of Organization Development and Corporate Communication in 2000.
"Robin and I have worked together at Sanderson Farms for 36 years and it's just been amazing and a pleasure for me to see all that she's accomplished," said Lampkin Butts, president and chief operating officer for Sanderson Farms. "Robin went to work at Sanderson at a time when there really was no female leadership at Sanderson or in most companies in Mississippi. Robin took a leadership role and became the first female chief accountant in our company and she later became the first female auditor in our company. She has worked her way up in our company and, because of her excellent work performance, she soon became the first female to serve on our company's executive committee."
Within the Sanderson organization, Robinson serves on the Sanderson Farms Executive Committee, the Diversity Committee and also chairs the Wage and Salary Committee.
In 2004, Gov. Haley Barbour appointed her to serve on the Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees. Barbour also appointed her to serve on the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Services and continues to serve in this capacity by appointment of Gov. Phil Bryant.
Robinson has served as president of the Mississippi Federation of Business and Professional Women, on the University of Southern Mississippi Alumni Association International Board of Directors and the Business Advisory Council.
Additionally, she serves on the board of directors for the Jones County Junior College Foundation, Inc., Mississippi Economic Council, Dixie Electric Power Association and the Mississippi Center for Obesity Research at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Robinson was named one of Mississippi's Leading Business Women, recognized by the Mississippi YWCA as a "Woman Who Makes a Difference," named as one of America's 2000 Notable Women, awarded the Most Distinguished Alumnae Award by the Mississippi-Louisiana Phi Theta Kappa, and inducted into the University of Southern Mississippi Alumni Hall of Fame and honored as a 2014 Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Greater Mississippi.
In her acceptance speech, Robinson gave credit for her career achievements to the educational foundation she received at JCJC.
"Devoted teachers, instructors and administrators at Jones who demanded that high standard of achievement from me and others, inspired me to believe that I could be successful; no matter where I was or what I was doing, I could be successful" she said.
Robinson and her husband, Sam Britton, reside in Jones County.
Jones County native Dr. Milfred Valentine came to JCJC in the fall of 1959. He quickly became involved in a variety of campus activities, particularly in the music department.
Valentine was a member of the College Choir and won numerous awards as a soloist and as a member of duets. He was also a member of the speech and debate teams and the Youth Congress. Valentine was president of the Forensic Club and the College Choir. For his many activities and achievements, he was named to the JCJC Hall of Fame.
Upon graduating from Jones, Valentine attended Louisiana State University where he received his bachelor's of music degree and his master's of music in voice degree. He then earned his doctor of philosophy in music education from the University of Southern Mississippi.
Then, Valentine came back home to JCJC. He served on the music faculty here for 28 years, 21 of them as chair of the Fine Arts Division. Under his leadership as director, the JCJC Concert Choir excelled. The choir toured much of the United States and enjoyed two concert tours to Europe, highlighted by concerts in Westminster Cathedral and Canterbury Cathedral in England, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, and St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland
In 1982, the group sang for the Southern Division American Choral Directors Association convention, the first junior college group to do this. Then, in 1987, his JCJC Concert Choirperformed Haydn's "The Creation" in Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in New York City, as the first Mississippi junior college to represent the state in this venue.
"There has never been a time when I did not know Milfred Valentine," said Dr. Mark Taylor, former director of the JCJC Concert Choir and current dean of academic affairs. "He was my music minister at church, my musical mentor in high school and college, my colleague when I was hired at Jones in 1988, and to this day he is my friend. Any success that I may have enjoyed is due in large part to the investment that he made in my life. I can never thank him enough for all that he has done for me and for my family."
Valentine retired from Jones County Junior College in 1992 to become the dean of music at William Carey College where he worked for 11 years.
In his spare time, Valentine serves as the conductor for the Mississippi Singing Churchmen, a group that performs throughout the state and has also performed abroad in places such as Argentina, Uruguay, Korea, Hong Kong, Russia, Ukraine, Peru and Chile.
Valentine has enjoyed a career as a college music instructor and minister of music for more than fifty years. In 2011, he received the Ernestine Ferrell Award for Excellence in Choral Music in Mississippi. To be selected for this prestigious award, one must have been active in Choral Music in Mississippi for at least 20 years and made significant contributions to the choral art.
Valentine is married to the former Linda Jones of Laurel, and they have two children, David and Vicki, and are the grandparents of five boys. He currently serves Prentiss Baptist Church as minister of music, and is often an adjudicator and guest clinician for community, school and church choral clinics and festivals.