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Meridian dad, son and daughter graduate together at MSU-Meridian

Published: May. 12, 2022 at 1:22 PM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - MSU-Meridian held its spring commencement Thursday. For a trio of Meridian natives, it truly was a family affair.

Commandre Cole, his son, Ja’Coby Cole, and daughter, Iesha Gully, all received their diplomas in education. Iesha currently works at Northeast Elementary. Ja’Coby works at Oakland Heights Elementary and Commandre is employed by Northwest Middle School.

“This is a big accomplishment for our family,” said Iesha. “Just to keep driving and keep going forward and to lead by example and to show my younger siblings and the rest of my family that we can do it. We started strong and we finish strong.”

“I wouldn’t say it was planned because I started out playing sports,” said Ja’Coby. “I never thought I’d become a teacher just right away. I knew I’d have to have a backup plan so I thought about my mom, my dad’s and my sister’s footsteps. They’re all educators and I thought it’d be best for me to follow their footsteps.”

“Really my wife, she already has her specialist,” said Commandre. “She said you might as well go back to school with the kids. I decided to go back with them and we accomplished this and we’re all walking together.”

In all, 153 students, including 35 honor graduates, received their diplomas during ceremonies at the MSU Riley Center. MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum delivered the commencement address.

WTOK News 11 has a very special congratulations to our very own Nicholas Brooks, who received his bachelor’s degree in broadcast communications and also delivered the invocation.

Nicholas Brooks delivers the invocation at MSU Meridian's 2022 spring commencement.
Nicholas Brooks delivers the invocation at MSU Meridian's 2022 spring commencement.(WTOK)
MSU-Meridian held its spring commencement Thursday.
MSU-Meridian held its spring commencement Thursday.(WTOK)

Here’s more on Thursday’s MSU-Meridian graduation services:

Five graduates at Mississippi State University-Meridian are being recognized as outstanding students for the 2022 spring semester. They are among 153 students, including 35 honor graduates, six Riley Scholars and one Stephen D. Lee Scholar receiving diplomas Thursday [May 12] at 11 a.m. at the MSU Riley Center.

The honorees include:

—Caelan Martin of Philadelphia, Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the Division of Arts and Sciences and recipient of the Dennis J. Mitchell Award of Excellence. A psychology major, she is a highest honors graduate, Riley Scholar and recent inductee of Psi Chi National Honor Society. Martin, who aspires to become a behavior analyst, recently was accepted into the Master of Science in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis degree program at MSU’s Starkville campus.

—Tricia LaBiche of Meridian, Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the Division of Business. A highest honors graduate and Riley Scholar, LaBiche spent 18 years in the nursing field before she worked with the family’s jewelry business in downtown Meridian. After returning to her nursing roots, she later decided to return to school to study accounting, which had always been among her interests.

—Mariam Khmaladze of Meridian, Outstanding Graduate Student for the Division of Business. A professional MBA major and credit analyst II at Citizens National Bank, Khmaladze worked during the pandemic to become an American citizen and return to school. As an undergrad at MSU-Meridian she was recognized as the 2018 Outstanding Undergraduate Student, as well as the recipient of the university’s premier Spirit of State Award.

—Mari Williams of Hattiesburg, Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the Division of Education. A first-generation college graduate, she participated in the Professional Advancement Network for Teacher Assistants initiative at MSU-Meridian. PANTA helped Williams, a first-grade assistant at Purvis Elementary School, become a licensed teacher and complete her elementary education degree.

—Morgan Melton of Enterprise, Outstanding Graduate Student for the Division of Education. A counselor education major, Melton received her undergraduate degree in psychology from MSU and begins working as a therapist this month with The Crossings at Alliance Health Center, an adolescent residential treatment center in Meridian. She and her husband David are the proud parents of an 18-month-old daughter, Naomi.

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