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By earning degree early, JSU grad is the first from hometown high school to finish college

Rebekah Lee recently received her degree in public health from the School of Public Health. She said professors at JSU “encouraged me to stay the course, shaped me and so much more.” (Photo by William Kelly III/JSU)

Rebekah Lee recently received her degree in public health from the School of Public Health. She said professors at JSU “encouraged me to stay the course, shaped me and so much more.” (Photo by William Kelly III/JSU)

L.A. Warren Newest Byline

JSU’s School of Public Health graduate Rebekah Lee wants everyone to know that hard work and dedication will pay off and resulted in her earning her bachelor’s degree a year early and becoming the first from her hometown high school to finish college.

Lee, an honors student, participated in a combined graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremony Friday, Dec. 8, in the Lee E. Williams Athletics and Assembly Center.

Before enrolling at JSU, she graduated from Legacy Early College, a charter school in Greenville, S.C., that was formed in 2010 and serves nearly 1,400 students in grades K5-12.

She credits JSU for her success because “my professors encouraged me to stay the course, shaped me and so much more. HBCUs help you love school and take pride in your culture. JSU educators made me realize that you can create a future for yourself if you put in the time and effort to make your dreams come true.”

Lee recalls that when she first moved to Mississippi she didn’t know anyone.  She said learning new friends and the environment was difficult at first, but JSU helped her cope with the transition. Her scholarship to attend JSU eased the burden of paying for education. Without the worry of finances, she was able to focus on her studies and complete her academic program a year early after having taken dual credit college classes while still in high school.

Her family and friends watched as she walked across the stage to receive her degree. The founder of Legacy also traveled from South Carolina to celebrate Lee’s accomplishments.

Legacy administrator William Brown said, “Because of Miss Lee, all the other students – commonly referred to as scholars – will aim to copy her accomplishments. And, the natural thing for them to say will be ‘if she can do it, I can do it, too.’ She’s an incredible leader who sacrifices and does what it takes to succeed.”

Brown, also board chair of Legacy, said JSU has done an “exceptional” job guiding and assisting Lee through the educational process. “Jackson State University has gone above and beyond to guarantee her success.”

He said other Legacy graduates are expected to follow a similar path by enrolling into higher-education institutions after the first full senior class receives high school diplomas in the spring.

As for Lee, the future nurse has earned scholarship offers to pursue her master’s degree in public health.