JSU’s Vice President and Chief of Staff Dr. Debra Mays-Jackson will be among 12 distinguished individuals celebrated at the Hinds Community College (HCC) Utica Campus’ Vice President’s Scholarship and Hall of Honors Gala.
The event will be at 7 p.m. Friday, March 29, at the Clyde Muse Center in Pearl. The gala was established through the Hinds Community College Foundation in 2016 and was the vision of Mays-Jackson, a former vice president at Hinds and 1989 alumnus of the Utica Campus.
Two scholarships are awarded annually to assist students with financial needs – one in the academic category and the other in the career/technical category. Recipients retain the scholarship for up to four consecutive fall/spring semesters. They are selected by HCC’s District Scholarship Committee, which is appointed annually by the college president.
Determined to sustain Utica’s rich legacy, Mays-Jackson led the campus committee to establish the scholarship during the planning of the inaugural Vice President’s Scholarship and Hall of Honors Gala. That event was held during HCC’s Founder’s Week in March 2016.
“As a product of the historic Utica Campus, I am immensely honored to be recognized for my dream/vision of the gala and my life’s work,” said Mays-Jackson, who will receive the honor for education – which is one of 12 categories that will be recognized. “I am looking forward to a majestic event celebrating future students at the Utica Campus of Hinds Community College.”
Mays-Jackson was the first female vice president of the Utica Campus, Vicksburg-Warren Campus and the first African-American woman on the Hinds Community College President’s Cabinet. For four years, she supervised the operations of the Utica Campus, the Vicksburg-Warren Campus and was responsible for the administrative services at all six HCC campuses. Her responsibilities included EEOC, affirmative action and civil rights.
During her time at HCC, some of her significant accomplishments included the following:
- Increased enrollment at the Utica and Vicksburg campuses, with Utica experiencing a 37 percent hike in 2016-17. It was the highest of all HCC campuses.
- At Utica, she re-established the agriculture program, which is the historic foundation of the campus; increased external funding to more than $8 million, including financial support from the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation; facilitated revision of and created new student support programs for academic success; facilitated an $8 million renovation of the Student Center along with its Cosmetology and Barbering and Campus Marquee; established a collaborative relationship with the Utica Campus National Alumni Association and the Utica and Vicksburg communities; gained recognition as a Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished Administrator in 2017; and she established the “Vice President’s Scholarship and Hall of Honor Gala” recognizing Utica Campus Alumni and Community Supporters. It raised more than $100,000 in scholarship funds in just two years.
- At Vicksburg, she was involved in requesting and gaining approval for a new $10 million multi-purpose complex and established the River City Early College in collaboration and support of the Vicksburg-Warren School District.
Mays-Jackson said her role and accomplishments at HCC are a reverent nod to William Holtzclaw, founder of the beloved Utica campus 116 years ago, who, like other forefathers, understood the “epic struggles of educational equality.”
As a result, “I wanted to lend a generational hand in paying it forward for our future. The Vice President’s Scholarship and Hall of Honors Gala is designed to raise scholarship money for deserving students and shed light on the importance of supporting education and our alma mater,” Mays-Jackson said.