MSU-Meridian recognizes outstanding graduates at commencement

MERIDIAN, Miss.— Four outstanding graduates for 2014-15 were among the 115 candidates who walked across the stage during Mississippi State University-Meridian’s spring commencement Friday [May 8] at the MSU Riley Center.             

Laurel resident Selah Weems was recognized as Outstanding Undergraduate from the division of Arts and Sciences.  An academic All-American at Jones County Junior College and a Riley scholar and president of the Psychology club at MSU-Meridian, Weems graduated with 4.0 GPA and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor in English.

Her older brother Caleb also took part in spring commencement where he received a business administration degree. The siblings, both homeschooled, are carrying on the tradition their mother Deana Weems started when she walked across the MSU Riley Center stage in May 2013 to receive a degree in Psychology.              

Weems plans to return to the university this fall as a graduate student and pursue a Master of Arts in Teaching Community College Education.

Chance Barfoot, a healthcare administration major and Philadelphia native was recognized as Outstanding Undergraduate from the division of Business. 

A Riley scholar and a member of Phi Theta Kappa, Barfoot knew the scholarships he received from Mississippi State would allow him to attend the local university without the burden of student loans. That knowledge, plus a good friend who shared his personal experiences about the local campus helped finalize his decision to attend MSU-Meridian.

Once he arrived on campus Barfoot experienced first-hand the warm friendly atmosphere and small personal classes and professors who knew him by name.

Barfoot admits the quality of instruction he received was “even better” than he expected and he is eager to put his knowledge to work.  Prepared to enter the workforce, he is searching for employment and hopes to land a job soon.

The Outstanding Undergraduate and Outstanding Graduate student from the division of Education have already received several accolades this year. 

Haley McFarland of Philadelphia was selected as Outstanding Undergraduate student in the division of Education.   Recently recognized by the Mississippi Association of Colleges of Teacher Education as the outstanding student intern for Mississippi State University, she also received the Gary Benton Undergraduate Award from MSU-Meridian.

McFarland, who married her high school sweetheart this past November, is a Riley Scholar.  She graduated with a 4.0 GPA and credits a younger brother who has special needs as the main reason she studied special education. Described by many as a ‘natural’ teacher, she is grateful for the support and encouragement she received from her parents and husband, Brandon. Already employed for the 2015-16 school year by Neshoba County School District, she is excited about the opportunity to make an impact on special needs students for years to come.

Adrian Cross of Meridian was selected as Outstanding Graduate student in the division of Education.  She also received the Outstanding Graduate student for Community College Education and the George Thomas Graduate Student Award. 

Employed by Meridian Community College as their non-traditional student recruiter, Cross was recently recognized with MSU-Meridian’s 2015 Spirit of State Award as well as a graduate research award. She is a member of Kappa Delta Pi honor society and treasurer of the MSU-Meridian student association and on the board of directors for the United Way of East Mississippi and West Alabama. 

Cross aspires to be just like her mother, a former educator, who has touched the lives of many.  Known for her “wonderful positive spirit” she is already making her mark on not only the non-traditional students she connects with every day but her fellow classmates and professors at MSU-Meridian.

For more about MSU-Meridian, visit

(Pictured above, l to r)
Adrian Cross of Meridian, Outstanding Graduate student in the division of Education; Haley McFarland of Philadelphia, Outstanding Undergraduate student in the division of Education; Chance Barfoot of Philadelphia, Outstanding Undergraduate student in the division of Business; and Selah Weems of Laurel, Outstanding Undergraduate in the division of Arts and Sciences.


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