MERIDIAN, Miss.—A month following high school graduation, Cody Perkins of Collinsville enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and headed to boot camp.
A 2003 West Lauderdale High School graduate, he went on serve his country both at home and abroad, including two tours in Iraq.
As he was making the transition from infantryman to instructor because of war injuries, Perkins was recruited into the corps’ Criminal Investigative Division at Camp Pendleton. He spent more than a decade with MCID at the well-known Southern California training base and, later, at the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, North Carolina.
Following a medical retirement connected to his combat injuries, Perkins decided to return to Lauderdale County and Meridian, put down civilian roots and begin a second career.
He briefly considered the idea of continuing in law enforcement because of a genuine enjoyment of past MCID service. Physically, however, “I knew I was unable to do that [kind of work] anymore,” he said.
Considering other skills he possessed, Perkins began to focus on classroom teaching.
“As an instructor for the Marine Corps, I thoroughly enjoyed the teaching aspect of the job,” he said. “I also have had a lifelong love for history, so I thought maybe I could combine both disciplines and earn a teaching degree.”
The first step involved completion of an associate’s degree at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba. He then enrolled at Mississippi State University-Meridian because of its convenience.
Another key reason was the “small, tight-knit community” atmosphere he came to appreciate while dealing with MSU-Meridian faculty and administrators. A feeling that, he said, continues to this day.
“If I have a question or concern, I don’t have to run around a big campus trying to track someone down, wondering if I even will have the opportunity to talk to them once I do find them,” he said recently. “The professors here are readily accessible, and Dr. (Toby) Bates and Dr. (Dennis) Mitchell in the history department are top-notch.”
During Friday [Dec. 11] commencement ceremonies, Perkins formally receives his bachelor of arts degree. Next month, he will begin a master of arts degree program in community college education.
As he works part-time at Meridian Community College’s E-Learning Center, he acknowledged the challenges of a new civilian career.
“I know it will be a lot different than teaching Marines,” Perkins said with a smile. “My wife, who teaches literature at MCC, is constantly reminding me. I think she’s afraid I’ll forget I can’t make the students drop and do push-ups or something if they forget an assignment.”
PHOTO ID: Retired Marine, Cody Perkins takes time to pose for a photograph behind MSU-Meridian’s College Park Campus. Perkins, a Collinsville native, earned a degree in History from Mississippi State at the university’s fall commencement held Friday [Dec 11] at the MSU Riley Center.