Contact: Lisa Sollie
MERIDIAN, Miss.— Almost twenty years after high school, Meridian resident April Bonner stepped into a college classroom for the first time; and a newfound love of learning kept her there.
An interdisciplinary-studies major at MSU-Meridian, Bonner completed her degree with highest honors (summa cum laude) and was named Outstanding Undergraduate student in the Division of Arts and Sciences and the recipient of the Dennis J Mitchell award. She will be recognized at MSU-Meridian’s 2021 Spring Commencement on May 3 at 11 a.m. at the MSU Riley Center.
Her dream of earning a college degree was put on hold when, at age 19, she and her husband had their first child. Now four years after she took her first college class – Bonner is overcome with emotion.
“When I think about how my family was so incredibly supportive throughout the whole process and how God blessed me with this resiliency to just evolve and learn,” she said, “it brings tears to my eyes.”
Navigating the path to the right degree and career choice can be challenging for students who return to school later in life – but in the end, Bonner said, the twist and turns she took were worth it.
“Although I started out in the elementary education program when I transferred to MSU-Meridian, after working as a kindergarten assistant for a brief time, I realized that wasn’t for me,” Bonner said, “so I studied my options and changed my major to BSIS. The flexibility of that degree allowed me to sample a lot of different areas to see what I liked best, which fits perfectly with my next step – earning my Master of Arts in Teaching Secondary Education degree. I’ll start that program in June at the Meridian Campus and when I am finished, I will be licensed to teach general science, biology, social studies and English.”
She will also start a new career in August at Southeast Lauderdale Middle School, where she will not only teach English, but Bonner, an avid runner the past 7 years, will also serve as cross-country coach.
“This is truly a lifelong dream of mine and everything that I’ve ever wanted,” she said, “and I’m just so grateful and thankful I’m finally here and all my hard work has paid off. I’m also hopeful once I step into my classroom this fall that the love of learning I’ve discovered through this process, as well as my enthusiasm – will translate to my students and will motivate them to want to learn and grow as well.”