Keenum commends MSU-Meridian grads’ abilities to adapt, overcome challenges as 116 celebrate commencement

Contact:  Lisa Sollie
4 students in caps and gowns seated and five students in caps and gowns standing behind them

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State President Mark E. Keenum is commending 116 MSU-Meridian graduates for their abilities to overcome challenges and adapt as the university marks the end of one of the most challenging and unusual academic years in history.

 “We’ve made it through this most challenging of years together,” Keenum said at MSU-Meridian’s commencement ceremony at the MSU Riley Center Monday [May 3]. “You have worked long and hard to get here, and all of us at this great university are very proud of you.”

Keenum said a college degree is more important than ever and will help graduates succeed in a world undergoing unprecedented change.

“The timeless values we hold dear as members of the Mississippi State University family also will serve you well—you will need integrity; you will need to work hard; you will need to show respect for others,” Keenum said.

He described courage as another imperative trait and thanked the frontline heroes who have courageously been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. He also emphasized the values of diversity and personal faith.

Keenum is a three-time MSU graduate with degrees in agricultural economics. The former Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has guided the university to unprecedented heights, and his interest in international food security has strengthened the university’s contributions to global economic sustainability. He has led MSU to record growth in enrollment, capital improvements and fundraising.

Associate Vice President and Head of Campus Terry Dale Cruse applauded graduates and said the Class of 2021, which includes the first MSU-Meridian graduate of the new Bachelor of Applied Science degree, represents a distinguished group of new alumni who will make a significant impact on the region.

“If grit and persistence are predictors of success, we just produced one of the most successful classes in our history,” Cruse said.  “Their ability to adjust and persevere through the challenges of this past year will serve them well in their respective professions.”

MSU-Meridian’s spring 2021 class of 116 graduates includes 28 honor graduates and 10 Riley Scholars. Brittney Harrison of Meridian, Celeste Boswell of Collinsville and Bethany Wellerman of Lawrence also earned the distinction of being named Stephen D. Lee Scholars for maintaining an overall 4.0 grade-point average throughout their college careers.

The spring commencement ceremonies also marked the first time MSU graduates have worn custom regalia, featuring maroon and white university seals and inverted maroon pleats on each sleeve for undergraduates and other distinguishing details for master’s and doctoral-level graduates.

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