MSU-Meridian recognizes outstanding graduates for fall semester

Contact: Lisa Solliethree individuals in graduation cap and gown

MERIDIAN, Miss.—Four graduates at Mississippi State University-Meridian are being recognized as outstanding students for the 2022 fall semester. They are among 124 students, including five honor graduates and one Riley Scholar receiving diplomas Thursday [Dec 8] at 11 a.m. at the MSU Riley Center.

The honorees include:

Christina Gorman of Meridian, Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the Division of Arts and Sciences and recipient of the Dennis J. Mitchell Award of Excellence. When Gorman graduated from Choctaw County High School in Butler, Alabama, she set her sights on becoming a nurse; however, she later realized it wasn’t the career for her. She then enrolled in a few psychology classes at Meridian Community College, which furthered her interest in this field before she transferred to MSU-Meridian. Completing her undergraduate degree in psychology in August, Gorman currently is enrolled in graduate school to study school and mental health counseling at the MSU-Meridian campus.

Nathan Smith of Enterprise, Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the Division of Business. Smith had his life planned out until the pandemic and an accounting class at Jones College altered his future career path. His mother, a 2004 MSU alumna, recommended he consider MSU-Meridian to study accounting, a choice that proved fortuitous not only academically, but also enabling Smith to spend more quality time with family and his church.

Alanna Lewis Boyken, a native of Collinsville, Outstanding Graduate Student for the Division of Business. A first-generation college student, she earned an undergraduate degree in accounting at MSU-Meridian in 2021 prior to enrolling in the MBA graduate program. She and her husband currently are stationed in Kingsville, Texas, where he is in flight school.

Dunnam Shirley of Meridian, Outstanding Graduate Student for the Division of Education. A fourth-generation educator, Shirley never intended to go into teaching. Instead, he spent his summers at veterinary camps and working in clinics so one day he could attend vet school at Mississippi State. Education was in his blood, however, as well as a love of science. He combined both disciplines and earned an undergraduate degree in secondary education with a concentration in biology at MSU’s Starkville campus. Hired as an eighth-grade science teacher at his alma mater two years ago, he also began graduate school at MSU-Meridian in education leadership with a concentration in teacher leadership. He recently was recognized by his peers at Southeast Lauderdale Middle School as Teacher of the Year.     

Thursday’s commencement ceremony may be viewed on MSTV or at It also will be shown on the MSU-Meridian Facebook page.

To learn more about MSU-Meridian, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

← Back