Over 70 nurses were honored at the Alcorn State University Cora S. Balmat School of Nursing’s annual Undergraduate Pinning and Graduate Hooding Ceremony. The event, held at the Natchez Convention Center in downtown Natchez, marked a milestone in the nursing profession for the graduates.

Dr. Ursula Brooks-Clemons, an Alcorn alumna and nationally board-certified psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner, delivered this year’s keynote address. With her extensive experience in medical-surgical nursing, nursing academia, and behavioral healthcare arenas, she highlighted the importance of behavioral health in her speech. Brooks-Clemons is the first African-American psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner in Adams County, Miss.

She received her associate’s degree in nursing, Bachelor of Science, Master of Science in nursing education, and Doctor of Nursing Practice from Alcorn State University.

Dr. Brooks-Clemons, keynote speaker, and Dr. Tracy M. Cook, president of Alcorn State, after this year’s Pinning and Hooding Ceremony.

During her address, Dr. Brooks-Clemons shared her own journey.

“I remember being in your shoes in the May 2003 pinning ceremony in the Alcorn School of Nursing Auditorium, so we’re upgrading, doing bigger and better things.” She commended the graduates on their dedication and highlighted the significance of pinning as the official transition into the nursing profession. “Nursing is not just a profession; it is a calling,” she added.

She reflected on when she failed a course by two points and sat out of the nursing program for a year. During that time, she thought about her commitment to the field and returned more determined to complete the program.

Future nurses line along the wall during the Florence Nightingale candle lighting.

“I learned that failing is something that does not make you a failure,” she said. “Failure is not final unless you decide to quit. You did not give up, and your persistence has paid off.”

Pointing out the ever-changing nature of the nursing field, Brooks-Clemons elaborated on the need for committed nurses to carry on the legacy of Florence Nightingale.

“We need competent, devoted, and compassionate nurses to carry the Nightingale torch in nursing,” she stated.

She also stressed the importance of patient-centered care and building strong connections with patients.

“It’s not always what you do to your patients, but how you do it. It starts at the bedside,” she explained. “It starts at the bedside. Go into that room, introduce yourself, answer any questions, and identify and acknowledge that patient. Alleviate any fears. Just making that patient feel loved and accepted can make or break that bond.”

Encouraging the graduates to embrace diversity and learn from each other, she urged them to see beyond the illness or injury and embrace the humanity of every individual they encounter.”

Dr. Shirley Evers-Manly, dean of the Cora S. Balmat School of Nursing, presents a slideshow with highlights of nursing faculty and students.

According to the United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast published in the September/October 2019 issue of the American Journal of Medical Quality, a shortage of registered nurses is projected to spread across the country through 2030. In this state-by-state analysis, the authors forecast a significant RN shortage in 30 states with the most intense shortage in the Western region of the U.S.

The Alcorn State University Cora S. Balmat School of Nursing’s has grown to meet the needs of the nursing shortage in Mississippi and beyond.

This year’s ceremony served as a reminder of the vital role nurses play in providing compassionate care to patients and concluded with a candle lighting ceremony as a rite of passage in reverence to Florence Nightingale who carried a lit candle when she cared for soldiers in a field hospital.

Honorees at this year’s event include —

Associate of Science in Nursing

Abiyommi Bates, Brookhaven, Miss.

Stefanie Bailey, Gilbert, La.

Dorje’anea Bolian, Mccomb, Miss.

Keyonna Butler, Fayette, Miss.

Chatman, Destiny, Centreville, Miss.

Raven Colton, Natchez, Miss.

Peyton Davidson, Vicksburg, Miss.

Yolunda Davis, Natchez, Miss.

Latavia Doss, Fayette, Miss.

Yelana Ellis, Port Gibson, Miss.

Camryn Flowers, Carthage, Miss.

Bobbie Gallagher, Gilbert, La

Meisheayla Grover, Fayette, Miss.

Chelsea           Guy, Tylertown, Miss.

Brooklyn Hall, Vidalia, La.

Raqquiya Haynes, Columbia, Miss.

Treasure Holloway, Hazlehurst, Miss.

Tamia Hudson, Philadelphia, Miss.

Alexia Hutchins, Farmhaven, Miss.

Kennadi Johnson, Natchez, Miss.

Jasminique Jones, Hazlehurst, Ms

Alicia Kaho, Fayette, Miss.

Taelor Kapler, McComb, Miss.

Colton Keating, Natchez, Miss.

Gloria King, Fayette, Miss.

Alexis Mckenzie, Natchez, Miss.

Remeshea McMiller, Greenville, Miss.

Andria Mcmurray, Winnsboro, La

Cheyenne Motley, Brookhaven, Miss.

Christine Murray, Monterey, La.

Candi Patton, Brandon, Miss.

Kabrina Rhodes, New Hebron, Miss.

Melissa Rouse, Natchez, Miss.

Sharita Sanders, Zachary, La.

Elizabeth Seals, Natchez, Miss.

Crystianna Summers, Jackson, Miss.

Crystalin Tanner, Hazlehurst, Miss.

Adia Thomas, Milwaukee, Wis.

Tileesha Warner, Vidalia, La.

Shumyel Washington, Tallulah, La.

Hailei Wilson, Fayette, Miss.

Kaitlin White, Natchez, Miss.


Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Mylala Adams, Jackson, Miss.

Adekola Arilesere, Lagos, Nigeria

Jaudorih Ball, Byram, Miss.

Oriantiss Ball, Belzoni, Miss.

O’koya Barlow, Wesson, Miss.

Justice Baylis, Jackson, Miss.

Tynika  Conner, Natchez, Miss.

Tiauna Dora, Louisville, Miss.

Kennedi Fitzgerald, Vicksburg, Miss.

Hannah Jenkins, Natchez, Miss.

Raja Johnson, Canton, Miss.

Rayven Jones, Jackson, Miss.

Rayven Leland, Batesville, Miss.

Aretrina Long, Chester, Pa.

Tylah Magee, Vicksburg, Miss.

Dashiah McWilliams, McComb, Miss.

Derricka Moffett, Gulfport, Miss.

Quenjasmine Perrien, Meridian, Miss.

Cailyn Proby, Natchez, Miss.

Dejah Truly, Clarksdale, Miss.

Lena Unga, Sacramento, Calif.

Alexandria Vaughn, Holly Springs, Miss.

Emma Whittington, Vidalia, La.

Haley Williams, Woodville, Miss.

Nia Williams, Memphis, Tenn.


Registered Nurse/Bachelor of Science in Nursing Online

Elizabeth Elliott, Bogue Chitto, Miss.

Daisy Fisher, Woodville, Miss.

Anna Hayes-Ranson, Vicksburg, Miss.

Ebony Hill, Hattiesburg, Miss.

Jameirra Jones, Horn Lake, Miss.

Cordni McDonald, Natchez, Miss.

LaPorshala Payne, Hattiesburg, Miss.

Faith Stampley, Fayette, Miss.

Justiss White, Fayette, Miss.

Emma Warden, Ferriday, La.

Amaya Wiley-Jackson, Jackson, Miss.


Master of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner

Tawana Greene, Vicksburg, Miss.

Deborah Hughes, Grenada, Miss.

Lakendra McGrew, Olive Branch, Miss.

Samimah Reese, Lexington, Miss.

Lashonda Thomas, Port Gibson, Miss.

Lauren Woodberry, Yazoo City, Miss.

Kimbrely Young, Monroe, La.


Doctor of Nursing Practice

Montoyae Leavy, Brookhaven, Miss.

Peter Ojong, Palmer Township, Pa.

Jennifer Williams, Natchez, Miss.