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Awards Gala Honors Outstanding Student Leaders Who Contribute to Life at Mississippi College

Caroline Cook and Coulter Clement treasure the Student Experience Awards they received last year because the honors represent appreciation from their beloved University.
Caroline Cook and Coulter Clement treasure the Student Experience Awards they received last year because the honors represent appreciation from their beloved University.

Caroline Cook didn’t wait until classes started to get involved in campus life at Mississippi College.

As a freshman last year, the New Albany resident was eager to create a “positive atmosphere and experience” for her class and campus community. While beginning her pursuit of a degree in nursing and a minor in servant leadership, she wasted no time volunteering for campus activities and sharing her commitment to the Christian mission of MC while maintaining good grades.

For her tireless dedication to the University, Cook received a “Spirit of MC” Award during the Student Experience Awards Gala last year.

“It meant so much to receive the Spirit of MC Award,” said Cook, now a sophomore at MC. “I was not expecting to get an award for my activities. I simply love MC and I naturally had the urge to get involved in every way I could.

“It felt so rewarding and special to be recognized by the school I love so much.”

As an upperclassmen last year, Coulter Clement had a lot on his plate. The marketing major from Water Valley released his first original single, “Inexplainable,” while deftly handling the rigorous curriculum of MC Honors College and serving in a number of leadership roles on the Clinton campus.

If he ever thought his many contributions to student life at MC were being overlooked, the Servant Leadership Award he received at the 2023 Student Experience Awards Gala settled the issue.

“I was very honored to receive this award last year,” Clement said. “Being involved in many different leadership positions on campus, it is sometimes easy for others to unintentionally not see or appreciate all of the work that goes into leading well.

“It means a lot to have felt seen and noticed by others on campus for the things I got to be a part of to help better Mississippi College and the cause of Christ.”

The Division of Student Experience will recognize outstanding student leaders like Cook and Clement who have contributed to campus life at MC during its Student Experience Awards Gala, scheduled for Thursday, April 18, in Anderson Hall in the B.C. Rogers Student Center.

Now in its fifth year, the event has increased in importance for students because of the love students have for MC, Cook said.

“So many students love MC and are so honored to be recognized for it,” she said. “The Student Experience Awards Gala is a wonderful night of highlighting amazing students surrounded with people who love and support them. There are also a lot of faculty and staff there to show their support.

“It is an exceptional event that is special to the students who are invited.”

Clement said students appreciate the ceremony because it “recognizes so many who do so much” for the campus community.

“I have many friends who have dedicated hours upon hours to plan events, create memories for students, and give so much time and effort to make MC a better place for all,” he said. “Much of this work is unpaid. They do it because they love this University.

“I think it is crucial to recognize them for their amazing efforts.”

A dozen different awards will be presented to MC faculty, staff, and students who have illustrated by their actions what Mississippi College’s culture of service and commitment to the cause of Christ truly mean.

According to Jonathan Ambrose, vice president for the Student Experience and dean of students, the gala serves as a culmination of student life awards.

“It’s a night when we come together mot only to recognize some outstanding student leaders, but for some of them, it’s to say good-bye,” Ambrose said. “It’s a culmination of the entire year, a celebration of the year as it relates to the experiences of our students outside the classroom.

“I want to make sure that we take the time to appropriately honor our students who have given so much, not only to their fellow students and our campus, but to the community as a whole. It’s important that we do that in a manner that is reflective, not only of MC, but of the important accomplishments that our students have done.”

The Division of Student Experience solicited award nominations from the entire MC campus community. A committee of staff members selected the winners from among the nominees. A student committee helped choose the Hall of Fame inductees.

Those honored at the gala receive a standard invitation and the option to invite up to three guests, but the identities of the award recipients are kept confidential until they are announced during the ceremony.

“Keeping the identities of who receives what award adds to the intrigue,” Clement said. “It reminds me of Mississippi College’s own version of an awards show like the Grammys or the Oscars. It is always fun to see who wins Club and Tribe of the Year, Mr. and Mrs. MC, and more.”

“The suspense is exciting and creates a fun atmosphere for the night,” Cook said.

Ambrose said from a presenter’s perspective, it’s fun to keep from the award recipients what honor they will be receiving.

“As we read the students’ names on stage, seeing their expressions and watching them receive their awards is amazing,” he said.

Awards to be presented during the gala include:

The Mississippi College Hall of Fame, established in 1960, is awarded to four senior students – two female and two male – for outstanding leadership ability, scholastic achievement, extracurricular activities, participation and contribution to student life, and dedication to serving God and their fellow man. Among the highest honors to be presented at MC, Hall of Fame members are chosen by a select student committee.

The Scott-Swor Founder’s Award recognizes a senior student for making a significant contribution to the student life of the college and exemplifying the ideals of the University’s founders and their successors, quality of living, leadership, and service. The award is named in memory of Dr. Charles W. Scott, who served the MC community for 30 years, and Dr. Chester E. Swor, a Baptist evangelist, alumnus, and former MC faculty member.

Senior Awards of Excellence in Leadership are presented to senior students who distinguish themselves by their visionary leadership on campus and their vision of greatness.

The Community Impact Award recognizes a student who has devoted his or her time and energy to serving the greater Jackson metropolitan area and empowered members of the MC community to love their neighbors in tangible, life-changing ways.

Student Experience Servant Leadership Award acknowledge sophomore and junior students who have served the campus as a whole and are actively leading through engagement, service to the institution, and living MC’s Christian mission.

The Freshmen of the Year Awards recognize one female and one male student for their ability to emulate the vision and mission of the University throughout their first year at Mississippi College.

Spirit of MC Awards are presented to freshmen students who have ignited their college careers at MC, stepping into their roles as young leaders by cultivating a positive atmosphere and experience for their classes and the campus community.

The Student Organization Award of Excellence acknowledges a registered MC student organization committed to the continued advancement of MC’s mission and the engagement of the student body in the vision of the student organization.

The Student Organization Advisor of the Year Award of Excellence recognizes a faculty or staff sponsor of an MC student organization, club, or tribe who goes “above and beyond” to assist students and contribute to the life of the student organization he or she advises.

The Community Partner of the Year Award is presented to a local business or organization that has served MC with excellence throughout the academic year.

The Perry Academic Awards were established by Mr. and Mrs. M.W. Perry to recognize scholastic achievement at Mississippi College.

Student Success Champion Awards recognize one full-time faculty member and one full-time staff member engaged with undergraduate and/or graduate students at MC for their exceptional activities that involve broad, collaborative participation supporting a sustained commitment to student success.

The titles of Mister MC and Miss MC are given to extraordinary campus student leaders who demonstrate exceptional support for the institution’s vision of being a university known for academic excellence and commitment to the cause of Christ.

The editor of the “Tribesman” yearbook announces the MC faculty or staff member to whom the book will be dedicated.

“Not everyone understands the amount of commitment and the love that these award recipients have for our students and for our campus,” Ambrose said. “When you start listing some of their accomplishments that they have achieved during their time here, the audience is blown away.

“It’s always great to talk with their parents and recognize the hard work, dedication, and leadership their students have displayed over the years. I love ending the spring semester that way. For an administrator, there’s no greater honor than to recognize the best of Mississippi College.”

Clement said the ceremony reveals only a fraction of the great things going on at the Christian University.

“The Student Experience Awards Gala is just a small glimpse of the amazing students that this campus holds,” he said. “The Lord has blessed us with some of the best students of any university around. Throughout my time at Mississippi College, I have met some of my best friends, greatest encouragers, and biggest supporters.

“I forever praise the Lord for that blessing.”