Mississippi College

Congressman Gregg Harper Speaks to Mississippi College Students

April 24, 2013

Mississippi Third District U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper discussed the Boston Marathon bombings, the need to control federal spending, energy issues and the Republican Party’s future during his Mississippi College visit.

“How about not spending money we don’t have?” Harper said on the Clinton campus Tuesday evening as he spoke of enormous federal deficits piling up, with no end in sight in Washington.

As a way to boost USA oil production, and create 20,000 jobs, Harper said he’s supporting the construction of the proposed Keystone oil pipeline in Pennsylvania.

 Regarding the potential nuclear threats posed by North Korean leaders, Harper said, “Missile defense is an important part of what we can do.”

Speaking to the College Republicans along with university faculty and administrators, Harper tackled a number of timely topics, issues the Jackson native has faced since getting elected to Congress for the first time in November 2008.

The longtime Republican also spoke from the heart as he recalled his undergraduate days at his alma mater, Mississippi College, where he received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1978.

“MC is a special place,” Harper said as students along with President Lee Royce and his wife, Rhoda, looked on. “It is something you should be very proud of. I have some of my best friends from my days at Mississippi College.”

The Baptist-affiliated university also has special meaning to the tall Mississippian because his future wife, Sidney, was a student on the Clinton campus and a 1979 graduate of the MC School of Nursing.

After dating for more than five years, the Harpers have been married for 33 years and have two children, Livingston, 23, and Maggie, 21, both students at Mississippi State University. They are both Pearl High graduates, just like their father. Maggie Harper will graduate from MSU next month, a year early. “Both are great blessings,” the congressman said.

Harper’s two children and his wife, who all attend Crossgates Baptist Church in Brandon, are pretty effective campaigners who helped him get elected and win re-election as the Third District congressman. Family members going door-to-door along with a tireless army of volunteers were vital to Harper’s triumph in a tough Republican Party primary with 7 candidates in 2008. “It takes a family to pull it off,” Harper advised student GOP leaders. A great deal of prayer by his supporters also was an essential element to his success on the campaign trail, he said.

MC sophomore Hailey Elder of Tomball, Texas said she enjoyed listening to the congressman’s remarks. “I thought it was really good,” she said. Elder especially liked when Harper discussed his push to help America’s special needs children.

The congressman’s son, Livingston, is a special needs student at Mississippi State. His struggles and his father’s push for bills in Congress to help people with intellectual disabilities transition from secondary education into a college experience and the workforce are detailed in a new “Beacon” magazine cover story. The magazine’s Spring 2013 edition goes to thousands of Mississippi College alumni.

Before he finished, Harper encouraged Mississippi College students to get involved in the political process, and asked them to apply for internships at his office on Capitol Hill.

Photo: Mississippi Third District U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper signs autographs of "Beacon'' magazine for MC students Marrisha Jedrzejek of Pearl and Cole Grissit of Brandon. Marrisha, who is blind, is a former intern at Harper's office in Pearl. Harper spoke to the College Republicans Monday night.

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