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Friendly Designation Highlights Mississippi College’s Commitment to Military Spouse Education

Linda Graves-Clayton of Gulfport credits the support she has received from MC faculty for helping keep her on track in the School of Nursing's R.N.-to-B.S.N. program. Her late husband, Percy Clayton, served as an Army specialist.
Linda Graves-Clayton of Gulfport credits the support she has received from MC faculty for helping keep her on track in the School of Nursing's R.N.-to-B.S.N. program. Her late husband, Percy Clayton, served as an Army specialist.

Percy Clayton was an Army specialist and 100-percent disabled veteran whose life was taken much too soon. When his wife, Linda Graves-Clayton of Gulfport, decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing, she turned to Mississippi College.

“The fact that Mississippi College is a Christian-based university, which instills Biblical attributes in its nursing curriculum, is what drew me to the learning institution,” said Graves-Clayton, who began her first semester in the R.N.-to-B.S.N. program in August 2021. “Recently becoming a young widow and dealing with the mourning of his unexpected death have been a challenge.

“My instructors have been a great support system for me.”

The start of the spring semester was a particularly trying time for Graves. She said she suffered a “meltdown” and dropped her classes. But the School of Nursing’s faculty didn’t abandon her.

“All my instructors reached out with encouraging words, and they kept me in their prayers,” she said. “The staff cares about helping you pursue your educational goals.”

For creating sustainable and meaningful education paths for military spouses, Mississippi College has been designated a 2022-23 Military Spouse Friendly School. MC will be profiled in a special feature in the July/August issue of Military Spouse Magazine.

The publication praises MC for instituting policies to address the concerns and needs of military spouses and their families by constructing admissions, retention, career counseling, and mentoring programs to help alleviate many of the educational difficulties they face.

Teresa Hill, Military and Veteran Student Services director and VA school certifying official in the Office of the Registrar, said MC offers flexible learning options and degree continuation programs designed to accommodate deployments and relocations.

“Military spouses are so deserving of education benefits received through the service of their spouse,” Hill said. “When moves are made far from family and rooted friends, it’s a hardship on everyone. During times of a service member’s deployment, there are huge sacrifices from both the ones who are deployed and the ones left behind.

“Mississippi College is a great choice for military spouses to create their future path by beginning, continuing, or expanding their education. For example, so many education professions require additional degrees to increase salary ranges. MC offers many programs in traditional, accelerated, and online formats.”

Hill said spouses can benefit from transfer of education benefit entitlements if neither the military veterans or their dependents are able to use them.

“This transfer of entitlement is a huge benefit resulting from their time in service, and is very well-earned for our servicemen and women who have given so much to safeguard our lives and liberties,” she said.

To determine the Military Spouse Friendly School list, the Military Friendly team considered public and proprietary data gathered from an annual survey of schools that develop and sustain strong programs for military spouses on campus. An independent Military Friendly advisory council comprised of independent subject-matter experts and industry partners representing the field of veteran education assisted with the development of the survey, which was made available to thousands of institutions nationwide.

MC is a participant in the VA’s Yellow Ribbon Program for active-duty personnel receiving GI Post-911 Bill benefits and their spouses. Starting Aug. 1, military members at the 100-percent eligibility level can receive an extension of the yearly educational cap allowance for participants in the Chapter 33 Post 9-11 GI Bill by up to an additional $5,000. MC will match the amount extended by the VA. More information about the Yellow Ribbon Program is available here.

“Every benefit a service member earns has been done through great sacrifice,” Hill said. “Recognizing this act extends to every reach of their household and family and is important to acknowledge and appreciate.

“At Mississippi College, it is our honor to be of service to facilitate these benefits for our courageous, bold, and brave men and women who give and have given so much.”

Because of the School of Nursing faculty’s efforts on her behalf, Graves-Clayton said MC is deserving of the designation.

“The R.N.-to-B.S.N. Program is truly accelerated and can be challenging,” she said. “However, in the midst of it all, the nursing instructors make themselves available and encourage and motivate the students.

“I truly feel the designation of Military Spouse Friendly School is warranted. It exemplifies the feeling of a support system at MC.”