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Melissa Wiggins Receives Carol West Faculty Advocate Award

Professor Melissa Wiggins
Professor Melissa Wiggins

Melissa Wiggins shines as a Mississippi College professor with a heart for her community.

No matter what Missy tries, the MC graduate does it quite well. Her work as a computer science professor and active church member makes her an excellent choice for the Carol West Faculty Advocate Award.

The honor is named for the late MC Law professor. Carol West was a distinguished and beloved faculty member on the campus in downtown Jackson. An expert in domestic relations, women’s issues and criminal law, West died in December 2011 at age 67.

It is appropriate that Missy Wiggins receives this award in May.

“I knew Carol well. She was a friend and colleague,” Wiggins said. “We served on several Faculty Senate committees together. She used to pick at me and tell me I should go to law school.”

For many students and faculty colleagues on the Clinton campus, it’s a good thing Melissa Wiggins didn’t become a Mississippi lawyer.

“I truly believe that God called me to MC to teach,” Wiggins said. “I love my students and remain friends with them many years later.”

Wiggins served this year as the Faculty Senate president and built campus friendships.

“It is a pleasure to work with faculty that go above and beyond for each other and for our students. We laugh together, cry together, and pray together.”

At First Baptist Church Polkville, Wiggins takes on several roles as a servant leader. She teaches Sunday School classes and Vacation Bible School. Missy sings in the choir, and serves on the finance, hostess, youth and flower committees.

“I believe that Christ teaches us to serve Him and helping others also. I love my community and its people.”

Chris Maggio, chair of the Department of Engineering, Computer Science and Physics, commends her service.

“I congratulate Dr. Wiggins on having been selected for this great and well-deserved honor,” Maggio said. “The faculty made an excellent choice to recognize her.”

Biology professor Erin Norcross says Wiggins excelled as an advocate for students and professors. As Faculty Senate president, “she has been our voice ensuring faculty thoughts and opinions are heard.”

Wiggins was the lead organizer of a symposium focusing on cybersecurity issues. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the MC program moved to the fall.

Will McNeese, pastor at First Baptist Church Polkville, is one of the professor’s biggest admirers.

“She participates in many committees and outreach efforts, here in our community,” McNeese said. “Always going above and beyond, she exemplifies the love of Christ, and embodies the utmost spirit of humility and compassion.”

McNeese says it’s a joy to be her pastor. “And even more to have her as a friend and mentor. Mississippi College is blessed, as is FBC Polkville, to have such a considerate, outgoing and devoted person.”

Melissa isn’t the only Wiggins on the Mississippi College faculty. Her husband, Glenn Wiggins, teaches computer science and is active in his Smith County community. He serves as a city alderman in Polkville.

What promoted Melissa to become an MC Choctaw? She arrived as a freshman thanks to encouragement from professors like Buddy Wagner.

“It was the place God wanted me then. I loved the family atmosphere,” she said.

Melissa Wiggins worked as a student assistant in the MC Math & Science Department. During her final semester, she was a programmer in the university’s computing center. “The faculty would get together, eat lunch together and it was a blessing to learn from them.”

Following graduation, Wiggins was a high school teacher for two years. She returned to her alma mater, first as an adjunct and worked up way up to become a full-time professor. Melissa earned her master’s at Mississippi College and a doctorate at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Selected to be this year’s recipient of the Carol West award, Melissa Wiggins said, is an honor and privilege.