When I look back at my decision of attending Rust College, I think about it as my way of giving back to my hometown of Holly Springs, Mississippi.
My love for Rust College started at an early age when I attended Rust College Daycare. My teachers nurtured me and provided the foundation that I needed to succeed in the classroom.
When I entered the Rust College campus as a student in August of 1999, the professors and staff members there welcomed me with open arms and provided me with the tools to develop as a person and a student.
Attending Rust College also helped me appreciate the Holly Springs community and allowed me to become a role model to my peers in the community by volunteering and reading in the Head Start program.
During my tenure as a student, I was able to get an early start on my career as a broadcast journalist. As a sophomore, I served as a color-commentator for the Rust College men and women’s basketball team, as well as the Holly Springs High School football team for Rust College’s television station RC-TV 2.
I was also served as sports editor for the campus newspaper, The Rustorian.
A year later, I was honored with the opportunity to cover the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies during their inaugural season in Memphis in 2001. It was a dream come true to cover a professional sports team in a city that had been starving for a franchise for over 30 years.
Covering the team provided me with access to network with individuals in the journalism industry and led me to an internship at WMC-TV in Memphis in the sports department.
In 2002, I was honored by my classmates and the Rust College staff as Male Student of the Year 1st Runner-Up. I was surprised at the honor because I didn’t realize the positive impact I made on the students at Rust College.
Since graduating from Rust College in 2003, I make regular visits back on campus to talk to students about careers in mass communications and provide them with guidance on how to succeed in and out of the classroom.
In 2013, I was honored by the Rust College family as one of 37 Outstanding Young Alumnus by the United Negro College Fund at the organization’s National Alumni Conference in Atlanta.
Also in 2013, I was recognized as a Trail Blazer by the Rust College Department of Mass Communications for my achievements in the broadcasting industry.
Rust College is the oldest Historically Black College and University in the state of Mississippi and the oldest HBCU affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
Rust is also one of a few black colleges to win an NCAA National Championship, accomplishing the feat in 1984 when the Lady Bearcats basketball team won the NCAA Division III title.
When I think about Rust College, I also think about people such as Holly Springs native and journalism pioneer Ida B. Wells, who paid the sacrifice to tell her story and raise the consciousness of American citizens of its ills.
Because of her bravery, the newspaper she co-owned, “The Memphis Free Speech” was destroyed by a mob and was forced to leave Memphis. Wells, who briefly attended Rust when it was known as Shaw University, was a trailblazer for many and helped make this world a better place.
Next year, Rust College will be celebrating its 150th year of service to the Holly Springs community.
Under the leadership of President David Beckley, the school is hard at work increasing its endowment to $40 million under “A New Era: In Quest of Excellence” campaign.
Rust College serves as a “Tower of Hope” for North Mississippi, the nation and the world.
Rust College will forever hold a special place in my heart.
I am forever a Rustite. “By their fruits, ye shall know them.”
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