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Changing careers: Ahner completes degree at Hinds

RAYMOND — Michael Ahner of Vicksburg is another step closer to his goal of living a life to help others.

Ahner, 46, decided his job at a software company wasn’t fulfilling his need to help others. He graduated Wednesday from Hinds Community College with a Practical Nursing degree. He plans to continue on to earn an associate degree and become a registered nurse.

“It sounds like a cliché. I didn’t like what I was doing so I re-evaluated my life and decided I was happiest when I was helping people,” he said. He plans to keep working in Vicksburg until he finishes his education.

Throughout three different ceremonies, Hinds awarded a total of 1,316 credentials to 958 graduates, with some graduates receiving more than one credential.

Of the fall graduates, 158 achieved cum laude, 3.2 to 3.59 grade point average; 95 achieved magna cum laude, 3.6 to 3.99 GPA and 124 achieved summa cum laude, 4.0 grade point average.

Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse recently announced his retirement on June 30, 2020, after 42 years as the college’s leader.

“Community colleges are open door institutions. We welcome all students who have the desire to achieve; our cost is low, our quality is high, and we understand that most students have family and job obligations that require some flexibility in their program,” Muse said. “We strive to offer unlimited options that will meet the needs of our students.

The speaker for all three graduations was Phil Cockrell, Raymond Campus Engineering and Drafting Design Technology instructor who was selected as Hinds Community College’s HEADWAE honoree for 2020.

In his remarks, Cockrell told graduates to consider “why” they are on the path they have chosen. Quoting Pastor Charles Swindoll, Cockrell noted that 10 percent of life is what happens and the other 90 percent is how you react to it.

“Challenges present an awesome opportunity to choose who you want to be by how you react to those challenges,” he said.

Grand marshal and mace bearer for all three ceremonies was Dr. Libby Mahaffey, district dean of health services and of and Nursing and Allied Health programs, who retired in 2019 after 37 years.