RankinHonors Open House Story by Cathy Hayden | Photos by April Garon

“That’s so cool!”

A group of Park Place Christian Academy seniors standing in front of a science demonstration gasped practically the same words at exactly the same time. The demonstration with what’s called a Rubens’ tube involved a tube pumped full of gas, fire and eardrum-shattering music making the flames dance in time with the beat.

While Hinds Community College Rankin Campus physics instructor Carl DeWitt was performing this demonstration in one room, across the hall chemistry instructor Lou Ann Williams gave the students another take on a fire demonstration. Hinds Community College Rankin Campus chemistry instructor Lou Ann Williams and Hinds sophomore Lindsey Bowen use soap bubbles, methane gas and fire for an impressive science demonstration.Hinds Community College Rankin Campus chemistry instructor Lou Ann Williams and Hinds sophomore Lindsey Bowen use soap bubbles, methane gas and fire for an impressive science demonstration.Williams pumped methane gas into dish soap, grabbed a huge handful of large bubbles as they overflowed from the beaker and tossed them into the air as Hinds sophomore Lindsey Bowen lit them. They, literally, burst into flames as they floated toward the ceiling.

Both experiments were dramatic ways of capturing the attention of more than 120 high school seniors from about a dozen schools in mostly Rankin County. The seniors were at the Rankin Campus in Pearl to learn what Hinds has to offer them but, in particular, to hear about the Honors program that started in January. The Raymond Campus has had an Honors program for a number of years. To qualify for the Honors program, entering freshman must have a high school GPA of 3.5 or a 25 on the ACT college entrance exam – but not both. “I wanted to bring the Honors program to the Rankin Campus because we have a lot of Rankin County students who want to stay local and go to school,” said Dr. Norman Session, vice president for the Rankin Campus. “The good thing about an Honors program is you start building that resume. You’re stretching yourself a little bit after you get here and you’re building that resume.”

Many students who qualify to enter the Hinds Honors program will also earn the grades to become members of Phi Theta Kappa honor society for two-year college students. Those students are eligible for high-dollar transfer scholarships to the state’s four-year universities, both public and private. Students also got a chance to see the dedicated space where Honors students can lounge between classes or work on computers. Being in the Honors program means “you are willing to put forth the effort. It means you have tapped into that academic excellence. It means that it affords you some opportunities that you might not otherwise have,” said Joy Rhoads, coordinator of the Rankin Campus Honors program.

But the Honors program isn’t the only draw to Hinds, DeWitt pointed out. “Hinds is a great place to start. Here on this campus we teach physical science, trig-based sciences for professions like occupational therapy and physical therapy. We have calculus-based science for those who are science majors or engineers,” he said. “You can get a really good start with your first two years at Hinds Community College.” Williams, who is a Hinds alum herself, has been teaching at Hinds for 24 years. “I came to Hinds when I was 17 years old as a science major. I loved my time here, loved my instructors,” she said.

transferred to Mississippi State University for a bachelor’s degree “expecting to be behind. I was right on track and was ahead in some of my classes. That’s when I really realized how good of an education that I got. “It’s a great place to be. It’s like a big family. I love my students. I know my students’ names,” she said. Several students said they already have plans to attend Hinds next fall. Ansley Burford, 17, of Flowood, a senior at Park Place Christian Academy in Pearl, called Hinds her “major go-to because it’s saving me a ton of money.” Caleb Phillips of Crystal Springs, a Copiah Academy senior, plans to major in chemistry or biochemistry. “Hinds is closer to home, and it just feels like the right choice,” he said. Both Noah Chapa, a Copiah Academy senior, and Jasmine Alvarado, a Pearl High senior, are planning to come to Hinds for the nursing programs. “I’ve heard Hinds is better in nursing, more recommended than other programs,” Chapa said. Alvarado is already in the high school licensed practical nurse program on the Rankin Campus. “They have great classes here. I feel welcome. I feel a part of this community. It’s amazing feeling to have amazing instructors,” she said. Hinds Community College’s Rankin Campus Honors program offers opportunity. As Mississippi’s largest community college, Hinds Community College is a comprehensive institution offering quality, affordable educational opportunities with academic programs of study leading to seamless university transfer and career and technical programs teaching job-ready skills. With six locations in central Mississippi, Hinds enrolled nearly 12,000 credit students in fall 2016.


April Garon/Hinds Community College

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