BAY ST. LOUIS – East Mississippi Community College has earned the Halbrook Award for having a perfect 100 percent graduation rate among the school's sophomore student-athletes during the 2018-19 academic year. The prestigious award was presented during Tuesday's awards luncheon in conjunction with the Mississippi Association of Colleges and Universities (MAC) Conference hosted by Pearl River Community College and held at the Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast.
While tying for this year's honor with Copiah-Lincoln Community College among the state's 15 two-year colleges, EMCC graduated all 55 of its second-year student-athletes in addition to having one completer during the 2018-19 academic year. EMCC's 56 certified student-athletes consisted of 29 players from the Lions' 2018 national championship football team, eight from the men's basketball state championship squad, 10 from baseball, six from softball and three from women's basketball. Rodeo was not included among the graduation statistics because the sport is not affiliated with the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC).
Administered cooperatively by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges, and the Mississippi Association of Independent Colleges, the purpose of the Halbrook Awards program is to annually recognize colleges and universities that achieve and maintain high academic standards for student-athletes while also encouraging high graduation rates.
"Receiving the Halbrook Award is a wonderful recognition of the hard work and efforts of EMCC's student-athletes. This recognition represents the dedicated efforts of EMCC's faculty, counselors and staff that work so diligently to ensure student success," said EMCC President Dr. Scott Alsobrooks. "Our head coaches and assistant coaches are committed to excellence both in the classroom and on the scoreboard. A special thanks also goes out to the Halbrook family for sanctioning these awards for community college students."
Established in 1984, the Halbrook Awards program is made possible through endowments from former Representative David M. Halbrook, of Belzoni, and his brothers, John C. and James G. Halbrook, of Belzoni, and J.A. Halbrook, of Beaumont, Texas.
This year marks the seventh time that East Mississippi Community College has received the Halbrook Award since the awards program was authorized in 1984. Prior to most recently claiming the honor for the 2010-11 academic year in a tie with Hinds Community College, EMCC previously earned the recognition five times (1983-84, 1985-86, 1988-89, 1989-90 & 1992-93) during a 10-year span.
"This tremendous achievement should be shared by our entire coaching staff, administrative support staff and, of course, our excellent student-athletes and outstanding faculty members here at East Mississippi Community College," EMCC Vice President of the Scooba Campus/Director of Athletics Mickey Stokes added. "There are many individuals to be recognized for this combined effort, but I'd like to give a special mention to our athletic academic advisor Abby Jenkins for her commitment and dedication to EMCC's student-athletes. This is certainly a great way to put the finishing touches on a very successful 2018-19 academic year here at EMCC both in our classrooms and on our athletic playing fields."
Individually for EMCC, Avery Bouchillon and Dillon Brown were the school's respective female and male recipients of the 2018-19 David M. Halbrook Award for academic achievement among student-athletes in the community college division. Posting a 4.00 cumulative grade point average in biology as a two-year softball player for the Lady Lions, Bouchillon, a native of Ethel, earned EMCC's Presidential Partnership Scholarship to attend Mississippi State University. Brown, a two-year baseball lettermen for the Lions, recorded a 3.84 cumulative GPA in biology. The Gulfport product is currently a member of the Point University baseball team in West Point, Georgia.
During the 2018-19 academic year, East Mississippi Community College had 30 student-athletes garner national recognition for their academic excellence, including a dozen players tabbed to the NJCAA All-Academic First Team for having 4.00 grade point averages. In addition, EMCC's softball (3.52 GPA), baseball (3.39), women's basketball (3.04) and men's basketball (3.01) teams all received NJCAA All-Academic Team recognition.