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Latest Bulldog graduates ready to ‘change lives, make the world a better place’

ֱ President Mark E. Keenum delivers remarks during one of two commencement ceremonies Friday at Humphrey Coliseum.
ֱ President Mark E. Keenum delivers remarks during one of two commencement ceremonies Friday [May 10] at Humphrey Coliseum. (Photo by Jonah Holland)

Contact: Carl Smith

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Four years ago, high school graduates entered an uncertain world turned upside down by a pandemic. Now as Mississippi State alumni, the Class of 2024 is prepared to face the challenges of the coming decades and shape the world for the better, President Mark E. Keenum said during commencement ceremonies Thursday [May 9] and Friday [May 10].

Cameron Mayers, a communication and political science double major from Pearl, shows off an inspiring message written on his graduation cap.
Cameron Mayers, a communication and political science double major from Pearl, shows off an inspiring message written on his graduation cap. (Photo by Jonah Holland)

“For many of you, you arrived on campus as freshmen during a not-so-happy time. I know it was a hard way to begin life as a college student, and you had to persevere and overcome a lot of challenges. Look at how far you’ve come,” Keenum said. “I know all of you are well prepared to transition from college to what comes next. You are prepared for all the incredible changes you are going to face. You are prepared for the 21st century. It belongs to you.”

ֱ celebrated approximately 3,900 spring graduates across its campuses this week, a total that includes more than 3,000 undergraduates and almost 800 graduate and professional students who “are living their dream,” Keenum said, of becoming a degree-earning Bulldogs.

“People who live their lives based on values and principles—integrity, work ethic, caring about others, being honest and truthful—they stand out,” said the university’s 19th president. “You will stand out because of these values, and people will gravitate to you because of who you are.

Three Mississippi State graduates show a photograph of themselves taken at one of Friday's commencement ceremonies at Humphrey Coliseum.
Three Mississippi State graduates show a photograph of themselves taken at one of Friday's commencement ceremonies at Humphrey Coliseum. (Photo by Jonah Holland)

“My hope and prayer for all of you is that many years from now—maybe when you’re sitting in your rocking chair and you have your grandchildren at your knee—you’ll look back over all that you accomplished and achieved in your life and realize it was your education—that good Mississippi State education—and your commitment to your values and your courage and faith that allowed you to live such a wonderful and fulfilling life, helped you change the world for good and allowed you to achieve your special purpose,” Keenum continued. “Never forget that you will always be a member of our proud Bulldog family. I am so very proud of each and every one of you.”

On Thursday, ֱ-Meridian bestowed its first Doctor of Public Service honorary degree to local resident and entrepreneur Martin “Marty” Davidson, chairman of Meridian-based Southern Pipe & Supply Company. Davidson is the third-generation owner of one of the nation’s largest privately held, independent wholesalers of plumbing, heating and air-conditioning materials. Southern Pipe & Supply operates 130 branches in seven southern states and has been recognized by the Mississippi Business Journal as the “Best Company to Work for in Mississippi” and by Fortune Magazine as one of the 100 best medium size companies to work for in the U.S. He has served as a board member of the Phil Hardin Foundation, working to advance and expose the arts to school-aged children in multi-county areas throughout East Central Mississippi and West Alabama. As current president of The Riley Foundation, Davidson’s generosity has enabled the development of ֱ-Meridian’s Health Sciences Division, which includes programs that ultimately will provide compassionate health care workers for Mississippi’s most disadvantaged populations.

Archival graduation videos will be made available at .

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Martin Davidson of Meridian, center, is hooded by ֱ President Mark E. Keenum, left, and Vice President for Development and Alumni John Rush during commencement at ֱ-Meridian on Thursday [May 9]. The local entrepreneur and philanthropist received the Meridian campus’s first honorary Doctor of Public Service degree. (Photo by Marianne Todd)
Martin Davidson of Meridian, center, is hooded by ֱ President Mark E. Keenum, left, and Vice President for Development and Alumni John Rush during commencement at ֱ-Meridian on Thursday [May 9]. The local entrepreneur and philanthropist received the Meridian campus’s first honorary Doctor of Public Service degree. (Photo by Marianne Todd)