Press Release from Coahoma Community College Public Relations; (662) 621-4061 - Brittany Davis-Green - firstname.lastname@example.org
CLARKSDALE – Initially, all signs indicated that Dr. Calvin Mackie would become another statistic.
There was a good chance that he would never graduate high school, and, even if he managed to do so, he definitely wouldn’t be able to get through college.
Yet Mackie was able to rise above his circumstances, working his way through college and eventually receiving a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. Today he’s an award-winning mentor, motivational speaker, and successful entrepreneur. He shared his story of endurance during Coahoma Community College’s Opening School Ceremony Monday.
“Nothing happens by chance,” said Mackie. “This day, this moment has been ordained.”
A native of New Orleans, Mackie highlighted the ceremony by motivating CCC faculty and staff during their first official day of the 2015-2016 school term.
Local high school students from Coahoma County High School, Coahoma Agricultural High School and West Tallahatchie High School also dropped in for an extra dose of motivation as they kicked off their own school terms.
The students were so moved by Mackie’s story that they asked him to serve as their graduation speaker; he obliged.
“I think the kids benefited from this greatly. This is motivation for them to know that no matter where they are in life, they can make it to the top,” said Coahoma County High School English Teacher Kentia Turner. “It was just a great start for the school year. We all needed the motivation.”
During the presentation, Mackie recounted his own journey from barely making it out high school with an 840 on the SAT to obtaining his PhD—but it was no easy feat. He endured many hurdles along the way, including losing his dream of playing professional basketball to an injury, the passing of his parents and being cut from a tenured position at the Tulane University.
Through it all, Mackie said he was able to maintain hope.
“Hope is the voice in your head that whispers ‘maybe’ when the whole world tells you no,” he said. “We can’t allow anybody to stand in between us and our dreams.”
He encouraged students to find their educational niche and pursue it.
“In the 21st century there are two types of people—those in the know and those not in the know,” Mackie said. “When you find out you’re behind in the race of life you have two choices—run faster or quit.”
He also encouraged them to rise above their environments if it’s not conducive to learning.
“I had a cousin who was doing 25 to life,” he reflected. “If my cousin could do 25 for the man, then I definitely could do 11 years (earning a doctorate) for myself.”
Mackie said that he once shared with his wife that he would like his tombstone to simply read “Empty.”
“I want the world to know that I gave it my all,” he said. “I want my sons to know their daddy was the man.”
Preceding Mackie during the ceremony was a welcome by CCC President Valmadge Towner as well as presentations on “Customer Service in the Workplace” by CCC Executive Assistant Yolanda Miller and “Student Retention and Student Success” by Senior Strategic Consultant Katie Lynch-Holmes of Memphis-based Ellucian.
The ceremony concluded with brief presentations from CCC’s President’s Leadership Council.
CLICK HERE to view more photos on CCC's Facebook page.