Commencements for the University of Southern Mississippi (U.S.M.) will be held at the Hattiesburg and Long Beach campuses both Friday and Saturday. Some of those graduates are getting special recognition.
Jon Wench, a graduating veteran, says, “I didn't think I would make it at times, but it’s finally here.” Graduation is a major milestone for all students, but for Wench, his graduation this Saturday from U.S.M. is particularly important. That's because he put academics on hold to serve his country. Wench also says, “It feels awesome. I feel like I’m representing not only my four years at college, but my 20 years in the military and it means a lot to me.”
Wench is one of many veterans receiving special distinction in this year's commencement ceremony at U.S.M. Gulf Park. For the first time, the university is providing special honor cords to the men and women who protect our country. Mary Funk, a Student Success Coordinator, says, “We are giving out cords to our veterans and our active duty. This is to honor them and their services and their hard work.” Wench says, “It means 20 years of military and four years of hard work at college.” The university says the honor cords are their way of showing gratitude for servicemen. Funk also says, “Veterans are really great students. They are always on time, they’re always good students, and they are very serious students, so we need to honor them. We love having them.”
Funk says she is proud to see her military cord idea come to light. Wench closes, “It got me a job too. I start Monday morning at Trendy Marine as a Q.C.C. Safety Rep. I’m looking forward to that.”