Abigail Stockman

Abigail Stockman / 2008-2010 / Photographer, A.S.aPhotographer

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Abigail Stockman

Abigail Stockman believes her purpose is to help others obtain complete wholeness. This may seem broad, yet everything she pours time into is linked to this simple purpose.

In being a lifestyle and portrait photographer, Stockman gets to meet with people in all phases and stages of life. From those starting their grade school years to graduating high school, earning a hard-fought-for master’s degree, starting a new life with someone special, or expanding a family, Stockman simply wants to celebrate and capture every bit of it in real time. She also runs a small business and works in retail and social media management in the Carthage area.

Married for seven years, she and her husband, Trevor, work together at their home church in Clayton in various facets, but she is especially focused on working with youth students. Stockman has always called Panola County home and truly loves the people. After a few years spent in the Houston area, she and Trevor are glad to be back in the piney woods of Northeast Texas. Stockman is grateful for the opportunity to receive a great, local education, minister to fellow students, and make life-long friendships during her time at Panola College, and always says, 'If Panola were a four-year school, I would’ve stayed longer!'

Favorite Panola College memory: 

"I can’t narrow it down to just one favorite memory, but I can tell you that music was absolutely central to my Panola College experience. The on-campus ministry, 737, was led by Terry Lindsay, and when I started at Panola I came into the ministry and led worship. I then assisted with bringing other students into leadership roles, and we eventually added two more musicians to our worship team. While I am mainly a strings musician, I was a part of the Panola band's percussion section for two semesters under the direction of Mike McGowan and I was a member of the Panola chorale for two semesters under the direction of Dr. John Petzet. My friend Lauren and I won second place, and my older sister, also a Panola alumna, and I won third place in a campus-wide talent show. Singing the part of Sandy in the song Summer Nights from Grease in our Valentine chorale concert in my final semester was a big highlight. I was also thrilled to be a part of organizing the first ever Panola Idol, our version of American Idol."

Dr. Berri O'Neal

Dr. Berri O'Neal / 1993-1995 / Executive Director, Texas A&M University-Commerce

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B. O'Neal

Dr. Berri O’Neal, a Carthage native, earned her associate degree from Panola College in communication arts. While at Panola, she served as the school mascot, Fillis the Fillie, traveled and performed with the chorale, served as the copy editor and photo editor for the Pony Express, was vice president of the Student Government Association, was active onstage in the drama department’s productions, and was in Delta Psi Omega and Phi Theta Kappa.

O'Neal attended Texas A&M University-Commerce, earning a bachelor’s degree in radio/television, a master’s degree in theatre/management, and a Doctorate of Education in Secondary and Higher Education with a specialization in supervision, curriculum, and instruction.

For over two decades, O'Neal pursued her passion by working in higher education at Texas A&M University-Commerce and the University of North Texas in the areas of student services, enrollment management, admissions, registration, and orientation. She also served as the executive director for the state’s oldest multi-institution teaching center, the Universities Center at Dallas.

O'Neal served as a consultant to numerous businesses in the region and has spoken at state and national conferences on the topics of hiring, motivating, and empowering effective employees in the workplace. She served as president of the Chi Omega Commerce Alumnae chapter for five years and received the Chi Omega Distinguished Alumnae award. O'Neal has also served on the faculty in the College of Business at Texas A&M University-Commerce in the department of marketing and management.

O'Neal has been a member of the American Association for University Women, the Association for Collaborative Leadership, the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, Chi Omega National Fraternity, and the Texas Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. From 2011-2012, she served as the Texas Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers' president.

O'Neal is married to Drew Gormley, and they reside in Colleyville with their three children, Addison, Nolan, and Reagan.

Beverly McMillian

Beverly McMillian / 1979-1981 / Tutor III Instructor, Houston Community College

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Beverly McMillian

Beverly McMillian loved being a cheerleader and a member of Phi Theta Kappa at Panola College. Since her days at Panola, she has reflected on the poem Invictus. Like the poet William Henley, she was confronted with a challenge and realized, “I am the master of my fate.’’ What the poet said of himself aptly applied to McMillian at Panola and even today.

Passionate about people, McMillan has a track record of successful teaching and educational reform. Having taught children of all ages for over four decades, she holds an Associate of Arts from Panola, a Bachelor of Arts in Education with a specialization in reading, and a Master of Science in Counseling from Texas A&M University-Commerce. Her educational background also includes a mid-management certification from Stephen F. Austin State University.

McMillian has worked for a diverse range of organizations, including Carthage I.S.D, Marshall I.S.D, Tatum I.S.D., Beckville I.S.D., Fort Bend I.S.D., Panola College, and the University of Houston. Currently employed at Houston Community College, she works with first-year students in composition, rhetoric, and literacy.

Very proud is McMillian to be a dedicated member of the Missouri City Branch of the NAACP and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. In addition, she is extremely active in church ministries, as well as the social and business community.

Blake Smith

Blake Smith / Attended 1989-1992 / Chief of Police, City of Carthage

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Blake Smith

Blake Smith is married to Mandy Smith, a teacher at Libby Elementary, and has four wonderful children, Timothy, Matthew, Emily, and Madelynn. He has been employed at the Carthage Police Department since 1998, starting as a reserve officer up to his current position as chief of police.

Smith grew up in Timpson and graduated from Timpson High School in 1989. He was the first in his family to attend college and chose to further his education at Panola College beginning in 1989. During his time at Panola, he completed 71 hours of coursework and was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. After taking off to attend training with the Texas Army National Guard, he graduated in the spring of 1992 with an Associate of Science.

His oldest son, Timothy, graduated in December 2021 with an Associate of Science and is currently enrolled in the associate degree nursing program at Panola. His second son, Matthew, is currently a sophomore at Carthage High School and will attend Panola starting his junior year through the dual credit program.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"One of my favorite memories was Spring Fling. It was a day of fun events meant to relieve stress. I still remember using a sledgehammer on a wrecked car that day. Another great memory is of my instructors Mr. Hough, who taught history, and Mr. Scott, who taught government. They brought their subjects to life by sharing little-known details and the back story of events. They even coordinated their lectures. It seemed at each class, we would hear how the other had it wrong and how it really happened. This kept class interesting. Looking back, it showed how both subjects were interrelated in good fun."

Brandon Milam

Brandon Milam / 1992-1994 / Assistant Superintendent, Tatum I.S.D

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Brandon Milam

Brandon Milam was raised in Carthage by Danny and Jeannine Milam, along with his older brother, Brad, and younger sister, Becky.

Other than participating in sports, Milam spent his time hunting and fishing. He was honored to be on Carthage’s first state baseball championship team in 1990, coached by Scott Lee, and the state finalist football team in 1992 with Sleepy Renolds at the helm. He was signed to play baseball for the Panola Ponies by Jackie Davis and Don Clinton. After completing his time at Panola, he attended the University of Houston, where he continued his baseball career and earned a math degree. He played professional baseball for one year in the Northern League in 1997.

Milam married the love of his life in the fall of 1997 and began his coaching career in Prosper. He continued his coaching career at McKinney High School, McKinney North High School, and McKinney Boyd High School until 2013 before coming back to East Texas.

After earning his master's degree in education, Milam was hired as an assistant principal at Tatum High School for one year before taking on the lead principal position at the middle school. In 2016, he was promoted to assistant superintendent of finance for Tatum I.S.D. He married Lesley, who is originally from Beckville. They are blessed to have an 18-year-old son, Reese, and triplet girls who are 16, Ashtyn, LeeAnna, and Camryn. They reside in Tatum and are members of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Beckville.

Brenda Giles

Brenda Giles / 1971-1973 / Educator, Carthage I.S.D.

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Brenda Giles

Brenda Giles grew up attending Center and Tenaha schools, where her parents were educators and administrators. She graduated from Panola College in 1974 and went on to attend Stephen F. Austin State University, earning her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in education.

Giles retired from Carthage I.S.D. in 2012, where she served as an educator for 37 years. She also worked as an adjunct for Panola. 

Giles has been active in the community and served on numerous boards throughout the years. She has been a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, Carthage Classroom Teachers, Panola County Retired School Employees Association, Panola County Aggie Moms, Carthage Book Club, and the Titus Sunday school class at Central Baptist Church. She has served as vice president on the board of Footprints in the Sand Foundation, president of the Panola College Alumni Association, and chair of the Panola College Foundation. 

Giles has been married to Gene Giles for over 40 years. Together, they have two daughters and four grandchildren.

Dr. Carrie Buchanan Moore

Dr. Carrie Buchanan Moore / 2002-2004 / Pediatric Surgery Fellow, Baylor - Texas Children's Hospital

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C. Moore

Carrie Buchanan Moore was born and raised in Carthage and is the youngest of four children and the daughter of Malcolm Buchanan and Dr. Barbara Buchanan. She graduated from Carthage High School in 2004 and attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 2004 to 2008.

While a student at MIT, Moore played on the NCAA volleyball team and was a member of Alpha Chi Omega. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Science and Engineering. She attended Vanderbilt University's medical school and graduate school in Nashville, Tenn., from 2008 to 2015. While in medical school, she completed her Doctor of Philosophy in Human Genetics and Master of Science in Computational Biology.

Moore loved being in the operating room and decided to pursue a career in general surgery. She trained at Duke University as a general surgery resident from 2015 to 2022. She is completing her surgery residency training and will start her pediatric surgery fellowship at Baylor-Texas Children's Hospital in August 2022.

Moore has been married almost 11 years to her husband Nathan Moore, and together they have four children, Dailey and Conley Moore (4 years old), Langley Moore (2 years old), and Emmett Moore (3 months old).

Favorite Panola College memory:

"I participated in math and science competitions in high school. There were limited offerings for science classes at Carthage High School, and I really appreciated being able to take dual credit science courses at Panola College to strengthen my scientific knowledge. Those opportunities undoubtedly helped pave my way to college and beyond. I will forever be grateful to the many outstanding instructors and mentors I had during that time."

Carson Joines

Carson Joines / 1948-1951 / Mayor, Carthage, Texas

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Carson Joines

Cason Joines is an army veteran who moved to Carthage in 1948 to play football at Panola College, where he was part of the first class. After being elected to the city council in 1971, he went on to serve the City of Carthage as mayor pro tem for 10 years and mayor for 32 years.

Jones was an active member of the Carthage community and served on multiple boards during his time in Panola County.

Joines married Dixie Arnold, who passed away in 2002. They have four children, nine grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

Dr. Charles Hueber

Dr. Charles Hueber / 1997-1999 / Dean of Students, Schreiner University

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C. Hueber

Dr. Charles Hueber currently serves as the dean of students at Schreiner University, a small private liberal arts university located in Kerrville. At Schreiner, he oversees athletics, student activities, Greek life, judicial affairs, residence life, student government, student leadership, campus recreation, counseling, health & wellness, and first-year programs.

Before his time at Schreiner, Hueber served at Trinity Valley Community College as the executive director of student life, at Georgia Southern University as director of student activities, and at Stephen F. Austin State University as assistant director of student life. In his previous roles, he implemented a spirit and traditions council, transitions camps, and oversaw the student union and student programming.

Hueber has been invited to speak at national conferences and on college campuses across the country on a variety of topics including student leadership, freshmen retention, and student programming. He has served as a facilitator for the nationally developed LeaderShape program and has facilitated training at national and regional conferences for student activities advisors and judicial affairs professionals. His primary areas of research and interest are in social integration programming in regards to student success and meaningful collaboration between student services and academic affairs. He is a self-proclaimed nerd and has a passion for esports and gaming and has spent the past few years conducting his scholarly research on the impact of esports on universities and colleges. Recently he started an esports company, 4004 Esports, that helps colleges and other non-profit groups build and offer esports programming.  

Professional affiliations include the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, Texas Association of Student Personnel Administrators, Council for Independent College Chief Student Affairs Officers, National Collegiate Athletic Association, American College Personnel Association, The Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities, National Association for Campus Activities, Association for College Unions International, and Omicron Delta Kappa.

Hueber graduated from Panola College with an associate degree and later went to Stephen F. Austin State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication and Kinesiology and a master's degree in counseling and psychology. He later earned a Doctor of Education from the Department of Educational Leadership in Supervision, Curriculum, and Instruction in Higher Education at Texas A&M University-Commerce.

In his spare time, Hueber likes to read, play guitar, and teach fitness classes. He has one teenage son, Jude, and an adopted cat named Domino.

Chastiti N. Horne

Chastiti N. Horne / 1989-1991 / Lawyer, Managing Partner, Horne Rota Moos

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Chastiti N. Horne

Chastiti N. Horne attended Panola College from 1989 to 1991. While attending Panola, she participated in cheerleading and theatre, was a member of the Green Jackets, and was the treasurer for the Student Government Association.

After graduating from Panola, Horne attended Stephen F. Austin State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communication in 1993 and then obtained her law degree from South Texas College of Law in 1998. She is currently a managing partner at Horne Rota Moos law firm in Houston.

Horne has been the recipient of several awards, including being named as one of Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women of 2017. She was featured in Time Magazine’s 2008 Salute to Women in Leadership and was awarded the 2012 Harris County Bench Bar Pro Bono Award in the individual category for her work with Child Advocates. She also received the 2001 Harris County Adult Volunteer of the Year award and has been named to the Texas Super Lawyer list by Texas Monthly 2012-2019, as well as Texas Rising Star-Super Lawyer 2007 through 2011. She was named Litigator of the Week by Texas Lawyer Magazine in February 2014. She was also named a 2014 Woman on the Move by Texas Executive Women and chosen as the 2016 South Texas College of Law Alumni Public Service Award recipient. She was also named as a Top Lawyer by Houstonia Magazine in 2016 and 2017.

Horne is a life fellow with the Houston Bar Foundation, past president of the Greater Houston Society for Healthcare Risk Management, member of the DRI, member of the Association of Defense Trial Attorneys, and member of the Texas Association of Defense Counsel (Nominating Committee 2009). She served on the board of directors for Child Advocates, Inc., the board of trustees for St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, the alumni board of directors for Panola College, and the alumni board of directors for South Texas College of Law.

Horne also enjoys spending time with her husband, Tony Houck, and her three children, Presley, Payne and Barrett.

Chauncy Williams

Chauncy Williams / 2007-2009 / Art Educator, Winona Independent School District

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C. Williams

Chauncy B. Williams, at birth, was spoken over by his biological grandmother, Ruthie Lee Johnson, that he had unusually large hands. In her thought process, she wondered how he was going to utilize his hands. Her vision of her grandson's hands built the foundation of where Williams is today. His foundation with art began in his younger years, from drawing on Sunday school books to a multifaceted language of creating exceptional art.

Williams' determination to envision how far his art could evolve took him from Carthage High School to Panola College to receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2012. In 2009, another inspiration entered his life by the name of Desiree Harris, later to become Mrs. Desiree Williams. Her inspiration has continued to stand with and sometimes guide Williams in his continuation of the vision he has set. She also saw his desire to motivate and influence others in the way he was impacted. This led him to the point of teaching his love for art.

Williams’ parents, Cleon and LaWanda Williams, also played an important role and encouraged him to follow his dreams no matter what adversities he may face.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"My fondest memory while enrolled at Panola College was having the solo art exhibition in April 2008. After that week, I knew in my heart that I would pursue a career that revolved around art. All of this was made possible through my art professor, Mrs. Ann Boland."

Christina Leary

Christina Leary / 2010-2012 / Human Resources Solutions Manager, Baker Hughes

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Christina Leary

Christina Leary is the founder/director of SAKS of Love, a nonprofit that provides basic needs and learning opportunities throughout five counties. She is currently the human resources solutions manager at Baker Hughes in Lufkin with 18 years of human resources experience.

After her time at Panola College, Leary continued her education and in 2014 obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration at Wiley College.

At SAKS of Love, Leary continues the same love and support throughout five counties to many families. Recently, the organization was able to present its first four scholarships to local students in the community.

In 2021, Leary was one of CBS 19's Be Remarkable recipients and the Pilgrims Home-Strong recipient. She is a gospel recording artist and had a performance air on Impact Network on Bobby Jones Gospel.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"Panola College was a huge inspiration in my career accomplishments. Attending this college was one of the best experiences I had concerning education. It's a college that cares about the student and their well-being. One of my greatest memories at Panola was taking Freddy Mason’s speech class and my English class. Each course developed me into the person I am today. Mason taught the art of speaking and now I speak with such confidence. Because of those courses, I am able to teach seminars, classes, write policies and procedures, and much more."

Dr. Cody Whiddon

Dr. Cody Whiddon / 2007-2009 / Optometrist, Visions Source of Marshall

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Cody Whiddon

Dr. Cody Whiddon is a native East Texan and a proud alumnus of Beckville High School and Panola College.

While at Beckville, he took advantage of the dual credit program at Panola, where he earned more than 20 hours of college credits before moving on to finish his Bachelor of Science at Baylor University and then his Doctor of Optometry at the University of Houston. He is now the owner and operator of Vision Source of Marshall and serves as a primary eye care provider for the greater Marshall area. When he is not caring for patients, Dr. Whiddon enjoys spending time with his family, watching sports, and being outdoors. 

Favorite Panola College memory:

“I’ll always be grateful for the opportunities Panola College afforded me. They helped prepare me for what was ahead, and the people there were always very supportive. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to begin my higher education.”

Craig Haynie

Craig Haynie / 1996-1998 / Director of Bands, Henderson High School

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Craig Haynie

Craig Haynie is a 1996 graduate of Carthage High School. He studied at Panola College from 1996 to 1998 with Pete Kunkel and Larry Brumley in pursuit of a degree in music education, which he later earned from Stephen F. Austin State University.

Haynie is the director of bands for Henderson I.S.D at Henderson High School. He is currently completing his graduate degree in educational leadership through Lamar University and will graduate in August 2022. During his 17 years as a music educator in East Texas schools, he has had the opportunity to impact thousands of students.

Haynie is married to his high school sweetheart, Crissy, and lives in Henderson. Their children are Christian, and his wife, Hannah, and Connor. Crissy, also a Panola College alumni, is director of the Center for Effective Schools at the Region 7 Educational Service Center in Kilgore.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"I loved every minute of my time at Panola College. Playing basketball games with the pep band, theory classes with Mr. Brumley, and touring with the choir through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee are just a few of my favorite memories. I love having the opportunity to encourage students to explore Panola as one of their options for postsecondary education."

Dalye Alfaro

Dalye Alfaro / 2011-2013 / Superintendent, BL Harbert International LLC

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Dalye Alfaro

Dalye Alfaro is a superintendent for BL Harbert International, currently living and working in Iraqi Kurdistan building the new U.S. Consulate in Erbil.

Alfaro is originally from Beckville, and after her time at Beckville High School and Panola College, she graduated with her bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University. Shortly after graduation, she moved to Islamabad, Pakistan, for almost a year and then relocated to Ankara, Turkey, where she worked at the new U.S. Embassy for more than three years.

Living and working overseas has been extremely challenging but equally rewarding. Since moving overseas in 2017, Alfaro has had the chance to travel to over 20 countries and discover many different ways of life. She has learned to adjust and discover how to work with people from all walks of life and has gained a new appreciation for those who come from lives that look nothing like hers.

Since working for BLHI, Alfaro has been able to grow professionally through multiple title changes and has learned to spot problems prior to them becoming a problem. Whenever she is not working, she loves traveling to new places, reading, spending time with her cat, Cat (who has been to three countries herself!), hanging out with friends, and spending as much time outdoors as possible.

Dr. David R. Green Jr.

Dr. David R. Green Jr. / 1999-2002 / Physical Therapist, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Logix Therapy Staffing Solutions, LLC

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D. Green

Dr. David Green is a home health physical therapist currently providing physical therapy services to geriatric clients in the greater East Texas area.

Green is a graduate of Marshall High School who enrolled and earned an Associate of Science at Panola College thanks to a theater and presidential scholarship, which allowed his advanced educational journey to begin. After graduating from Panola, he advanced his education and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Tyler. He later attended Kilgore College, where he earned an Associate of Applied Science and obtained a license as a physical therapist assistant.

Green worked for 10 years as a physical therapist assistant in service to the East Texas community before returning to education, earning a Doctor of Physical Therapy from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Green is married to his wife, Julie, who is currently the program director of the occupational therapy assistant program at Panola. He and Julie have two children, Christopher, who is currently a freshman at Panola, and Victoria, who is in third grade and loves animals and all things glittery and pink.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"My favorite memories at Panola College, other than meeting my wife, of course, are the years of performances in the theatre department. My favorite performances were the dinner theatre shows. These shows were always so much fun and always full of laughs. During my second year at Panola, I was recognized and awarded a presidential scholarship from Dr. Gregory Powell. I credit the scholarships, opportunities, and experiences at Panola as the catalyst that began a journey that came to fruition in the completion of my doctoral degree."  

David "Glynn" Russell

David "Glynn" Russell / 1972-1973 / Entrepreneur, Russell's Floors

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David "Glynn" Russell

David “Glynn” Russell was born and raised in Center and graduated from Center High School in 1972. He attended Panola College from 1972 to 1973.

Following his time at Panola, he went on to obtain his bachelor’s degree in meteorology from Texas A&M University in 1976. He later put his degree to work developing, growing, and maintaining his passion for his peach orchard, better known as The Peach Shed.

After college, Russell returned to East Texas, where he opened a flooring store in Carthage, Russell’s Floors, in 1985. He later expanded his business to a second location in his hometown of Center and eventually consolidated the stores into one location.

Russell has given back to his community over the years by serving on the local water board, Flatfork Water System. He is also responsible for the sound systems and participates in outreach ministries at his local church, Center Christian Fellowship.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"My fondest memories at Panola College include spending time in the chemistry lab and playing ping pong in the student center."

Daylon Swearingen

Daylon Swearingen / 2018-2020 / World Champion, professional bull riders

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D. Swearingen

Daylon Swearingen grew up in Piffard, N.Y., and attended Panola College from 2018 to 2020, where he was part of the rodeo team.

Prior to attending Panola in 2018, Swearingen won the National High School Rodeo Association bareback riding title.

In 2019, he finished No. 9 in the world standings. He won round five and placed in three rounds at the Wrangler NFR, finishing No. 11 in the average. He won Rusk County PRCA Rodeo, the 67th Annual Mid-Winter Fair and Rodeo, Mineral Wells PRCA Rodeo, the Black Hills Roundup, the Red Desert, and the La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros. He was co-champion at the 91st annual Arcadia, All-Florida Championship Rodeo, the Northwest Florida Pro Rodeo and Crawfish Festival, the West of the Pecos Rodeo, and the Livingston Roundup.

The following year, in 2020, Swearingen finished No. 21 in the world standings and won the Coleman PRCA Rodeo, the Mesquite Championship Rodeo, and the Golden Spike Rodeo. He was co-champion at the World's Oldest Rodeo, the Oakley Independence Day Rodeo, and the Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo.

In 2021, Swearingen won Black Hills Roundup and was co-champion of the West of the Pecos Rodeo.

This year, Swearingen became the 2022 Professional Bull Riders World Champion.

Debra Kay Thomas

Debra Kay Thomas / 1974-1976 / 1st Black Female All-American Basketball Player, Panola College

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D. Thomas

Debra Kay Thomas graduated from Center High School in 1974 and attended Panola College from 1974 to 1976. While at Panola, she was part of the first women's basketball team and earned All-American honors, along with All-Regional Player and Most Valuable Player.

After leaving Panola, Thomas continued her basketball career at Stephen F. Austin State University, where she earned All-American Honorable Mention and was named to the all-regional squad. She also played on the U.S. A.B.A basketball summer team and toured Seoul, South Korea, Hong Kong, Peking, China, and Tokyo, Japan.

Thomas played for the Iowa Comets of the Women's Professional Basketball League. In 2018, she was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame as Trailblazer of the Game. 

Today, Thomas is a board member of Legends of the Ball Inc., which is a non-profit organization founded by nine players of the Women’s Basketball League.

Thomas has lived in Longview for 30 years and retired from Eastman Chemical Company after 21 years. She has one daughter, Angela, and two granddaughters, Ja'Khia and Rhianna.

Denitra Shaw

Denitra Shaw / 1989-1992 / Senior Resolution Specialist, Gallagher Bassett

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D. Shaw

Denitra Shaw has ultimately gained over 25 years of experience in the insurance industry as a professional in managing moderate and complex litigated worker's compensation claims for independent school districts, municipalities, and various corporate industries for multiple states and federal jurisdictions.

Shaw takes pride in her work and has established long-term relationships with clients, injured employees, nurse case managers, defense counsel, vendors, and her peers. In addition, she has provided training and often serves as a mentor by offering her professional expertise and support to less experienced colleagues. She received the Rookie of the Year award, attends continuing education conferences, and has received several customer service awards throughout her career.

Her current role is a senior resolution specialist with Gallagher Bassett, which consists of handling Defense Base Act workers' compensation claims. This federal workers' compensation program is designed to cover civilian contractors for work-related injuries while providing military support in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Shaw graduated from Tatum High School and attended Panola College from 1989 to 1992 and earned an Associate of Applied Science. While attending Panola College, she was a member of Phi Theta Kappa and was nominated for the dean's honor list.

She continued her education at the University of Texas at Tyler in 1993 and later pursued a career in the insurance industry in 1995. She relocated to Dallas in 1998 and enjoys spending time with her family and new granddaughter.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"My favorite memory was residing on campus in the Merle Glass dorm and meeting new people."

Dustin Norris

Dustin Norris / 2014-2016 / General Manager/Partner, Smith Sawmill Service

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D. Norris

Dustin Norris has taken the education he received at Panola College and put it into action to compete on a global scale as a partner in a manufacturing business with over 120 employees.

Many people say that an associate degree is only a good start to a career, but Norris is living proof that with hard work and determination, you can take a Panola education and take on whatever is in front of you.

In his spare time, Norris serves in his church, Timber Creek Church, and is a Nacogdoches Jaycees board member and a Timpson Chamber of Commerce treasure.

Dwayne Adams

Dwayne Adams / 2012-2014 / Laboratory Technical Consultant, Data Innovations

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D. Adams

After graduating from Panola College in the fall of 2014, Dwayne Adams was given the opportunity to be an adjunct instructor in the health and natural sciences department from the fall of 2015 through the spring of 2021.

With his degree, doors of opportunity have been opened for Adams to work as a medical laboratory technician (MLT), pharmacogenomics MLT, laboratory information systems coordinator, and laboratory technical consultant.

Apart from his professional career, Adams has found his true calling in being an anointed minister of Jesus Christ. He has been blessed to carry the gospel across state lines as well as experience firsthand the wonderful work of Christ in the lives of His people.

Dwayne Smith

Dwayne Smith / 1983-1985 / Process Technician, Shell Oil

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D. Smith

Dwayne Smith, the father of two children, is a process technician with Shell Oil Company. He has worked for Shell for the past 24 years.

Smith attended Panola College from 1983 to 1985. He was part of the basketball team and was awarded First Team All-Conference and contributed to the team earning the TEC conference championship. During his short time there, the accessibility and willingness of faculty to connect and help secure the opportunities he received are what he attributes the most. He developed many life-long friendships during this time and continues to have those connections.

Smith went on to attend Southern Arkansas University, where he received honors and accolades. He was named the 1987 Auburn Smith Student-Athlete of the Year, Honorable Mention All-American, and All-Conference both years.

As a former basketball player of Panola College and Southern Arkansas University, Smith's goal and aspiration were to play professionally. His hard work led him to Europe, where he played professionally for three years. 

While channeling his passion for the game, Smith was given an opportunity to teach young players. He coached little league for many years, including his son, who was a collegiate and professional basketball player as well.

He resides in Prairieville, La., with his wife, where he routinely enjoys playing golf.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"My favorite memory of the time I spent at Panola College is meeting and marrying my wife, Tangela Howard Smith, who is also a former basketball player of Panola."

Emily Dunn

Emily Dunn / 1999-2002 / Family Nurse Practitioner, Hope Community Medicine

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E. Dunn

Emily Dunn is a Panola County native who graduated from Carthage High School in 2000. She attended Panola College from 1999 to 2002, when she graduated with an Associate of Science. While at Panola, she was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

After graduating from Panola, Dunn received an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing from Kilgore College in 2004 and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Texas at Tyler in 2009. She also completed her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Texas at Tyler in 2016 and is certified through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

As a nurse practitioner, Dunn provides medical care for people of all ages within the community. She currently works for Hope Community Medicine in Carthage, which is housed in Panola’s W.C. Smith Building.

Prior to becoming a nurse practitioner, Dunn worked for more than 12 years as a registered nurse at a hospital in Longview, specializing in hematology/oncology.

She is married to Joshua Dunn, who also attended Panola. They have been married for 20 years and have two sons, Zay and Evan. They are members of Cedar Grove Baptist Church.

Evelyn Harrison

Evelyn Harrison / 2013-2015 / Information Technician, Marshall Police Department

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E. Harrison

Evelyn Harrison is a native of New Orleans, La., who moved with her family to Marshall in September 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina. She has been married to her husband for 32 years and has three adult children and one grandson.

Harrison is currently employed with the Marshall Police Department and has been there for 16 years. She started out as a dispatcher and, shortly after, became their receptionist. In 2014, she became a member of the records division as an information technician.

In the fall of 2013, Harrison enrolled at Panola College, taking online classes. After being out of school for many years, it was challenging for her. In 2015, she received an Associate of Applied Science.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"Since my classes were online, I did not have many memories on campus. But if I had to choose one, it would have to be during my last semester when we had career day and had mock job interviews. I learned so much that day even though I was already in the work force. It gave me insight on what to expect when going through an interview process."

Evelyn Sharp

Evelyn Sharp / 1953-1958 / Supervisor, McAllen I.S.D.

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E. Sharp

Evelyn Sharp was born in Richland Parish, La., on March 7, 1935, to Charlie and Mary Duchesne. She had one sibling, Murlene Duchesne Dobson. The Duchesne family moved to Carthage in 1944, where Charlie was employed by United Gas Company. He was working in the gas plant when the first valve was turned on to start the operation of the new plant, and he retired in 1976 when the last valve was turned off and the plant closed.

Sharp graduated from Carthage High School in 1953 and was the class salutatorian. While attending Carthage High School, she was a band majorette and a drum major. In the fall of 1953, she attended Panola Junior College on a full scholarship.

Later that year, she married James Sharp, son of Lawrence R. and Debbie Sharp. From Panola, Sharp earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education in 1969, a Master of Education in 1980, and a supervision certification in 1981.

Sharp worked at the First State Bank & Trust Company from 1960 to 1965, when the Sun Oil Company transferred her husband to McAllen. During their stay in the Valley, she was hired as an elementary school teacher by McAllen I.S.D. She worked as a teacher from 1969 to 1980. In 1980 she was promoted to supervisor and served in that position until 1984. From 1981 to 1984, she also worked part-time summer instructor at the University of Texas-Pan American, where she taught graduate and undergraduate courses.

The Sharp family returned home to Carthage in 1894. That same year, Sharp began teaching at Libby Elementary. She worked there until 1987 when she retired to travel with her husband.

Sharp’s devotion to education led her to Panola College in November of 1991, when she agreed to fill a vacancy on the board of trustees. In 1992, she was elected to complete the term of Place 2. She was reelected in 1994, 2000, 2006, and 2012.

She also served as an officer and board member of the Panola College Alumni Association for several years. In 2006, she was named Panola College Alumna of the Year. 

Fannie Watson

Fannie Watson / 1948-1950 / Teacher, Center I.S.D

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F. Watson

Fannie Watson graduated from Tenaha High School in 1948. She began attending Panola College in the second semester of its existence and was a member of the very first Green Jackets. She also served on the staff of The Pony Express and the yearbook.

After earning her Associate of Arts in 1950, Watson went on to complete bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Stephen F. Austin State University and later enjoyed a successful 50-year teaching career. 

Watson served four years as an officer of the Panola College Alumni Association and was an active member of the Panola College Foundation Board for several years.

Glendell Chadwick

Glendell Chadwick / 1967-1969 / Educational Diagnostician, Carthage I.S.D

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G. Chadwick

Glendell Chadwick is a 1967 graduate of Turner High School. Following graduation, she attended Panola College and later Stephen F. Austin State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Education. Over the years, she also earned a diagnostician and supervisory certification at the University of Texas at Tyler, plus additional certifications in elementary education, physically handicapped, and mental retardation.

Chadwick was in the education profession for 35 years and retired as an educational diagnostician from Carthage I.S.D. During her tenure, she served students at Carthage, Beckville, and Gary. She was also the owner of the Knowledge Nook daycare, which was located in Carthage. While serving in that position, she was instrumental in helping children to be academically ready for public school.

Chadwick also served as a member of the Panola College Board of Trustees. She worked with other trustees and members of the administration to help guide Panola to where it is today.

Herschel Waller

Herschel Waller / 1964-1966 / Reservoir Engineering Consultant, BP Amoco

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H. Waller

Herschel Waller is a native of Waskom who attended Panola College from 1964 to 1966. He was subsequently awarded bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics from Texas Tech University, as well as a master's degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Oklahoma.

Waller began his engineering career with Amoco Production Company (now BP), spending over 24 years in various project and supervisory assignments, including four years in Norway, over three years in Egypt, and two years at Amoco Research Center in Tulsa, Okla.

Afterward, Waller was a reservoir engineering consultant for almost 15 years before retiring in 2013. He has spent his retirement years pursuing personal interests such as writing and publishing his first novel. He now lives with his wife in Fulshear, which is west of Houston and enjoys traveling and visiting his grandchildren.

Isha Brown

Isha Brown / 1996-1998 / City Commissioner, City of Carthage

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I. Brown

Isha Brown was born and raised in Carthage. She attended Carthage schools and after graduation, began her college studies at Panola College, where she received a scholarship to study journalism. At Panola, she wrote for the college newspaper, The Pony Express, and was involved in many organizations on campus, including the Excel Club and Phi Theta Kappa.

After Panola, Brown transferred to the University of North Texas and received a Bachelor of Science. She also obtained post-graduate certifications in education, human services, non-profit management, and communication.

Brown worked in the legal, non-profit, and education fields in the Dallas area for many years before returning home. It had always been her desire to come back to Carthage and give back to the community that had poured so much into her as a child.  

Brown is an educator and teaches sixth-grade language arts. She currently serves as a city commissioner, CASA volunteer and mentor, and is very active in her local community.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"My favorite memory is meeting lifelong friends at Panola College."

Ivonne Flores

Ivonne Flores / 2013-2015 / Registered Nurse, Longview Regional Medical Center

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I. Flores

Ivonne Flores attended Panola College from 2013 to 2015 and was in the nursing program. She currently works as a registered nurse at Longview Regional Medical Center.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"During my time as a nursing student at Panola College, my favorite memory was the excellent leadership and teaching from all the professors. I was molded into a strong and well-prepared registered nurse, from learning the foundations of nursing to meeting the specific needs of a patient."

J.T. Harris

J.T. Harris / 1973-1975 / Pastor, Bethlehem Baptist Church

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J.T. Harris

Rev. J.T. Harris was born in Longstreet, La., to J.T. Harris Sr. and Lucile Taylor Harris in 1950. He accepted Jesus as his savior in 1964 at the Sulphur Springs Baptist Church in Longstreet. He answered the Lord’s call to ministry in 1970 and was licensed to preach in 1974. He was also ordained in the gospel ministry in 1974.

Harris has served as pastor at the Todd Springs and Greater Smyrna Baptist Churches, both in Timpson. In November of 1976, Harris was called to the Bethlehem Baptist Church and has been there ever since 45 faithful years and counting.

Harris received his Associate of Arts from Panola College in 1975, his Bachelor of Arts, with a major in history and a minor in English, from Wiley College in 1975, and his Master in Religious Education from the Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary in Jacksonville in 1980. He was the first African American to earn a degree from BMA Theological Seminary and currently serves on its board of visiting trustees. In addition, the seminary has named a scholarship in his honor.

Harris is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Fraternity. In 2010, in recognition of his commitment and dedication to Christian ministry, the Inter-Baptist Theological Seminary of Shreveport conferred upon Harris, a Doctor of Divinity. A couple of years later, that same school also bestowed upon him an honorary doctor of law degree. Harris served as moderator of the East Texas Bethel Baptist Association for 23 years.

Harris has been married to the former Regina Kaye Johnson of Marlin for 45 years. He is the father of Beverly, Ketura, and Abishai, the grandfather of Whitney, Kendrick, Rev. A.J. Bowers, Kalan (KJ), Nasir, and Kierstyn, and the great-grandfather of LaKendrick and Amairah.

Everyone who knows Harris knows that he has the ability to write and has a way with words. Through all of life’s experiences and after nudging from family and church members, Harris finally published a book of poems that he composed. The book is entitled Sermons in Verse; An Offering of Poems that Preach and can be found in local college libraries.

For his work in Christian ministry and civil rights, the City of Carthage, alongside Mayor Lynn Vincent, bestowed upon him a key to the city and proclaimed Nov. 13 "Rev. J.T. Harris Jr. Day."

Dr. Jennifer Edwards

Dr. Jennifer Edwards / 1999-2002 / Professor of Communication, Tarleton State University

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J. Edwards

Dr. Jennifer Edwards is a professor of communication at Tarleton State University and serves as the executive director of the Texas Social Media Research Institute, a social media initiative based at Tarleton.

Prior to her current role, Edwards served as assistant vice president for student success and multicultural initiatives at Tarleton, where she was responsible for the academic advising center, career services, academic mentoring initiatives, academic resource center, center for academic readiness and success, center for assessment and academic testing, international programs, and Upward Bound. Edwards was also the leader of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities' Re-Imagining the First-Year Experience Initiative and the leader for the implementation of the Education Advisory Board's Student Success Collaborative at Tarleton.

On a state level, Edwards served as a faculty fellow for the Association of American Colleges and Universities - Liberal Education and America’s Promise in Texas. On a national level, she serves as a social sciences councilor with the Council on Undergraduate Research. She has published over 30 articles and presented over 50 conference presentations. She is also the co-founder of ETX Innovation Center and Busy Frugal Family.

Edwards contributed over 50 publications and presentations in the communication and higher education research fields. She enjoys engaging students from all backgrounds in high-impact learning experiences, especially undergraduate research, in the classroom and at the Texas Social Media Research Institute.

Edwards is the 2012 recipient of the Tarleton State University Jack and Louise Arthur Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2011 recipient of the Tarleton State University Barry B. Thompson Award for Excellence in Service Award, and two of Texas A&M University System Student Recognition Awards for Teaching Excellence in 2011 and 2012. Her dissertation, Supports for and barriers to on-time graduation as perceived by African American undergraduate students at historically Black colleges and universities and historically White colleges and universities, received the Dissertation of the Year award from the Texas Association College and University Student Personnel Administrators.

Edwards has also written three books, Family Travel Hacks and Tips for Any Budget: Keeping Your Family Organized While Traveling with Kids, Integrating High-Impact Educational Practices in College Classrooms: A Guide for Higher Education Faculty and Student Affairs Professionals, and Retaining College Students Using Technology: A Guidebook for Student Affairs and Academic Affairs Professionals.

Jeremy Doneghue

Jeremy Doneghue / 1997-1999 / Civil Engineer, Lina T. Ramey & Associates, Inc.

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J. Doneghue

Jeremy Doneghue graduated from Carthage High School in 1997 and attended Panola College from 1997 to 1999. He went on to attend Texas A&M University and graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering.

Following graduation, Doneghue was eager to begin his career in civil engineering, specializing in highway design. He spent several years working as a municipal and transportation design engineer until receiving his professional engineering license in 2006.

Since then, Doneghue has served as the project engineer and project manager for multiple projects. Currently, he is the project manager for Lina T. Ramey & Associates, Inc., and has been in the position for more than five years. With more than 20 years in the industry, he has designed highways all across the state of Texas.

Jim Bates

Jim Bates / 1958-1960 / Pharmacist & Business Owner, Matthewson Drugs

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J. Bates

Jim Bates spent two years at Panola College after graduating from Marshall High School in 1958. He planned to seek an accounting degree, but while working part-time in a pharmacy, he decided to study pharmacy instead. He left Panola and finished his college years at the University of Texas. He worked in Austin and New Braunfels before returning to Marshall and co-owning Matthewson Drug Co. for nearly 50 years.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"I loved the small school atmosphere and personal attention we received from faculty and the grassroots friendships we established at Panola College. Campus life was filled with many activities and those days in the student center are memorable. One of my special memories is of Martha Miller, my accounting instructor, who motivated and encouraged me greatly. I am forever grateful to her investment in my life."

Jim Payne

Jim Payne / 1962-1963 / CEO and Chairman of the Board, First State Bank & Trust Co.

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J. Payne

Jim Payne was born in Carthage in 1944 and graduated from Carthage High School in 1962. Following graduation, he was recruited to play baseball at Panola College.

Payne graduated from Panola in 1964 with an Associate of Arts. He then transferred to the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Economics and Finance. Over the years, he continued his education by attending and completing programs at the Intermediate School of Banking, Southwestern Graduate School of Banking, Class XXII, and the Texas School of Trust Banking.

Payne began his 45-year career with the First State Bank & Trust Company in 1967. Since then, he has served in various positions, including assistant vice president, vice president, senior vice president, trust officer, vice chairman of the board, chairman of the board, and CEO.

Payne has also been very active in the community. In 1980, he was a founding member of the Panola County Girls Softball Association. He serves as an administrative board member and treasurer of the First United Methodist Church. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Texas Independent Bankers Association, an at-large director of the Panola County Groundwater District, a trustee of the Charles Matthews Foundation, a former president and current member of the Panola County Chamber of Commerce, a former president and current member of the Panola County Development Foundation Board, a former president and current member of the Kiwanis Club, and a director of the Carthage I.S.D. Education Foundation. He is also a member of the Panola County Cattlemen’s Association, the Panola County Agriculture Extension Leadership Advisory Board, and the City of Carthage Park Board.

Payne is the son of Robert Henry Payne Jr. and Ivy Mae Madole, both from Madisonville. He married his wife, Sandra Roe, on Sept. 5, 1970. He and Sandra have two daughters, Nelda Elizabeth “Betsy” Payne Cooney and Julie Ann Payne Turner, both of whom attended Panola.

Jonathan Bate

Jonathan Bate / 1998-2000 / Advanced Strategic Planning and Policy Program Fellow, United States Army

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J. Bate

Jonathan Bate is an active duty army major and an Advanced Strategic Planning and Policy Program (ASP3) fellow assigned to Stanford University as a Ph.D. student in political science, where his research focuses on measuring the strategic impact of international security assistance.

A graduate of Panola College, Stephen F. Austin State University, and the United States Military Academy, Bate commissioned into the infantry and served three deployments to Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne Division. He subsequently served as an assistant professor of economics in the West Point Department of Social Sciences and then as cavalry squadron executive officer and operations officer in the 1st Armored Division.

Bate holds a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He resides in Sunnyvale, Calif., with his wife Bailey and six-month-old daughter, Sophia. His parents, Larry and Laura Bate, reside in Clayton.

Josie Santos

Josie Santos / 2010-2012 / All-American Volleyball Player, Texas Woman's University

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J. Santos

Josie Santos is from São Paulo, Brazil, and came to Panola College on a full-ride volleyball scholarship. During her time at Panola, she was named quad-captain for her leadership, and her efforts on the court earned her Player of the Year honors for the conference in 2010 and 2011.

After making history as the first Panola volleyball All-American as a freshman, Santos followed up with another record-setting season in 2011, being named to both NJCAA and the AVCA All-American First teams while also holding all-district and all-tournament honors. She is also the first volleyball player to have 12 double-doubles in a single season.

Santos excelled off the court as well. She was the 2012 homecoming queen, all while boasting a 3.4 GPA in the classroom. She graduated with an associate degree in journalism in 2012.

Santos went on to Texas Woman’s University, where she was also very successful as a student-athlete, earning regional and conference honors and graduating with her business administration degree. Because sports and teaching are her passions, she became a middle school physical education teacher and a volleyball coach, earning a rookie Teacher of the Year honor.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"I have many great memories, from the gym, to the people that I was honored to meet, to the friends I made. I was in Brazil when I received my volleyball scholarship, but I couldn't understand very well because I couldn’t speak a word of English. I couldn’t believe it. I remember looking on Google to figure out where Carthage was on the map. Out of all the memories I have from Panola, my favorite is the time we spent in Coach Nicole McCray and Coach Amber McCray's offices. We talked about everything as a team, many times we cried and other times we laughed. Those times were so precious to me, both of them would give so much of their knowledge and time to us. They were the closest family I had at Panola, someone I could call at any time, someone I could rely on all the time, and I still do. Not just them, but many other amazing people I met during my time at Panola."

Kate Pentecost

Kate Pentecost / 2004-2005 / Young Adult Author, Disney Hyperion

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K. Pentecost

Kate Pentecost is from Deadwood and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up exploring, reading, and taking part in local theatre, and she is the author of YA fantasy novels Elysium Girls and That Dark Infinity.

Pentecost loves tea, flowers, and ghosts, and she is obsessed with the Romantic Poets. She lives in Houston, where she writes for an international beauty company and continues to write for children and young adults. 

Kathryn Weber

Kathryn Weber / 2011-2012 / NonProfit President, Kate’s Cause

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K. Weber

Kathyrn Weber grew up in Kountze with her parents, brother, and sisters. She graduated from Kountze High School in 2011 and decided to attend Panola College, where she was on the rodeo team. She graduated from Panola in December 2012 with an associate degree in animal science and continued her education at Sam Houston State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business. 

Since then, she has started her own nonprofit organization, Kate’s Cause. She started Kate’s Cause after being diagnosed with cancer at the age of 25 and having to decide whether or not she would be able to afford fertility preservation. Kate’s Cause helps provide funds so that women do not have to make the decision to sacrifice having a family for the treatment that will save their life.

Keron Jackson

Keron Jackson / 2003-2005 / Opera Singer, Fort Worth Opera

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K. Jackson

Hailed by The Dallas Morning News as “a powerhouse bass voice who takes command of the stage,” Dr. Keron Jackson made his Carnegie Hall debut singing the voice of God in Saviour with Steve Green, Wayne Watson, Larnelle Harris, and Twila Paris.

Jackson made history in the Dallas Opera’s world premiere of Jake Heggie’s epic Moby Dick in the role of Daggoo. He thrilled audiences with his dynamic rendition of Ol’ Man River, playing Joe in the Lyric Stage revival of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s Show BoatJim in Big Riverthe Ghost of Christmas Present in Alan Menken’s A Christmas Carol, and earned critical acclaim for Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

Jackson has been called “The King of Collegiate Chapel,” teaching at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Liberty University, Baylor University Bible Conference, and East Texas Baptist University, to name just a few. In 2022, he sang and preached at the Baptist convention and has also performed concerts and preached in many parts of South America.

Jackson holds a vital commitment to be an example of what God can do in the life of a kid born to parents who were homeless drug addicts living on the streets. He believes that “if no one shows up for your dream, you still have to show up for it every day.” He is currently writing his first book, Unlearning What My Parents Taught Me: A Road to Success. Hey, Big Dude is his youth outreach ministry.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"I loved being a Panola Piper under Larry Brumley. He was a great man that truly believed in all of his students. I love the community engagement Panola College actively strives for. My experience at Panola was enhanced greatly by Central Baptist Church and Joyce Hughes."

Kiley Schumacher

Kiley Schumacher / 1996-1998 / Principal, Carthage I.S.D.

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K. Schumacher

Kiley Schumacher is currently the principal at Carthage Primary. Prior to this role, she taught second grade at Tyler I.S.D., eighth-grade science for Carthage I.S.D., and served as assistant principal for Carthage I.S.D. Beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, she will serve Carthage I.S.D. as the principal at Baker-Koonce Intermediate School.

Schumacher graduated with the Carthage High School class of 1996. She earned her Associate of Science from Panola College in 1998. She later earned her Bachelor of Science, Master of Education, and superintendent certification all from the University of Texas at Tyler. She is currently working toward a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Stephen F. Austin State University.

Schumacher is married to her high school sweetheart, Shawn, and together they have celebrated 22 years of marriage. They have four children, Si Lane, a freshman baseball player at Northeast Texas Community College, Zane, a junior at Carthage High School, Eli, a sixth grader at Baker-Koonce Intermediate School, and Eden, a second grader at Libby Elementary.

Schumacher's kids are involved in a variety of activities, so they keep her on a ball field, in a gym, or at a dance/gymnastics studio all the time. She is an active member of Central Baptist Church, assisting in the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten Sunday school class. She is also a member of the Carthage Kiwanis Club.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"I loved being part of the Panola College cheer squad! There were so many fun events associated with that special group of people. From late nights in the dorms to traveling to Florida for a cheer competition, many of my fondest Panola memories are associated with my cheer friends. I also loved getting to watch Shawn, then my boyfriend, play baseball for Panola. I was also crowned homecoming queen, and that was an honor as well."

Kimberley Hedges Funderburk

Kimberley Hedges Funderburk / 1987-1990 / Director of Theatre, Carthage High School

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K. Hedges Funderburk

Kimberley Hedges Funderburk grew up going to rehearsals, performances, speech tournaments, and UIL One-Act Play contests. Her grandmother and both parents were educators, with her mother teaching her the love of the theatre.

Funderburk is a proud graduate of Carthage High School, Panola College, Texas Christian University, and the University of Houston. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre and Television. She also holds a Master of Arts in Theatre. She has trained in New York City, Chicago, and London.

The 2021-2022 school year was Funderburk's twenty-eighth year working in education. She started her career at Hull-Daisetta I.S.D. teaching theatre and coaching volleyball, basketball, and track at the junior high level. She also taught pre-kindergarten in Sabine Parrish, La.

She has been employed at Carthage I.S.D. for 25 years. She entered the district as a clerical aide on the Primary campus. After that, she had the privilege of teaching fine arts on the Intermediate campus. For 10 years on the junior high campus, she taught theatre. The 2008-2009 school year was her first year on the high school campus. Currently, at Carthage High School, she teaches theatre and technical theatre, and is also the director of UIL One-Act Play. Additionally, she is the UIL academic coordinator and student council advisor.

Funderburk met her husband in the theatre department at Panola. Their oldest child is also a Panola theatre alumni, and their youngest child is stage manager for Carthage High School theatre, where she is a senior.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"I loved every minute of student life at Panola College. Freshman year, joining American Chemical Society, Delta Psi Omega, and Phi Theta Kappa. The dances, the revival of homecoming, fun funs, the list of activities goes on and on. However, my sophomore year affected my life the most. During fall auditions, I was introduced to Jason Funderburk by Mr. Edd Smith, the student activities director at the time. Jason and I became close friends that semester. On the last day of the semester, Jason asked me out on a date for the first time. The next day, while working in the bookstore, Mr. Edd came in. I told him about the date and he was so excited. He said, "I just know the two of you will live happily ever after." At the time, I thought Mr. Edd was just popping off. The next day, Mr. Edd Smith was killed in an automobile accident. Jason and I attended the service together with my family. We have been married for 29 years."

Kristan Carroll

Kristan Carroll / 2007-2014 / Process Operator, Eastman Chemical Company

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K. Carroll

Kristan Carroll graduated from Panola College in May 2014 with an Associate of Science and an Associate of Applied Science in Petroleum Technology. Upon graduating, she met an engineer at the annual Women in Energy event that is held on campus. After the event, Carroll acquired an internship at Eastman Chemical Company in Longview and shortly after was hired on at the company and began her career. She is now a mother of two and looks forward to having a lifelong career thanks to the petroleum technology program.

LaVerle Harvey Murray Ellis

LaVerle Harvey Murray Ellis / 1970-1972 / Manager of Transfusion Service, East Texas Medical Center

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L. Ellis

When LaVerle Harvey Murray Ellis started Panola College in the summer of 1970, she was a single mother living with her parents. She had no college experience, but was very excited to take the step. She had left her marriage, and, having no skills or spousal support, convinced her parents that she should at least learn typing.

Ellis snuck into a Texas history class along with the typing class and grew wings. Although she never learned to type fast, she scored A’s in both classes and was on her way. She could hardly wait to see what each new semester would bring. She read the books as soon as they were in her hands.

Science, math, literature, she loved them all. She kept getting A’s in all of her classes, but practicality required choosing a field that would provide a job at graduation. Laboratory technology was that field.

Ellis was thrilled to be accepted into the University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston for her year of clinical training. She did not graduate from there, as her college career was interrupted by love. She dropped out of UTMB to marry Floyd Ellis in 1973 and they were together until he died in 2020. Ellis gives him credit for getting her into Wadley Hospital School of Medical Technology, where she finished clinicals. She graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University summa cum laude in 1976.

Her career as a medical laboratory scientist has been extremely satisfying. At her first job, she learned to love blood banking. After moving to Tyler, she worked in transfusion medicine management at each hospital and blood bank she was fortunate enough to serve. She retired from East Texas Medical Center in 2014 and currently owns Floyd Ellis Public Adjusters, LLC.

Levi Duncan

Levi Duncan / 2009-2011 / Head Choir Director/Department Chair, Alvin High School

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L. Duncan

Levi Duncan is in his eighth year of teaching and his third year as head choir director and fine arts department chair at Alvin High School. He earned a Bachelor of Music in Choral Music Education (magna cum laude) from Lamar University and an Associate of Science in Vocal/Instrumental Music (cum laude) from Panola College. He is an active conductor, adjudicator, clinician, and arts advocate.

Under his leadership, the Alvin choirs consistently earn sweepstakes at UIL Concert and Sight-Reading Contest, Best in Class/Best Overall Choir at various festivals, and has had numerous TMEA All-Staters. He was named an AHS MCJROTC Inspiration Educator (2020, 2021, and 2022) and a Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction by the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) in 2021.

In addition to his responsibilities at Alvin High School, Duncan serves as the chancel choir director at Clear Lake Presbyterian Church.

From 2016 to 2020, Duncan served as the artistic director of the Southeast Texas Vocal Artists (STVA), an auditioned community choir based in Beaumont. Since creating the organization in 2015, the ensemble has grown to over 40 singers and has earned statewide recognition. In July 2017, the Southeast Texas Vocal Artists performed at the Texas Choral Directors Association Convention in San Antonio.

His professional affiliations include TMEA, TCDA, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity, Pi Kappa Lambda-National Music Honor Society, and Phi Kappa Phi-National Honor Society.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"My favorite Panola College memory was serving as the president of the choir department from 2010 to 2011."

Linda Davis

Linda Davis / 1981-1982 / Country Music Artist, Grammy Award Winner

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L. Davis

Linda Davis attended Panola College from 1981 to 1982 and was a member of the choir and the Panola Pipers singing group.

Davis left Panola to pursue her singing career in Nashville, Tenn., where she began her climb to success. In 1993, she released a chart-topping duet with Reba McEntire, Does He Love You, that won both artists several awards including a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Collaboration. Since then, Davis has gone on to record nine albums, 10 videos, and has made countless television appearances. She has played to sold out crowds with numerous country artists such as Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, and George Strait. She was honored with the Music City Christian Fellowship Candlelight Award in 2007 and was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009. A desire to pass on techniques of the trade, her business experience, and to foster confidence in aspiring new artists led Davis to create her own coaching business, Stage Performance 101.

In 1984, Davis married fellow musician and entrepreneur, Lang Scott. Together, they have two daughters, Hillary Scott Tyrrell and Rylee Jean Scott, and three beautiful granddaughters. In 2016, she, Lang, Hillary, and Rylee released a critically acclaimed, two-time Grammy-winning album, Hillary Scott & The Scott Family - Love Remains. The faith-based project debuted #1 on Billboard’s Top Christian Albums chart and debuted at #2 on the Top Country Albums chart.

Lisa McMillian

Lisa McMillian / 1979-1980 / Reading interventionist - Researcher, University of Houston

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L. McMillian

Lisa McMillian is a reading interventionist for research studies at the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities at the University of Houston. She implements intensive reading intervention to at-risk students struggling in reading at Houston I.S.D.

McMillian has experience teaching in elementary schools in Carthage, Sugar Land, and Houston for over 16 years. She received her bachelor's degree in journalism and master's degree in elementary education from Texas A&M University-Commerce. 

While attending Panola College from 1979 to 1980, McMillian enjoyed being a cheerleader and the advertising/business manager for The Pony Express. She was homecoming queen and a member of Phi Theta Kappa. She has served as a board member and secretary for Reconstruction of a Survivor, a breast cancer awareness foundation, since 2007, and is a member of University of Houston Cougars Athletic Alliance since 2004, where she serves as secretary and board member. She has also served as a teacher in children's church ministry for numerous years.

McMillian is blessed to have a wonderful family. She has been married to her high school sweetheart, Audray McMillian, for over 35 years, and is the proud mother of two amazing sons, Michael and Zachary, a loving daughter-in-law, Morin (Michael), and sweet granddaughter, Malia.

Lynn Vincent

Lynn Vincent / 1956-1958 / President, First State Bank & Trust Co.

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L. Vincent

Lynn Vincent began his college career at Panola Junior College in 1956. As a freshman, he attended classes and was a member of the Saddle Club. In 1957, he began his banking career by voluntarily sweeping floors and doing various odd jobs at the First State Bank and Trust Company in Carthage. The bank’s owner, Mr. B.F. Payne, was impressed with Vincent's strong work ethic and offered him a paying position as a teller later that year. He went on to serve as a director at First State Bank for over 50 years and was named president in 1990.

Vincent served as Carthage city commissioner from 1986 to 2014, mayor pro tem from 2000 to 2014, and mayor from 2014 to 2020. He stepped down in 2020 after 34 years in the city government.

In addition to his service to the city, Vincent served as Chamber of Commerce Board president in 1976 and 2001, has been a member of the Texas County Music Hall of Fame Board since 1997, a member of the Rotary Club since 1961, and has served as a member of the boards of the Panola County Airport Authority, Main Street Advisory Board, Carthage I.S.D. Education Foundation, First United Methodist Church, and Panola General Hospital.

He was awarded the Carthage I.S.D. School Bell Award in 1978, Outstanding Rotarian in 1979, Citizen of the Year in 1980, the Carthage I.S.D. Alumni Hall of Fame in 2005, the Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005 and was named the Panola College Alumni of the Year in 2011.

Margaret Thompson

Margaret Thompson / 1973-1974 / Customer Service Senior Specialist, JP Morgan Chase Bank

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M. Thompson

During Margaret Thompson's tenure as a customer service senior specialist at the corporate center of JP Morgan Chase Bank in Houston, she assisted in a specialty segment for the deaf and hard of hearing, while also serving in a leadership capacity as a peer coach for apprentice teams. While at JP Morgan Chase Bank, she was awarded employee of the month.

While at Panola College from 1973 to 1974, Thompson assisted in the journalism department, was the reporter for the Race Relations Club, and was part of the Student Senate. She also helped with the Ponies drill team. After leaving Panola, she graduated cum laude from Lee College in Baytown.

Although now retired, Thompson is part of multiple organizations including Women On The Move, Toastmasters, United Way Reading Mentorship, Junior Achievement, Turner Alumni Association, Carthage Courtesy Club, Alpha Beta Gamma Sorority, and Pine Grove Baptist Church in Carthage. She is also chairperson for Panola County Precinct 2.

Thompson is the author of When Sisters Talk Girl Talk, a women’s inspirational book featuring her personal prose and poetry from the heart.

Mark Brandenburg

Mark Brandenburg / 1989-1990 / Major League Baseball Player, Boston Red SoX

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M. Brandenburg

Mark Brandenburg is a 1990 graduate of Panola College. While attending Panola, Brandenburg was a member of the Panola Ponies baseball team and earned the 1990 all-conference MVP honor along with the Buddy Lowery Award. He was also a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and was involved in the Baptist Student Union on campus.

After graduating from Panola with an associate degree, Brandenburg transferred to Texas Tech University. Upon graduation, he played baseball professionally in both the minor leagues and the MLB over eight seasons with the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox.

Brandenburg grew up in Humble and currently resides in Coppell with his wife Cristy, where they have lived for their 23 years of marriage. They have four children, Peyton, Ryan Kate, Clay, and Kylee. All four of Brandenburg’s children are active in various sports and activities, and he has enjoyed coaching and attending his children’s many events and activities throughout the years. They are members of Irving Bible Church and are involved with various other local organizations.

Professionally, Brandenburg is a senior managing director in the Dallas office of JLL Capital Markets. He has been involved in commercial real estate since 2000 and his primary areas of responsibility at JLL involve capitalizing commercial real estate with various finance solutions such as senior mortgages, subordinate debt, and joint ventures.

Brandenburg focuses on his faith and putting it into action in his home life, profession, and through community involvement.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"The simple routine of campus life, the help and encouragement received as a student, the smiles received in the cafeteria lines each day from the staff, the excitement of getting a letter from family when notified by the College Store that I had mail, the pizza each Wednesday at the Baptist Student Union, and lastly, most fondly, all of the hours spent with my baseball teammates and coaches."

Michael Lawson

Michael Lawson / 2016-2018 / Certified Flight Instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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M. Lawson

Michael Lawson has always had two passions in life: baseball and planes. After high school, he decided to continue his baseball career at Panola College, where he earned an associate degree in general studies.

With the help of his baseball coaches at Panola, Lawson was able to continue his baseball career and education at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fl. Since transferring to Embry-Riddle, he has completed his baseball career, earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical science, as well as received numerous FAA certifications required to be an airline pilot.

Lawson is currently working as a flight instructor at Embry-Riddle and will leave in September 2022 to work for an airline.

Natalie Woods

Natalie Woods / 1994-1997 / CMT Television Producer, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Making the Team

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N. Woods

Natalie Woods graduated from Panola College in 1997 with an Associate of Science. While at Panola, she was a member of the Panola Pipers show choir, where she served as choreographer. She could also be found hanging around the drama department, as she participated in several musicals. She was a member of the Green Jackets, serving as an ambassador, as well as part of the Baptist Student Ministry, where she attended many mission trips.  

Currently, Woods is the host for the home television show, Hot On! Homes in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and Colorado Springs. 

Before joining the Hot On! family, Woods was a reporter for KVUE-TV, ABC in Austin, and worked for WFAA - TV Channel 8 in Dallas, where she researched and wrote for ABC's top-rated investigative team. 

In addition to her professional on-camera career, Woods' love for the Dallas Cowboys drove her to represent America's team as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader from 2007 to 2008. She was a producer for the hit show on CMT, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Making the Team, and worked for the NFL as a producer during the 2018 NFL draft.

Woods graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University. She is happily married to Joseph Stanyer. She has three children, Bradley, Maddox, and Sarah.

Favorite Panola College memory:

“There is no way I could point out a favorite moment while I was at Panola College. This school and the people who make it what it is paved the way for where I am and who I am today. I loved Panola, the staff, and my friends so much. A group of us decided to earn our two-year degree… in three years. If we could have, we would have stayed longer. Panola was the place where my dreams began, and I will forever be thankful for this amazing institution.”

Patricia King Smith

Patricia King Smith / 1966-1968 / Entrepreneur, Beauty Sense by Patricia

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P. Smith

Patricia King Smith is a 1966 graduate of Beckville High School. She attended Panola College and graduated in 1968 with an Associate of Arts.

Since 2001, Smith has served several terms as a member of the Panola College Foundation Board. She has served in many capacities on the board, including secretary, vice chair, and chair of the board from 2003 to 2005.

Smith has been the owner of Beauty Sense by Patricia since 1985. She has been actively involved in the Panola County Chamber of Commerce, having served as president and member. She has also served as president and member of the Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors. Additionally, she has served on the ETMC Carthage Board of Directors. She has also been a Panola Heritage Foundation member on the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame Board. She is a member of First United Methodist Church of Carthage and a member of Beta Sigma Phi Service Sorority.

Paul Beatty

Paul Beatty / 1982-1985 / Real Estate Developer, Beatty Properties

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P. Beatty

Paul Beatty graduated from Carthage High School before attending Panola College from 1982 to 1985. In 1986, he earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Sam Houston State University. He returned to Panola for continuing education opportunities in 1988.

Beatty worked in law enforcement in Panola County for almost eight years under former Panola County Sheriff Jack Elliott. He also served as a narcotics SWAT commander before leaving the profession in 1993 to start his own business. He has established six different companies and works in real estate as a developer. He has developed properties such as the site that houses Taco Bell and Panda Express in Carthage, as well as residential properties.

Beatty is an active member of the community. He is a member of the Noon Lions Club and the Heritage Society. He is Panola County Chamber of Commerce ambassador and is involved in the Carthage I.S.D Athletic Booster Club. He serves with the Carthage I.S.D Education Foundation and is on the Carthage I.S.D. Board of Trustees. He is also on the City of Carthage’s building standards board. 

Paul Kratzer

Paul Kratzer / 1971-1973 / Vice President Commercial Asset Division, US Bank

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P. Kratzer

Upon graduating from high school, Paul Kratzer entered the Air Force and upon discharge was introduced to Panola Junior College by a childhood friend, Harold Troutman, who played basketball under Coach Larry Greene from 1970 to 1971.

When Kratzer's studies were complete at Panola, he transferred to the University of Southwest Louisiana in Lafayette, La., to complete his four year education. His major was accounting and he is forever grateful to both Martha Miller and Geneva Gullette for their encouragement and guidance to pursue this major.

Upon graduation, Kratzer entered the private sector finding employment with a commercial real estate developer for a number of years. Following that period, he pursued a career with the FDIC, utilizing his accounting skills in the commercial loan arena. This eventually led to his career with U.S. Bank in the commercial asset sector, with whom he subsequently retired.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"The lifelong, lasting impression of Panola College that I have is the care, encouragement, and guidance shown by all of the professors. Their attitude was one of learning and making the experience both interesting and exciting. I am and will forever be grateful for the foundation that Panola provided to allow me to continue on with my education."

Peggy Pope

Peggy Pope / 1977-1978 / Professional Basketball Coach, WNBA Detroit Shock

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P. Pope

Peggy Pope attended Panola College from 1977 to 1978 and was part of the basketball team. During her time at Panola, the team won back-to-back national championship titles and she was named a JUCO All-American. After leaving Panola, Pope continued her basketball career at Texas A&M University.

Pope was drafted by the Nebraska Wranglers of the Women's Professional Basketball League. The team won the WBL’s final title in the 1980-1981 season.

Following her time with the Wranglers, Pope coached basketball at Rice University, the University of Houston, and Texas Southern University. She moved on to coach professionally with the Detroit Shock of the Women's National Basketball Association.

Pope returned to Carthage and spent 17 years as the coach at Carthage I.S.D., retiring in 2013.

In 2018, Pope was included into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. She is also in both the Panola College and Texas A&M Hall of Honors.

Pope is currently a realtor with Scarborough Realty Group.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"Returning to campus at midnight following our championship game and finding so many fans waiting for us."

Rachell "Racy" Kane

Rachell "Racy" Kane / 1989-1990 / Director of UIL Academics / Prosper I.S.D.

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R. Kane

Rachell "Racy" Springer Kane has been an educator for more than 27 years. She has taught English, theater, journalism, sociology, speech, debate, and leadership. She taught for 16 years before moving into administration, serving as assistant principal and associate principal. After six years, she moved to the district office to serve as communications coordinator and director of UIL academics for Prosper I.S.D.

Racy built a peer mentoring program and developed the District Youth Leadership Summit in Prosper. As part of her work in communications, she has received multiple awards, including gold stars and best in category recognitions in the Texas School Public Relations Association.

As a theater director, she qualified for regional One-Act Play four times and state once. As a speech and debate coach, she accumulated four UIL state championships, multiple state medals, multiple national qualifiers, as well as a national semi-finalist recognition. She is a two-diamond coach in the National Speech Debate Association and has served the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) as a debate topic author and chairperson of the National Wording Committee for the National Policy Debate Topic Selection. She has also received the NFHS Educator Award.

Racy runs UIL district contests throughout the North Texas area as well as serving as a regional director and state meet official. She has served as president of the Northeast Texas Debate Association and in multiple offices as a member of the Texas Speech Communications Association.

Racy is married to her college sweetheart, Michael. She has three sons and two grandchildren.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"My favorite memory is helping to host the UIL regional meet at Panola College. My other favorite funny memory is sitting in the student union listening to Love Shack on repeat so many times that people were convinced that the juke box was broken." 

Robert Morris

Robert Morris / 1994-1998 / Nurse Anesthetist, CRH Medical Corporation

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R. Morris

Robert Morris attended Panola College from 1994 to 1998. He was in the first graduating class of the associate degree nursing program after the program obtained accreditation from the State of Texas. Following his time at Panola, he went on to complete his Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Texas at Tyler, and then his certified registered nurse anesthetist degree at Texas Wesleyan University. He is often commended for patient satisfaction in his current position.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"Meeting my wife while attending Panola College is my fondest memory."

Shannon Grappe

Shannon Grappe / 2004-2007 / Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine

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S. Grappe

Shannon Grappe graduated from Panola College in 2007 with an associate degree in nursing. With her degree, she worked in emergency medicine and flight nursing.

Grappe went on to graduate summa cum laude from the University of Texas at Arlington with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She graduated with honors from Duke University in 2020 with an advanced practice registered nurse in family medicine. She was honored to work with Dr. Sean Convoy during her final semester to develop an elective course on trauma-informed care in primary care.

Currently, Grappe is an advanced practice registered nurse at the Institute of Exercise and Environmental Medicine. She manages and cares for elite, collegiate, masters, and Olympic athletes in the Sports Cardiology/Exercise Medicine Clinic. In addition, she manages and cares for patients with autonomic dysfunction in the Syncope and Autonomic Dysfunction Clinic. She has also had the pleasure of working with a team at NASA to develop a water-resistant breathable patch for extended heart monitoring in space.

Grappe enjoys traveling, all things Marvel, spending time with her dog Tippy, her incredibly loving and supportive partner, Robert, and her phenomenally talented and fun-loving son, Beau.

Sharon Roberson-Jones

Sharon Roberson-Jones / 1983-1985 / Executive Director, Excellent Teen Choice

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S. Jones

Sharon Roberson-Jones is the founder and executive director of Excellent Teen Choice, an organization that teaches teens healthy relationships by abstaining from sex, drugs, and alcohol. Workshops also include character building, leadership recognition, educational goals (academic and trade), and promoting young entrepreneurship.

As a community builder, you may find Roberson-Jones at many community events encouraging teens to participate in service-learning projects. She inspires students to continue their education and to be involved in community activities.

After many years in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Roberson-Jones returned back to Carthage, servicing the schools in Panola, Shelby, Gregg, Smith, Jasper, and Harrison Counties.

Roberson-Jones has won several awards, including Panola County Co-Citizen of the Year, Ark-La-Tex Remarkable Woman of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, and First Rate Texas Award for the City of Arlington. She serves on the Panola County Child Welfare Board and Panola County Historical Commission.

She is a member of the Rotary Club of Carthage and Panola County Chamber of Commerce. In the past, she served as a board member of Girls Inc. of Tarrant County and Texas Wesleyan Alumni Board.

Dr. Shellie O'Neal

Dr. Shellie O'Neal / 1989-1992 / Theatre Department Chair, Navarro College

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S. O'Neal

A native of Carthage, Dr. Shellie O’Neal has enjoyed an active career in professional and educational theatre. She began her teaching career at the University of Texas at Tyler and has now served for 21 years as the chair of theatre at Navarro College in Corsicana, where she has directed over 80 productions.

O’Neal writes many of the plays produced at Navarro, and two of her plays have won Texas Educational Theatre Association state playwriting awards. Her plays have been performed for elementary schools, high schools, private schools, community colleges, universities, churches, community theatres, community service organizations, and nursing homes.

She has given over 160 performances of her first of three one-woman shows, This is My Story, This is My Song: An Evening with Fanny Crosby, throughout Texas and in locations in New York City, Arizona, Maryland, Colorado, Louisiana, Washington, D.C., and Italy. 

In 2019, O’Neal’s play, 911 Gnomes: A Christmas Emergency, was chosen as one of 20 plays worldwide to be performed at the RAVE Theater Festival, which was produced by Broadway producer Ken Davenport. Nine Navarro students gave five performances of 911 Gnomes in an off-Broadway theatre, the La Tea Theatre, in New York City’s Lower East Side.

O’Neal holds several degrees in theatre: Associate of Arts from Panola College, Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from The University of Texas at Tyler, and a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University. She was named Professor of the Year by her colleagues and students at Navarro in 2012. 

Favorite Panola College memory:

"My parents (Bill O'Neal, long-time history professor at Panola College, and Faye Frasier, Panola College alumnus) often took my sisters and me to the play performances and choir concerts at Panola as we were growing up. Our home was just across the street from Merle Glass dorm, and our dad usually walked to and from his work at Panola. I learned to ride my bicycle on the sidewalks throughout the campus. I distinctly remember the very first play I ever saw, and it was on the Panola stage. I think I was about five years old. I remember saying to myself, "One day, I want to stand on that stage in a play and sing a song!" My dream came true when Mrs. Elizabeth Hedges cast me as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. She also cast my twin sister, my dad, and my two sisters in that play. The rehearsals and performances of My Fair Lady were such meaningful experiences for me. Over the four semesters I attended Panola, Mrs. Hedges and Mr. J.P. Kyle taught me the fundamentals of acting and showed me the dedication required of a college theatre professor. My experiences in the theatre department planted seeds for a career that has brought me endless joy. As a college theatre professor approaching 25 years of writing and directing plays, I look back with great fondness on the plays where I first learned to act and sing and the people and college that made that possible."

Dr. Sherilyn Emberton

Dr. Sherilyn Emberton / 1976-1978 / President, Huntington University

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S. Emberton

Dr. Sherilyn Emberton attended Panola College from 1976 to 1978. During this time, she was an active member of the Panola Pipers and the cheer squad.

After graduating from Panola, Emberton went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Education from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1979 and a Master of Education in 1981. She earned a Doctor of Education in 1999 from Texas A&M University-Commerce.

Emberton, who is president of Huntington University, is a native Texan who was born in Irving. She began her presidency in June 2013 and has made a significant impact, helping to launch Huntington’s first doctoral program in occupational therapy, the Haupert Institute for Agricultural Studies, and the Institute for Leadership & Counseling.

Prior to accepting the presidency at Huntington, Emberton served as the provost and vice president for academic affairs at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, as well as served in the same role at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn. She began her career in Christian higher education at LeTourneau University in Longview, leading its new teacher education program. In 2005, she was named the associate vice president for academic affairs for the institution. She has also served as the director of applied projects for the Texas State Technical Institute.

Emberton has been part on the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s Governing Board, the Regional Cities Initiative’s Steering Committee, and was named to the board for the Northeast Indiana Chamber of Commerce. She has been the director of higher education for the U.S. National Conference, United Brethren Church in Christ. In addition, she has chaired the Lenawee Christian Ministries Board, headquartered in Adrian, Mich., was an executive committee member at-large of the Independent Colleges of Indiana, was a board member on the Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana, and has served on the board for the Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana, Inc. She has also been part of the board of AgriNovus, which includes other executive leaders from the agribusiness community, such as Dow Chemical, Whitshire Hamroc, Beck’s Seeds, Lilly, Inc., and Purdue University.

Shirlethea Nelson

Shirlethea Nelson / 2016-2018 / Critical Care Registered Nurse, Willis Knighton

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S. Nelson

Shirlethea Nelson is currently a travel registered nurse working as a charge nurse in the intensive care unit. She began her nursing career at Panola College, where she graduated from the vocational nursing program in 2012 and returned in 2018 and graduated with her associate degree in nursing. She is currently completing her master’s degree in nurse practitioner.

Nelson has climbed the ladder in her healthcare career, starting as a certified nurse aide and then obtaining her medication administration certificate from Kilgore College. With over 15 years of experience, her career has spanned diverse nursing positions including director of nurses, assistant director of nursing, RN in ICU, clinical nurse specialist, nurse educator, non-profit clinical manager, consultant, and entrepreneur in her own consulting company.

Nelson is an active educator, teaching CNA and nursing continuing education courses. She is an instructor for the American Heart Association, educating healthcare workers in CPR, BLS, ACLS, and first aid. She has been active in many professional and volunteer organizations, including American Nurses Association, Black Nurses Rock National, Texas Nurses Association, and Black Nurses Rock-Longview.

Through her local organization, she has served in her community in the Relay For Life, Newgate Mission, East Texas Food Bank, and East Texas Silver Citizen Coalition.

She is a mother and loves to spend time with her daughter, Nakia, as well as family and friends. She also loves to travel.

Favorite Panola College memory:

“Some of my best memories of Panola College were the bonds I built with my instructors, the lifelong friendships formed, and all the love and support the community showed to the students.”

Dr. Spencer Wagley

Dr. Spencer Wagley / 1989-1992 / Director of Strategic Planning & Accreditation, Trinity Valley Community College

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S. Wagley

Dr. Spencer Wagley holds an Associate of Science from Panola College and a Bachelor of Science in Education from East Texas Baptist University, with Texas secondary teaching certifications in theatre and speech. He completed his Master of Divinity in 2001 from Hardin-Simmons University and Ph.D. in Education from Capella University in December 2013. 

Wagley has over 24 years of experience in education. He spent eight years as a secondary teacher, with stops at Karnack I.S.D., Lone Oak I.S.D., Sabine Pass I.S.D., and Loyola College Prep in Shreveport, La. He has taught theatre, speech, and English at the middle school and high school levels. He has also directed One-Act Play, coached debate, and spent a year as an assistant football coach. His One-Act Play students have won multiple awards and his plays have advanced in UIL competition. One of his debate teams also qualified for the national tournament. 

Wagley has been at the college level for the last 16 years. His tenure at Sterling College in Sterling, Kan., included 10 years as a faculty member in the teacher education department and two years as the associate vice president of academic affairs. His time as a faculty member at Sterling College also included administrative duties, including chair of general education and director of foundations of servant leadership.

Currently, Wagley serves as director of strategic planning, effectiveness, & accreditation/SACSCOC accreditation liaison at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens.

Wagley has been married to his wife, Rebekah, for 27 years, and they have two children. His daughter, Madeline, is a second-year law student at Southern Methodist University and is married to Austin Cromer, a police officer at Dallas I.S.D. His son, Sullivan, is seven years old.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"It is impossible for me to narrow it down to one favorite memory at Panola College. I am still amazed by the people at Panola. My favorite memories revolve around the drama department. The love and support of Liz and Carl Hedges and Jay P. Kyle helped me become the person and educator I am today. The support I experienced did not stop at the auditorium doors. It included the ladies in the cafeteria, Freddy Mason in the men's dorm, and the faculty and staff of Panola, who helped me achieve more academically and personally than I ever thought possible. Without a theatre scholarship, I would not have had the opportunity to attend college. There was always an expectation for me to attend college, however, my family did not have the resources for me to attend. Panola is the reason I was able to obtain a higher education." 

Tamesha Sneed

Tamesha Sneed / 2005-2008 / Assistant Professor of Nursing, RN, Tarrant County College

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T. Sneed

Tamesha Sneed was born in 1984 in Arlington, where she currently resides. She is the oldest of three siblings, is married, and has a beautiful and energetic one-year-old son.

Sneed graduated from Panola College with an associate degree in nursing in 2008. While a nursing student at Panola, Sneed was a resident assistant, worked in the gym, and served in the campus cafeteria. She was also awarded the honor of homecoming queen.

Sneed currently works in the neonatal intensive care unit and was awarded the Great 100 Nurses of DFW award in 2018. She received her neonatal intensive care certification from the National Certification Corporation in 2013. In 2017, she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and in 2018 she earned her master’s degree of science in nursing, both from the University of Texas at Arlington. She is currently in pursuit of her doctoral degree of nursing practice and will finish in 2023.

Sneed is an assistant professor of nursing at Tarrant County College and teaches pediatric nursing. She was also a certified nurse educator of the National League for Nursing in 2020.

Sneed enjoys time with her family, tap dancing, and shopping with gift cards. She is a licensed and ordained minister at her church in Dallas since 2011 and volunteers with the new members there.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"One very fond memory I have from my Panola College years is when we, as students, collaborated with the faculty and staff to hold a Black history program in the auditorium. It was a wonderful event that showcased the talent and culture of our students. We even had a special guest choir come from Jarvis College to open the program. I had never done anything like that before and was super nervous because I wanted it to be a success and represent Panola students effectively. Well, it was a success and a great time for everyone. I look back on that memory and just smile."

Tammy Hanson

Tammy Hanson / 1995-1999 / Emergency Services Site Director, RN, Nacogdoches Medical Center - Center Campus

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T. Hanson

Tammy Hanson was born in Shelby County, where she and her husband Mike still reside. They have two children, Macey Jo and Jake Hanson. Macey Jo has followed in her mother's footsteps, graduating from the University of Texas at Tyler with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Jake is currently attending Tarleton State University, majoring in construction engineering. She has been a nurse for over 28 years and is currently the emergency services site director for Nacogdoches Medical Center Hospital at the Center campus.

Hanson attended Panola College, becoming a licensed vocational nurse in 1994. She then continued her education at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. She returned to Panola to complete her associate degree in nursing in 1999.

Hanson began nursing employment in the emergency department of Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital in Nacogdoches. After 10 years in the department, she was promoted to trauma services as a trauma clinical nurse, and ultimately, trauma program manager. In 2014, she accepted the position of emergency services site director for Nacogdoches Medical Center Hospital. 

Hanson has been active in her nursing career with trauma, stroke, and STEMI (chest pain) program development in Nacogdoches. For 10 years, she served on the Deep Texas Regional Advisory Council. She also participated at the state level with Texas Trauma Coordinators Forum and Governor’s Trauma Advisory Council in Austin.

Currently, Hanson holds an instructorship in trauma nursing core curriculum and recently held instructor certification in emergency nursing pediatric course and advanced trauma life support. Locally, she participates in Leadership Shelby County, Rural East Texas Health Network Shelby County Board, Panola College Nursing Advisory Board, and community education and outreach. One of her proudest affiliations is Texas RN Strike Team for Deployment.

Hanson has been active with her children in sports and community organizations during her spare time. With both of her children entering adulthood, she is experiencing empty nesting for the first time.

Hanson has a personal motto: hard work does not go unnoticed. She strives each day in the organized, chaotic world of emergency nursing to have a servant's heart and lead her teams with passion, patience, and dedication. She strives to give back to the community that has given so much to her.

Tanesha Smith

Tanesha Smith / 2014-2016 / Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant, Progressive Rehab Solutions at Parkwood in the Pines

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T. Smith

Tanesha Smith is a certified occupational therapy assistant from San Augustine. In 2007, before attending Panola College, she received a bachelor’s degree in biology at Texas College, a HBCU in Tyler.

After teaching biology for 7 years, Smith decided to change careers and enrolled in the occupational therapy assistant program at Panola. The journey was not easy, but she graduated in the fall of 2016 and today stands a proud alumna of the program.

Smith has been practicing as a certified occupational therapy assistant for five years and is currently a student at the University of St. Augustine Health Science in Austin, working to receive a master’s degree in occupational therapy.

Smith is also a 200-hour certified yoga teacher and a level II reiki practitioner. Her goal is to spread holistic health and wellness within the occupational therapy community.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"My greatest memory from attending Panola College is a lesson I was taught by Terri King, who was the chair of the program. She taught me that it is alright to show vulnerability, that to be vulnerable does not mean to show weakness, but through the display of vulnerability and transparency is the ability to show strength and willingness for growth. This lesson has stuck with me as an African American woman in a vast, growing profession with a lack of diversity. I’ve taken this lesson with me throughout my journey since graduating from the program."

Taylor Hughes

Taylor Hughes / 2017-2019 / Account Manager, Texas Iron & Steel

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T. Hughes

Taylor Hughes is a Carthage native who graduated from Carthage High School with honors. While in high school, she was very active in basketball, softball, track, and cheerleading. She was also a member of the CHS band. After graduation, she attended Panola College on a band scholarship. She felt that attending Panola allowed her to be close to her family while balancing school and work. 

Hughes transferred to Stephen F. Austin State University, where she earned a business administration degree in 2021. She is currently employed at Texas Iron & Steel in Longview as an account manager and has a five-year-old son.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"My best memory of Panola College was playing in the band for basketball games and at Christmas, when we had little concerts around town. The band has always been part of my life, and it brings new friends and the joy of music to those who listen."

Teresa Ann Blackwell

Teresa Ann Blackwell / 1987-2013 / Shelby County Treasurer, Shelby County

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T. Blackwell

Teresa Ann Blackwell is a 1974 graduate of Center High School. Her first job was right out of high school, which left her with no time for college. Her learning was hands-on, but she never lost the desire to one day earn a college degree at whatever level she could.

Blackwell took her first class from Panola College in aerobics in the late 1980's. That class set off a 20+ year journey to obtain an associate degree from Panola. As life continued, she took as many classes each semester as she could, which most of the time was only a single class. In December 2013, Blackwell was honored to become a magna cum laude graduate of Panola with an associate degree in general business. She was also honored with the Panola College Excellence Award.

In January 2015, Blackwell was sworn into office as Shelby County treasurer and was recently reelected to her third term.

Tiffany Evans

Tiffany Evans / 2002-2005 / Social Work Team Lead, The Hospice of East Texas

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T. Evans

Tiffany Evans is a mother, leader, business owner, and hospice social worker who has a passion for helping others. She grew up in Carthage, where she graduated from Carthage High School and Panola College.

During her time at Panola, Evans served as the Student Government Association president where she was heavily involved in planning student events and activities on campus. She also played multiple instruments in the concert and jazz bands and was elected to the homecoming court to represent the SGA.  

Upon graduating from Panola, Evans completed her education at Stephen F. Austin State University where she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work. During her undergraduate studies, she served as the president of the Student Association of Social Work Students and was inducted into the Phi Alpha Honor Society.

After Hurricane Katrina, Evans teamed up with other SGA students and took an alternative spring break and summer break where they traveled to New Orleans, La., to assist with rebuilding and recovery efforts; two of the most life-changing and impactful trips to date for her.

Currently, Evans is the social work team leader at The Hospice of East Texas where she supervises seven hospice social workers across the East Texas area. She has spent the majority of her career as a social worker, working with patients who have life-limiting or terminal illnesses. When not working, she can be found cheering on her kids at sporting events or at a workshop or event encouraging women to set goals and dream big.

Tilden Hooper

Tilden Hooper / 2005-2008 / Professional Bareback Rider, 8-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Qualifier

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T. Hooper

Tilden Hooper attended Panola College from 2005 to 2008 and was part of the rodeo team. In 2007, he competed at the College National Finals Rodeo and was the bareback riding champion. Since his time at Panola, he has competed in rodeos across the country and is currently ranked the No. 17 bareback rider in the world.

Hooper is an 8-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier and has had multiple major regular season wins. He has received top placements at The American Rodeo, the San Antonio Rodeo, the Yellowstone Riggin' Rally, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, and the Silver Spurs Rodeo.

Hooper appeared in the third season of Paramount Network's hit series Yellowstone as a bareback rider.

In 2021, Hooper and his wife, Melissa, welcomed their first child, Tell McLain. 

Todd Haney

Todd Haney / 1984-1985 / Professional Baseball Player, Chicago Cubs

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T. Haney

Todd Haney attended Panola College from 1984 to 1985 and was part of the baseball team. Following this time at Panola, Haney attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he reached the College World Series while playing for the Texas Longhorns.

In 1985, Haney played collegiate summer baseball with the Harwich Mariners of the Cape Cod Baseball League, and returned to the league in 1986 to play for the Orleans Cardinals. He was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 38th round of the 1987 MLB Draft.

Haney played baseball professionally in the U.S. for 13 seasons. He played in 101 major league games over five seasons with the Montreal Expos, Chicago Cubs, and New York Mets. 

Following his retirement, Haney had multiple stints as a coach. He started with the Waco Storm, an elite travel baseball program for youth and high schoolers, where he founded a travel baseball program to teach the proper fundamentals of baseball and assisted over 300 players in reaching their college and professional baseball dreams.

Later, Haney served as a coach at Reicher High School where he established a college recruiting program to better prepare and educate high school athletes.

More recently, Haney served as bench coach and hitting coach for the Sugarland Lightning Sloths, director of analytics and bench coach at Texas State University, and head coach and hitting coach for the Victoria HarbourCats of the West Coast Collegiate League.

In 2021, Haney joined the coaching staff at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. 

Vearline Rougely

Vearline Rougely / 2000-2004 / Certified Nurse Aide, Panola Nursing Home

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V. Rougely

Vearline Rougely is a retired certified nurse aide with over 10 years of experience. Caring for the elderly has always been a passion for her. She has dedicated her life to helping others, and her faith has been her north star. She received her microcomputer software operator certificate in 2003 and computer information systems certificate in 2004 from Panola College.

Rougely continues to leverage the skills learned at Panola by serving in various roles at her church. She is responsible for designing programs for church events and serves as the treasurer of the women's department. She continues her education by attending online classes to keep her skills sharpened.

In addition to her work at church, Rougely is also an accomplished guitarist. She learned to play guitar at the age of 25 and is still playing today for her church. She is also broadening her musical skills by learning how to play the piano. She enjoys cooking, volunteering in her church, and most importantly, spending time with her family.

Rougely was married to her husband, Raymond Rougely, for over 60 years until his passing in 2020. She is the mother of three children, three grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

She has spent her entire life encouraging people to keep going higher, to never give up, and to always pay blessings forward.

Favorite Panola College memory:

"At the age of 59, I went back to school to pursue a college education. I remember I felt intimidated with the course materials and by being the oldest student in the class. The instructors and other students accepted me, which made me comfortable enough to continue moving forward. The instructors were extremely patient and would spend extra time with me to ensure I grasped the course content. The accepting environment created by the instructors is something that I will never forget because it helped me to be one of the top students in the class and realize my dream of receiving my certifications. Many thanks to the Panola College instructors."

Dr. Wayne Kyle

Dr. Wayne Kyle / 1950-1952 / Veterinarian, Kyle Animal CliniC

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W. Kyle

After graduating from Carthage High School, Dr. Wayne Kyle attended Panola College from 1950 to 1952. He went on to graduate from Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine in 1956. In 1958, he returned to Carthage to open a mixed animal practice named Kyle Animal Clinic. He took care of the community's pets and livestock for nearly 50 years. 

Kyle served as the secretary of the East Texas Medical Association in 1959 and as president in 1960. He has also served as the president of the Noon Lions Club and the Panola County Cattleman's Association Rodeo.

Kyle was a trustee on the Carthage I.S.D. School Board for 36 years and helped found the Carthage I.S.D. Education Foundation. Additionally, he founded the local Humane Society. In 2013, Kyle was honored as an outstanding alumni by the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.