The Outstanding Service Award recognizes an Advantage student that has “Contributed Exceptional Service” to the community and/or University during his/her time at MCU. Graduates are nominated by Mid-Continent University faculty, staff, and peers. The award recipients are announced during the commencement ceremony.
South Fulton resident, Lynnita Pierce, is married to her best friend James Pierce, and has a step son, Bo, daughter-in-law, Jennifer, and four grandsons, Alex, Caide, Payden, and Harrison. She is in a friendly competition with Alex and Caide, who are also college students at Murray State. She is an active member at South Fulton Baptist church and has two jobs she loves, each include going into schools and working with students. She works for Agape house in Martin and is a substitute teacher in Fulton City Schools.
Lynnita said, “My Fulton 2F cohort members are like a family to me. After Goodyear closed, I was excited but very apprehensive about what directions the Lord was going to send me. I worked at the plant for 13 years and just assumed I would retire from there. So, here I was at 54 years old starting a new career path for myself. When the opportunity presented itself to go to Mid-Continent University, I jumped at the chance. I had not been in a classroom since 1975, needless to say things have changed since I graduated high school. Graduation day was a wonderful experience. We were treated like royalty by the faculty and staff at Mid-Continent. Here it is five days later, and I am still on my "graduation high". I am more inspired than ever to complete my bachelors and dare I dream of a master’s… then, Dr. in front of my name perhaps?! I am so appreciative of all the hard work that went into our graduation day.”
“There are no words to describe how humbled and excited I was to receive the Outstanding Service Award. I thank everyone who voted for me. I pray I can live up to the standard this award represents as I continue to serve my community to the best of my ability,” Lynnita said.
Gene Ray Byrum, born and raised in Clay, and his wife, Kim, of 17 years and his sons, Kaleb (15) and Eli (11) are members of Grace Baptist Church where he and his wife were married, his whole family saved in, and his son, Kaleb, is the song leader. Gene Ray is President of T & D Solutions, LLC Northern Region where he has worked for going on 27 years and is also a certified MSHA surface mine instructor. He has coached ABA basketball for 25 years and little league baseball for 15 years. He presently coaches his son, Eli, in both leagues. He has been a member of the City of Clay Park board for the past eight years and the Webster County Deer Creek little league board for five years.
Gene Ray received his Associate of Science Degree from MCU as a member of the Morganfield 4F cohort group and his Bachelor of Science in Business Management Degree from Mid-Continent as a member of the Princeton 5 and 6 cohort groups. He said, “I have made many dear lifetime friends through that journey. My graduation from MCU with a bachelor’s degree was a dream of mine that I have fulfilled. It’s an epic one because I was able to do it in front of my boys. I wanted to pursue my education as an adult for two reasons: To lead by example to my boys the importance of an education and that it is up to them to do it because they want to and with no excuse. Also, I wanted to bring my level of education to the level of opportunities that my career has allowed me.”
“The outstanding service recognition means a lot to me personally, mainly for the fact that I appreciate being recognized by MCU and my peers in front of my family. I think that public service or simply being available is not an accomplishment but a blessing to be able to so. I think that it is a blessed opportunity for me to be able show this to my children by leading by example. I want them to provide a service not because they have to but because they want to. The accomplishment itself is the real award for doing what you should do,” Gene Ray said.