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Honorees

Friend of the College - William R. Howard

billhowardWilliam R. Howard is a long-time resident of Arkansas. Born and raised in Hampton, he served in the 3rd Army Headquarters in England under General Patton in World War II and crossed the English Channel 12 days after D-Day. Shortly after the war, he met his wife, the late Cacilia Howard, in Germany, where he lived for three years.

Mr. Howard graduated from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville with a bachelor's and master's degrees in accounting. He and Mrs. Howard relocated to El Dorado after he graduated college, and both worked at the Lion Oil Company.

Avid water skiers, scuba divers, duck-deer-and-squirrel hunters, and all-around outdoor sportspersons, the Howards spent many years traveling the world, enjoying many exciting adventures. They did numerous dives in shipwrecks in Mexico, where they were in a scuba diving movie, "Five Fathoms to a Ship's Grave." Mr. Howard donated a coral collection to South Arkansas Community College, which he retrieved while diving in the Caribbean Sea.  At age 90, Mr. Howard still loves to load his four-wheeler on this truck and ride the piney woods of his south Arkansas property.

Mr. Howard truly is a part of SouthArk, where he has befriended numerous college staff and employees. He recently took part in a documentary film on World War II, a project of the college's Performing and Media Arts program. A major contributor to the efforts of the SouthArk Foundation, Heritage Plaza on SouthArk's West Campus will be named in honor of Mr. Howard and his late wife Cacilia.

Outstanding Alumna – Melissa Jerry

melissajerryMelissa Jerry is the chief financial officer at First Financial Bank in El Dorado, a position that she has held with distinction since 1999. Prior to that she was the internal auditor at National Bank of Commerce in 1988-1992, vice president and controller in 1992-1995, senior vice president and controller in 1995-1998, and senior vice president and chief financial officer in 1998-1999.

A Huttig native, Ms. Jerry is a 1988 graduate of Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia with a bachelor's degree in accounting, a 1985 graduate of SAU-El Dorado with an associate's degree in liberal arts, and a 1974 graduate of Strong High School. She also is a certified public accountant, having been licensed in 1990, and a 1990 graduate of the Bank Administration Institute in Madison, Wisconsin. Her combination of intelligence, integrity, and impressive ability earned her the distinguished nomination for Arkansas Business' 2012 chief financial officer of the year award in the large bank category.

A dedicated community leader with a strong business acumen, Ms. Jerry has passionately supported many community organizations. She is generous with her time and consistently provides exemplary leadership in all her projects. She has served as the past-chair of the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and previously was on the boards of the Union County Community Foundation Board and El Dorado Habitat for Humanity. She also is a former commissioner of El Dorado Water Utilities. She serves on the SouthArk Foundation Board of Directors as the treasurer and finance committee chair. In this position, she has provided expert knowledge and support in the Foundation's financial operations. Ms. Jerry's significant contributions to education and her outstanding career accomplishments have brought honor and distinction to her employers, our community, and SouthArk.

Outstanding Alumnus – Greg Taylor

gregtaylorGreg Taylor is the corporate environmental, health, and safety director of training at Martin Resource Management Corporation. Through hard work and determination, he has achieved the assignment of training over 2,900 employees. In his career in training, spanning more than 25 years, he previously was the environmental health and safety training manager at Great Lakes Solutions- South Arkansas Operations, an operations trainer at Lion Oil, and the lead trainer for the Century Telephone-Alltel acquisition.  A native of Spearsville, Louisiana, Mr. Taylor was a satellite communications specialist in the U.S. Air Force during the first Gulf War in 1990. He is a 1989 graduate of Spearsville High School. He is a 2013 summa cum laude graduate of SouthArk with an associate's degree in process technology.

As chair of the SouthArk process technology advisory committee, Mr. Taylor has been the leading force in advising and building this program. With determination and exemplary leadership, he has created a strong collaborative spirit with south Arkansas business and industry, and has forged the way in organizing and implementing a three-day training for local industry for new-hire process operators. This new program has met with rave reviews from business and industry partners across south Arkansas. Additionally, he is the industry chair of South West Arkansas Community College Consortium, Regional Advanced Manufacturing Partnership grant, an initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.  His colleagues note with admiration his passion to see people improve in skill and knowledge and his strong desire to continuously shape the future excellence of the process technology industry in our community.

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