‘I can lead the way for others,’ Vancleave student second-ever African American valedictorian
When the McCons say they’re a Carey family, they mean it.
Over a three-day span, May 16-18, William Carey University hosted six commencement ceremonies. Graduates in the first of these ceremonies included a father, Reuben Fitzgerald McCon, and two of his sons — Reuben Perez McCon and Neuman Fitzgerald McCon.
The sons received master’s degrees, Reuben in health administration and education, Neuman in biomedical science. Their father earned a bachelor’s degree in general studies with emphases in physical education and psychology.
That’s three William Carey degrees, but we’re not done yet.
Back in 2017, both sons also earned their bachelor’s degrees from William Carey. And their mother, Dr. Angela Jupiter-McCon, earned a doctorate in nursing administration and education from William Carey in 2014.
That’s six William Carey diplomas. Wait, there’s more.
The family lives in Ocean Springs. Father Reuben Fitzgerald McCon works in the facilities department at WCU’s Tradition campus — where his wife, Dr. Angela Jupiter-McCon, is a professor of nursing. Moreover, son Neuman will begin classes this summer at the WCU-Tradition School of Pharmacy, a doctoral program that accepted its inaugural class in 2018. Son Reuben Jr. plans to pursue a doctorate in Health Administration and Education in 2020, when the new degree program begins accepting students.
That’s a lot of WCU connections.
Jupiter-McCon: “So, yes, I guess you could say we are a Carey family. Our third and final son is just 14 years old, and that’s the only reason he doesn’t have a Carey degree!”
Reuben and Angela McCon met in high school during a basketball game in Pascagoula.
“It was never a matter of whether you were going to college in my family, but where you were going to college,” Angela McCon said. “It was never like that in my husband’s family. That’s why we’re doubly proud of him.”
As a young man, Reuben McCon attended junior college for awhile: “But I couldn’t afford it, so I joined the Navy and they sent me to aviation school and I became an airplane mechanic.”
McCon retired after a distinguished 20-year military career, serving at U.S. Navy bases at home and abroad or assigned to aircraft carriers. His last nine years were spent at Naval Air Station Belle Chasse near New Orleans.
“I’m glad I was able to finish what I started 30 years ago. I needed to set an example for my boys. I can’t describe how exciting it was to walk at graduation with my sons. It was a blessing from God for me, my sons and my wife, onstage in her academic regalia, to be together for this milestone,” McCon said.
“I want to thank William Carey University for everything it did — especially Dr. Tommy King, Dr. Garry Breland, Dr. Scott Hummel and Mr. Jerry Bracey.”
Like their mother, who has been a nurse for 20 years, both McCon sons chose careers in health care.
Elder son Reuben Jr. and his wife, Brittne’y, have two children ages 6 and 3. While he was in school, Reuben worked full-time as an X-ray technician at Memorial Hospital in Gulfport. This year, he’ll continue working while he waits to enroll in WCU’s new doctoral program.
“I was proud of my dad. He had a tough upbringing. I’m the oldest son, so I got to see the progression of his career, how hard he worked, as we moved around with the military. I’m proud of my mom, too, who went to nursing school during that time,” Reuben Jr. said.
“My brother and I fight about who’s the smartest. I say it’s him and he says it’s me.”
Younger son Neuman said he’s going to take a short breather before starting classes at the WCU School of Pharmacy in July.
“But I’m going to continue to study and stay mentally sharp. I’m up for the challenge and ready to begin. My mom being in a health care profession made me decide to go into health care as well. I’ve always enjoyed helping others,” Neuman said.
“It was an honor and a blessing to graduate with my brother and father. Especially my father. For him to go back and accomplish this was huge for us all.”
As for who’s smartest?
“My brother and I always give each other the credit,” Neuman said. “But, we both have our specialties.”
Dr. Angela Jupiter-McCon said it was important for the McCon men to graduate during the same ceremony.
“In this day in age when we have so many negative stereotypes about African American males, we wanted to show that there are educated, productive families in every race,” she said.
“Also, we hope we can serve as inspiration to others that with the Lord, nothing is impossible. It is through Him, through the love of Christ and each other, that anything we achieve is possible.”