Class of 2017

Growing group of grads graces stage at USM's Coast commencement

BILOXI -- Dazzlingly accessorized mortarboards were all the rage for graduating seniors at the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Park campus commencement. Each cap gave clues to the wearer's major, studies and degree as the 320 graduates traversed the stage to accept their diplomas Saturday at Biloxi's Coast Coliseum.

"At Southern Miss, we are excited to see this graduation ceremony continue to grow," said Steve Miller, vice president of USM's Gulf Park campus. "This is a big part of Southern Mississippi and the Gulf Coast. It's a big part of what we do and to see us grow in numbers, with over 300 now, is just amazing. It's exciting to see how involved our coast community is with us and how involved we are with our coast community."

Miss Mississippi Hannah Roberts delivered the commencement address. Roberts was crowned Miss Mississippi just one month after her own graduation in 2015. Her theme of overcoming failures in life were a reflection of her own struggles.

"Sometimes failure isn't a door closing but is the option to go an alternate route or another path than perhaps you originally had in mind. Failure happens to all of us at some point in life or another. I was so honored to be asked to come back just one year after graduating. It was not only an honor to graduate from the University of Southern Mississippi but more so to be able to speak to the other graduates. I am very humbled to be here today."