JSU Women’s History Month

Jasmin Searcy, Ph.D., ’12

March 10th, 2017 by giving

Challenging Minds, Changing Lives, and Uplifting the Human Spirit" is the central mission of alumna Dr. Jasmin Searcy. She earned both of her graduate degrees (Master’s and Doctor of Philosophy) in Clinical Psychology from Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryland) and Jackson State University (Jackson, MS).

Enthralled with the concept of being crowned Miss Jackson State University at the age of six years old (as she enthusiastically observed her aunt (Barbara Rascoe-Alston; Miss JSU 1991-1992), Dr. Searcy immediately became involved with Jackson State University's campus and her surrounding community. During her matriculation at Jackson State University, she earned the titles of Miss Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated (state and regional titles); (2006-2007), Miss MADDRAMA Theatre Company (2006-2007), Miss Jackson State University (2007-2008), and was appointed as a Thurgood Marshall Scholar and delegate.

Because of her desire to transform individuals and her community, she implemented Project CHANGES; an acronym for Challenging Humans to Adopt Goals for Everyday Situations and developed more than 45 events/programs targeting mental health issues (e.g., psychological effects of domestic violence) and health behavior change (e.g., HIV risk-taking behaviors).Due to Dr. Searcy’s strong belief that service joined with scholarship is essential to everlasting change, she remains determined to serve as an activator for change as a Child/Pediatric Psychologist and hopes to return to her home state of Mississippi in the near future.

Currently, Dr. Searcy is a Child/Pediatric Health Psychology Fellow (and licensed psychologist) at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in Sam Fort Houston, Texas where she provides behavioral health services to military-connected youth and their families. In particular, Dr. Searcy provides evidenced-based treatments (including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), pediatric hypnosis, bio feedback) to patients presenting with general outpatient (e.g., depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), trauma) and pediatric health complications (e.g., irritable bowel disease, sickle cell disease, diabetes, cystic fibrosis). In addition, she is involved with several multidisciplinary pediatric weight management clinics and is conducting research which examines ecological factors (as described in Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Framework (1977)) that may be associated with health behavior change (e.g., recidivism rates). Due to Dr. Searcy’s research interests surrounding pediatric weight management, she is developing an evidenced-based post-surgery protocol (“ACTION!”) for BAMC’s Adolescent Bariatric Surgery team which was recently accepted for presentation at The Society of Pediatric Psychology (SPP) annual conference (March 2017). She also holds faculty appointment at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas as Adjunct Lecturer of Health Psychology.

Concerning her personal time, Dr. Searcy is pursuing a certification to be licensed as a group fitness trainer. She recently ran in the 2016 Beach to Bay-America's Largest Relay Marathon in Corpus Christi, Texas. Dr. Searcy also has run several 5k/10k walk/runs as she strongly believes in work-life balance. Before pursuing clinical psychology, she was featured in Ebony magazine (April 2008) as Miss Jackson State University and has earned many awards for her dedication to community service. Dr. Searcy has given countless motivational and mental health seminars to various audiences to include community and social groups, and educational organizations such as the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). She is also a member of the esteemed Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and was inducted into Who's Who in Black Mississippi in 2010 at age 24 among others.

Dr. Searcy credits God, her family, and most importantly, Jackson State University (including Drs. Hilliard L. Lackey and Mark G. Henderson). Her alma mater not only prepared her to be successful, but it afforded her to receive an impeccable education, develop valuable knowledge regarding the relevance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and form lifelong friendships. Dr. Searcy’s philosophy of life remains: “Lord if I can help someone along the way, my living will not be in vain.”

Deborah F. Dent, PhD, ’90

March 9th, 2017 by giving

Dr. Deborah F. Dent is the Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer at Jackson State University.  In this position, she oversees the management of the university's network and communications infrastructure, enterprise resource planning system and other information technology (IT) services that support all levels of research, learning, and teaching.

The Division of Information Technology consists of three units: Academic IT, Computing and Communications, and IT Managed Services, all staffed to deliver customer friendly support to all JSU campuses.

Dr. Dent joined Jackson State in August 2012 after a 37 year career with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. Prior to joining Jackson State, Dr. Dent served as the Deputy Director of the Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) at the U. S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg, MS. She holds a BS in Computer Science from the University of Southern Mississippi, MS in Computer Science from Jackson State University and PhD in Scientific Computing from the University of Southern Mississippi.


Erica Michelle, ’12

March 8th, 2017 by giving

Erica Michelle plays Ebony Weaver on BET’s new hit show “The Quad”. Erica’s character is a freshman member of the marching band at the fictional Georgia A& M University.

Michelle’s big screen debut was in the 2013 sequel: The Last Exorcism II, where she played alongside Ashley Bell, Julia Garner and Muse Watson.

She later moved to New Orleans and eventually opened a talent agency, Blue Talent Group, and the Actor’s Playhouse—a school for aspiring actors—which won a “Best of New Orleans” award for specialty schools and programs. She closed the playhouse in November 2016 after receiving her role on “The Quad”.

Erica Michelle is a 2012 graduate of Jackson State University. She is the first Theater Major to be elected as The College of Liberal Arts Grand Marshal.

Katina Rankin, ’97

March 7th, 2017 by giving

JSU alumnae Katina Rankin is an Emmy-nominated television news anchor and now achildren’s book author.

Katina Rankin is co-anchor of Local 24 News weekdays at 5:00pm, 6:00pm, 10:00pm and the CW30 News at 9:00pm.

"Up North, Down South", is a new children's book by Katina Rankin that addresses still- too-common misconceptions about the south. "Up North, Down South: City Folk Meet Country Folk", is a book that shows young people it doesn't matter your geographical area, we are more alike albeit southern or northern.

"This book takes children on a journey across Mississippi, while addressing still-too- common misconceptions about the state in an age-appropriate manner. This book entertains the reader while showing that Mississippi is a wonderful state with wonderful people. I believe this book will instill pride in Mississippi’s children, as well as help the children outside of our state gain an 
appreciation for "Up North, Down South" is a chapter book for children Pre-K through 5th grade with global themes and relevance.

Katina is a native of Magee, Mississippi. She received her master's degree in broadcast journalism from Jackson State University. Most recently, Rankin was the anchor of the top rated morning news at WLBT-TV in Jackson, MS. She has held similar positions at: WSMV-TV Nashville, TN; WTVD-TV Raleigh-Durham, NC; and WAPT-TV, Jackson, MS.

Katina is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the National Association of Black Journalists. She has been recognized for her reporting by the Associated Press multiple times. Rankin is the recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award, the Athletes for Progress Award and has been honored by many other prestigious organizations. Rankin has also been named Mississippi Woman of the year.

Ronnika Joyner, ’11

March 6th, 2017 by giving

Ronnika Antoinette Joyner (Ronnika Ann), owner of iGN Public Relations & Co. has dedicated her life towards helping others through Communications and Public Relations.

With @iGNPR business going into its 5th year, Ronnika Ann, has proven to be the leader and visionary of every campaign she touches; she spearheads strategic campaigns and develops goals for each client. Every win and opportunity for growth is personal. That commitment to personal growth is at the heart of her team’s efforts and she works elentlessly with top PR Heads in the industry, to focus on mastering relationship-based business to earn her clients’ public support.

Inside the office walls, Ronnika “keeps the light on”. She makes sure everyone she works with has just the right amount of light. When things get hectic, she smiles and goofs off, lighting the way to solution based relief. And since a little happy dance never hurt anyone, each win is celebrated, in real-time. It’s a priority of hers to keep her team and her clients full of faith, spirit and, well, happy. It is Ronnika’s integrity based leadership and purpose driven character that make her campaigns a growing success. Passing this persistence and passion to her clients makes every difference in her business as well.

Ronnika has gained 8 plus years of experience in leadership, event planning, production, public relations and journalism. Her most recent attributes have come from her contributions to Yellow Pages Corporate Marketing Team, The Sun Herald Newspaper, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Mississippi’s Channel 23, and ABC’s WAPT Channel 16. As a result of such vast experiences, she created, publishes and writes for PR Insights (Public Relations Blog).  Ronnika has also self-published three (3) books and produced a nationwide tour under her PR Consulting Service: PR for a Day. With your business iGN PR & Co on a steady rise, she has completed nationwide and local campaigns for various award shows, nonprofits and lifestyle brands. Her latest venture, Ingenious Weddings, is a division from iGN PR that focuses on pageants, weddings and small glamour events.

Ronnika received her Master’s in Business Administration from American InterContinental University and has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mass Communications from Jackson State University. She is a lady of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. Because of all of her achievements, Ronnika was awarded the “Keys to the City” from her hometown, Biloxi, Ms. Ronnika A. Joyner Day is official celebrated on January 4th.

Dr. Earlexia Montoya Norwood

March 4th, 2017 by giving

NORWOODDr. Earlexia Montoya Norwood is a Tiger bred graduate from the W.E.B DuBois Honors College of Jackson State University (JSU), born in Jackson, MS. She is grateful to, and honors Dr. Maria L.A. Harvey for recruiting her for the inaugural class of the JSU Honor's Program in 1980. Currently, Dr. Norwood is serving as the First Vice-President of Jackson State University National Alumni Association, Inc. (JSUNAA), with the responsibility of all JSUNAA national committees, and Chair of the Fundraising Committee. She was the founder and inaugural chair, of JSUNAA's signature event, "The Black Tie Scholarship & Recognition Gala". The National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation honored her with their prestigious Legacy of Leaders award, as the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year recipient, because of her leadership, dedication, and record of service. 2015 JSUNAA honored her with the induction into the Hall of Fame, and 2014 selected her as their Alumnus of the Year.

Dr. Norwood was recently appointed to serve as the U.S. Breaking Walls Health and Wellness Ambassador, where she will lead a coalition of physicians from Barcelona, Spain, Berlin Germany, Bethlehem, Palestine, Cape Town, South Africa, Brooklyn, New York, and Warsaw, Poland. The 2017 "Igniting Global Conversation" Conference, will be held in Warsaw, Poland July 7-17, 2017.

As a board certified Family Medicine physician, she matriculated at the University of Iowa Medical School, and has practiced with Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) since 1993. Dr. Norwood is currently the Service Chief of Family Medicine for Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, and Director of Practice Development and Community Health Education for Henry Ford Medical Group (HFMG). She has been honored from 2008-2016, by physicians across southeastern Michigan, as one of Detroit’s “Top Docs” as noted in Hour Magazine.

There have been many recognitions including: 2016 Michigan Chronicle, “Woman of Excellence” Award, Detroit’s Who’s Who, Distinguished Alumni by the National Association for Equal Opportunity’s National Leadership Summit, Robert E. Birk Award for excellence in Research, 2016 Henry Ford Health System “Focus on People” Award. Currently, she is a member of the multicultural executive board for the American Heart Association, National Medical Association (NMA) House of Delegates, NMA Council on Medical Legislation, American Academy of Family Medicine, and American Medical Association.

Dr. Norwood believes in the power of knowledge to empower lives. She’s a presenter for media news outlets, national conferences, community groups, and organizations. Most of all, she is a wife to Robert E. Norwood, and mother to Gabriel and Mikhaella Norwood, desiring to fulfill her God given purpose, while making a difference in the lives of many.


Tangelia Kelly PhD, ’04, ’16

March 3rd, 2017 by giving

Tangelia Kelly 2Tangelia Kelly, native of Brandon, MS, is the daughter of Will Kelly, Jr. and Gwendolyn Harvey-Kelly. She’s currently a marketing specialist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

She received her Marketing degree from Jackson State University in 2004, her Master's in Business Administration from Belhaven University in 2006, and with plans of becoming a higher education administrator, she returned to Jackson State and completed her Ph.D in Educational Administration and Supervision with a concentration in Higher Education in 2016.

As an undergraduate student at JSU, Kelly served twice as Chief Justice of the Student Government Association, once as a justice and was elected Freshman Vice President of her class. While maintaining a 4.0 GPA in her PhD program, Kelly, was honored with membership in the Golden Key International Honor Society, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Alpha Epsilon Lambda Honor Society and The National Society for Leadership and Success. Kelly is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority, Inc.

After completing her MBA, Kelly soon found herself back at her alma mater, Jackson State, where she climbed the career ladder as an Undergraduate Recruiter/Counselor, Development Officer III and an Associate Director of Annual Giving. While there, she was able to help develop JSU's first social media student recruiting initiative and directed the first Annual Giving program.

Kelly's accomplishments continued throughout her tenure at JSU as she went on to manage the first campus call center and phonathon program at JSU. She also created the first online giving challenge, social media fundraising strategies and electronic appeals at JSU. Her online initiative “The Soul Bowl Giving Challenge” raised $25,000 in less than one month and won national recognition from the Council of Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

Kelly is a board member of Grace His Daughter, a spiritual-based non-profit
organization founded by Kristy Grizzell in 2015 that helps young girls between the ages of 10-18 to discover their purpose in life by providing, seminars, workshops, community outreach programs, and scholarships. In her spare time, she operates her own global skincare business through Rodan + Fields Dermatology, which enables her to help others achieve great skin and/or financial security. She contributes her success to keeping God first in her plans and depending on his strength and not her own.

Sandra Hodge ’97

March 2nd, 2017 by giving

HodgeMrs. Sandra Hodge has been the leader for JSU’s Division of Institutional Advancement and Development Foundation since March 2016. Since joining the cabinet, Hodge’s leadership and professionalism have proven to be effective as she has assisted JSU with funding, resources and various growth opportunities.

Prior to joining JSU, Mrs. Hodge served as the Chief Executive Officer for the American Red Cross Mississippi Region, with oversight of leadership teams in support of achieving targets for service delivery, fundraising/revenue, communications and branding, and community engagement and mobilization.

She also had a distinguished career in management and administration with service to the City of Jackson, Tougaloo College, Mississippi Department of Human Services and Jackson State University.


Mrs. Obama was awarded an honorary doctorate degree before delivering her keynote
address at Jackson State University’s 139th Spring Commencement ceremony in April

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is an American lawyer and writer who was the
First Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. She is married to the 44th President
of the United States, Barack Obama. Michelle Obama was the first African American
First Lady of the United States. Obama earned a Bachelor's of Arts degree in Sociology
in 1985 from Princeton University. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from Havard Law
School in 1988.

As First Lady, Obama became a fashion icon, advocate for poverty awareness,
nutrition, physical activity, role model for women, and healthy eating.