Alumni Applause

Gladys N.A. Hamilton

May 11th, 2020 by webteam

Gladys N.A. Hamilton was born and raised in Gulfport, MS.  She is a 1993 biology graduate of Jackson State University (JSU).

Hamilton was highly active while enrolled at JSU where she became a member of the Delta Pi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. in the Spring of 1993. As a perspicacious student, she represented JSU during the 1993 Honda All Star Challenge National Championship. Upon graduating from JSU, Hamilton headed to the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa and graduated in 1999 with a master’s degree in Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health with a concentration in Epidemiology. Afterwards she headed to Washington, DC where she currently resides.

Professionally, Hamilton is a Clinical Supplies Project Manager with PRA Health Sciences, Inc. which is a contract research organization.  She works daily on global oncology clinical trials as part of a team dedicated to providing investigational medication to populations affected with cancer.  Hamilton has worked in the pharmaceutical clinical supply arena for almost 20 years where she has managed all aspects of the clinical supply chain for phase I to phase III clinical trials for various disease indications.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Alumni Applause

Dr. Josiah J. Sampson, III

May 4th, 2020 by alumni

Dr. Josiah J. Sampson, III was named Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at St. Augustine’s University and is a native of Jackson, Mississippi. His father was an orchestra director and music professor at Jackson State University and his mother is a retired teaching supervisor from the Mississippi School for the Deaf.

In 1997, Dr. Sampson obtained a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in chemistry from Jackson State University. While there he was active in the marching band, woodwind ensemble, symphonic band, NAACP, Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity, Biology Club, and the Allied Health Professionals Club. Additionally, he was a dean’s list scholar, tutor and mentor for other students.

Prior to moving to Nashville, Tennessee in 1998, Dr. Sampson began a teaching career by assisting in teaching laboratory techniques to medical technology students in the Mississippi Baptist Medical Center’s Medical Technologist program. He served as a biology instructor of both James B. Murrah and Robert M. Callaway High Schools. While teaching and revising science department standards at Callaway, he also served as Assistant Band Director for both marching and concert bands. Upon moving to Nashville, Dr. Sampson began teaching at Murphy Alternative School responsible for all required high school science and math disciplines, developing the science curriculum, serving as principle-designee, public relations correspondent, and developing the school’s computer lab.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Alumni Applause

DarKenya Washington Waller

April 27th, 2020 by alumni

DarKenya Washington Waller attended undergraduate school at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi, where she was a Spring 1995 initiate of Delta Pi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.   Waller is also a graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law and earned a Master of Business Administration from Belhaven University. She currently serves as the executive director of Legal Aid Society of Middle TN and the Cumberlands, Tennessee’s largest nonprofit law firm offering free civil legal services to low income and vulnerable families. As the chief executive officer of the organization, she supervises a staff of 45 attorneys in 8 middle Tennessee offices.

Before moving to Tennessee in 2008, Waller was a solo practitioner in Jackson, Mississippi, where she specialized in domestic law and real estate. She also worked with Chinn & Associates, PLLC, a boutique domestic relations law firm. Waller has worked with the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office; Division of Medicaid and she co-established and ran Connect 5 Communications, a technology and communications company that represented clients such as the City of Atlanta, City of Jackson and the National Conference of Black Mayors.  Waller is licensed to practice in both Mississippi and Tennessee.  She joined the Legal Aid Society of Middle TN and the Cumberlands in 2008 and became the managing attorney of its Nashville office in 2010.  Waller maintained a family law practice with a special focus on victims of domestic violence.  In March 2018, Waller became the organization’s first female and African-American Executive Director.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Alumni Applause

Dr. Dennis Williams

April 8th, 2020 by alumni

Dr. Dennis D. Williams is a native of Chicago, Illinois, and is the oldest child of 3 children and the only son, born to the late Evelyn and Frank Hall.

Dr. William’s father emphasized “Once you are educated, nobody can take that away.” This statement prompted him to aggressively approach education.  His primary education journey was in the Chicago public school system where he attended Oglesby Elementary and St. Leo Grammar Schools.  Later, he attended Lindblom Technical High School and graduated in 1978.  Dr. Williams was interested in attending a Historically Black College and University (HBCU), so he chose Jackson State University (JSU).

Hail Hail to Thee

Dr. Williams’ aspirations in education began when he entered the halls of Jackson State University as a freshman.  He pursued a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and graduated from JSU in 1983.  In God’s divine plan, his passion for the educational expertise began to soar. His career of service includes substitute teaching, teacher, assistant principal, coach, athletic director and mentor while receiving numerous awards for his athletic and academic accomplishments. He continued his matriculation and earned the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT 2004), Specialist in Education Administration and Supervision (EdS, 2007), Doctor of Philosophy degree in Education Administration and Supervision (PhD 2012) and Specialist degree in Psychometry (EdS 2018).

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Alumni Applause

Brittany N. Gibson

March 31st, 2020 by alumni

Brittany N. Gibson is a proud native of Vicksburg, Miss., and currently resides in Cordova, Tenn. She hails from a long-standing legacy of JSU Tiger graduates including her mother, aunt, two cousins and younger sister. Brittany received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Jackson State University in 2013.

Gipson is employed as a laboratory technician/soil analyst at Floratine Products Group in Collierville, Tenn., where her responsibilities include analyzing soil cores in the sports industry both nationally and internationally, facilitating in soil research, column studies, lab quality control, and product formulation.

During Gipson’s matriculation at Jackson State, she was actively involved in campus life including the American Chemical Society, NAACP-JSU Chapter, W.E.B. DuBois Honors College, Lois Stokes Mississippi Alliance Minority Program and was a spring 2012 initiate into Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. – Lambda Beta Chapter. Gipson’s love for music and showmanship pushed her to achieve a childhood dream – to be a member of the famous “Sonic Boom of the South” and participate in the “Tiger Run On”. She also participated in the Jazz II Ensemble and Concert Band.

An advocate for her beloved “Dear Old College Home,” Gipson has been an active member of JSUNAA since graduation. She is a former member of the Vicksburg-Warren Alumni Chapter where she served as scholarship chair. Upon relocating to Memphis, she transferred to the JSUNAA Memphis Alumni Chapter and is currently serving as the chapter’s scholarship chair. 

Posted in Alumni Applause

Dr. Destini Jones

March 31st, 2020 by alumni

Dr. Destini Jones is a native of Milwaukee, WI. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in management from Rust College in Holly Springs, Miss. Masters of Science in School Counseling from Mississippi State University, Education Specialist in Counseling from the University of West Alabama and a Doctoral degree in Urban Higher Education from Jackson State University (2018).

Jones currently serves as the assistant director of Health Professions Advising at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn. In this role, she provides academic support to pre-health students by supporting their efforts to attend medical school or the health profession of their choice.

Jones is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, American Educational Research Association (AERA), the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (NAAPH), and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. She was awarded Rust College’s Distinguished Alumni in 2018.

In her spare time, Jones enjoys participating on academic panels, attending conferences, conducting workshops, and volunteers in her community. She is a member of the JSUNAA Memphis Alumni Chapter where she serves on the Student Recruitment and Success Committee.

Posted in Alumni Applause

Chloe Bunch

March 31st, 2020 by alumni

Chloe Bunch, CCC-SLP is a 2012 graduate of Jackson State University where she received a Bachelor of Science in Communicative Disorders. During her matriculation at Jackson State, she was actively involved in Tiger P.R.I.D.E. Connection and was a spring (2008) initiate into the Gamma Rho Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

 Upon graduation, Bunch attended the University of Alabama and earned a Master in Science in Speech Pathology. She is currently employed by Shelby County Schools District as a speech language pathologist where she provides language therapy services to children ages 3-22 with varying disorders including intellectual disabilities, autism, and developmental delays. Additionally, she provides private/independent language therapy services to the children in their homes. 

 Bunch lives in Southaven, MS and is a member of Brown Missionary Baptist Church where she serves in the Youth and Young Adult Ministries. She is currently a member of the JSUNAA Memphis Alumni Chapter. 

Posted in Alumni Applause

Jacquelyn Bracey

March 31st, 2020 by alumni

Jacquelyn (Jackie) Bracey is the owner and creative director of Couture Events of Memphis, a full-service catering, event production and event rental company.

Bracey earned Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Jackson State University. After working in the corporate sector for more than 10 years, she and her husband, Emmitt, who is also a JSU graduate decided they wanted to become their own boss.

Bracey has infused her marketing background and creative style into the Couture Events of Memphis brand, which is now comprised of event production, catering and event rental company. Jackie’s passion for entrepreneurship has helped Couture Events of Memphis to become one of Memphis’ sought-after catering and event production companies with unrivaled client experiences.

When Bracey is not working on Couture Events Memphis, she is the co-owner of Salon Essentials, a design essentials distributorship that services professional hair salons in Memphis, TN, north Mississippi and Arkansas.

Jacquelyn is a wife and mother who loves to curl up with a good book and entertain family and friends in her spare time.

Posted in Alumni Applause

LaTasha Houston

March 25th, 2020 by alumni

LaTasha Houston is a native of Jackson, MS, and a 2008 graduate of Jackson State University, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications— Public Relations. She also holds a master’s in public administration from Strayer University.  While at JSU, she held several titles that included the President of the Delta Pi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Fueled by her passion for making a difference and empowering others, Houston turned a junior year internship into a full-time position with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Washington, DC.  In her eleven years with the FBI, she has worked as an Executive Staff in the Director’s Office; part of the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG) Active Shooter Study Team; and served in other positions such as an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) counselor, just to name a few.  Also, while working for the FBI, Houston spearheaded recruitment initiatives to help bring viable candidates from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) into the Bureau, and she is currently working for the FBI in Huntsville, AL.

In addition to her professional responsibilities, Houston is the author of "The Seven Year Promise," which is a self-help book that offers spiritual advice for its readers to follow on a range of topics such as unlocking your full potential, thriving in the face of failed plans, finding your true calling, and overcoming adversity.  She is currently on tour conducting workshops titled “The Seven Year Promise Lab.” In these workshops, she provides an interactive experience of her book, while sharing tools/lessons gained through her journey with others who are walking in their own journey. In addition to the book, she regularly releases similar content through her blog, Biblically Led Cornbread Fed.

Houston is the proud mother of two: Trace Alexander and Jordyn Joelle.  When she is not wearing her Federal Government hat or working within the community, she can very easily be heard cheering for her two blessings (Trace and Jordyn) during football, taekwondo, dance, and other extracurricular activities they are involved in.  Houston follows a JSU graduate legacy from her aunt and mom — Michelle and Dr. Rosella Houston.  She shares this same passion for JSU with her cousin Tyesha Kidd and her sister Ma’kala Houston, who is a senior civil engineering major and a member of the Sonic Boom of the South J-Sette Dancing Squad.   Houston is a member of Junior League of Huntsville and Toastmasters International.




Posted in Alumni Applause

Dr. Yolanda Butler

March 23rd, 2020 by alumni

Jackson State University alumna, Dr. Yolanda J. Butler, has mentored women in public service and helped emerging leaders navigate through the peaks, obstacles and successes of the civilian workplace since the early years of her professional career.  Some could even say Butler’s commitment as her sister’s keeper dates to her beloved alma mater when she tutored her classmates and served as an editor of The Blue and White Flash, or as a young high schooler in Clarksdale, MS tutoring younger students after school at St. George’s Episcopal Church. Her grounding in public service is strong in family Jacksonian legacy, rich with educators and local leaders, and being of service to humankind.

Over the last 24 years, Butler has worked at the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (ACF/HHS).  In the last decade, as a skilled and knowledgeable public administrator, Butler provided leadership in social services and economic development programs via various initiatives.  She has served a senior advisor in the Office of Legislative Affairs and Budget; worked on detail in the Office of U.S. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun as a Presidential Management Fellow; served as Acting Director for some three years in the Office of Community Services; worked some 13 years as Deputy Director for the Office of Community Services; and served as Director of the Division of Social Services.

Across her roles, Butler has guided some $7 billion in community services and developmental disabilities policy. Some accomplishments follow:

* Represented the United States at the Organization of American States’ (OAS) conference on social services, which also featured the Assets for Independence, a program in her office, in Cali, Colombia.

* Led the Social Service Block Grant Super-Storm Sandy Supplemental funding initiative for the office.

* Instrumental to the development and establishment of an interagency collaboration to bring fresh food vendors to dis-invested urban and rural areas (called “food deserts” by the USDA). This effort necessitated a partnership with USDA, Treasury and HHS, with HHS/OCS’ role to provide base funding of up $800,000 grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and similar vendors, employing individuals with low-income for jobs created in the served community.

Butler entered public service first as an intern at the US Department of State in Washington, D.C., while in graduate school at Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1995. She followed her internship and academic success as Howard University’s single 1996 nominee to the federal government’s prestigious post-graduate program, the Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF). After selection for one of only 120 PMF positions in 1996, Butler began her journey in earnest at the US Department of Health and Human Services, where she has served nearly 24 years, helping urban and rural communities, children and families around the United States.

Butler’s experience spans service as Director, Deputy Director and Senior Advisor of varying federal offices. She has a certificate in Executive Leadership from American University, and has twice received an agency Exemplary Leadership award and was honored to represent the US at a conference for the Organization of American States on social development in South America. Butler also received an agency award for her Outstanding Volunteer Service in Mentoring in 2012.

After too many conversations with women of color who felt isolated in the federal workplace, Butler decided it was imperative to use her talents as a mentor and acumen as a leader to found in 2019 an organization that provided a forum for Black women and allies called B-WISE, LLC or Black Women who Inspire, Lead and Excel.  Her organization’s motto is, “We are our Sister’s keeper!”  The organization hosts roundtable discussions, pairs mentors and coaches with emerging leaders, and hosts retreats. (

​Butler has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Howard University (2006) with a focus in Public Administration and American Government.  She also has a 1994 undergraduate degree in Communication (minor in Political Science) from Jackson State University, W.E.B. DuBois Honors College. She recently celebrated 27 years in the sisterhood of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., having been inducted at JSU’s Delta Pi.

Butler works hard for Jackson State University, as well. She served for four years as the president of the Greater Washington, DC Chapter of the JSU National Alumni Association (JSUNAA), two terms as both a JSUNAA board member and vice president of the Northeast Region.

Butler resides in metro-Washington, D.C., with her family. In her spare time, she paints and writes a blog on being a woman of color in public service, self-care, coaching and mentoring. One of her favorite quotes is Dr. Martin Luther King’s, “Life’s

Posted in Alumni Applause