Historic alum to deliver WCU commencement keynote


Vermester Jackson Bester of Hattiesburg will be the keynote speaker at a William Carey University commencement ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 18. She will also be among the graduates at this ceremony, as she receives an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

This is one of six ceremonies scheduled May 16-18.

Bester was one of the first African-American students to attend what was then William Carey College in 1965. She was admitted with her friend and fellow Rowan High School honor graduate, Linda Williams Cross, and enrolled following Carey’s decision to voluntarily admit African-American students under the leadership of Dr. J. Ralph Noonkester, who was the college’s president.

WCU was the first college in Mississippi and the first Baptist college in the Deep South to admit African-Americans.