HCC names Veteran and Young Alum of the Year


Holmes Community College is honoring Donald (Donny) Sims as the 2019 Veteran of the Year.

As a student at Holmes, the Kosciusko native attended on a football scholarship and played guard and center. Sims graduated from Holmes in 1974.

"I am very grateful for having the opportunity to attend and graduate from Holmes, play two years of football there and for the many life-long friendships I made," Sims said. "I believe that going to Holmes better prepared me to further my education and for my military career. When I hear that someone is trying to decide where to go to college, I encourage them to go to Holmes."

After completing his studies at Holmes, he later graduated from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He also earned a master’s degree from Delta State University in Commercial Aviation Management.

Sims completed a 30 plus year career with the United States Air Force and the Mississippi Air National Guard. In his years of service he served as a Weapons System Officer (WSO) Instructor/ Evaluator in the RF-4C Phantom II aircraft, Systems

Operator in the RC-26 aircraft and Navigator Instructor/Evaluator in the KC-135R aircraft. He also served as the Operations Group Commander and completed his military career as Vice Wing Commander for the 186th Air Refueling Wing, Mississippi Air National Guard, in Meridian.

While serving in the military, he flew numerous combat missions and served during the Kosovo Campaign, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. During his career, some of the military awards that Sims received include the Legion of Merit, two Meritorious Service Medals and three Air Medals. He was also a recipient of The Mississippi Magnolia Cross for his military service in the Mississippi Air National Guard.

Sims retired from the U.S. Air Force as a Colonel and was awarded a State of Mississippi promotion to Brigadier General for his military service in the Air Force and Miss. Air National Guard. He is currently serving as a Department of Defense/Air Force contractor with the Air National Guard in Jackson.

"Many times, sacrifices given by families of veterans are overlooked," Sims said. "I accept this award as a representative on behalf of all veterans and their families for their dedication, patriotism and the many sacrifices given by all for the freedoms God has blessed us with as citizens of the United States of America."

Sims is a member of the American Legion and the Veteran of Foreign Wars. He is also an active volunteer at the Mississippi Veterans Home in Kosciusko, where he plays music with the Veterans Home band for Sunday morning church services.

Sims and his wife Ceressa, a Holmes Alumnus (’73), have two sons, Jason and Jordan. Jordan and his wife Sarah have two children, Kennedy and Pierce.

The 2019 Young Alumnus of the Year recipient is Ethel native Sherman Lane Miller.

Miller was part of the graduating class of 1994. He excelled at Holmes, receiving the W.Y. Suddeth Social Science Award, making the President’s and Dean’s lists and being a member of Phi Theta Kappa.

“College Algebra at Holmes with Dr. Boggan was a class I remember the most,” Miller said. “He was a teacher that wanted his students to succeed and was willing to invest extra time to make sure they did. Achieving an ‘A’ in this class gave me a platform of confidence to ultimately graduate Summa Cum Laude from MSU.”

After Holmes, Miller earned a Bachelor of Science in Poultry Science from MSU. He continued to succeed as he received the poultry science departmental scholarship, earned a spot on the President’s List, received the Gamma Sigma Delta scholarship and was a member of the Gold Key Honor society, just to list a few.

“Holmes offered the learning environment I needed to continue to achieve academic success,” Miller said.

In 1996, while still attending MSU, he was the over-all high winner at the national poultry judging competition. After MSU, Miller did one internship with Choctaw Maid Farms in Walnut Grove in 1995 and then with Cal-Maine Food in Edwards in 1996.

After two short years, the company requested that Miller and his family move to Delta, Utah, to start up an operation as the processing manager. After another two years, Miller was promoted to General Manager of Cal-Maine’s facility in Chase, Kansas. Five years later, Miller was named Vice President of Operations of Kansas, Ohio and Utah.

In 2011, Miller was asked to move back to the corporate office in Jackson to become the Chief Operating Officer and a Board Director. The Cal-Maine board promoted Miller to President of the company in 2017. Miller has been with Cal-Maine for 20 plus year and still works there today. He stays active in his industry serving on several boards: US Poultry and Egg Board, United Egg Producers Board, American Feed Industry Association Board and Xiant Technology.

Other professional accomplishments Miller has received include MSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumni achievement Award in 2012, MSU’s CALS Poultry Science Advisory Board Member and a feature in MSU’s Alumni Magazine.

Miller lives in Brandon and is married to Laura Rea. They have three children: Hayden (18), Bryce (17) and Logan (15).