University to Honor Graduating Class of 2023

November 28, 2023 (Jackson, Miss.) - Two commencement ceremonies will honor Belhaven University graduates on Saturday, December 9 at Thalia Mara Hall.

All students earning undergraduate, graduate education, and graduate biblical and theological degrees will have their ceremony at 9:30 a.m. All online undergraduates, graduate business students, and Jackson campus students will celebrate commencement at 2:30 p.m.

Dr. Jerry Young will be the honored speaker for the first commencement ceremony.Young has faithfully led the congregation of New Hope Baptist Church since 1980. He is the founder and headmaster of New Hope Christian Pre-School and New Hope Christian Elementary School, together serving 300 plus students, from infants to 5th grade.

An avid scholar and life-long learner, Young earned a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Social Welfare from Rust College. He has earned a Master of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. In April 2021, Young was presented with an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree from Mississippi College.

Young has served on several local, state, and national boards and has been awarded numerous prestigious honors and awards. In addition, he is a regularly invited guest to speak/lecture at the various schools, colleges, and school districts throughout Mississippi and across the nation.

Presently, Young serves on the Board of Trustees at Belhaven University as well as his alma mater, Rust College. He also serves on the Faith Based Advisory Council for the United Negro College Fund. He has served as the President of the General Missionary Baptist State Convention of Mississippi, Inc. and Vice President At-Large of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.

Young was elected as the 18th President of the National Baptist Convention (NBC) USA, Inc. in September 2014, during the convention's 134th Annual Session held in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was re-elected as president of NBC USA, Inc. in 2019. He has served the convention for over 20 years.


Dr. Elayne Hayes-Anthony will be the honored speaker at the second ceremony at 2:30 p.m. Anthony was named acting president of Jackson State University in March 2023. A native of Jackson, Mississippi, she was the first African American female anchor, producer, and reporter for WJTV-TV12, the CBS affiliate in Jackson.

Anthony is the former dean of JSU’s School of Journalism and chair of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies. Under her leadership, the department received national accreditation from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Additionally, she expanded their sequence offerings to include public relations and advertising and added an additional radio station “The Sipp.” She also helped to garner close to $1 million in grants for WJSU.

Anthony has also been appointed the assistant superintendent of Public Information and Staff Development for the Jackson Public School District and spokesperson for the Board of Trustees. She operated as assistant superintendent for seven years before serving as an educational consultant. She then joined Belhaven University as the founding head of the Department of Communication.

A former tenured full professor at Belhaven University, Anthony is currently a tenured full professor at JSU. Maximizing her media talents, she has served as host of her own television program entitled “FYI with Elayne Anthony.” Currently, she hosts “In Depth” with Elayne Anthony, which airs on JSUTV.

Anthony has served on more than 15 accreditation teams for the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. She has also worked as a consultant for the Florida and Louisiana Board of Regents on Journalism Education. She was appointed to the education task force for the state of Mississippi, and she was appointed by Governor Haley Barbour and Governor Phil Bryant to the State Department of Health, where she also serves on the Audit Committee, CON and Communication Committee.

Anthony is a member of the Jackson Association of Black Journalists; a member of the advisory board for I Heart Radio; a former member of the Randolph Hearst National Scholarship Committee, and a former member of the Board of Visitors for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Among her many accomplishments, Anthony was honored as a media trailblazer by the Women for Progress (Mississippi). She is also the first African American to serve on the Board of the Mississippi Association of Broadcasters. In Fall 2023, she became the first African American female and educator to serve as MAB president. Anthony received her bachelor’s degree from JSU. She received her Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.