Over $70,000 in Scholarships with the Explosion of Excellence

The 27th Annual Explosion of Excellence was held on Tuesday, May 2nd, at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Jackson County campus.   There were 168 high school students in the top ten percent of their graduating classes from throughout Jackson County honored with scholarships.  Every student received a $250 book scholarship, and $25,000 in scholarships were randomly drawn.  There was also a $5,000 scholarship randomly drawn from the McDonald’s Descher Organization.  These scholarships are donated by the public to encourage these students to consider employment in Jackson County when their education is finished.


This program honors the academic achievements of the graduating high school seniors who are in the top ten percent of their classes in all area high schools in Jackson County (including the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science).  These scholarships are made possible by the general public through scholarships in the name of companies or organizations as well as in honor or memory of someone.  The Explosion of Excellence Scholarship Program is jointly sponsored by the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College with more than 100 contributors and volunteers who make this program possible.  This is a fund of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

This year’s Keynote Speaker was Dr. Chris N. Duke of Bienville Animal Medical Center.  Dr. Duke graduated DVM from Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine in 1983.  He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), Mississippi and Alabama VMA’s, and South Mississippi VMA and is currently licensed in Alabama and Mississippi.  He practices veterinary medicine at and is co-owner of Bienville Animal Medical Center (1984-Present).  Duke is certified as a Veterinary Journalist (ASVJ) and contributing member on VNN (Veterinary News Network), a national group of veterinarians in the media who contribute stories of interest from their regions (2009-present).  He is actively serving as a mentor for the local High School Allied Health Program and has actively served as a preceptor-trainer for veterinary students from the College of Veterinary Medicine from Auburn University, Mississippi State University, Tuskegee Institute, Louisiana State University and The University of Hanover (Germany).  He is a graduate of Leadership Mississippi (1988), has been a Rotarian since 1985 (Received Rotarian of The Year in 1997), was the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce President (1990) and was the Stewardship Campaign Chairman of St. Paul United Methodist Church (1996, 2000 and 2015).  Dr. Chris N. Duke and his wife Ann have been married 33 years and live in Ocean Springs.  They have two grown, now married children, Robert and Emily.


Scholarships are donated by the public to encourage these students to consider employment in Jackson County when their education is finished.  The public can help honor these students by making a tax-exempt contribution by check addressed to the “Gulf Coast Community Foundation/Explosion of Excellence” and mailing it to “Explosion of Excellence, Post Office Box 480, Pascagoula, MS  39568-0480.”  Contributors are recognized individually on the scholarships, in the program, on the PowerPoint at the event and on the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce website throughout the year.  A big “thank you” goes to all past contributors who have made this program possible for 27 years.


If you have questions, please call the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce at 228-762-3391 or email Anna Slepova, Director of Membership Services, at Chamber@jcchamber.com.  More information can be found online at www.jcchamber.com.

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