SCOOBA — East Mississippi Community College sophomore Brittany Turner, 19, is an honor student, a member of the college’s Eastern Belles dance team and a martial arts instructor who will represent the U.S. in the 2017 World Martial Arts Games in September.
She is also among more than 600 EMCC students who will graduate Friday, May 5, and Saturday, May 6, during ceremonies at the Scooba and Golden Triangle campuses.
Academic and career-technical students from EMCC’s Scooba, Golden Triangle, Columbus Air Force Base, Naval Air Station Meridian, Lion Hills, West Point Center and online/eLearning campuses will participate in the graduation ceremonies.
For Turner, a Meridian resident, the prospect of graduating from EMCC is bittersweet.
”I am really going to miss it here but I am ready to move on at the same time,” Turner said. “I like the small campus at Scooba. It is a nice feeling to actually know the students you are around every day and to be able to stop by your teacher’s office just to chat. I don’t think it will be like that at a bigger university.”
Turner, an art major, plans to attend Mississippi State University to earn a double major in graphic design and photography. Her family has a long history at EMCC’s Scooba campus. Her grandparents, Richard and Garrie Anne Richardson, met at the campus more than 50 years ago.
Turner’s parents, Ken and Sheila Turner, once taught at EMCC. Ken Turner was an English instructor at Scooba, while Sheila Turner taught psychology.
The last two years have been busy for Brittany Turner, who wears many hats. She is a member of the Scooba chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, a national honors society, and performs regularly with the Eastern Belles, a dance line that is part of the EMCC Mighty Lion Band.
“Brittany is a fantastic young lady,” EMCC Band Director Stephen Stringer said. “She has worked hard every day that I have known her. She is always very respectful, hardworking and sweet — all the things you want in a student.”
When she isn’t hitting the books, Turner is working. In the summer, she can be found most days at Highland Park in Meridian, where she works as a lifeguard and swim coach. Much of the rest of her time is spent as a head martial arts instructor at Turner Shotokan in Collinsville, which she operates and owns along with her father and brother.
She is also one of two head instructors at the Kemper Martial Arts Club in DeKalb.
Turner was 3 years old when her brother, who was 7 at the time, began taking martial arts classes. During classes, Turner mimicked what the martial arts students were doing and the instructor convinced her parents to let her join as well.
“That was 16 years ago and I have been taking karate ever since,” Turner said.
She earned her black belt at the age of 12 and is now a second degree black belt.
Recently, she accompanied a student who was trying out for a slot on the U.S. Martial Arts Team. She had no intentions of trying out for the team herself but the instructor convinced Turner to do so.
“Nine hours later, we were waiting to hear who had made it and I, my brother and my student all made the team,” Turner said.
Team members serve two years and Turner will compete in the 2017 World Martial Arts Games in Orlando, Fla., Sept. 4-10. Next year, the competition will take place in Ireland.
“It would be great if we could figure out a way to help sponsor Brittany’s trips to the World Martial Arts Games,” EMCC art instructor Terry Cherry said. “She is a smart kid and is very talented.”
Turner has always been interested in athletics. She was homeschooled but played both basketball and softball in state leagues. Her main interest has always been dance and martial arts, however.
“I started dance about the same time I started karate,” Turner said. “It was interesting growing up with those two completely different worlds.”
So what does she plan to do once she completes her education at Mississippi State?
“I would like to work in graphic design because that is something I really enjoy doing and maybe I can incorporate my photography into that,” Turner said.
EMCC 2017 Spring Commencement Ceremonies
Golden Triangle, West Point, Lion Hills Center and Columbus AFB students
May 5, 2017
10 a.m.: Candidates for Associate of Applied Science degree and Career certificates
2 p.m.: Candidates for Associate of Art degree commencement
Location: Golden Triangle Campus Lyceum/Auditorium
Please contact Registrar Faye Morgan at 662-243-1923 for further information.
Scooba and Meridian Naval Air Station students
May 6, 2017
10 a.m.: All candidates for graduation
Location: Keyes Currie Coliseum on the Scooba campus
Please contact Registrar Melinda Sciple at 662-476-5040 for further information.