(The following press release and photos were submitted to MyFOX23.com from Jones County Junior College.)
ELLISVILLE – Jones County Junior College alumni and the stars of the HGTV show, Home Town, Ben and Erin Napier will be the keynote speakers at the JCJC Spring Commencement Ceremonies on Friday, May 4, at 9 a.m. for students whose last names begin with the letters “A” through “L” in the A.B. Howard/Bobcat Gymnasium. The second ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. for those students whose last names begin with letters “M” through “Z” featuring Rick Looser, C.O.O. and president of the public relations firm in Jackson, The Cirlot Agency, as the keynote speaker. Both ceremonies will also be live-streamed on the JCJC web page, http://www.jcjc.edu/ and overflow seating will be in the M.P. Bush Fine Arts Auditorium.
About 710 of the more than 780 students eligible to graduate will participate in the ceremonies receiving either, an Associate in Arts degree, Associate in Applied Science degree, a Technical Certificate or a Career Certificate. About 365 and 345 students will participate in each of the ceremonies, respectively.
Graduates and guests will hear JCJC alumni, Ben and Erin Napier who recently completed two seasons of home renovations shows for HGTV and have been scheduled for a third season. The premiere of the show, Home Town was the second highest rated series premiere in HGTV history. Erin’s vision and design skill set, coupled with Ben’s custom woodwork using reclaimed materials, along with clips from local shops and scenery are interwoven in the hit TV show. Additionally, the couple and four of their best friends sell heirloom wares and durable goods at their store, Laurel Mercantile Co. in downtown Laurel. Ben is also busy running Scotsman Co., his reclaimed wood furniture and crafted goods company.
As a graphic designer, Erin stumbled into a niche' market when she opened her own business, Lucky Luxe Couture Correspondence after graduating from the University of Mississippi. Her work was highly sought after worldwide. In 2014, their newly restored 1925 Craftsman style home was featured in, Southern Weddings. Soon after, an HGTV executive approached the Napier’s about doing the home renovation show.
Ben, who has a history degree from the University of Mississippi, serves in a local organization that strives to improve and grow Laurel’s historic downtown area. Erin uses her graphic design skills to brand, market and inspire the city’s rebirth. The Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) celebrates achievements of Mississippi Main Street Communities like Laurel. In 2014 at the 25th Annual Awards Luncheon in downtown Jackson, the Napier’s were recognized as the recipients of the “Award for Excellence, Spirit of Main Street.” Currently, the couple’s newest project includes learning a new role as parents after welcoming their daughter Helen in January.
The keynote speaker for the second graduation ceremony, Rick Looser, is the C.O.O. and President of The Cirlot Agency, a Mississippi-based, full-service, marketing, public relations and corporate communications firm. The company represents accounts on a national and international basis ranging from Fortune 100 companies to some of the world’s largest privately held corporations. Looser has worked for a virtual “Who’s Who” of business and industry, including Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Sanderson Farms. He is also recognized as one of the top PR professionals and is a sought-after speaker and media industry expert in the country.
The University of Alabama graduate serves on the board of advisors for The University of Alabama’s Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations and was named the Outstanding Alumnus in Public Relations for the University of Alabama’s College of Communication in 2003. In 2013, Looser was chosen as the Bert Bank Distinguished Service Award recipient – one of the top honors bestowed by The University of Alabama’s College of Communication and Information Sciences. He has also been an adjunct professor at the University since 2012, teaching the Capstone course, Public Relations Campaigns.
In 2009, Looser was inducted into the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame and was awarded the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) top award in Vancouver, British Columbia, The Gold Quill Award – considered the Oscar of the PR industry.
Rick is married to Liza Cirlot Looser, founder of The Cirlot Agency, where they have worked together for the last 28 years. They have two children, Regan and Tripp, who both graduated from the University of Mississippi.