Four Delta State University alumni will be honored for their contributions to the university by being inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame during this year’s Homecoming festivities.
Induction into the Delta State University Alumni Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed upon an individual by the Delta State University Alumni Association. Established in 2007, the honor is extended to alumni and friends who have achieved professional distinction, made significant community service contributions at the local, national and/or international level and brought honor and distinction to the university.
This year’s award winners will be recognized at the 2015 Homecoming Alumni Awards Gala at the Bologna Performing Arts Center Nov. 6 at 7 p.m.
Set to be honored this year are Colonel Gentry Boswell, John Cox and Dwight Herlong. Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, Lucy Janoush, will also be inducted to the Hall of Fame.
Boswell, a graduate of Bayou Academy, received a Bachelor of Science in aviation management in 1991. He attended Squadron Officer School in 1998 and received a Master of Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2001 and a Master of Military Operational Science from Air University in 2005. In 2007, he attended Joint Forces Command Advanced Warfighting School in Norfolk, Virginia, and received a Master of Strategic Studies at Air War College in 2011.
The son of Mickey and Cookie Boswell of Cleveland, Boswell took command of the largest B-1 combat wing in the U.S. Air Force during a change of command ceremony on June 4, 2015, at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota.
Boswell said his education at Delta State equipped him for his stellar military career.
“DSU prepared me for a challenging future in the military, which demands the best in intellect, leadership and team skills,” he said. “My teachers and advisors challenged me and taught me, first and foremost, the value of critical thinking — to have the discipline to research facts and learn the full picture before developing opinions or a position on an issue. They also taught me very well how valuable a person’s work ethic is, stressing the points of showing up every day ready to go and prepared for class, understanding that to have an opportunity to continue my education was a privilege. The point hit home that how well I did in my education would determine the options I would have ahead in life.”
While Boswell was a serious student, he made the most of his time in college.
“I had four incredible years at Delta State, the highlights of which were being around a great group of students and faculty that made the time memorable,” he said. “From my Pike (Pi Kappa Alpha) brothers to teammates in athletics, students and the faculty, there was always someone with a smile and positive attitude that made a profound influence on me and made for great times and great memories.
“I remember being the first generation of the men’s swimming and diving team where we were setting new school records at every meet and watching the program grow from its infancy. I vividly remember the stiff competition and fun in intramural sports where the Pikes prided ourselves on being perennial champs, and I have fond memories of the great wilderness trips with Dave Heflin and the late Dr. Henry Outlaw — those were great times indeed. I had a full scholarship from the Air Force that allowed me to attend any university in the nation with an Air Force ROTC program. I had to choose from something like 75 schools, and I ultimately chose to go to DSU because of the people there and the character of the school.”
Among his many honors are: Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Aerial Achievement Medal with eight oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Air Force Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Award, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor Device and seven oak leaf clusters, Combat Readiness Medal with four oak leaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal with star, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal with two stars, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Global War On Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, and Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with Gold Border with two oak leaf clusters and a NATO Medal.
He is married to Cindi Chandler Boswell, who also graduated from Delta State and was inducted in to the Student Hall of Fame. The couple has two children, Kaitlyn and Jerod.
John Cox is the definition of a man about campus. A native of Cleveland, Cox graduated in 1996 from with a Bachelor of Arts in English. While at Delta State, Cox made the most of his four years by joining Kappa Alpha Order, Lambda Iota Tau literature honor society, Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society, and being inducted into the Student Hall of Fame. He served the student body as SGA vice president, Student Senate president, Student Senator, and was Editor in Chief of the Delta Statement for a year and a half. He is a graduate of the Georgetown University Institute on Political Journalism.
“I chose DSU for the obvious reason — it’s where my father told me he would pay for me to go to school,” said Cox. “It’s no secret, and it’s a bit ironic that as a Cleveland kid, I wanted to go anywhere but Delta State. I really wanted to go to Millsaps. But my father sent me to DSU, and I had plans of just being a faceless college student back and forth to class and home. I was never a bad student, as you know, but I can honestly say that I was unmotivated. I wouldn’t call myself a leader at that time in my life by any stretch of the imagination. But when I came to Delta State, I was immediately surrounded by people who pushed me to look within myself and find something greater.
“I met men like George Bassi and Dr. Wayne Blansett, and I was inspired and motivated for the first time in my life to push myself to my highest potential. I cannot repay them enough. My life was forever changed by a decision that, ironically, I vehemently opposed.”
Cox then went on to the University of Mississippi School of Law where he graduated with a Juris Doctor in 1999, and received a public interest scholarship from the Public Interest Law Clinic to work at the Hinds County Public Defender’s Office during law school. He later served an externship with the district attorney in Desoto County, Mississippi. He moved back to Cleveland in 1999 and began work at Cox & Moore, PLLC. He is a member of the Mississippi Bar Association and is licensed to practice before all state courts in Mississippi, all federal courts in Mississippi, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.
He served two terms as president of the Bolivar County Delta State alumni chapter. He also has served as director of the DSU Foundation Board and served 10 years on the National Alumni Association Board of Directors, serving as chair of the Governmental Relations Committee, the New Initiatives Committee, secretary-treasurer, president elect, and finally, president of the board. He was President of the National Alumni Association from 2008-2010. As chair of the New Initiatives Committee, he co-wrote the guidelines for the Alumni Hall of Fame, thereby creating the Alumni Hall of Fame.
For six years, Cox served as one of Delta State’s delegates to the Mississippi State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) Inter-Alumni Council and was elected by his peers as chair of the Bolivar County group of Inter-Alumni delegates among the eight universities in 2003. He became a Sustaining Life Member of the Delta State University Alumni Association in 2014 and was the recipient of the Kent Wyatt Young Alumnus Service Award at Delta State in 2004. In 2014, he created the John Ford Award through the Delta State Foundation to honor his former English professor of Shakespeare at Delta State and, in addition to personally funding the award, he has led the fundraising efforts for the award with the former students of Mr. Ford.
He served as a color analyst for the Delta State Sports Radio Network for seven years and has appeared on ESPN3 and CSS as a sideline reporter for televised football broadcasts. He has served on 11 search committees for the Delta State Athletic Department since 1996.
He attributes all of his accomplishments he attributes to his time at Delta State and says it is why he continues to give back to the university that has given him so much.
“My time at Delta State was a transformative period in my life,” Cox said. “I learned to use talents and skills that I never knew I had in me, and I cannot repay her enough. To this day, when I walk on the campus of Delta State, I have a sense of calmness and comfort that can only be likened to coming ‘home.’ I owe Delta State, and I owe the people who pushed me so hard to do my best to keep her strong and to continue to preach the Delta State story to anyone who will listen. I am not worthy to walk in the shoes of the great men and women who have come before me, and I am just a small part of Delta State’s great history. But I think it is my moral responsibility to give back to the university who made me who I am today.
Cox is the proud father of two boys, John Christopher, 10, and Walker, 7.
A native of Meridian, Miss., Dwight Herlong earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Delta State. While enrolled, he was inducted into the Student Hall of Fame, was a four-year starter on the varsity football team, was named All Gulf South Conference for three years, and received the Charles S. Kerg Senior Athlete of the Year and Mississippi Sportswriters Athlete of the year awards. He also finished his undergraduate athletic career ranked Top 10 in tackles for the football team.
Herlong said his years spent at Delta State are some of the best of his life.
“Delta State played a large part of shaping the adult that I have modeled my value system and life after, as well as I continue to strive to become,” he said. “Delta State was a catalyst, or better yet a platform, for me to emerge. Great professors like Dr. Allen Dennis, Dr. Roy Moore and Dr. Billy C. Moore challenged and supported me. However, Dr. Wayne Blansett, Ms. Linda Ross, Dean Wyatt and other administrators always ensured that others and I had a great student life with extra-curricular activities and programs.
“Coach Don A. Skelton is like a father figure to me, and Coach Robert Dortch an older brother that wouldn’t allow me to get any less out of my abilities on the football field. Delta State prepared me for life at Delta State, but most assuredly for life after Delta State. Finally, the thing that made it ‘fit’ for me was the personal and intimate feel that each relationship I had with professors, administrators, coaches and staff alike. I love and treasure them as well as the countless lifetime friends to this very day.”
Herlong is a true Delta State success story and has spent nearly 25 years in retail supply chain and operations. He currently serves as vice president of supply chain at iCracked — an OnDemand startup that provides repair, trade-in and warranty services across the globe for consumers.
Before joining iCracked, he served as head of Global Logistics, Innovations and Next Generation Supply Chain Initiatives at Google, Inc. During his tenure, Herlong led the global build out of the Logistics and Store Operations capabilities (expansion).
Prior to Google, Herlong launched a successful strategy consulting company, Value Chain Services, which focuses on retail, wireless and value chain transformation initiatives. In addition, he served as vice president of supply chain for T-Mobile USA, as well as group vice president at Macy’s, where he oversaw the modernization and upgrades to their physical supply chains and systems infrastructure.
He began his supply chain career at Roadway Freight at the break-bulk terminal in Atlanta, Georgia, before moving on to serve as regional director for Best Buy’s Home Delivery Division.
In addition to his business responsibilities, Herlong recently became a licensed and ordained minister. He has a passion for helping underprivileged and underserved communities, particularly younger generations. Currently, he is channeling that passion into Ladders, an organization that will guide and enable youth from all circumstances to aspire, achieve and assist others in realizing the most out of life.
Herlong attributes all of these accomplishments to his education and experience at Delta State. It is why he has continued to be a champion for the university.
He has been an industry speaker for Gartner Supply Chain Executive retreat, Richmond Events Supply Chain Forum, as well as a host of other sponsored events. However, his most precious engagement was returning to his beloved Delta State to speak at the 2014 International Business Symposium.
“Simply stated, I will always support Delta State because it’s my family, it’s where my roots grew deepest,” he said. “My kids and my friends will tell you that I have always said, ‘I am Delta State and Delta State is me.’ Or my favorite, ‘DSU means Dwight’s State University!’ So much of my identity and who I have become is synonymous to Delta State.”
Herlong said he is extremely honored for the recognition.
“To know that of all of the students and now adults that passed through these halls, that hung out in the quad and the Green Onion or played on these fields of competition that I am ranked as one of the greatest or most accomplished, is significant,” he said. “Although small in enrollment size, I always tell everyone that our graduates need not take a second seat or status to anyone. Amongst our ranks are CEOs, presidents, board members, officers, elected officials, and heads of education at places like UPS, Charles Schwab, Xerox and Macy’s, as well as some of the largest school districts around the country. In that company, anyone would be as humbled as I am.”
Herlong has three children, Dwight II, Griffin Paige and Gabriel Fulton.
The award recipients will be recognized during Homecoming festivities on Nov. 6 at the Alumni Awards Gala at 7 p.m. in the Bologna Performing Arts Center. The event is open to the public.
The official hashtag for the 2015 Homecoming is #DSUHC15. For more information, contact the Alumni Association at 662-846-4660. To purchase tickets to the Alumni Awards Gala, contact the association at 662-846-4660 or http://www.deltastategiving.org/alumniassociation/homecoming2015.
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