Rhoades-Rich Academic Achievement Award

By BPC Marketing Department

From left to right: BPC President Dr. Steven Echols, Professor Vance Rhoades, recipient of the Rhoades-Rich Academic Achievement Award: Sadie Rusteika, and Professor Forrest Rich. (Photo by Evan Riekhof)

MOUNT VERNON — On April 6th, Brewton-Parker College (BPC) held their annual Honors Chapel. Each year professors and students meet in Saliba Chapel to be commemorated and recognized for their outstanding achievements during the academic school year. This year was special due to the retirement of Professor Vance Rhoades and Professor Forrest Rich.

At the end of this semester, BPC will be saying farewell to these two amazing professors. Professor Rhoades, who came to BPC in 1979, has taught Psychology for forty-two years. In addition to being a professor, he is also a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and the faculty advisor for Pi Gamma Mu for the college. Professor Rich taught Mathematics for thirty-three years and began his time at BPC in 1988. Professor Rich has taught every math course in the academic catalog, as well as some business courses.

During the ceremony Dr. Bob Brian, Provost of Brewton-Parker, commemorated Professor Rhoades and Professor Rich by stating, “To these two colleagues this morning the college is proud to confer the title of ‘Emeritus Professor’ approved by the Cabinet and the Board – the term from the Latin meaning ‘earned distinction’ – in recognition of meritorious service and ongoing support for the institution and its mission.” He then announced The Conrad-Shelby Award will now be known as the Rhoades-Rich Academic Achievement Award. This award is presented to the graduating senior with the highest cumulative grade point average over the course of his or her entire degree program. The award designates the “valedictorian” of each graduating class, and the recipient each year delivers a valedictory address as part of commencement.

Both Professor Rhoades and Professor Rich were pleasantly surprised since they had no idea an award was going to be renamed after them.

“I was both humbled and honored to have an academic award named after me. I was even more delighted to be mentioned along with my friend, colleague, and brother in Christ, Forrest Rich. He and I have a combined total of seventy-five years of teaching at Brewton-Parker College. To live up to one’s academic potential is not always an easy thing to do; especially in our current culture where mediocrity seems to be the norm in so many ways. Students who excel academically are worthy examples of good stewards of what God has given them and deserve to be honored and praised for their efforts,” stated Professor Rhoades.

Professor Rich said, “It has been a privilege to teach at Brewton-Parker College for the past thirty-three years. I am surprised and honored to find out that my name will be associated with the Rhoades-Rich Academic Achievement Award. My hope is that students who receive this award in the future will persist in—as the college’s mission statement says— ‘lifelong learning and service in Christ.’”

The newly renamed Rhoades-Rich Academic Achievement Award was presented to Sadie Rusteika of Lloydminster, Alberta Canada. Rusteika has played on the softball team and is the 2021 BPC Valedictorian with an unweighted GPA of 4.0, maintaining an A-average throughout her college career.

President of Brewton-Parker Steven Echols said, “BPC has been incredibly blessed by the combined service of seventy-five years from Professors Rhoads and Rich. Countless students have been taught with excellence by these two special men of God. Their exemplary Christian witness and servant hearts have given students an example to follow. The naming of this award is so very appropriate as it will celebrate in the years to come their legacies that are written in the hearts of their students and colleagues.”

Joanna Phillips-Mock

Student Enrichment Director

Joanna Phillips-Mock is a proud third generation Baron, both as a student and a staff member.

Beginning her teaching career in Middle Georgia in 1995, Mrs. Mock worked with a state funded program that served some of the most disadvantaged special needs students within the local school districts. She ultimately moved into leadership positions within the organization, serving and training others in multiple initiatives. She enjoys working with students of all ages to recognize and to achieve their greatest potential.

Mrs. Mock holds a Bachelor’s degree from Brewton-Parker College, a Master's degree in Education with a concentration in Behavior Disorders, and an Education Specialist degree in Educational Administration from Georgia College and State University. She resides in Ailey, Georgia, with her husband Don, their son Tye Lewis, her mother Carol Joyce, and multiple fur babies. She enjoys traveling, gardening, camping, and attending concerts.

Candace Lilford

Profeessional Tutor

Candace Lilford graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Theatre Generalism in 2021 from Anderson University and with her master’s degree in English Literature in 2023 from the University of Alabama. She presently serves as Professional Tutor for the Student Enrichment Center while also teaching sections of ENG 101 and 102. 

As part of her two-year master's program, Ms. Lilford taught sections of ENG 101 and 102, while also serving as teaching assistant for British Literature Survey courses and volunteering in the university’s Writing Center. Ms Lilford has also presented papers at the Hudson Strode Conference and the South Eastern Christian and Literature Conference as well as working on various theatrical productions.

Born in North Carolina of South African descent, Ms. Lilford has lived in Uganda, Botswana, South Africa, and Trinidad before settling in Mount Vernon with her family in 2016, where she attended Brewton-Parker College as a dual enrollment student. She presently resides in Mount Vernon with her family and spends her free time watching old TV shows.

Linda Armstrong

Academic Advising and Career Specialist

Linda Armstrong earned an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice Technology from Southeastern Technical College and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Walden University. Throughout her career, Linda has worked with diverse populations, including at-risk youth and families and youth in crisis because of mental health and other issues. Her empathetic nature has made her an effective advocate for those in need. In addition to her professional work, Linda is also is committed to volunteerism. She has dedicated countless hours as a youth mentor, and to teaching about her faith at various Christian organizations. She believes in the power of positivity and its ability to transform not only her life but also the lives of others.

"If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you will look forward, do so prayerfully. But the wisest course would be to be present in the present gratefully." ~ Maya Angelou

Willie Ford

Academic Advising and Career Specialist

Greetings, Baron Nation!

It's truly a joy to be back in a place that has shaped me so profoundly. I'm Willie Ford, a proud 2022 graduate of historic Brewton-Parker College, holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a Minor in Education. Following my graduation, I embarked on a journey in education, teaching Special Education within the Vidalia City School District. In addition to my role as an educator, I had the privilege of serving as the Unit Director at the J.D. Rabun Boys and Girls Club. All the while, I was honored to pastor at the esteemed New Hope Baptist Church of Rhine, Georgia. With God's grace, I managed these responsibilities, and now, I'm thrilled and ready to contribute to the welfare of our students, aiming to inspire through service.

Dusty Arnold

Mental Health Counselor

Dusty Arnold  is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst as well as a BPC alumnus. He has years of experience working with a variety of mental health issues including anxiety, grief, and challenges related to Autism. He specializes in behavior-related interventions that can help college students build on their strengths to set achievable goals while also learning how to deal with the thoughts and feelings that sometimes get in the way. He incorporates Biblical values and evidence-based treatments to meet students wherever they happen to be on their journey to spiritual and psychological health. 

Carl Anthony "Tony" Wardlaw

Assistant Student Enrichment Director & Student Success Coach

Carl Anthony “Tony” Wardlaw – For over 25 years, Dr. Wardlaw has worked in leadership, counseling, and pastoring. Beginning with working in middle management for a manufacturing company in Douglas, GA, Dr. Wardlaw has also worked in the academic, nonprofit, public, and private sectors. Additionally, he served over 7 years in the United States Military as a Military Intelligence Officer before resigning his commission as a Captain in the Army.

Currently serving as the Assistant Director of the Student Enrichment Center, Student Success Coach, and Adjunct Faculty at Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, GA, he also serves as the Pastor of The Green Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Dublin, GA.

As a member of the renowned International Gospel Singing Group, The Wardlaw Brothers, Dr. Wardlaw has traveled all over the nation and abroad ministering and singing the Gospel of Christ Jesus. Dr. Wardlaw has served as a consultant for various agencies and has worked as a Fatherhood Coordinator and G.E.D. instructor within the Technical College System of Georgia and participates in local and national civic and philanthropic work.

Dr. Wardlaw holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in International Business from the University of Georgia, two master's degrees from Troy University (Master of Science in Clinical Counseling and Psychology and Master of Education in Counseling), and a Doctorate in Education from Argosy University in Organizational Leadership. Dr. Wardlaw is a Lifetime Silver Member of The NAACP and a member of The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He is happily married to the former Mrs. Stephanie Scott. They have 3 Children; Chambria, Marc, and Carleigh.

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