MCCers Files and Gathings graduate from MCCLA

Bethany Files and Dr. Cedric Gathings are new graduates of the Mississippi Community College Leadership Academy.

Meridian Community College employees Bethany Files, Practical Nursing Program coordinator, and Dr. Cedric Gathings, vice president for engagement, were two of the 38 members of the May 2023 graduating class of the Mississippi Community College Leadership Academy. 

The MCCLA was developed in 2009 by the Mississippi Community College Foundation to address the projected need for upper-level leaders in the Mississippi community college system. The MCCLA is organized around the practical needs for future community college leaders, specific to the Mississippi community college system. 

The academy’s term is a year-long investment, meeting from June to May. The program consists of workshops designed to strengthen supervisory and management skills, using participants’ current work situations to apply new skills and tools. It is also an opportunity to network and strengthen system-wide collaborative efforts.  

Participants note the program is challenging, requiring a lot of work outside their college responsibilities but was worth the investment. “MCCLA helped me to grow personally and professionally. It helped me explore ways to improve my leadership skills and be an effective leader for my team at MCC,” Files said. 

Getting the opportunity to network with colleagues as well as current and former presidents from other state community and senior college institutions was beneficial, Dr. Gathings said. “They shared the roses and thorns from their perspective. As a result, I gained new skills and strategies to help move our institution forward,” he noted. 

Dr. Gathings added, “My biggest takeaway was that leadership is not a science; it's the art of inspiring the team to work together to achieve a common goal whether in or out of the classroom.” 

A community college alumnus, Dr. Gathings has an associate’s degree from Northeast Mississippi Community College, a bachelor’s degree in social science and a master’s degree in sociology, both from Delta State University. He received his doctorate from Concordia University. 

Files, who is also a community college alumna, has an associate’s degree from East Central Community College, a bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a master’s degree in nursing from William Carey University. She is also a registered nurse and a certified nurse educator.  

To learn more about Meridian Community College, visit To learn more about the Mississippi Community College Leadership Academy,