Mississippi College alumna MaryKelli Bethea’s creative skills blossomed as an interior design major on the Clinton campus.
At this spring’s commencement celebration, MaryKelli’s academic success opened doors for the Edwards resident to receive the university’s 2021 Sadler Award. Announced in early May, the honor goes to a graduating senior achieving perfect grade point averages at Hinds Community College and MC.
The late Dr. William O. Sadler, a 1929 MC graduate and longtime biology professor at his alma mater, established the prestigious award. A U.S. Navy veteran who served in World War II, the former biology department chair died in 1995 at age 91.
MaryKelli’s talents in interior design work and her devotion to serve others are qualities that employers value. The 24-year-old MC grad is a full-time residential designer at Design Studio in Ridgeland. Employees at the office in Madison County provide quality custom and stock house plans for customers statewide. They generate more than 1,000 plans to meet a variety of tastes in the homebuilding business.
Just as she did in college, Bethea works hard at her craft. Interior design professors Mandy Berdami and Margie Baumann taught her department classes. “MaryKelli was an ideal student with excellent design standards,” Berdami noted.
“With every design project, she was able to think through the root of the design problem with attention to creativity and detail. She is deserving of this award,” Berdami says. “I am proud that she represents our Interior Design Program.”
Art professor and sculptor Ray Gregory and English professor Susan Lassiter also played influential roles in her life at MC.
Homeschooled before going to college, MaryKelli thanks the Lord for her accomplishments. She didn’t get here by herself. “I owe all academic success to God, who has given me the will and ability to understand the world He created. I have been invested in by parents, siblings, friends, and professors who cheered me along the way.”
Being selected for the Sadler award is something she will always treasure. “I am deeply honored and humbled to receive this award, knowing how many incredibly brilliant and talented students also attend Mississippi College.”
Angie Hardin, Mississippi College’s director of transfer recruitment, says MaryKelli is a wonderful student constantly striving to do her best in everything she tries. “Her academic performance at Hinds allowed her to receive great scholarships when she transferred to MC.”
Bethea grew up in rural Central Mississippi on a sprawling 700-acre property in a family of 11. Her father, John Bethea, is a physics teacher and mechanical engineer. Her mother, Joylynn Bethea, brings immense creativity skills to the table.
At one point, MaryKelli left higher education to pursue her house cleaning business. At the same time, she researched careers and felt MC’s interior design program was a terrific fit. MC courses blended aesthetic skills she polished as an art student with the attention to detail found in math classes. “The cherry on the top is that I would have the opportunity to interact with clients on a daily basis.”
At Mississippi College, she joined Residence Life Office staff, helping classmates meet their living needs on the Clinton campus. “The community I experienced there was the catalyst that forged a deeper relationship with God.”