Where Are They Now? – Tripp Douglas

Tripp Douglas attended Hillcrest for 9 years, graduating as Valedictorian in 1996.  During his time at HCS, he played football, soccer, tennis, and ran track. He was also involved in Student Council, National Honor Society, and the Yearbook staff, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

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Senior year, Douglas was number 33.

Douglas then attended Mississippi College, where he was an All-Conference goal keeper for the Choctaw soccer team. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design and graduated Summa cum Laude (with a perfect 4.0 GPA) in 2000.  During his college years, Tripp became involved with Brilla Soccer Ministries and now serves on the board of that organization. This and his many other athletic achievements led to his being inducted into the Hillcrest Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

Douglas is the owner of two businesses in the city of Ridgeland: a creative agency called Crema Design Studio and a coffee shop called Fusion.  He has also enjoyed using his design skills over the years to support his high-school alma mater.  While still in high school, he created the HC logo which Hillcrest still uses; then, in his college years Tripp designed the Hillcrest Christian logo as well as the Cougar mascot image which is featured on the wall in the high-school gym. Furthermore, he has designed nearly every yearbook cover for the past 15 years.  And most recently he assisted the school by designing the “United” t-shirts, creating graphics for the Color Run, and setting up the Hillcrest Annual Fund website.  Probably his greatest “claim to fame,” however, at least among HCS students and alumni, is that he is the son of our very own beloved Mrs. Bridges, librarian and yearbook sponsor-extraordinaire!

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with wife Amanda and children Kyle and Ella

Tripp’s message to current Hillcrest students is the same one he tries to instill in his staff: Whatever you do (whether it’s school, athletics, or work), glorify God by doing it with excellence. He also reminds believers that Colossians 3:23 tells us to work as if we’re doing it for God Himself, not only for a teacher, coach, or boss. Douglas further states, “Glorifying God is not just for church – we as Christians are called to do it in every part of our lives. And working with that attitude will also bring you success!”

HCS is thankful to Tripp Douglas for his continued love and support for our school, and we’re so glad to call you not just an alumnus, but also part of the family (Sorry, Mrs. Bridges, but you have to share)!

Where Are They Now? – Caitlin Bingham

Caitlin Bingham began attending Hillcrest in the third grade and stayed until her graduation in 2009. During her years at HCS, she was involved in Honor Society, Student Council, Honor Council, HCTV, and Yearbook, and she was a cheerleader in her senior year. She met Josh Childs, another graduate of the Class of 2009, at the 2008 Homecoming dance. They started dating right before Christmas. Both then went to Hinds Community College, graduating in 2012; they married in the fall of 2014.

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Caitlin worked for a time as a cosmetologist, but her dream was to become the proud owner of a business which would allow her to do what she truly loves.  After much research and hard work, she opened All That It Seams, LLC, which features her hand-knit and hand-sewn accessories for women, and every purchase benefits shelter animals.  She is most excited to have launched her business website — www.allthatitseams.com — just yesterday, November 1st.  Childs states, “I never quite realized how much of a foundation Hillcrest had given me until I began my journey as an entrepreneur. It’s so much more than knitting and sewing, I had to learn the ins and out of how the business world operates. Hillcrest gave me the capacity to learn and the tools to expand my knowledge on my own. The teachers at Hillcrest gave me more than just a typical high school education, they taught me how to continue to educate myself.”

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With all that she has learned in pursuit of her goals, Caitlin has some sage advice to offer to the current students of Hillcrest: “Make the most of your education, especially if you’re intending on pursuing a career in business. History is important for learning from others and learning from the past. No business would be able to function successfully without math, you have to know your numbers. English may be the most important of all. Whether it’s using proper grammar and spelling, or researching, your business will NOT be professional without knowing all of the facets that a high school English class will teach you. Find the learning style that works best for you and never stop learning because knowledge truly is power.”

Caitlin Childs proves that a strong educational foundation, lifelong learning, and hard work are the keys to living out your dreams.  The Hillcrest family is proud to support her and wishes her continued success as her business grows.

Where Are They Now? – Elizabeth Simmons

Elizabeth Simmons attended Hillcrest for 13 years and graduated in 2004 as Salutatorian of her class; she was also inducted into the Hall of Fame. During her high school years, Elizabeth kept busy and was involved in National Honor Society, Beta Club, Teenage Republicans, Quiz Bowl, Mu Alpha Theta, Science Club, Dance Team/Color Guard and Drama Club.

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In 2008 she graduated magna cum laude from Mississippi College with her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology Medical Science. While at MC, Elizabeth was involved in Mortar Board Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society, and she was an active member of Swannanoa Social Tribe and Scouts student recruiters.  Simmons then attended medical school at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine and earned her Doctor of Medicine in 2012.  After that, she matched in Pediatrics at University of Tennessee Health Science Center/ LeBonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, completing her residency and becoming board certified by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2015.  Dr. Simmons then joined Pediatric Associates in Memphis, which is affiliated with the LeBonheur Pediatrics clinics.

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Dr. Simmons wanted to relay the following message to current HCS students:  “When I was a student at Hillcrest, I knew I was getting a quality education, but I didn’t truly realize the full extent of how my time there would affect me long term. I was more than adequately prepared to start my classes at Mississippi College, and in turn, that helped me be prepared for medical school and beyond. However, I know that the growth in my relationship with Christ during these years was far more impactful on my future! Don’t miss or take for granted the wonderful opportunities that are provided at Hillcrest to grow personally, academically, and spiritually!”

Thank you for your wise advice, and congratulations on your hard-earned and well-deserved success, Dr. Elizabeth Simmons!

Where Are They Now? – Angela Sood

Angela Sood, now Dr. Angela Joshi, attended Hillcrest for her four years of high school, from 1998 until her graduation in 2002.  During that time, she was involved in the Honors Science Club and Quiz Bowl.

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After graduating, Angela attended the University of Mississippi Medical School from 2006 to 2010.  She then trained in Internal Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Afterward, she spent a year (2013 to 2014) as the Chief Resident of Quality and Patient Safety at the Veteran Affairs Hospital in Nashville; currently Dr. Joshi is in her third and final year of cardiology fellowship training.

Angela’s message for current Hillcrest students is, “Be motivated to learn as much as possible and to reach for the stars because you never know what may happen.”  Her success, both in her years as an HCS Cougar and in the fourteen years since, proves that Dr. Joshi has taken her own advice to heart.

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Daughters Saanvi and baby Shanaya

Where Are They Now? – Adam McWilliams

WAPT meteorologist Adam McWilliams, HCS Class of 2007, recently took time from his busy schedule to write about his years at Hillcrest Christian School and what he’s been doing since then:

I attended Hillcrest from K4 through to graduation. My love for the weather started at about 4 or 5 years old, although my parents say I was still in a walker watching the Weather Channel. When I was at Hillcrest, I quickly earned the nickname “ The Weatherman,” and my reputation proceeded me throughout my entire school career there. Usually, it’s a bad thing when teachers know your name before you step in their classroom, but not in my case! All the teachers would talk, and let the next grade’s teachers know that if they had me I would do the weather.

I wasn’t involved in any sports throughout high school; I was too busy either with schoolwork or interning with 16 WAPT chief meteorologist David Hartman. I actually met David at Hillcrest. My 10th grade Chemistry teacher, Mrs. Jennifer McAdory, had David surprise me during class one day. It was quite a shock when David walked into my classroom; my eyes must have been the size of saucers! A year later, I started an internship with him that lasted until I went to Mississippi State.

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And then in my junior year, Mrs. Sandra Bridges asked me if I would like to do the weather for the morning announcements on HCTV. I quickly accepted and had a blast doing it. I remember forecasting Hurricanes Katrina & Rita  in 2005 on HCTV before they hit the Gulf Coast.  I tell people Mrs. Bridges is the reason I’m in TV today, she gave me my first on-air job doing the weather. I really believe doing HCTV got rid of my TV jitters. I will always be indebted to Mrs. Bridges for doing that for me. It really was a confidence booster at a time when I didn’t have a lot of it. She gave me something to look forward to, and she will always have a special place in my heart for that.

After I graduated Hillcrest in 2007, I went to Hinds Community College for a couple of years, and then I transferred to Mississippi State University in 2009 (Hail State!) and earned a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Meteorology in 2012. During my time at MSU, I anchored the school’s Campus Connect Forecast on the university TV station. My last semester there, I won the 2012 Associated Press Award for Best College TV Weathercaster in the state of Mississippi. My biggest memory at MSU was chasing the monster tornadoes that rolled across Mississippi and Alabama on April 27, 2011, the Dixie Alley Super Outbreak. That day, 2 EF-5, tornadoes came within 50 miles of the MSU campus. Seeing the destruction first-hand changed me and solidified my resolve to keep people safe during severe weather.

I graduated MSU with a 3.2 GPA and had a job before graduation at WXVT-TV 15 in Greenville, doing the weekend weather.

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Then in July of 2013, I accepted the job at WAPT as the weekend morning meteorologist. It is surreal sometimes [to realize that] I’m working with the man I looked up to as a kid. I learn so much from David everyday, and I quickly realized why he is the most trusted weatherman in Central Mississippi. His calm during severe weather is something I hope to learn as I progress throughout my career.

Hillcrest has some of the best teachers in this state who really take a vested interest in their students. I had so many teachers who loved me and supported me in what I wanted to do, and they created an environment where I could flourish. The teachers there truly love God and show Christ to students each and every day.

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If I could give any advice to the students there now, it would be chase your dreams no matter how big they may be. My grandfather always used to tell me, “Find your passion and then find out a way to get paid for it, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I did that, and it’s 100% true. I don’t dread going to work like most people do. I’m so thankful to the good Lord that he has blessed me with a job where I can do my passion for the weather and get paid for it! I couldn’t be luckier and am truly blessed.

Thank you so much, Adam, for sharing about Hillcrest’s impact on your life, about following your passion, and about God’s blessing your efforts.  HCS will forever be proud to call you one of our own.