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POPE, WILLIAMS HONORED AS DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI

CARROLLTON, GA – Two honorees who graduated 30 years apart were formally recognized last week as Distinguished Alumni of Carrollton High School.

The generation gap between Dr. James C. “Jimmy” Pope, Class of 1962, and Shereta Williams, Class of 1992, represents the different stages of life of the servant leader, as Pope is now retired from medical practice and Williams is in the prime of an impressive career. Yet both still find a way to prioritize their time to serve their communities beyond the professional realm, further validating their receipt of this prestigious honor, noted Dr. Mark Albertus, superintendent of Carrollton City Schools, who recognized the pair at the 32nd CHS Academic Achievement Awards Program in the Mabry Center for the Arts.

“I have a personal connection to Dr. Pope, as I have had the honor of serving under his leadership since I came to Carrollton a decade ago as the new principal of Carrollton High School,” said Albertus. “Now, as superintendent, I work directly for the Carrollton Board of Education, a board Dr. Pope has been a part of since 1983, and he has been a important mentor who is willing to share his institutional knowledge, give hard advice when necessary, and support the school system at all costs. He is the model board member.”

Williams, who was valedictorian of the Class of 1992, was voted by her classmates as “Most Intellectual,” so it no surprise her focus on academics was unwavering, said Albertus.

“She is quick to point out she wasn’t what she called ‘super social,’ and even in the early grades concentrated on her schoolwork rather than participate in extracurricular activities,” said Albertus. Williams, who started her Carrollton City Schools education as a kindergartner, said all through school, at least one teacher each and every year took a strong interest in her success. “This is a testament to the caring caliber of the Carrollton City Schools faculty as a whole,” he added.

Williams reiterated his point in her comments following her acceptance of the award Thursday night by giving credit to their dedication as one of the reasons she was able to continue her education at the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“One of the things about getting an award like this is that I can say when you get an education here at Carrollton you are really prepared to go anywhere and do anything in the world,” said Williams. “If you can take an education from Carrollton High and do well at MIT, you can do anything.”

Williams then turned to current CHS seniors sitting on the stage and offered this advice: “You can choose to do anything you want to do with this education,” she said. “The biggest factor in how far you will go is how you apply yourself and how hard you work toward your goals.”

After high school, Pope, who graduated with honors in 1962, went on to get a degree in mathematics at then-West Georgia College before heading to the Medical College of Georgia with the goal of becoming a general surgeon. Following graduation, years of internship and residency training, and a stint in the U.S. Army, he returned to Carrollton to join the Carrollton Surgical Group practice and for the next 36 years, Dr. Pope operated on thousands of Carroll County residents. Yet he still found time to serve in leadership roles in organizations important to his practice, including serving as president of the Georgia Surgical Society and as chief of staff of Tanner Medical Center. He also holds the distinction as the surgeon to perform the first elective vascular surgery in this community. Dr. Pope retired from practice in 2014.

For Williams, by the time she got to high school, her trajectory toward an engineering pathway was fast and furious. The National Merit Scholar garnered numerous scholarship offers ranging from Johns Hopkins to George Washington University to Georgia Tech – but a significant scholarship offer lured her to study electrical engineering at MIT where she was active on campus, serving as president of the campus National Society of Black Engineers and was involved in other diversity organizations there.

Williams said she found the problem-solving nature of engineering also prepared her well for the world of finance. She earned a reputation of being able to create value by solving large-scale problems and first experienced success working with mergers and acquisitions, and later translating this success to divisions within Cox Media Group.

In 2014, Williams launched a television advertising automated platform for Cox Media, serving as president of the wholly-owned subsidiary, called VIDEA. Indications are the company is on pace to grow from a startup to $100 million in revenue in just four years.

Despite a hectic schedule, Williams serves on the boards of several professional and service organizations, including the International Radio and Television Society, and serves as a mentor for Female Founders in Tech. She is a former director of the local Follow Me Foundation, earning the Founder’s Award for service to the organization in 2000.

Albertus said perhaps Pope’s most notable contribution to the common good is his service on the Carrollton Board of Education, a post he has held longer than anyone one else since the school system’s founding in 1886. He has extended this passion for education beyond Carrollton by serving on the Georgia School Boards Association Board of Directors and as its president, and has lobbied hard for state funding for local education.

Pope’s dedication to the school system sounds simple on the surface, but to many, this reasoning is a cornerstone the community’s strength.

“The schools really are one of the primary things that make Carrollton such a great place to live,” Pope said a 2014 feature article about his retirement. “The city has changed drastically since I was 3 years old, but it has always had great schools and I think it always will.”

Dr. Pope’s legacy, however, isn’t just the words of his actions, but the physical remains of these efforts. During his tenure on the board, he has been personally involved in the decision-making of every building on Carrollton’s 130-acre campus, from Carrollton Junior High School’s 1986 construction to the final phases of the new replacement Carrollton High School.

“That’s quite an accomplishment for a graduate of what he calls THE Carrollton High School on South White Street,” Albertus quipped, referring to the 1921 Historic Revival style building designed by renowned Georgia Architect Neel Reid. It served as Carrollton High School until 1963, then Carrollton Junior High until 1986, and is now the Tracy Stallings Community Center.

Pope and Williams join other distinguished alumni who have been recognized through this initiative, sponsored by the Carrollton High School Alumni Association. Launched in 2012, the program to date has honored 13 other exceptional CHS graduates: Edith Foster, Class of 1922; Albert Jones and J. Steward Martin, Class of 1930; J.Willis Hurst, Class of 1937; E.C. “Sonny” Bass, Class of 1938; Hollis Harris, Class of 1949; John H. Burson, Class of 1951; Richard M. Ingle, Class of 1964; D. Garvin Byrd, Class of 1969; Jane Crosson, Class of 1974; William Crosson, Class of 1976; Scott Deviney, Class of 1989; and honorary alumnus W.W. Fitts, who was a founding Carrollton Board of Education member and until this year’s honoree, Pope, was the longest-serving member on the board.

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