Undergraduate Student Spotlight: Johnson and Watson

Posted on May 1, 2023 by MCOB Outreach
MCOB Outreach

Two seniors shaking hands with president Jo Bonner on a stage receiving their senior medallion  data-lightbox='featured'

MCOB students awarded the Jaguar Senior Medallion on April 25th in the University’s Student Center.


The Jaguar Senior Medallion Society recognizes graduating seniors who have demonstrated excellence through achievement in scholarship and engagement in activities at the University of South Alabama.

MCOB students Lance Johnson and Melanie Watson have both been awarded this year’s prestigious Jaguar Senior Medallion award.


Lance Johnson

Lance Johnson, from Saraland, Alabama, will be earning his bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in human resource management and a minor in marketing in May. Johnson attributes receiving this award to his service in the college’s SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) organization at MCOB, among other activities.

“I’ve been a member of SHRM since my freshman year, and worked my way up to president of the chapter,” he said.  “Coming to college, believe it or not, when I started as a freshman, I was basically a mute. I got bullied in middle school and barely spoke a word in high school. So, receiving this award is like a full-circle moment. I can see myself back in my freshman year and look at myself in the mirror now, and I can hardly believe how much I’ve changed,” he said.

Johnson said he has surprised himself with his ability to lead others in the various roles he’s occupied at MCOB. “From the start of my time at the MCOB, I wanted to break out of my introverted shell and prove to myself that I am more than just a follower,” he said.

“At the end of the four years, I didn’t even know this was an award. And then it shows up in my inbox one day,” he said. “Since only a small number of students are able to receive the award, it is an unforgettable moment in my college career.”

When asked what’s next, Johnson said, “Well, I’m a big dreamer. In addition to getting my MBA here at MCOB, my longer-term goal is to be part of the National SHRM organization because I want to be a difference maker,” he said. “I want to be out there helping people who had childhoods like mine become successful.”


Melanie Watson

Melanie Watson, a native of Helena, Alabama, will be receiving her bachelor’s degree in business management from MCOB in May.

Watson said college wasn’t originally on her mind when she was in high school. “I decided to go to see South with my best friend because she didn’t want to make the drive by herself,” she said. “But when I got here, I fell in love with everything about South. I ended up applying, and I got in!”

“I was kind of scared when I started college. I didn’t know what to expect because neither one of my parents went to college,” she said. “But I just applied myself, and I discovered that I could do it.”  

“Then I found out about ROTC,” she said. “I’ve always been on sports teams, and I liked the idea of serving my country, so I signed up for that too, and I’ve loved it.” Watson has been a member of the South’s Air Force ROTC since her freshman year and is now a lieutenant.

During her time at South, Watson has been a Southerner, and has been involved in tutoring immigrant children, helping with the Ronald McDonald House, and serving as a dog foster parent, among many other organizations and activities.

“Getting this award was full circle for me because when I started this journey, I didn’t think I could do it,” she said. “But I’ve learned that if I worked hard and gave back, it would come back around. So, I was happy to learn that it didn’t go unnoticed. Getting recognized meant a lot to me.”

“My words of wisdom to young girls would be to always strive to go above and beyond,” she said. “In anything that you do, make sure that you give 100 percent effort, because that effort is rewarding in itself.”

After graduation, Lieutenant Watson will be joining an Air Force unit in North Carolina as a logistics officer, where she hopes to work with airplane fueling logistics. “I really enjoyed my logistics and supply chain classes at MCOB,” she said. I find the whole field fascinating.”

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