- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Gov. Phil Bryant is imploring high-achieving college students to remain in Mississippi after graduation and build their careers in the state.

“Stay here. Grow where you’re planted,” Bryant said Tuesday during an event at the Capitol to honor community college and university students for academic success.

Speaking to more than 100 students, parents and university and college faculty members, he said graduates have been a growing export for Mississippi.

“We send you off to strange places like Atlanta and Dallas,” Bryant said to the laughter of some. “You will think, ‘I need to be there to achieve my dreams.’”

He said some graduates may need to leave for a while, but he hopes they will come home. “Mississippi needs you here,” he said.

The second-term Republican governor talked about being the first in his family to attend college. He said that in 1973, he was working at a shop changing tires 5 ½ days a week when he received a postcard that said, “‘You, too, can go to college.’”

He earned an associate’s degree at Hinds Community College, a bachelor’s degree at the University of Southern Mississippi and a master’s degree at Mississippi College. He said when he received a letter about being on the dean’s list, his mother proudly showed it to friends and neighbors - and that kept pressure on him to maintain his grades.

Trevoris Word of Southaven, a 20-year-old sophomore at Coahoma Community College, was among those listening to the governor. Word is working on a degree in nursing and said he plans to attend Jackson State University to major in biology. He said he intends to become a physician and work in Mississippi.

His mother, Adrian Word, said she wants her son to earn a living close to home.

“I preach that to him all the time,” Adrian Word said. “We need more doctors in the state of Mississippi to make it a better place.”

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ALSO AT THE CAPITOL:

-House and Senate committees are holding their first meetings after members were appointed last week.

-Kimberly Turner, the attorney who leads the secretary of state’s elections division, spoke to a Senate committee about proposed changes to election laws, including one to allow online voter registration. She said 33 other states already have online registration.

-Wednesday is the deadline for members of the House and Senate to request bills to be drafted for the 2016 session. Next Monday is the deadline for general bills to be filed.

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: https://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .

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